Archive for February, 2012

Guest blog by Daily Om – February 29, 2012

Sharing Grief
Opening to Receive Comfort



Grief is part of the human experience, and sharing our vulnerability helps create truly close bonds.

When we experience something that causes us to feel shock and sadness, we may feel the urge to withdraw from life. It may seem like remaining withdrawn will keep us protected from the world, but during these times it is important to reach out to those trusted and precious people who care about us the most. Even with our best information and reasoning, we never know when someone else’s experience or perspective can give us additional information that we need. The universe speaks to us through many channels, and when we open ourselves up to receive its messages, we also receive nurturing care from a loving partner in life’s journey.

Grief is part of the human experience, and sharing our vulnerability is what creates truly close bonds in our relationships. Opening ourselves up in this way gets to the core of our being, past all of our defenses and prejudices. When life seems to crack the outer shell of our world, we are both raw and fresh at the same time. It is then that we discover who is truly willing to walk with us through life. We also see that some of those sent to us may not be the ones we expected to see. Regardless, we learn to trust in the universe, in others, in our own strength and resilience, and in the wisdom of life itself.

Sharing grief allows us to ease our burden by letting someone else help carry it. This helps us process our own inner thoughts and feelings through the filter of a trusted and beloved someone. We may feel guilty or selfish, as if we are unloading on someone who has their own challenges. Although, if we think about it, we know we would do the same for them, and their protests would seem pointless. Remember that not sharing feelings with others denies them the opportunity to feel. We may be the messenger sent by the universe for their benefit, and it is on this mission that we have been sent. By sharing our hopes and fears, joys and pains with another person, we accept the universe’s gifts of wisdom and loving care.

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Guest blog by Melitas’ friend Georgia

Georgia is a friend of Melitas and she loves her stories and after reading one of her blogs she emailed her memories to Melitas and we decided we wanted to share them with you.  I asked her to tell me a little about herself and this is what she says:


Born and raised in Ontario, Canada. As a young nurse I came to California in 1965 for one year to see movie stars and escape the snow.  Met my husband and stayed.  Worked as a nurse for 37 years before retiring to play golf and travel. Brothers still live near our hometown so I’m ‘home’ often.  On the last visit we went to see our old farm and one of those big tobacco kilns is still standing. Hard to find a tobacco farm anywhere though.
Here is her blog, thank you Georgia for sharing with us!

Your stories often remind me of similar times in my life. 
This one reminded me of my first paying job back in the 50’s. 
We had moved to a tobacco farm in southern Ontario in 1952.  Most in California are surprised when I tell them that we grew tobacco up in Canada because the great majority of Californians have no idea about actual climate up there and don’t know that summers where I’m from were and are very hot and very humid – perfect for flue cured tobacco. 
No fancy harvesting mechanisms then.  A 6′ long boat on two runners like skis was pulled down each row by a horse.  The metal boat was a row’s width wide and about 4′ deep.  Six men called primers walked behind the boat picking the leaves off the 5′ – 6′ tall tobacco plants -stuck them under their arms until they had a big bunch and then they’d put them in the boat.  When the boat was full it was taken up to the table gang of women at a long table outside the kiln.  There, the boat unloader would unload the boat and spread the leaves out on the long table, ready to be picked up.  This was my job.  I was tall and could easily reach all the way down into the boat. 
Two women were tying the leaves on a 3′ slat (just like a yard stick) and each tier (pronounced tire of course)  had two handlers handing the leaves to them.  These tiers were so fast you watched them in awe.  Tying each bunch of 3-4 leaves handed to them with string and flipping them back and forth over the slat.  Then the full slats – pretty heavy by now – were removed – put in a pile near the kiln and another slat placed on the holder ready for more leaves.  If the tier was really fast – had fast handlers – and there were fast primers out in the field – they could fill the kiln by mid afternoon and still make a full day’s pay…..and that farm’s reputation would enjoy area-wide envy.
At the end of the day the primers would climb up into the huge kiln to hang all of the fresh tobacco leaves for curing.  Managing the curing process was handled by the ‘cure man’.  He was adjusting the oil fueled burners on the floor of the kiln. My favorite was a man from North Carolina who came up every year.  His name was Early Dickens and he would let me drive his ’52 Chevy convertible even though I was only 15 at the time.  He was the cureman at 6 farms and was often up all night adjusting heat etc. so he liked to sleep while I drove him from farm to farm in the evening.
That first season working in tobacco I made $10 per day!!  Cash!!  I was rich!  Handlers made $15 and primers and tiers made $25………a day!!  (Though my brother thinks it was less). There were so many tobacco farms and so many acres of tobacco being grown that it was a huge operation all over Southern Ontario.  Young good-lookin’ Frenchmen from Quebec would drive down every year to prime.  Lived in the bunkhouse out by the barn.  I have a picture of one of my favorites asleep with his head leaning on the kiln and his hat over his face and his shirt off.  Didn’t want him to know I had a crush on him. Can’t remember what he looked like now.  Great bod though!
Great memories of hard work that was fun. 
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Mondays with Melitas – February 27, 2012

PROHIBITION DAYS                                          FEBRUARY 27, 2012


          I was 2 years old when Prohibition went into effect,  and 15 years old when it was repealed in 1933.  It was the 18th Amendment t0 our Constitution, and the idea for it was to stop our citizens from drinking alcohol, or so our Congress thought. I probably didn’t understand or worry about it too much because it didn’t stop people from having booze around, and several in my family — one aunt  (not Aunt Mae,) a couple of uncles — were alcoholics, and wherever we went to visit friends and relatives there were cocktails to be served.

          Now my Uncle Titán had a way about him and knew a lot of people, so when it was mentioned that we would be taking a drive over to Cucamonga I knew what that meant.  We were going over to visit the Galliano family for the day.  This family had acres and acres of grape vines which come in handy if you like to make wine and brandy, so that’s exactly what went on there — a lot of stomping on the grapes. They had some kids, but I don’t know if they helped in this integral part of making the wine.  Even if I was only 7 or 8 years old, I knew we would be travelling home with gallon jugs of wine and several gallons of the brandy they made.  They would store them in the trunk of the car.  Early on, the trunk sat on the rear of the car separately, and it looked like a trunk.  It was a great trip to take because Viv and I had so much fun playing with the kids there, and then there would be a lot of Italian food served, not to mention the brandy and wine that was flowing freely, before we left for home.  Titán was very smart to have such a nice bootlegger for a friend.

          Titán especially favored the brandy.  He kept the jugs in the 4-car garage padlocked in an old ship’s chest, a leftover from my great grandfather, Don Juan Forster’s sea captain days.  In fact, I ended up with one of those chests and then ended up donating it— empty — to the Bower’s Museum inSanta Ana.  Titán’s cronies would show up frequently, and he entertained them in the garage where the libations would be served.  I will never forget one time when he had gone down the hill to God knows where, and Aunt Mae and I were going out, and she spotted the open padlock on the ship’s chest. With that, she grabbed  those jugs and emptied them into the drain outside the garage without batting an eye, and giving her much satisfaction — she didn’t like him to carry on with his social life in the garage where the brandy was.  Titán never said one word about his missing brandy, and I don’t know where his Plan B was, to replace it in the event this “seizure” might take place.

          Back home in Fullerton, my oldest sister Beth — she was 17 years older than I — had a great idea:  she was going to start making some beer in a big crock down in the cellar, she would have to keep watch over it during the fermentation, and then when it was ready to be bottled, she would give me the job of capping the bottles. That was a fun job.  Other times, she would wave her magic wand and pour various liquids into the bathtub, and Voile! she would have some “bathtub gin.”  I never knew what her recipe was.  She had to come over to our house to do her fermenting because she was now married, and her house was quite close to her in-laws.  If they got wind of all this scene taking place, they would most surely call the cops and have her thrown in jail.  You could say they were very anti-booze.

          Another thing, when we took our Sunday drives to Tijuanafor the horse races, or the bull fights; or to Montecito for the Polo games, there was this expensive, gorgeous tan leather case that went along, especially if we had a picnic lunch.  The case had 2 crystal bottles — for the liquor — a silver shaker to shake up a Martini or Manhattan, a long, silver bar spoon, and the “glasses” were silver metal that collapsed to save on space.  Now, just think of the irony here.  This liquor case was a gift from Aunt Mae to Titán!  She hated it when he was borracho. However, it was a handsome case to be traveling around with.

          My Mom and Dad were not “drinkers.”  I never saw my Dad loaded, and 2 of his brothers were alcoholics. Years later, we celebrated Mom’s 85th at my home inLaguna Beach, and we got her a little buzzed.  My older sisters, Beth and Sis, and brother Buddy would tell this story which took place in our   home up at the end of Raymond  in an orange grove inFullerton.  (I was born in that home and lived there for 6 months, then we moved real close to town across the street from the high school.)  Mom was trying to get dinner ready, but Dad was late, and she kept stewing that it was getting later, and later, and he wasn’t home yet,  and the kids were hungry, and so on. He finally showed up, came in the back door into the kitchen with this inane look on his face, and when Mom saw that he was three sheets to the wind, she took dead aim with the egg she had in her hand, and threw it at him — it landed right in the middle of his forehead, and went oozing  down over his face. To see the stunned look on his face must have been priceless.  Mom and those 3 kids never forgot this scene.

          Congress overturned their 18th Amendment, and I would bet it had finally dawned on them that maybe it was a lousy law when it spawned all those bootleggers, gangsters, and the like. 

          It took only 13 years for those representatives (HA!) of the American people to figure that one out.  All I wish they would do is get rid of  the “Notch Baby” section of Social Security — but they never will because they are waiting for us to die.

          If you are not aware of this Notch Baby thing, please go to Google, or some place, and read up on it.  I would tell you all about it, except this would go on for another 6 pages.  At least!




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What do you choose to embrace?

Life is such an amazing journey.  As I examine and write about all the twists and turns of my journey it brings my life into perspective.  As you write about your life journey an interesting aspect is to write about your views on religion and how it has changed (or not changed) throughout your lifetime. 

How has religion played a part in your life?  How has your view of religion evolved?  As a young girl I can remember waiting out on the corner for the Sunday School bus from our local church to come and pick me up.  I have always had a deep longing for spirituality in my life, although at different times it has had different face.

Last year I started studying Judaism and this year I have made a commitment to learn all that I can.  By enrolling in Hebrew classes and attending Shabbat services have all been apart of my journey.  Embracing the traditions feels good to me. 

Explore on paper your journey in the world of religion.

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Guest blog by DD Gore

DD is currently enrolled in my Legacy Series session 1.  During week 2 I ask my students to answer these questions regarding finding balance in their lives.  These are the answers that DD came up with:

 Finding balance


 My greatest attention is given to ensuring I take my medications on time and as prescribed by my doctor.  Maintaining that regimen gives me the best possible health status. 

As an 18+ year retiree it’s difficult to say what else pulls for my attention and time.  There are only two appointments that I meet every week – one to get to Mass each week-end.  The second is getting to Palm Springs to my favorite hair dresser for a shampoo and blow dry, and every 3-4 weeks, a nice cut.  It’s difficult for me to wash my own hair because I can’t use the shower (breathing problems) and surely I can’t style and dry it.  I decided almost 14 years ago I could either go to see Joanna, the maven with the scissors, once a week, or I could line my casket with $20 bills.  I chose the first alternative.  Other than these two weekly dates, I venture outside somewhat infrequently – again because of my health.  Wind, rain, too hot, too cold – all these variations in our weather tear at my lungs and seemingly take my breath away.  Fortunately I’m perfectly able to entertain myself with reading, watching favorite tv programs in the evenings, catching up with old and new movies via Netflix, maintaining a lively correspondence with my family and friends on my computer, and playing a variety of games on my faithful computer.  I don’t actually feel any of these diversions “pulling” at me.  Rather I sort of just float from one to the next.  I suppose the one good thing about this situation is that I am most usually available for a lunch or dinner or whatever with friends and family.


To awaken and find that I’m breathing regularly.

I enjoyed what I think was an extremely successful career serving in a dual capacity of a Supervisory Recreation Specialist in a civil service position with the Army while at the same time serving in the Naval Reserve as a “week-end warrior.”  In my civil service position I was one of only two recreation specialists Army-wide in the advanced grade of GS-12 managing the Youth activities program for the Army in Washington State and in Europe.  As a Navy Captain, I had reached the highest grade available to women reserve officers, there being no female Rear Admirals in the Naval Reserve at that time.  At that point, women officers competed for promotion only among themselves rather than against male officers as is done today.  But with a “women only” zone there were fewer women promoted each year.  In 1981, the year I became eligible for promotion, there were 11 female Reserve Commanders Navy-wide eligible for promotion to Captain and only one of the eleven was selected for the higher rank. Only one in the whole nation and it was ME! To say I was pleased would be true.  To say I was dumbfounded was putting it mildly.

My success in my chosen career fields has seemed to carry over to my personal life.  At least I feel AND think it has.  I am fairly self-confident in my abilities to accomplish whatever I set out to do, although I must admit failing health has taken its toll on what projects I even attempt now. My COPD – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – has been diagnosed as “very severe.”   But I do accomplish many things my doctor says I shouldn’t be able to do – and she “blames” my positive attitude on this ability.  To quote her, she said “your numbers are so low, you shouldn’t be able to do all you do…… but you just go ahead and do it anyway.” What can I say?  Should I stop and give in?  HELL NO!

I own my own home though I am still paying on the mortgage.  I suppose to be “successful” I should pay off the mortgage, but then I’d have only minimal deductions and that would be costly. 

In essence then, the thing that I need to do to feel successful is what I stated at the head of this topic: I need to awaken each day and find that I am alive and breathing.  My positive attitude is what gets me through each day, be it a “good” or “tough” breathing day.  I thank God for the good days, and know that at the end of a tough day, a good day is just around the corner.  And all I need to do is to wake up tomorrow …………….still breathing.


I am not necessarily wealthy, but I do have more than many.  I have given a lot of money over the years to family and friends, to charities and churches and other causes in which I believed and felt would benefit from my help.  Since I can’t provide physical assistance, financial assistance is the next best thing, and in providing it, I feel useful.

I feel useful when friends and family talk of a personal problem they are experiencing and seem to be asking if I know of any solutions to their particular situations.  There are times when I have heard or read about the same problem experienced by someone else that I can relay that information and either cure the problem, or at least alleviate it.  Other times I know of no assistance, but just listening to them expound on their trouble seems to bring some relief to them.  I feel useful when I can help a friend or family member lessen their anxiety if not actually solve their problem.

Often among my daily email receipts there comes a note requesting, suggesting even demanding sometimes that I not only read and agree with whatever is contained in the email, but I need to send it on to 10 others – and I may get some sort of reward for doing so.  I’ve learned that many of these solicitations are pure hoax and in fact, are blatantly untrue.  It irritates me to see so many untruths promulgated by a few and sent to many who simply read and pass on as instructed.  In particular are untruths about our President, our Congress and even our military. I take it upon myself to check out the veracity of these statements and, if they aren’t true, to let the person who originally sent me the email know that the information in the email isn’t true.  Several friends have written back to me thanking me for taking the time and energy to get to the truth and let them know.  They tend to send a note out correcting the information to all those they had contacted with the incorrect info in the first place.  This action gives me much satisfaction to know that I have stopped circulation of a hoax, even a blatant lie.  I feel useful for having done so and for informing others who email of the truth of the matter.

I need to feel useful to others, particularly when I’m visiting their home.  I often try to offer help in the kitchen, though the oxygen tank which is my constant companion gives pause to many.  For sure they don’t want me hanging over their stove.  But I can set a table, load and unload a dishwasher, bring plated food to a table and other chores.  I must admit it would be lovely to have someone at my house to cook meals.  But since I don’t have such a person, I do hang over my own stove and cook my own meals, just like in the old days.  Yes, I’m slower than cold syrup, but if you can give me the time, I can do the job.  So I say to my family and friends, let me do the things I can do.  Let me actually be, not just feel, useful.


Like every other human, and lots of pets as well, I need to feel loved.  Oh, not sexual love, though that’s nice too.  But loved as a friend, as a sister, as an auntie, as a helper, as a good boss, as a good employee.  I see love as being an all-encompassing feeling with varying degrees available so you can love your lover and love your boss.  Obviously not in the same way.  Beyond the necessary food and water every human needs to be nourished, LOVE is next most important ingredient each body needs, not only to live, but to flourish. 

I need to know, positively, that I am loved.  Not just sense the emotion, but to hear it being said, to read it in a note or card, to feel it in a touch on the arm, a fleeting kiss, a happy voice, a shared song, a hug. 

There are plenty of other things that make me feel nourished but they seem relatively unimportant when compared to food, water and love.  Yes, it’s wonderful to be complimented for a job well done, for colors and incidentals which you’ve chosen to decorate your home.  It’s uplifting to be thanked for helping a friend or family member when what you provided wasn’t easy for you to give.  And it’s nice when someone notices you have a new haircut, or that they like the perfume you’re wearing.

 But compliments are like snacks; love is the full meal.


So give me food, water, my computer and LOVE.  I’ll be fixed for life. 


My friend DD


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