Archive for July, 2014

Mondays with Melitas – July 28, 2014

THE REUNION, PART TWO                                            July 28, 2014


There was enough food at the reception on Friday evening that you didn’t have to go off to a restaurant for more. The Warden and I went directly to The Best Western so I could get lots of rest for all the activities planned for Saturday. The only trouble was, these rooms at the motel had been refurbished, and the beds are way up off the floor like the old mile high 4-posters in days of yore. Right away I thought about how my son, Gary had fallen off our 4-poster when he was not much over a year old, landing on his head probably; and I kept thinking, “Now here I am in San Juan Capistrano, same scenario as with Gary, with an accident waiting to happen. I should call the Office to see if they might have a restraint to keep me safe for the night. Oh, nuts, just sleep tight, and the bedbugs won’t even bite.”

Saturday would be a long day for me. We had to get moving to be over at the Mission San Juan Capistrano by 10 AM. It is difficult for me to get moving since I arise feeling like my parts are glued together, but we did make it, and all these Forsters were streaming into the entrance with backup line half a block long. It’s a good thing I have “Traveller,” my wheels, to lean on for walking.

All the Forster people were in their new T-shirts so it was easy to spot them, and with the name tags, you could even call them by name as you read the tag.

The gorgeous gardens inside the walls surrounding the Mission complex will take your breath away, and I want to say right here and now that if you have never visited this “Jewell of the Missions,” you should make the effort — it is so worth it. The buildings were so tenderly refurbished, the docents so helpful, so now I’m pushing a tour of the Mission.

The leaders of our group herded us like the cattle that Great Grandfather Don Juan would herd around with his Vaqueros, when he was living at the Mission for 20 years or so back in the 1800’s — and they packed us in tight for a Family photo to commemorate our Reunion. After the photo, we could roam around as we pleased to see everything. Two Forsters, Juan and Christa, were in a good-sized room where they talked to about 40 of us at a time, and told us a lot of history of the Family. It was great of them to give us their time.

I didn’t want to get all worn out, so I chose only a few rooms to visit, and they were the ones that Don Juan and Doña Ysidora had used as living quarters. And then there was the Serra Chapel, my very favorite Chapel in the whole, wide world. The last time I had visited the Mission, they were doing a lot of refurbishing in the Chapel, so I was a little disappointed to find scaffoldings, and workers cluttering up the place. But at last, I have made it back there to see it in all its glory. The golden altar which came from Spain in time for the Church to open its doors in 1776 was in full view, and I could spend a little time meditating and remembering — this is where I had been baptized in 1918 by Fr. St. John O’Sullivan, who was really the force behind this Mission becoming “The Jewell.” This is where my brother, Buddy, would sing with his most beautiful tenor voice, the Avé María, at Midnight Mass.

I have to close off this story. I am trying to paint a picture of the Reunion, but my memories keep flooding back and interfering with these present-day happenings. I apologize. So, next week we will have a Part Two of Day Two. So, go figure.



MELITAS FORSTER                                   MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


Mel blog 7-28

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Mondays with Melitas – July 21, 2014

Linda helps Melitas to her seat

Linda helps Melitas to her seat

On Saturday Melitas attended one of my monthly Saturday workshops at the beautiful Heritage Palms Country Club.  Every body loves Melitas and wants to assist her to her seat.  Imagine our surprise when we want to help her get out her notebook and low and behold what do we find!!

Actually, just kidding this was a gift from our friend Linda and her husband Ron.  She would hardly let go of it to write during class she was so thrilled.

I wonder if that is why there is no Mondays with Melitas today…I think she may have opened up her “gift”…

No worries folks she will return next week!


She found the perfect seat...but where's your notebook Melitas?

She found the perfect seat…but where’s your notebook Melitas?

Well, what do we have here?

Well, what do we have here?

she decided she better guard her prized possession!

she decided she better guard her prized possession!


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Palm Springs Women’s Writing Retreat

Palm Springs Writing Retreats

Welcome to Palm Springs, Writers!

September 21-27, 2014

retreat bio pic


Join Linda and Tammy on an unforgettable writing retreat.  Travel, write and have fun!

We will enjoy periods of intense concentration, periods of interaction and feedback and periods of relaxation and renewal.
We write, we share, we tell stories, we listen, we hear, we embrace, we laugh, we cry, we weep, we open our hearts, we go deeper, we encourage, we walk, we support,  we bond, we swim.
We arrive as strangers, we leave as life long friends, keeper of each others secrets, as bonded confidants.
Tammy and Linda invite you to join them on one of their amazing luxury writing retreats. From the moment you arrive you will feel safe, supported and encouraged to find your own story.

Single occupancy: 2,295.00

Double occupancy: 1,895.00 (have a girlfriend that you love traveling with, share a room and save some money!)

If you are one of the lucky women to rent one of the luxury rooms you are in for a retreat unlike any other.  You will be pampered and enjoy each moment.  All of your food and beverages are included.  Over 25 hours full of writing and instruction each day and fun nighttime activities.  We promise you will leave inspired, rested, motivated and make some life long friends…

Live locally? Special commuter rate  595.00 (includes opening reception on Sunday night, Monday – Friday writing workshops -5 hours per day and lunch each day included, closing night celebration dinner on Friday evening).

To register…email Tammy at and I will send you all the details you need to know and answer any questions you may have.

Located in downtown Palm Springs, this luxury 8 bedroom home is a 3 minute walk (3 blocks) to the heart of Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Spring’s famous main street featuring hundreds of shops, great restaurants, plus entertainment and attractions.

About The House

Newly and professionally designed and decorated in 2011, this historic home combines the comfortable Old Palm Springs Spanish style with a spacious all-new stainless and white kitchen and 6 beautiful new bathrooms. The natural wood floors in the main house offer a shiny, warm glow from the home’s original Early California construction, polished to perfection.

In addition to its amazing, close-up mountain views, you will love the sunny, feel-good vibe of this home dating back to the 1930s. The new furnishings, fixtures, bedding, pillow-top mattresses, new linens and furniture nod respectfully and tastefully to its past.


The spacious kitchen is equipped with everything you’ll need to prepare meals from simple to gourmet. New stainless steel appliances, 6 burner gas range, expansive counter / prep space, double refrigerator, and dual dishwashers.

Bedrooms & Bathrooms

Extremely comfortable new beds with plush linens and comforters. The bathrooms are bright and light to let the sunshine in with generous use of carrera marble; four of the bathrooms feature large tubs for soaking and relaxation. Each of the 6 bathrooms has their own luxurious showers and each bath features a window to experience the Palm Springs sunshine outdoors.


The centerpiece of the property is the beautiful new swimming pool and spa with deeper water at the other end, and a large whirlpool spa for up to 8 people. The adjoining backyard deck is cozy and allows conversation among guests while cooking and dining.

The home’s front courtyard is graced by an expansive porch that is shaded by terra cotta tiles and exposed wood beams. The home’s back courtyard is private and beautifully designed with a brand new pool and spa perfect for enjoying the peaceful pace of Palm Springs.

Enjoy the expansive shaded front porch of this Palm Springs vacation villa with the sounds birds singing and pleasant sights and sounds of people casually strolling to Downtown’s main strip, perhaps bringing to mind a quaint beach community or a small town of yesteryear.

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Mondays with Melitas – July 14, 2014

Michael Forster welcoming all the family!

Michael Forster welcoming all the family!

THE REUNION, PART 1 AND ONE-HALF                                           JULY 14, 2014


Last week I was so into my Aunt Mae’s Rosewood Square Grand Piano, and barely mentioned the REUNION. The piano threw me for a loop when there it was for my eyes to feast on. The years have taken their toll to some extent, so it did not appear to me like it was when I lived with it — in all its glory days with the basic white Spanish shawl embroidered with beautiful, colorful flowers draped dramatically over one side. And each day there was the tall, elegant cut glass vase with fresh flowers from the gardens. I know Tom Forster and his son, Tony took good care of it, and Tony is the one who probably put it at the Mission where it languished in that tiny space without a dust rag ever giving it some loving swipes. It has been restored so I have to compliment those who took care of that for its return for public viewing.




Don Juan and Ysidora Pico Forster had 3 sons. One, Francisco, was put out of commission early in life when he spurned his señorita lover of the moment, a lovely Indian maiden, and just like that! she shot him dead on the steps of the Los Angeles Mission. He had probably dillied when he should have dallied. It is not too wise to pull a stunt like he did. You just never know who might have a pistol, and furthermore that person knows how to pull the trigger and can hit the mark. You can end up in very deep trouble, maybe like 6 feet deep.

So that left Juan and Marcos to carry on the Forster-Pico name, and now  in June of 2014 here we are over 200 descendants, gathered to celebrate the 200th birthday of Don Juan. One descendant was only 3 weeks old, while another was 96, with all ages in between. I think the old ones outnumbered the young ones. On the first afternoon, there was a reception held at the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society on Los Rios Street across the railroad tracks and the picturesque Depot. In one of the accompanying photos, nephew Michael Forster is shown delivering his welcome speech. He is one of the instigators of this entire weekend, and he deserves a lot of praise to get this show on the road. I can’t just give him all the praise — he is a grandson of my brother, Buddy — there were so many others who had their parts in this, like Pat Forster, son of Tom, and brother of Tony. Pat’s family was all involved. Juan Forster, descended from Juan Forster, brother of my grandfather, Marcos was also a big help for the cause.

It’s a good thing this committee had the foresight to furnish nametags, all secure in a plastic cover with a safety pin for one’s clothing, and be large enough to read in case you forgot your eyeglasses. I would be talking to someone, and all the while reading their nametag, and then trying to figure out who it was, then running into them 10 minutes later, and having to use the tag prompt all over again. Everyone mingled around, and of course, they were in the same quandary I was in — which was trying to match them up to their families. The setting was perfect for this get-together. Loads of shade trees, and plenty of space for tables and chairs, but there were lots of them vacant. Everyone was just too busy bustling around, hoping they wouldn’t miss anyone. You could stop and talk to someone by the loaded down tables of food, eat up as you catch up, so to speak. Good grub, and with that there were liquid refreshments, wine and Corona, and soda pop.

We received a big sack, containing a good-looking deep blue T-shirt with Don Juan’s cattle brand over one’s heart and a likeness of Don Juan in color on the back. Then there were some historical articles for the folks to read when they got home to while away the time as they regained their voices, also the much-needed name tag.

Quite a few folks were beginning to tire around 7 PM. Well, they had been gabbing non-stop since 5 o’clock, no wonder. The invitations said from 5 to 8. I was still shooting the breeze at 8 with Michael, and I finally had to be asked to leave because the crew was trying to clean the place up. Sounds like my bars when I would be the one to get rid of the “hangers on” at 2 AM.

I am going to bring this to a close because I had better get busy on next week’s, and the next weeks, etc. because there is still the visit to the Mission on Saturday, a visit to Uncle Frank and Aunt Ada’s home ( where I made it well known to all my younger cousins that there was no SANTA CLAUS after all) Saturday afternoon, then the big dinner bash at the El Adobe Saturday evening. And the coup de grace, the trip to Camp Pendleton where we visited the Ranch Home of Don Juan and Ysidora after their years spent living at the Mission San Juan Capistrano.



MELITAS FORSTER                                                  MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


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Mondays with Melitas – July 7, 2014

THE REUNION, PART 1                                             JULY 7, 2014


Right off the bat, I ran into an old friend whose travels since 1947 I will relate, but first I had better say what we were doing. This past weekend, starting on Friday, June 27th, and continuing through Sunday, the 29th, there was a big gathering held in San Juan Capistrano. It was a Reunion of the Forster Family to celebrate the 200th birthday of Don Juan Forster, who was my Great Grandfather.

I’m a Third Generation Californian using him, but I am most proud of being a Fifth Generation using his wife, Ysidora Melitas Pico (my Great grandmother) because she was born in California.

So, I imagine I will conjure up some more stories from the Reunion, and the reader(s?) will have to put up with me going on and on about it. (I came home with a very hoarse voice — imagine what many of the family people there had to put up with.) That’s one reason this to be PART 1.

Now about that “old Friend.” Friday at 5 PM, everyone was gathered at the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society museum for a reception to find each other. There were name tags so that when you ran into each other 10 minutes later you could always “remember” who they were. I made it over to a home on the grounds of the property, which had been moved there from 5 or 6 miles east of town on the Ortega Hwy. where it had been built years ago. It belonged to a first cousin, Alice Forster and her husband, Arley Leck. I wanted to check out what family antiques were in there because they are always wanting all my family stuff.

As I walked through the front door, there were no furnishings there until I turned to look at the rest of the living room, and there! lo and behold! was the beautiful Rosewood Square Grand Piano which originally belonged to my Aunt Mae in her gorgeous Spanish Mediterranean home on the hill, built in 1926, and I would sell it after her demise in 1948.

The travels began. I sold the piano to my first cousin Tom Forster (brother of Alice, whose old home we were presently in) for $100. When he came to move the Square Grand, I was very apprehensive about whether it would make the trip. He had brought a couple of his cowboys, who were more adept at roping and throwing calves to the ground than moving this heavy, heavy piece of immobile furniture. Grunting and cursing (in Español) as they were pushing and pulling trying to get out over the threshold of the front door — when, oops, they dropped it — and busted the pedals. After awhile they finally loaded it onto Tom’s pickup, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. (I was secretly thinking he might cancel the deal, and I would be stuck with the piano.) The big home I was moving to in Laguna Beach could handle all of Aunt Mae’s furniture in the living room, except for the piano.

Then the piano was in Tom’s home for a number of years; after his death it moved to his son Tony and wife, Mary Ann’s home where their daughter Christa spent time on it with lessons. I should’ve asked her if she still plays. I tried to learn on an old upright from the late 1800’s, and which I still owned in 1975 and sold it for $950 needing all new insides. I never went on with piano lessons. What I liked was a trumpet, and then I could be in a marching band.

The next time I ran into the Square Grand was a very sad day for me. I was at the Mission since I hadn’t been there for so long, and I always want to have a few moments in Serra’s chapel where I was baptized, and where I listened to Fr. O’Sullivan say many masses. There was one room that was about the Forster Family, and there over in a small alcove sat the Square Grand all dusty, and definitely needing a refinish job. I wanted to cry right there among the tourists who were roaming around. I was in shock to think the Mission was letting it go to rack and ruin.

Back to the Reunion. Before I went to Alice’s home, I was talking to Don Tryon and wife, and he was telling me that “our” Museum was getting Forster stuff from the Mission. So when I turned around and saw the Square Grand, I was never so amazed. You can bet on it — I was moved to tears.

You can tell by the accompanying photo that somehow the pedals got fixed so Christa could play, and then after its banishment to the ignominious placement at the Mission, someone at the Historical Society saw to it that it was nicely refinished.




MELITAS FORSTER                                       MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


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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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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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