Visalia Taste of the Arts: How to Create a Veggie Masterpiece

Day 24 Ultimate Blog Challenge #blogboost #oddballphotochallenge

Cee's OddBall

Visalia Taste of the Arts has grown to ten times the number of vendors it had three years ago from 10 to 100 under my friend’s daughter, Carolyn Koontz’s administration. She now moves to a new job at Tulare County Office of Education. Congratulations, Carolyn!

Here are some of the more interesting Taste of the Arts.

Veggie Critter
Cuke, the Veggie Critter

Anyone could participate. Kids dug out holes for eye placement, attached all types of hair, legs, and other body parts. Interesting that most shapes ended up being some kind of “animal.”


Green teeth – no problem. They’re bound to fall out anyway.


This gives all new meaning to “We’re having octopus for dinner!”


“Who’s coming for dinner?”


Steps to a Masterpiece

  1. Grab a big veggie.
  2. Grab a carving or poking tool.
  3. Stick veggies on sticks.
  4. Poke sticks into veggies.
  5. Carve holes.
  6. Attach little veggies to bigger ones with a toothpick or by stuffing into holes.
  7. Display your artwork at the front table when finished.
  8. Take pictures.

For more oddball pictures, click here.

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.

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.


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.


Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum Has First Event

# WoodlakeValleyCulturalMuseum

February thirteenth dawned as beautiful and gentle as a kitten sleeping on a satin pillow, promising a perfect VIP ribbon cutting ceremony for the new museum in Woodlake, CA.
Woodlake Museum 2

A major project, nearly three years in the making, Woodlake Valley Cultural Museum, opened to VIP donors on February 13, 2016. Woodlake, a town of nearly 8,000, now has its first museum. Until now people have kept their memorabilia to themselves, some with lots of valuable documents, photos and artifacts from the last 150 years, and some with just a few. Now those treasures are out where the public can enjoy them and remember. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched the slideshow of the pictures imported from my camera. I love seeing the expressions on each face as they saw the exhibits for the first time. I thought Ramona’s was particularly endearing.


Rudy Garcia, the Chamber of Commerce President made sure that the event was well planned.  Chamber Board members took on various jobs to make sure that all the details ran smoothly.

2015-2017 Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Board
2015-2017 Volunteer Woodlake Chamber of Commerce Board  minus three members.

Marie and Debbie prepare for registration check in. Debbie did much of the design work in the museum. Do you know how much she charged us?  Probably about -$1,500 considering all the materials she threw in, which doesn’t account for her hours.

Maria & Debby

We are all astounded that Marcy, Debby and Jennifer could put together a beautiful museum with no museum experience, and not much help.

Museum 4

We sailed through the day as Rudy planned. For the first half hour while people arrived the Four Directions Native-American drumming quartet, the Four Directions played and sang.

Woodlake Chamber Board member, Jennifer Malone introduced another member of her tribe, Delbert Davis, to invoke a blessing on the museum. I wish I had video taped it for you, but I was in the wrong place, and it was a solemn occasion, and you’ve already experienced my skill as a videographer.

Delbert Davis Blessing

The 2015-2016 Miss Woodlake Court, Briana Marie Holt, Sonni Hacobian, and Erica Diaz Rodriguez kept busy escorting VIPs to their seats and taking pictures. Most of these pictures are Briana’s, standing above her name.

Woodlake Museum 3For me, one of the highlights was the presentation by Carl Peden. Carl graduated in 1947 from Woodlake High School. He went on to become a pilot. Little did his teachers dream that one day he would pilot several United States’ presidents and their families around the world in Air Force One.

You made it through that without getting dizzy, I hope. My video skills aren’t improving much, but in my defense, you are seeing a raw unedited amateur recording.

Some asked me what Air Force One had to do with Woodlake, and had Carl Peden not been the pilot I could have answered, “nothing.” But this man showed me that Woodlake, small agricultural town in the rural outskirts of the San Joaquin Valley, reaches and influences far beyond Woodlake.

At the end of his speech, he took off his jacket and handed it to Rudy Garcia to put in the museum. His action inspired many others to come forward with ideas of things they could donate to the museum which will keep it fresh for many years to come. Carl stands in front of the list of the many community members who joined to make this project a possibility. I thank each one.

Woodlake Museum iPhone photos
Carl Peden

Rudy Garcia recruited these generous contributors to follow the dream of building a museum in Woodlake. One man, John Wood,  fell in head over heels in love with the vision, and gave it his all, building the edifice to house the dream.  He reminded me in many ways of my former boss, Jim Vidak. Very shy, not bringing attention to himself, he worked for reasons other than bringing honor to himself. Nonetheless Rudy wanted everyone to know how grateful the Chamber is for his hard work.

Wood's Award
Marcy Miller, Rudy Garcia, John Wood, and Bertha Hernandez watching on.

Finally, no building would be complete without a plaque. This one was ordered and had not arrived by Thursday before the big ceremony on Saturday. My nails would be bitten to the quick, but Rudy remained calm and collected. He made the phone call and Phil drove it up from Tulare on Friday. Soon it will hang on by the front door, next to my new office.


I will be in the office for the next two Fridays recording oral interviews of Woodlakers who want to share their memories. Email me at if you’d like to make an appointment.

Maui-Donation Ticket-Proof

I’ll also be selling donation tickets to anyone who wants to win a trip for two to Hawaii February 10-17, 2017. The trip features a beachfront resort suite at Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, HI. This suite includes one bedroom, one bath, a full kitchen, living room, dining room, lanai, and laundry. Included in the trip is a stipend for round trip tickets for two from LA to Maui, and car rental. The package is valued at $4,000. Suggested donation is $10.00 per ticket. The drawing will be held at the Chamber of Commerce meeting on October 11, 2016.






I’m Really Not Dead, But I Wasn’t Fighting in the Battle

It’s 4:03 in the morning. I slept all day yesterday after minor surgery, so I’m relatively bright-eyed and drug free. How are all of you?

It’s been so long since I’ve written anything besides letters, emails, figured budgets, and fixed computer problems that, I’ve forgotten how to write blogs! So I guess I’ll write you all a letter. I remember getting letters from my grandmother, and every one of them told us about someone we didn’t know or remember who had died. So I wanted you to know that at least I didn’t die, and I’m going to tell some of you about a bunch of people you don’t know.

2015 WVMS Civil War111

I got a call to be a REAL photographer last week by a friend, Lauri Polly, who IS a real photographer and editor of our Kiwanis Magazine, “What’s Happening in the Foothills.”

I’m sure you can imagine, if you don’t already know from experience, how much work it is to plan and execute a day of activities for several hundred students.  First you have to line up volunteers to present, which means you have to know a lot of people who know a lot of stuff, AND are good with kids! Then you have to con your last-minute volunteers (teachers and librarians to stand in for those who couldn’t make it.)

Then you plan the weather. It should be sunny, with a light breeze, not too hot.

Oops it rained. Plan B
Oops it rained. Plan B

Then you invite other students to join you, so there’s a little more pressure on you as a planner, but adrenaline helps because the event is exciting, after all.  I’m sure Courtney slept well that night.

Finally you plan a grand finale. And what could be grander than shooting off a Civil War canon?

And that’s how you send off the year of studying eighth grade history in Woodlake, CA with a big bang.

There’s not much information in here about the Civil War. I can’t with so many of my friends who are experts in the subject – I’d embarrass myself!  I have all the pictures with some notes from the event posted on my Facebook Page.

Good Morning, World

It’s four in the morning here in California as I write to you for the first time in weeks. I have a good reason – for not writing, that is.

“Really? What possible reason could be good enough for not writing to your friends?” asks the little voice in my head.

One thing I learned about writing good dialogue – and writing in general is that you leave the boring parts out.

“So what made you think you should even write anything?”

What a pesky little voice you are. there are maybe five or ten people in the world that are still interested in even the boring little details of my life. Maybe they miss me.

“Well get on with it then, and write what you’re going to say, and quit talking to me.”

OK OK, the truth is that I have a new job, and I was sort of waiting  until the Board President announced to the public before I wrote about it, and I’ve been extremely busy doing exciting things like filing and trying to balance the books.  I am the new Executive Director of the California Council for the Social Studies, and it’s not entirely clear what that job will be, but for me it starts with filing and organizing.


Maybe, but necessary. Today I will attend the Executive Planning Meeting in Los Angeles, so I stayed the night in the hotel where our conference will be next March, and took a tour of the facilities.

2015 Hilton OC209

Most important to me is establishing face to face contact. I met Deb, Ryan, Tim and Carmita. Ryan will be our main contact person as we prepare for our biggest event, a conference for about 700-800 social studies teachers, professors, and administrators in California.

2015 Hilton OC109Seeing the rooms gives our planning committee and me an idea of which rooms will be best for the presentations, and where the exhibits and ticketed meals and social events will be.  You can see about one-third of what will be the exhibit hall in this picture above.

2015 Hilton OC114Session rooms are huge, but they can be divided into thirds. Left open they seat almost 200 guests. The hotel has recently been remodeled, and is quite lovely. Most importantly it has good internet access for everyone – in public places and in the rooms, and I will soon learn the cost to make it available during sessions.

2015 Hilton OC202I can visualize two history teachers networking here with computers open and a cup of coffee, discussing how they will use what they learned in a session in their class .

2015 Hilton OC201I expressed surprise over how pretty the tables looked, and Ryan told me that the facility is linenless. That’s a new term for me. Normally when you see tables at a hotel without their linens on, they are rough pieces of wood, that sneaks up and snags your nylons when you cross your legs under the table.

“No one wears nylons anymore.”

Be quiet. I do sometimes. It’s cold in hotels.

“That’s not why YOU wear them.”

2015 Hilton OC207There’s a perfect little office right outside the registration area where we can set up shop so everything will be close by. It is linenless, too. I never realized how pervasive linen was.

2015 Hilton OC206This is a small part of the foyer outside the exhibit hall. One year we had Mexican folklorico dancers in the foyer it was so big. Another year we had extra exhibits. Our conference planners will have all kinds of decisions to make about the space, but at least now I know how the space looks, so I can picture it when they ask me questions.

2015 Hilton OC127A beachy place wouldn’t be complete without swallows. It was nice to have the time to enjoy the scenery. I’m sure I’ll be very busy the next time I see this place.🙂

Now you know I haven’t disappeared or died. In fact I just renewed my domain, so I’m here for another year, starting my fourth year of blogging.  Thanks for reading and chatting, and being my friend.

Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

Grace Pogue ~ Within The Magic Circle copy-1

I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

Antelope School

Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

Antelope school3

The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.


When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  :)

Marsha climbingcr

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

For the Love of Valentine’s Day

Day 44 My Five Hundred Words Challenge.


It’s Valentine’s Day.
Maybe you think this is a manufactured Hallmark holiday, or you might really believe in the magic of love.
Romantic love is the big cliché for today. So let’s talk about a different kind of love, instead. A love that isn’t all Cupid and conversation hearts.
 Write about a time when love meant stepping out of your comfort zone, making a hard choice, or offering up a sacrifice.

As my blogging friends know, I’ve been writing my first romance/comedy novel since November.   Rewrite number five brings me to this episode that my friend Tonia Hurst suggested that I share with you today for Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day knows no gender in love.  In kindergarten you learn that valentines are for everyone in the room.

Three friends, Trixie, Ann, and Sarah, went to Sarah’s condo for the weekend, where a series of misadventures struck. One disaster landed Sarah in the hospital, and brought Trixie’s new love, Nick, to visit from Southern California.   Today Trixie arises at 6:30 am, leaves the love of her life sleeping in HIS room, and drives 15 miles to the hospital to see her friend.

I don’t know that I would have picked this as a romantic moment, but you can decide for yourself.


Trixie:  unmarried friend in love with Nick

Sarah:  widowed friend always on the go, collapsed and had to go to the emergency room

Howdy Doody:  The nickname given to the nephrologist (kidney doctor) called in by the emergency room physician to run tests on Sarah.

Howdy Doody 3
Dr. Howdy Doody

Chapter Thirty-four

After Howdy Doody left, Sarah leaned back in the bed and adjusted the pillows.  Trixie walked up to Sarah’s bed, and sat down.

“Can you believe Howdy Doody getting in my face like that?  I’m bushed after that encounter.   He sure thinks he can push his weight around.”

“You sure gave us a scare, Sarah.  No wonder you were tired!  Sounds as though he’s targeting the sodas.  What a cutie.  I wonder if he is married.”

Howdy Doody 2

“Trixie, you enjoy playing Cupid now that he’s shot you in the heart.  Yeah, Sandstrom’s definitely my type.  He’s at least six feet five inches tall, and I’m only five feet tall when I stand perfectly straight.”

Sun streamed in the hospital room window making patterns on the bed.  Sarah traced them unconsciously as she talked.

“I recognize sarcasm when I hear it.  I think he’s perfect.”

“I need to research.  Can you find me a computer to use?”

“Sure, I’ll send my computer with the twins if they stop by.  You can call me and let me know when they are coming, or better yet, I’ll just leave it on the table.  Where are they?  Did they go out for some breakfast?”

“No, they went back to the condo to sleep.   How was your night?  Did you and Ann have dinner after you left?”

Sarah didn’t know that Ann had left.  Sarah wanted to discuss many things with Trixie, but her breakfast arrived, and she hadn’t eaten since breakfast yesterday.

“It is Sunday, right?” Sarah asked.

“Yes, at least you don’t have Alzheimer’s.”

Trixie was glad she had made it to the room in time to talk to the nephrologist.  Now she wasn’t as concerned that Sarah was not going to make it.  Sarah controlled her life. If Trixie had to bet on any of them living forever, it would be Sarah.

“This breakfast is awful, Trix.  Buy me a cinnamon roll and a decent cup of coffee.”

Old West Cinnamon Rolls, Pismo Beach
Old West Cinnamon Rolls, Pismo Beach

“Is there a better way to say that?  Have you ever heard of the word please, or better yet, would you please?  But the long answer is no.  Don’t draw me into your schemes for bringing you contraband.  I need to shove off.  Remember Nick is at the condo.  He’s not expecting the girls.  No telling what’s happened there.”

“Good idea, Trixie.  Hurry back, though.  I understand now when I hear nursing home residents yelling to get out.  I can’t believe I have to be camped out here when it’s seventy-five degrees and sunny outside.”

“Ok, I’ll touch bases with you later today, Sarah.”  Trixie told her.

“You know, don’t come back today.  Enjoy your time with Nick.  I’ll be fine.  Send the girls back as soon as they wake up.”

Sarah waved to her friend then settled back against the pillows and closed her eyes.  She was still pretty tired, and right this minute rest seemed to be the perfect prescription.

Sarah 1

Girls on Fire visits the editor this weekend, and expects to come home with a few band aids, but hopes to avoid major surgery.  Depending on the damages I’ll need to rebuild, this romantic comedy should be ready soon.

So do you agree with Tonia, that this has some merit for Valentine’s Day to fit this prompt?

Daily Prompt: Silver Linings

Extreme bad times give birth to silver linings.  Disasters and tragedy can bring out the best in people.  Right now we think of those in Oklahoma who are suffering with the ugly effects of tornadoes.  They need to see beyond their present circumstances and know that there will be a silver lining, or they might give up hope.  It makes those of us who are not touched by those tragedies to give gratefully to help those in need.

Blogging friend Darla Welchel posted this picture on FB
Blogging friend Darla Welchel posted this picture on FB of her property in OK.

People in tragic times:

  • draw together to help each other,
  • demonstrate supernatural strength
  • alter the world – moving, building anew, seek solutions to prevent the same problems from recurring.
  • develop empathy
  • develop personal flexibility and resilience
  • break down cultural barriers

The bigger the tragedy, the shinier the silver lining needs to be.  I’m not sure it always makes up for the tragedy, but people go on.  The choice is either you go on or you don’t.  The choice is yours.  I am reading non-fiction book, The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan, about the people who stayed in the Dust Bowl states when over 300,000 fled to California alone.  According to him, the high plains never fully recovered, although much of it being returned to its original grass covering.  Farmers now have connected with soil conservation districts to manage the land as a single ecological unit.  Some of the individuals he followed lived to be around 100 years old.

Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas at a different time in history.
Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas at a different time in history.

The biggest tragedy I can think of was the Holocaust.  Had I been born in Nazi Germany at that time, I would not have survived it even though I was a blond, blue-eyed, non-Jewish child because I was born with a harelip.

Me, Great-Grandma Martha, Grandma Golda, and Mom Peggy.
Me, Great-Grandma Martha, Grandma Golda, and Mom Peggy.  I think they would have been upset to lose me over a simple lip disaster!  :)  

There were many that were targeted for destruction during that period of history.  The most tragic of the tragic were the Jews who were destroyed simply because they were Jews.  My friend was four years old when they came to her little town in Poland.  Nazi “punks” killed her mother and grandparents before they even left town because they were old or infirm.  “Why waste time getting them well if they were targeted for extermination anyway?” my friend tells students.  Two of her uncles were caught trying to smuggle valuables in a loaf of bread.  They were shot when the loaf of bread broke on the cobblestones revealing trinkets of jewelry.  The rest of her family:  father, aunt, 2 brothers, and a sister, went to the camps, different ones, of course.  Her sister died in Auschwitz, and the rest survived, and came to America.  Now in her late seventies, my friend tells her story in schools to let children today know that there is hope, a silver lining in any situation.

Students see that my friend survived the worst horror they can imagine.  Life has a silver lining.
Students see that my friend survived a horror worse than any they can imagine. Life has a silver lining.

Children don’t have the background experiences to know that they can live through tough times.  We don’t always know what internal and external disasters they harbor and endure.

My friend's intensity speaks to students, and helps them believe in a silver lining.
My friend’s intensity speaks to students, and helps them believe in a silver lining.

Some students don’t know that if a kid teases them or brutalizes them, it will pass, or they can find ways to deal with it besides shooting up a school.  Children whose parents beat them, or do drugs or alcohol may not realize they can survive even if they are taken to a foster home and are raped their first night there.  My friend gives them hope.  Through her life, they see the silver lining.

We don't know who might be the next Oklahoma City bomber.  We need to teach them ALL that there is a silver lining beyond their personal tragedy.
We don’t know who might be the next Oklahoma City bomber. We need to teach them ALL that there is a silver lining beyond their personal tragedy.

Silver linings don’t make everything all right.  There are still consequences that follow any disaster.  My friend does not know what her mother looks like.  She has never even seen a picture.  They were all destroyed.  It still makes her sad.  She goes into an emotional tailspin every time a disaster hits anywhere and flashes back to her times in the camps.  Nonetheless, she lives another day and shows others that they, too, can survive.  She was married and raised two successful children.  She worked in the entertainment industry until she retired. She took a 90 minute yoga class with her friend and me the day after she spoke in this class.  She impacts thousands of young lives yearly.  She impacted my life permanently.  She lives in the silver lining of her life.

Any of life's tragedies has a silver lining.
Any of life’s tragedies has a silver lining.

Do you need to know there is a silver lining behind your cloud?  Do you have a silver lining experience to tell?

Kiwanis Roundup for Hunger

Can you believe that I could get somewhere – anywhere at 6:15 a.m.?Good, that means you know me pretty well.  I got there at 6:25 a.m., complete with camera, but my disk had no space AND no pictures.  What’s up with that?  I learned how to format my disk today because of it.  Needless to say, I was a little late to my assigned post, but I got there.  It turned out that many people came to help, so I didn’t have much to do, but enjoy the day. 

Marsha and Connie
Marsha and Connie

My very good friend Connie from Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) showed up, and we walked the path slowly, relishing the chance to catch up .

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The day was off to a lovely start.  The temperature was cool enough that I appreciated my coat for a while, then quickly shed it, as we strolled into last place.  Altogether 73 runners and walkers participated in this fund raiser.  All the proceeds from the event go to the Woodlake Food Pantry.   It’s a real privilege to be part of a community organization that gives so much back to the community.

How was your Saturday?  What is your favorite charitable organization or fundraising activity?

Need Faith In the Future? Interview Today’s Students

Want more hope?  Today I got a major shot of hope when I interviewed seniors from Woodlake High School about the portfolios they do as a graduation requirement.

My partner, Nancy, and me waited for our first interviewee.
My partner, Nancy, and I waited for our first interviewee.

I should have illegally taken pictures of them as I was grading them this week, but rats, I just now thought of it.  Meeting these students in person brightened my day today.

the first round of interviewees
Here is the first round of interviewees.  I told them how professional and nice they looked.  Somebody called out and said I looked beautiful.  Wow, that made my day!!!!

Students begin working on the portfolios long before they have the interview.  They start their freshman year collecting evidence of class and extra curricular work that they are particularly proud of doing.

Woodlake Memorial Building across from the High School made a welcoming location in which to interview.
Woodlake Memorial Building across from the High School made a welcoming location in which to interview.

They participate in extracurricular activities and reflect on what they accomplished.  They include their grades, and for some their grades were meaningless in 9th grade, but by 12th grade they realize what a mistake they made by not paying attention to them.

My friend, Joy, was also there interviewing.
My friend, Joy, was also there interviewing.

I thought Sally had deliberately given me the cream of the crop, student-wise, but apparently every there thought the same thing, so there must be something about the activity that brought out the best in all of us, but particularly the students.  First of all, they were all dressed up better than I have ever seen high school students anywhere except at Mock Trial, where all the students look like attorneys.  I know that we shouldn’t judge students for how they look, but let me tell you what that means for them to dress up.

We took over the Veterans; Memorial building for our interviews.
Veterans’ Memorial building auditorium off a central courtyard

Tulare County is the poorest, or nearly the poorest, of the 58 counties in the large, and once prosperous state of California.  The last time I researched TC had one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, lowest test scores, and lowest voting records.  Needless to say, these students don’t all have abundant resources to purchase fancy clothes.  I’m not sure how they put together their outfits, but this event was important enough for them to all make an effort to look spectacular.

Community members like Diane Pearcy, who has worked with the Woodlake Foundation for years, give of their time to interview students.
Community members like Diane Pearcy, who has worked with the Woodlake Foundation for years, give of their time to interview students.

Not every portfolio was error free or extensive, but as we interviewed each student for about 15 minutes their passions and enthusiasm shone. I have to tell you about Edgar (name changed).  His grades were less than stellar, and he told us that one of his weaknesses was to back away from activities at which he doesn’t experience success.  Who doesn’t do that?  Edgar’s parents, like many in the area, both speak Spanish.   As a result, Edgar didn’t excel at English, and school in general.  Therefore he didn’t like it, and consequently didn’t work very hard to improve his grades.  A vicious cycle, wouldn’t you say? But when Edgar started talking about what he loved, farm labor contracting, you would have thought that he was at the top of his class.  This young man works daily with his father, who has a farm labor contracting business.  In spite of his deceptively low grades, his English was impeccable, although he apologized unnecessarily for “not knowing big words.”  He has already PASSED all the state or county tests he needs to get his license, and he looks forward to working with his father in his business full-time.  He told us that his father is his “best friend.”  How many of you dads wouldn’t give your right arm to have your son say that, and want to follow in your footsteps, and work in your business with you?  I was downright jealous of his relationship with his father. Edgar realized his weaknesses, but he also recognized his strengths.  When his uncle, a forklift driver, did not show up for work, Edgar, the supervisor of a group of workers, had to decide what to do.  He knew the basics of forklift driving, but hadn’t put it into practice.  He made the decision to drive the forklift to meet the deadline, and succeeded.  Looking only at test scores and transcripts one might discard the value of this young man.  Giving him the chance to interview and tell us what HE knew convinced me that Edgar has what it takes to be a successful citizen.  He is able to learn and make important decisions, avoid pitfalls, and I know he will be a contributing member of a dynamic society. Edgar was just one student.  One of our interviewees battled cancer at age 12, another had kidney failure at about the same age, and now has to watch his diet very carefully.  One young man told us that he had wanted to quit the football team because the 5 hour daily practices were taking their toll.  He told his coach, and somehow his coach persuaded him to stay on the team.  Later that year, the coach lost his baby.  This young man said, “If I had dropped out, I would have missed the opportunity to be part of that experience.  We became a family that year, and I am so glad I didn’t miss it.”  I wanted to cry.  I had chills on my arms. One girl told us that she was the youngest in her family and no one wanted her to go to college or even cared that she graduate from high school, but she is determined to make something of herself.  Another young man wanted to be a role model for his 6 brothers and sisters as their oldest brother. His cousin led the way and encouraged him to stay in school and go to college.  He wants to learn so that he can contribute to solving the water shortage problem.  Another girl who served on the newspaper staff, looked like Lesley Carter of the Bucket List blog, and had ambitions that would have made Lesley proud.  With approximately a 4.2 GPA and participation in every play, every sport, and just about every activity offered at Woodlake, this young woman battled shyness with the determination of a soldier on the front line of the battlefield.  I think she might be the president some day.

Community members volunteer eagerly for this role.
Community members volunteer eagerly for this role.  Woodlake Kiwanis, particularly  Linda LaFleur, Sally Pace, and Janet McCoy provided breakfast for the volunteers.

Are these kids just unusual or are they the norm?  Are there any other kids in other communities that would knock your socks off if you sat down in a formal setting and interviewed them about their goals?  Or are the rest of the nation’s kids today just not able to step up to the challenges of the future?  What do you think?

Wicked Weekend in Oz for History Gals

Some people got to family reunions.  Some go to class reunions?  Other people meet in different ways and click, and then start to do things together in a group.  Do you travel with a group of people?  Do you plan for months and all look forward for weeks and even months for just a few short days or hours together?  Before this group of women came into my life, I never had this experience with more than another couple.  I have to say it is life-changing to have, not just close friends, but people who plan and do things together.  So if you don’t have this in your life, I fully recommend it.

The History Gals Ozzed out over the Wicked weekend in Orange County, CA last weekend.  In addition to seeing Wicked, which I had never seen, we went to see the new Wizard of Oz movie, Oz, the Great and Powerful.

WickedB Traditions are developing.  What traditions do you have when you meet friends

  • A theme for the weekend’s activities
  • Gifts for everyone from everyone.
  • Lots of food
  • Girlie beauty activities
  • Plenty of stories and giggles

What do you give the gals just want to have a good time, and it’s all about the uniqueness of the situation?  Months ahead of time Leslie told us that she had some special things planned for our Wicked weekend.   I couldn’t imagine what she was doing, but the last time we got together, she made each of us a fantastic book out of many of our pictures of our trips for the last year.  So I worried and felt excited at the same time.  Not a particularly creative gifter, I asked my friend Mary what I should get.  She suggested red Isotoner slippers.  V suggested that I wait till I get there to buy anything.  So I took their advice.

I arrived first, and couldn't check in, so I waited here for Leslie.
I arrived first, and couldn’t check in, so I waited here for Leslie.

Les and I were the only ones who stayed in a hotel.  The Wyndham with a remodeled bar only five days old, was quite nice and very reasonable.

I appreciated these slow-moving critters entertaining us with their stretching necks.
I appreciated these slow-moving critters entertaining us with their stretching necks.

We ended up with an executive suite that had a beautiful view of the courtyard turtles.


Because Les and I got to our chosen destination the night before, we had extra time to spend celebrating.  While we waited for our names to come up at Maggiano’s in South Coast Plaza, we walked over to Sears.  Almost the second we walked in, these red shoes jumped off the shelf and into our cart.  I still didn’t know what Leslie had planned, but the shoes were on sale, and while I was off buying them, she was off doing some other green or red scouting.4 Red ShoesB

I have been to South Coast Plaza, but never to Maggiano’s.  I had chicken picata, but what I really loved was the Chocolate Marshmallow Torte, which we split, and I finished my half for breakfast the next morning.  I didn’t know until tonight, but when you buy a torte, you support Make-A Wish.  Go to their website, it’s really cool!

Chocolate Marshmallow Torte

This was a weekend of firsts for me.  I had never been to a Mac make-up store.  The place was jammed with women and girls in every stage of madeupness.  They didn’t have enough artists to create a green look for all of us at the same time.  All we told them was that we needed to be green for the weekend.  Leslie probably came out the most green, but she started out with the greenest shirt.

Leslie came out looking stunning!
Leslie came out looking stunning!

Debbie’s was a little more muted, but I came out rather neonish, but I bought the look, and I don’t mind being a little green once in a while. The process was lots of fun!


The Mac make-up people make up 80-90% of Hollywood productions.  The make-up comes in all colors, and includes body make-up.The Wicked Witch of the West wore Mac body make-up.  Probably Bronze Lady in San Diego sported Mac make-up, too!!!  That took up most of the day.

China Girl was my favorite character.

We ate our evening meal after the movie, Oz, the Great and Powerful, which was cute, but I won’t spoil it for you.  I will only say that the perspective was entirely different than the Wicked perspective.  I spoiled my appetite like I always do when I go to movies – with the largest order of popcorn!  No, I didn’t eat it all!  We went to Cafe Tu Tu Tango for tapas since no one was super hungry.  Tapas, if you didn’t know, are Spanish appetizers.  I am fairly uncultured, so I didn’t know that until recently.  I rely on my younger friends to educate me.

A Day In Paradise photo. How many of us WOULD be brave enough to try this?

This tapas cafe featured  belly and tango dancers who entertained us, and even drew out some of the audience to participate with them.  I was thankful that they didn’t stop at our table. Unlike my friend Sylvia, I couldn’t have stood and belly danced on demand, although I have a fairly bouncy belly.

After that demonstration, we drove to the Crystal Cathedral, when a group from our church in Oregon had visited the epic day they were inserting the first glass into it.  I learned this weekend that it now belongs to the Catholic church.  I can’t tell you all the other things I learned this weekend!!!  All I can say is that for someone as old and well-educated as I am, I sure don’t know much!!!  And that doesn’t count all the things that I used to know, but forgot!!!  So…I’m excited – so much to learn!!!  Guess I’d better get busy!🙂

National History Day – California – Tulare County a Huge Success

This was my first year in the past twelve years NOT to coordinate Tulare County’s History Day event.  The job now falls on my dear friend, Joy Soares, who took my place as the History Consultant at the County Office.  She has enough energy and ideas for three people, and indeed more than three people kept very busy bringing this exciting day to fruition.

Joy Soares dressed in 1940s style including a black line drawn up her leg.  Styling, Joy!
Joy Soares dressed in 1940s style including a black line drawn up her leg. Styling, Joy!

My job in all of this was to represent two volunteer organizations, San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies (SJVCSS), and Tulare County Historical Society (TCHS).  Both organizations had booths, and both gave scholarships to students.  This was the first year we named any of the donations from these organizations.

Three tables for three organizations.  Tulare Treasures, TCHS, and SJVCSS
Three tables for three organizations. Tulare Treasures, TCHS, and SJVCSS  See me manning the tables?  OK I’m a little ghostly, but there’s my coat.    800 ISO picture – much better!

Two individuals from TCHS were especially instrumental in bringing TCHS and History Day together, Stan Barnes and Madeline Franz.  When I first started coordinating History Day, the Fresno County Historical Society actively supported the Fresno County event, and I didn’t even know who the Tulare County Historical Society was or how to find them.  Then Sharon Doughty created a website, and I made a phone call.  That next year Madeline Franz judged for our event.  The next year she brought friends, Don MacMillian, Terry Ommen, and Stan Barnes.

Madeline is a kick.  You'd love her.  Her daughter is sitting next to her.
Madeline is a kick. You’d love her. Her daughter is sitting next to her.  You can see Terry Ommen behind her with his arm up like he is taking a picture.  He was. 

Stan was particularly taken with the project, and insisted that the Society donate money as long as it didn’t get swallowed in a “black hole.”  The society also contributed a large amount to a group of students from Kingsburg, CA who were going to National History Day in Washington, D.C.  What an opportunity for students who had never been out of Tulare County!  TCHS bought tee shirts one year so that when our students went to state they all dressed alike one night and really stood out in the crowd of thousands of students.  This year was the first year that the Society specified scholarship amounts, and named the scholarships.  Unfortunately, Stan Barnes passed away just a few weeks ago, so did not see what the scholarship named for him will do for students.  His daughter attended the awards ceremony.

Stan Barnes' daughter is at the ceremony to present the scholarship with President, Jill Brown.
Stan Barnes’ daughter is at the ceremony to present the scholarship with President, Jill Brown.  Stan’s daughter is the smiling blond woman looking towards me.  The blond in the background was my boss at TCOE when I retired.  Jill Brown is not wearing brown, but yellow.

Madeline also participated in the awards ceremony, bringing her family with her.  TCHS President, Jill Brown presented both awards.

Seating was tight, so I had a hard time getting in to get the right angle on the picture.  I still need a lot of work as a professional photographer!
Seating was tight, so I had a hard time getting in to get the right angle on the picture. I still need a lot of work as a professional photographer!  Someone was not extremely excited to be there for the presentation part.  This is Madeline’s family.

SJVCSS is the local affiliate council of the California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS) It is a professional organization for social studies teachers, administrators, and professors, and really is NON-profit.  Each year since I started as coordinator the organization gave $50 to History Day, and I used it to purchase things we needed for the event.  This year we upped it to $100 and created an Exhibit Scholarship in the name of Marvin Awbrey, Father of History Day.  Marvin is from Fresno County, just north of us.  He IS the Father of History Day in California, the man who brought it to Fresno County, then the state.  He also served as the judge captain of the Exhibits Category for many years.  At the awards ceremony yesterday, I made a presentation speech, and Marvin gave the scholarship to a deserving exhibit designer, Mr. Wilson.

By this time, I had learned to bring folks where I want them, not take a snapshot!  I learn SO slowly!  :)
By this time, I had learned to bring folks where I want them, not take a snapshot! I learn SO slowly!🙂

I will write a more professional article that has student names and a little less silliness for the Los Tulares, the TCHS quarterly magazine available to members.   My blogging friends have to put up with all my foibles, bad photography, and antics.  It is SO fun to be retired and be able to be silly.  There is something to be said for that second childhood!

Here are some other photos if you are a parent or an interested bystander that just loves HD.

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John Muir Visits the Tulare County Historical Society During the 2013 Annual Meeting

Yesterday at the Tulare County Historical Society Annual Meeting Frank Helling, a 30-year veteran as John Muir, with his hand carved cane in his Scottish accent told the crowd  “Everywhere we step is holy land.”  Of course he never hiked around the world,  he “san-tared” (sauntered) about because hiking is too much like work.

Frank Helling as John Muir
Frank Helling as John Muir

At one point Muir had to find employment.  Although he wasn’t a shepherd, he was hired to keep tabs on Shepherd Billy, a lazy bloke.   Billy rarely never bathed so  his clothes became a natural walking history museum, growing thicker by the day with new additions such as pine needles, tree sap, or whatever else he wiped on them.  Another employer wanted him to run a saw mill, but Muir had vowed never to cut a living tree again, but didn’t mind taking the already fallen trees to the saw mill.

Muir recounted the many famous people his path had crossed except for Louise Jackson’s mother who was 13 when she met him.  Sixty-eight year old Ralph Waldo Emerson came to see him in 1871 and remarked about the Sequoia Redwoods, “These trees have a talent for being tall.”  Muir quipped back,   “You’re a Sequoia yourself, get acquainted with the brethren.”

Muir, the Big Tree Advocate, upon returning to  Yosemite after one of his many travels,  found the trees being cut down, and cried out “Repent the Kingdom of Sequoia is at hand!”  He got lost in the “artificial canyons” (hallways) of a San Francisco hotel when he met with his editor, Johnson.  His friend changed his writing , and removed many repetitions of the word, glorious, telling Muir, “That’s called editing.”

Muir kept his audience humorously spell-bound for probably close to an hour.  I don’t know I lost track of time.

We will soon have a new TCHS website.  We meet with the designer, Louise Jackson’s daughter, Laile on Wednesday.  I’ve been honored to serve on that committee for the past year, so I can’t wait to see what she has to show us.  :)  Websites, websites, websites!!!  :)


I’ve been running you all over Running P Ranch, but I saved the best for last, the cats.  You already met Margaret Sanger in the first post.

Margaret Sanger
Margaret Sanger

Margaret followed us everywhere.  Not a single person commented on the human Margaret’s contribution to history, so I thought you should know what a rich background from which these cats derived their names.  Margaret Sanger died before I was old enough to be sexually active, but she changed the world of sex for women my age and younger.  Many have argued whether the world is better for the change, but forever changed it is!!

Margaret Sanger

“Sanger’s efforts contributed to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case which legalized contraception in the United States. Sanger is a frequent target of criticism by opponents of birth control and has also been criticized for supporting eugenics, but remains an iconic figure in the American reproductive rights movement.”  Wikipedia

Margaret kept tabs on everything!
Margaret kept tabs on everything!
I wouldn't mess with Margaret!!  :)
I wouldn’t mess with Margaret!!  

Sacagawea wasn’t quite so ubiquitous.  She came out when we were almost ready to go home.



Sacagawea is calling for back-up.
Sacagawea is calling for back-up.


Pardon me for always using Wikipedia, but it also is ubiquitous.  “The National American Woman Suffrage Association of the early twentieth century adopted her as a symbol of women’s worth and independence, erecting several statues and plaques in her memory, and doing much to spread the story of her accomplishments.”[1]  As I read excerpts from the diary of Lewis and Clark, I understood how she was so valuable to the party.  “However, her greatest value to the mission may have been simply her presence during the arduous journey, which showed their peaceful intent. While traveling through what is now Franklin County, Washington, Clark noted, “The Indian woman confirmed those people of our friendly intentions, as no woman ever accompanies a war party of Indians in this quarter,” and, “the wife of Shabono our interpeter we find reconsiles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions a woman with a party of men is a token of peace.”[6]Sac. kept her distance, but she beckoned a third friend to the party, Rosa Parks.

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

Rosa was the prim and proper one.  No one would accuse her of sitting meekly in the back of the bus, however.

“On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation. Others had taken similar steps in the twentieth century, including Irene Morgan in 1946, Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, and Claudette Colvin nine months before Parks. NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience.

Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.”  Wikipedia again.

No way, Margaret.  You stay back there.
No way, Margaret. You stay back there.

Rosa the cat didn’t take a back seat to anyone, even Margaret Sanger.


So, do you think the cats were well named?

Who cares?
Who cares?

Scardy Kitty isn’t convinced that cats need uppity historic names.  He’s proud of his name!!  What do you think?

Travel Theme: Circles

Definition: A circle is the locus of all points equidistant from a central point.

Ailsa of Where’s My Backpack, dreamed up a theme that made my mind go in circles trying to think of when I have ever photographed circles.  But sure enough, when I looked through my pictures, I found circles had snuck into my collection unwittingly.


Members of the California Council for Social Studies checked out the hotel in Burlingame where we will hold our annual conference in March, 2013.  Circles abounded in this travel site.  Most obviously the tables are round, the best kind for facilitating conversation between a group of five or six people.  You probably noticed the floor before I did.  The carpet designer loved circles.

Circles 2In this picture we are not distracted by the roundness of the tables, so our eyes can focus on the circles in the carpet.  In this case we might almost overlook the round lights in the ceiling.  As a teacher I notice that the large circles, and some of the small circles form Venn Diagrams.  I loved using Venn Diagrams to compare concepts.  Venns are used in many occupational circles, but briefly this is how teachers use them in reading a text, for example.  Characteristics of item A are listed in Circle A on the left, and characteristics of Item B are listed in Circle B on the right.  The characteristics that the items have in common are listed in the intersection.   This makes it very easy to then write a comparison paragraph or essay.  (I veered off the straight path.  Sorry I had to include an instructional strategy.)

Circles3This shot gives a different perspective of the pattern in the second picture.  Ailsa must have been along when the designer chose the carpet for this hotel.  The carpet theme was definitely circles throughout the hotel, but there were slight variations in the patterns from room to room.  I wonder what the psychological effect circles have on conference goers, and vacationers.


The carpet in the final conference room we examined has a different circular pattern.  This room is dominated by rectangular tables, podium, walls and lights.  The carpet mirrors that business-like rectangular flavor with definite  horizontal lines crossing the length of the room which were softened with some bolder, thicker circles than we found in the larger, more social foyer.

As this circular subject develops, I gravitated to the social aspect of circles:

  • circles of friends
  • round table discussions
  • circular conversations (which are VERY frustrating to me!)
  • circles for concept mapping capturing the ideas in our brains.

I wondered if there were specific psychological effects of circles that designers know about and employ to try and motivate us subconsciously.

Oh I do love the internet.  In the process of my search I came across a WordPress site devoted just to circles, Psychology of Circles.  Unfortunately the author only posted 9 articles during two months in 2009, and the one I wanted to read was only promised.  “Power Circles in Advertising” was never written.  Maybe his or her mind was just going in circles like mine, and couldn’t focus.  There are definitely disadvantages to circles!

Not satisfied, I entered the word circles, and found a company called Circles with this description, “Circles is the leading global provider of concierge, events and customized rewards.  … Our mission is to make life better and that pays dividends all around.”  There must be something to the use of circles in the hotel business!!!  I found another article describing how agitated certain animals became when they encountered crop circles.  No wonder most hotels with circular themed carpets don’t allow animals!

FAQs from Wikipedia

  • The circle is the shape with the largest area for a given length of perimeter.
  • The circle is a highly symmetric shape: every line through the centre forms a line of reflection symmetry and it has rotational symmetry around the centre for every angle.
  • A circle’s circumference and radius are proportional.

The human eye is drawn to a circle, which is perfectly proportional.  People are drawn to other people whose faces are proportional and symmetrical.   Cartoonists draw rounder, bigger eyes to make their characters mor appealing.  Are we more trusting of the circular shape?

It seems that very little has been written about the psychological effect of circles on humans.  I thought I’d hit the jackpot when CSU Stanislaus, but this list was the extent of their article:

  • Connection, community, wholeness, endurance, movement, safety, perfection
  • Refers to the feminine: warmth, comfort, sensuality, and love.

I was disappointed, but the truth is if someone is looking for a new topic for their doctoral thesis, here it is!!!

Have I come full circle?  Or is my circle yet unclosed?  I think the latter.  How does the circle affect you?