Archive for January, 2014

Guest blog by Diana Densmore – January 29, 2014

Fabrics of Life

Cotton undies, on a 3 year old girl, tawny hair hanging like a waterfall as she leans in to
 drink from the garden hose.
Hand me down boy jeans, with holes in the knees and hems rolled into a 4 inch cuff, the
seven year-old squints into the sun with her braided blonde hair mussed by outdoor play.
Easter dresses, crafted from pastel organza, white patent shoes and a fluffy pompom
perched on the side of her snowy knit cap, are captured in black and white photos.
Pale jeans on my big brother, a skinny belt and tee shirt sleeves rolled carefully above his
blossoming biceps.
Light cotton, aqua dotted with red and yellow miniature roses, first made a full skirt worn
 over two starched petticoats, swishing back and forth when she walked to junior high.
Leftover fabric fashioned into aprons with rick-rack and and pockets kept Mom neat while
baking so many cookies, cakes and pies.
A splashy tropical print of purple, the matching top and pants were accented with a broad
yellow sash for a school luau.
An ivory peau de soie gown on her wedding day, might have been made by her mother,
had there been more time.
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Mondays with Melitas – January 27, 2014


If you take the Ortega Highway east out of San Juan Capistrano,

you will be passing through some of the immense Ranchos of the past.

The Rancho Mission Viejo is the main one that you will pass through,

to the north is the Rancho Trabuco, and to the south east lies the vast

227,000 acre Rancho Santa Margarita from 15 miles inland to the coast,

and from Oceanside north almost to San Clemente. Our US Marine

Corps uses about one half of this acreage with a 99-year lease, which

has some 40 years to go. I have no idea what happens at the end of this

term. This gigantic area was made up of Spanish and Mexican Land


My Great Grandfather, Don Juan Forster, and his wife, Ysidora

Melitas Pico Forster, owned all this for a number of years, and at one

point in time, Don Juan was the largest land owner in Alta California.

When he passed on in 1878, his heirs sold these 3 Ranchos, but the

Forsters still had several smaller Ranchos around San Juan.

The above has been only a bird’s eye view of the history of this

area. It should be a huge tome of the times, but I want to get on with the

story about the cattle that roamed around, and in the spring the young

ones had to be branded, etc. to grow up to be nice steers and go off to the

meat packing house and be some nice steaks for hungry humans.

These “babies” were separated from their “moms,” and were

herded into holding corrals, and then several at a time would be let

into a large corral — the main arena where all the action took place. A

cowboy on horseback would rope a little guy, then several cowboys on

foot had to get the critter all tied up so other cowboys could do their

job. There would be a groups of cowboys who did nothing but wield the

branding iron, from out of the hot coals to the rump of the scared and

wounded young gonna-be steer, then there would be several groups just

de-horning the “patients,” and other groups who took care of de-testicle- izing. (Don’t tell me if I spelled that wrong. I could’ve used other words,

I guess.)

When I was 6/7 years old, I would go off with my uncle, Titán, who

belonged to Aunt Mae, and have a great time at these brandings. There

were always some other kids to join up with, and either watch for awhile,

and then play for awhile, whatever.

I took pictures later on during the 50’s. I will bring this to a close

for this week, then we’ll have the rest of the story next week along with

pictures. There will be focus on my Swallow Bar to tie in with the cattle


Bear with me.


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Mondays with Melitas – January 20, 2014

A BUSY WEEK                                                JANUARY 20, 2014


For over 4 months, I’ve been spending a lot of time in solitary, so I was looking forward to this past week, which I had 3 little outings lined up for a change of pace.

The cracked knee cap really shuts one down for weeks on end, and there was no way I could maneuver my left leg, with the full leg brace, into the driver’s seat of my car.  It would’ve been nice to take a little spin, and stick my nose out the window to get some fresh air and see how the outside world was going along.

On Tuesday, I was going to lunch.  Remember the ladies’ golfing group, Desert League?  Last year, they surprised me – it was one of 3 surprises I did not see coming in my entire 95 years of living the life. This happened at the Escena Golf Club, and while we were having lunch, I was called up to the podium, plunked down in sort of a Queen Ann chair, they placed crown on my head announcing that I was now an Honorary Member — no more dues to pay.  (Here I was 95 years old — the Treasurer would not have to worry too long about that money not coming in.)  The thing is nothing was mentioned about other perks, such as free luncheons on Tournament Days, also El Patrón (Tequila.)

This time the Tournament was held at Indian Canyon North Course, so the vistas were awesome, and everyone was glad to see me, at least that’s what they said.  The line started forming for the buffet, so there I was starting out with a salad-bowl-shaped Tortilla shell, next came the greens to throw in it, AND THEN, WHADYYA KNOW!  There, in all its glory in a mountain-size steel bowl, chuck full of CHEEKIN!!!!!  Whatever else I put in the shell is all a blur.  I have to be quite honest here and say that the cheekin from Costco is the winner for taste and tenderness in my own personal survey.

On Thursday, Marcie drove over from Moreno Valley to collect her black blouse and box of Kleenex which she had left here at the end of her stint as stand-in for the Warden, while the Warden vacationed the Holidays with her family at the Aztec-Tigua Reservation in Arizona.  She had to be on surveillance, probably keeping a log of my comings and goings between the bedroom, the kitchen, my office the dining room, the living room, and don’t forget the bathroom.  Go to last week’s story for more on this — that is, if you can stand anymore.  She wasn’t here very long when the 3 of us piled into my car — me, me, me in driver’s seat — and off we went to Applebees.  It was my treat since I had failed to take her when she was here guarding me, and that had been one of the perks for her job of the week.  And the Warden had a free ride, but well worth it.   We love Applebees at Washington and Miles because the whole gang there is great, and I can have fun there even in my waning years. We had 2 or 3 greeters, then Jennifer, the Bar Keep took over and had to go and throw some guy out of OUR booth next to the bar. And the poor guy kept apologizing for taking up OUR space.  As we were trying to get settled in the booth one of the waitresses walked by, and cried out: “Tequila!” so that broke the ice, for sure.  Wonderful food, and there was my “usual”  in front of me before I had even gotten myself settled.  I call Jennifer “Nurse.”

I have been lying dormant for so long, and my forgetfulness is beginning to show — even to me, I notice.  Right here and now, I remembered there were 3 dates for this past week, and I have only talked about 2, so there is one missing.  The missing one happened in between the two I have blurbed about , and so I am not about to go back and slip it in there where it belongs.  Just remember, I have not mastered the Dragon speak thing yet to save my hands from all this typing.  I have plenty to say anytime at all.

It came to be that I just had to get to Sabrina, my hair cutter.  I hadn’t seen her in months, and the white locks were looking pretty straggly and definitely needed a trim.  Results of my encounter are shown below in photos.  After I took the picture of Sabrina, I should’ve had the Warden take a picture of me with Sabrina for you to have the whole picture — but you guessed it:  I forgot.

Tune in next week. Another “chilling” rendition of 3 appointments.  See, I AM getting ‘round and about more like the “old” me.



MELITAS FORSTER                                          MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


Mel blog 1-20a              mel blog 1-20b mel blog 1-20c


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Mondays with Melitas – January 13, 2013


Well, I have to tell you that it took the Warden about a week-and-a-half to

get me back to my usual weight of 110.5 pounds, mostly pure muscle (now that

“muscle” part is an out-and-out lie.) However, if you need to get fattened up,

come on over.

I don’t want you to think it was Vice Warden Marcie’s fault that I lost all of

that 3.5 pounds. The fault lies on both our shoulders. We were just too darned

lazy to try to dream up the daily menu when we had all that cheekin laying around

staring at us.  It was much too easy to just fill a plate with the cheekin and throw

on some veggies, then zap it in the micro. Why bother with salad, and all that

other stuff? This way we had more time for Marcie’s puzzles and my stuff,

whatever that might be at the moment — then back to shooting the breeze.

Marcie is coming back over next week to pick up her black blouse and big

box of Kleenex which she had inadvertently left here after her stint as fill-in

Warden. She has made it quite clear that we will be going to Applebee’s at my

expense because we didn’t get there when she was here on the time clock. And I

had told her before Christmas that Applebee’s was one of the perks of the job

here. I wonder if leaving something like the blouse and Kleenex wasn’t her

forgetting at all — it was remembering one way to get that promise out of me.

Can’t think of anything else. The cheekin is way over done. Besides, I

can’t do a very lengthy story since I haven’t mastered the Dragon Speak thing to

talk into my computer, and it comes out all nicely typed. My hands have been

really yelling “HELP!” They are on their last legs, or should I say “arms?”


mel blog 1-13

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4th Annual Women Inspiring Women Conference

tv show 14 years ago I had a dream to have a day dedicated to women.  Most of the women were my students and I brought in various speakers and we listened, laughed, lunched and learned…we learned a lot!

Those who attended the previous conferences have all told me the same thing.  It is powerful being in a room with so many amazing women.  Meeting new friends and spending the day together put them on a high long after the conference ended!

I can hardly believe that in just 3 weeks I am hosting the 4th Women Inspiring Women Conference at the beautiful Heritage Palms Country Club Ballroom.  This year I spent several months searching for local women that live in Coachella Valley that through their lives have inspired many.  We live in an amazing area here where there were so many women to pick from.  The 7 women who will be speaking this year all call our valley their home.

You will hear from Stacy Jacob and Debbie Green who began a wonderful non-profit called Turning Heads.  Turning Heads offers free photo shoots complete with professional makeup and styling to those who have lost their hair to the ravages of chemotherapy.

Eileen Stern has raised over 4 million dollars when she created Hike 4 Hope.  Hike 4 Hope will celebrate it’s 17th year and money raised goes to the City of Hope for women’s cancer research.

Tanya Petrovna, founder of Native Foods will share about her life and getting into the world of vegetarian cooking and how it all began with her love of animals.  Learn what she is doing now to help the animals of Coachella Valley.

Gayle Hodges, an amazing woman and giver of her time and money to many charitable projects throughout the valley.  She will be sharing about her experiences about her days when she worked with transporting troops back and forth from Viet Nam.  She will be sharing a piece she wrote about her latest experience to Viet Nam with Veterans for Peace.

Mika Moulton, founder of Christopher’s Clubhouse, is an outspoken activist and lobbyist for children’s rights.  Hear her story of how she formed this beautiful non-profit after the tragic event of her son, Christopher’s kidnap and brutal murder.

If any of you have ever been to the Fabulous Follies in Palm Springs then I know you will know of our next speaker, Dorothy Klass.  At the young age of 90 she just completed her memoir and is in the Guiness Book of World Records at the world’s oldest, living working showgirl!  She is amazing and wait until you see her legs!  Come be inspired and yes, can you believe she is still teaching dancing classes!  Sign me up!

Are you excited?  You can go to my website to reserve your space for this amazing and inspiring day!  You can use your credit card via pay pal or mail a check to TLC Writing Workshops at 77-734 Country Club Drive Suite A-3 Palm Desert, CA 92211

A fabulous day of laughter, love, learning together and leave inspired…all this for $85.00

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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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