Archive for September, 2014

Mondays with Melitas – September 29, 2014

100_0525A NEW SEASON                                                   SEPTEMBER 29, 2014


There are not very many stories rumbling around in my brain today, so I’d better shake it up to come up with something. Then, I do remember just yesterday I saw something to talk about. It’s a darn good thing it was just yesterday, or it would have been lost in the shuffle — never to recall like in the olden days.


It was the Desert Sun, up on the very first page over the banner. It was Kobe Bryant, in all his glory, just a small picture, so you know there will be a story about him somewhere in this newspaper. Kobe is my hero of the Los Angeles Lakers ever since he graduated from high school there in the area, went directly to the Lakers, and wham bang — one of the great basketball players! Lakers — Basketball team in case I lost anyone there.


I’m not sure how many of my faithful fans are Lakers fans because I don’t have the slightest inkling what percentage of them are “athletes.” If you are, then you know how it is — “Faithful till death do us part.” I should add that I have been getting ready for basketball season to start. Several weeks ago, the Warden knew I was restlessly “ready some basketball,” and she had found the schedule on the internet somewhere, and surprised me with 8 pages of THE schedule. I rustled around in my Memoir supplies and dug out a loose leaf binder in a lovely bluish purple cover. Lakers colors are actually royal purple and gold, but this was close enough, then I made a title sheet, simply named Lakers. As soon as the season starts, this binder will be on the cocktail — not coffee — table in front of TV. In fact, it will appear in that position on October 6th when they do a few Preseason games to warm up for the Regular Season opener on the 28th. In the meantime, I have to get my team costumes out of the mothballs so I will get into the spirit.


I will suffice it to say that they had a disastrous season this past year. Everyone was getting seriously injured, Kobe could only play a few games, and this is the way it went all year with the others who were injured. I must put that out of my mind, and now only think “onward and upward.” (I hope the team is thinking the same way.)


My niece-in-law, Anita Forster, and I have been on the phone frequently during the off season, discussing the woes and problems of “our” team, and if the Lakers powers-that-be would just listen to a few of our suggestions, they might go places this year. But you know how men are? —- and we’re sitting here with all the answers. They should let the owner’s (now deceased) daughter, Jeanie Buss, take over the helm. Just look at all those smart companies like IBM and Cadillac that are depending on female CEO’s to bring them back from the brink.


I know my friend Maureen is probably getting her Lakers garb out to clean and fluff up. A few nieces: Roberta, Michele, maybe Marcie, are doing the same; and nephews: Michael and Robbie to mention more fans.


Thought I’d mention all those to drum up a few fans for Ol’ Me. I really do love ALL my fans, and one never has enough.


Till next week —I bid you all a fond “Adieu.” French, French, French.



MELITAS FORSTER                                         MONDAYS WITH MELITAS




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Mondays with Melitas – September 22, 2014

EGG ON MY FACE                                             SEPTEMBER 22, 2014



It was bound to happen. I could not possibly get through life without a few booboos along the way, and here is where I get these inaccuracies retracted and on the straight and narrow. I know my conscience will feel much better to have it all out in the open. This is a case for transparency, if I ever saw one, and if those politicians can get on that band wagon – of transparency – why can’t I?


It all has to do with the last 2 stories about the 2 Doctors and what they prescribed for me, one when I was just 12 yrs old, and then 84 years later at age 96. (I’ll wait while you go peruse through those 2 stories to refresh your memory, but don’t take too long.) I don’t have all day. Now those ages mentioned are true facts.


The mistakes I made will have Ms. Joan gloating: “See, that Melitas does make up some of this stuff. I was right all along. She doesn’t remember EVERYTHING. What a phony boloney.”


Joan, I am bringing it all out into the open. The brain must’ve failed me at those moments I was writing the words, but then later when the brain adjusted to the correct century, it knew errors had been made.


ERROR NO. 1 – Remember my Angel who nursed me so tenderly in St. Joseph’s Hospital? And I cried when she couldn’t come with us to bring me back to health. Her name was Sister Georgia, not Georgiana. One little corner of my brain kept gnawing at me, telling me that was not her name, and I knew I had erred. There was one way to clear that up. I had written a 10-min. drill about 5 years ago in Memoir Class, so I moved Heaven and Earth — and all the junk around here — until I found the story. It was titled “In the Hospital.” I feel so much better to have that all cleared up.


ERROR NO. 2 — AND THIS IS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST. In the 2nd weeks’ story, I sorta mentioned Aunt Mae’s age around 60!!! My Mom was a little younger. If they were still around in this life, I would’ve had a smart crack on my bum. Mom would have to be 49 when she gave birth to me, and Aunt Mae 51. (Incidentally, Aunt Mae never gave me a swat – ever. In fact, never any cross words. That also goes for her husband, my Uncle Titán.)


So, when we had that beautiful little sojourn at Catalina, they were only in their early, early 50’s. But you will understand how a kid thinks any old people are much older than they really are. The exception to this rule is me at my age.


Later in life during the late 1960’s and through the 70’s, I made quite a few trips to Catalina, and most were made to go play golf with the Catalina Women’s Golf Club. They belonged to our Western American Golf Association which had member clubs up as far as Morro Bay, south into Orange County, east to the Coachella Valley, and points in between. When there would be a tournament on the Mainland they loved to come over to play. When they had their Association Day Tournament, there would be a gang ready to go over there. You must realize that the Island is really not all that big so land is at a premium and the little golf course there at Avalon is only 9 holes so you have to play around twice for your regulation 18 holes. Sometimes there’d be 50 or 60 of us, did we ever have a ball. Each time was a mini vacation — go over the day before the tournament, and sometimes it would be 2 days of golf, and naturally we would stay extra days! We’d go over to the Casino, and stop in some of the bistros — make all the rounds.


The little hotel where most of us stayed was noisy (with us,) and the top floor which may be 2nd or 3rd, anyway it would be what ever floor the building code would allow, and I have to try to describe it.


Can you understand that sentence? — I don’t know that I can. I’ll just go from here.


The rooms on this top floor were built all around the building with windows (of course) and then also a window opposite looking out into a large inner sunning area, and this is also where your door was to get into the room. We are all back in our rooms trying for some shut-eye to have us all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the next day, when all of a sudden there is someone on the pay phone out in the sundeck. Loud, loud, LOUD! Yelling at her husband, Bob so now everyone knows it’s Connie. More yelling — a few choice words – telling Bob to get off the phone, she wants to talk to her dogs. She had a voice that carried – she was an actress in her earlier days – live theatre, no less. So Bob, being the dutiful husband that he was, put the dogs on.


I haven’t been back to Catalina since those days, so I don’t have anything more to say.


MELITAS FORSTER                                   MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


Debarking in Avalon for a few days of golf and hilarity

Debarking in Avalon for a few days of golf and hilarity

 Taken  On top of the World in Laguna Beach looking across to Catalina

Taken On top of the World in Laguna Beach looking across to Catalina

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Mondays with Melitas – September 15, 2014

WHAT THE DOCTORS PRESCRIBED – PART 2                         SEPTEMBER 15, 2014


Last week I left you just as I escaped from St. Joseph’s Hospital, and after Dr. Currie had advised my family that I would need a great deal of rest, and a nice little vacation would be helpful. From the infection in the mastoid, my blood was registering anemic. Besides some medicine for the blood, he told Aunt Mae, a bottle of beer could do wonders for my blood, so a bottle a day would be the dosage.


We travelled down that highway – only 2 lane, one going one way, the second going opposite – this was before there was that 3rd, or middle lane, just for passing. Aunt Mae never did let any grass grow under those tires, and all the CHP guys knew her, and would just wave and smile. She never did get a ticket. The Cad at this moment in time was a 1929 big sedan, and sorta looked like a town car. I have a picture of it to show; it is only half the car – the top half. Sorry about that. Anyway, 60 miles an hour for a 60 year old lady careening down the highway was unusual, to say the least. While the Cad was registering 60 on the speedometer, the special speedometer in her head was also registering 60 — or maybe 90. I know by the time we reached San Juan Capistrano and drove up the hill to her home, she had plans all mapped out for fulfilling the Doctor’s advice. She was on the phone for about half hour or so, then came into the living room to announce that the vacation would commence in 3 days. “We will go to Long Beach where we will board a steamer for Catalina Island!!!!” I was languishing on the huge sofa because the wind had really been knocked out of my sails with that sojourn in the hospital, consequently I didn’t jump up all excited — I left that for Viv and Mom to join Aunt Mae in a “ring-around-the-rosy.”


A case of Miller’s High Life was delivered later that afternoon. All mine.


So there we were, Viv and I first time on a boat of any size. We were thrilled and kept hanging out on the bow so we could watch where we were going, and of course, one could see the destination – the Island the entire trip across the Channel. When we landed, we took a taxi to our lodging, and this part was really neat. Not a hotel, but a 2 bedroom little house which was so perfect for our stay. And here is something I remember about how we bunked. Aunt Mae and Mom took the room with twin beds — both might not fit in the double bed in the other room. Now, Viv and I in a double bed means bickering and establishing your territory which would always end in a spanking. This time, since I was puny, I acted very nice because Viv probably could’ve cleaned my plough. It would’ve made her day — even with the licking she’d get.

Avalon is not a very large place so we were only a couple of weensy blocks from the bay and shopping. We rested after the trip, and walked to the shopping area to have dinner. The ladies would cook several times during our stay when we didn’t want to waste time going out to eat, and we could get to our card games till bedtime.


The “Elder Lovelies” allowed us to go to the beach and wander around, but first Viv had to listen to the instructions, since she was now my “Warden” and be making me toe the mark. We would stretch out on the narrow little beach for awhile, then go for a soda or hot dog, back to the prone position again, then another little stroll. I couldn’t carry my prescriptioned bottle of beer around – we would stop off at the bungalow for me to take a few sips, then back to the beach. I would get wet, but only up to my waist — I was frightened about the ear.


After several days, I wanted to go see what that big, round, 12-story building was all about. It was called the Catalina Casino Building, not a building for gambling, but a building for entertainment. It was quite a walk out to that point – I had to get some strength back in order take that “stroll.”   We took a day to take a bus tour around the island, see the other side, and see another harbor; also the buffalo roaming. We were trying to see everything we could.

We were just doing what we felt like doing. When we went out to eat, we would go early, then take in a movie. That’s what I remember about that trip. Nothing on any schedule, and the four of us were very laid back. The Ladies did not have to yell at us 2 kids. “Queenie” was on her best behavior — still too worn out from the illness, and the “Little Angel” wasn’t bugging me.


We finally went over to the Casino to see what that was all about. It is SOMETHING else! Built in 1929. A huge ballroom, and I just read that the largest number of people was 6,200 people dancing to Kay Keyser’s band. Now if it were Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, I might join those dancers. Kay Kyser was not one of my “to die for” big bands. In all that space, there’s an art gallery, a theatre, a museum, and they run tours through there so you won’t miss anything.


That pretty much takes care of that little vacation, and after 2 weeks I was glad to be home — where I could just go out on the service porch at Aunt Mae’s, open the enormous refrigerator, grab my daily Miller’s and sip away.


That was the summer of 1930 — I was one sick, 12 year old. Now I will take you to the summer of 2014, and I am one decrepit, 96 year old sitting in my Dr. C’s (but not Dr. Currie — he’s long – gone,) and the Warden is there to listen to the results of my latest blood test, that’s in case the information enters my cranium, through one deaf ear, only to keep on going and out the other ear. I am still “a little” anemic, but now Dr. C has a very bright idea: “You know, beer (in moderation) can be very healthy for a person’s blood. So, Alba, you should stop at the market and pick up some beer that is made with wheat. We are going to try that for awhile.” A new Rx, whaddyaknow!


I didn’t ask what happens about my cocktail of preference. I didn’t go there. Because if she thinks I’m giving up the Don Julio — well, she has another think coming. With that, I will leave this machine, go out to #2 refrigerator in garage and grab a bottle of Bavarian Style Hefeweizenen Unfiltered Wheat Beer.


EPILOGUE. I probably worked the being weak and sickly overtime – getting lots of attention, and asking me how I felt every five minutes. I was really playing a “Camille” for all it was worth, and Viv and I were getting along just great, mainly because I was too weak to swat her one even if I felt like it. I think I was feeling quite magnanimous. We used to bicker and fight, but in this era of the getaway to Avalon somehow there was a huge demarcation of a change. As soon as we were in high school, we seemed to grow up, and we ran around in the same group of friends, leaving both of us with such happy memories.


The final end —-?



MELITAS FORSTER                                                   MONDAYS WITH MELITAS



1929 Cad. taken at Big Bear (one too many Hefeweizen?)

1929 Cad. taken at Big Bear (one too many Hefeweizen?)


Looking down on small town of Avalon.  HUGE Catalina Casino Bldg in background

Looking down on small town of Avalon. HUGE Catalina Casino Bldg in background

Catalina Casino Bldg

Catalina Casino Bldg





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2 Retreats left for 2014!

We have only two retreats left until we start our 2015 prices.

Join us September 22-26 here in beautiful Palm Springs, California.  You can come write with us each day from 9:30 – 3:30 and enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by our own private chef each day.  The theme will be on reinvention and writing to your center.  We will focus on becoming a better writer.  Enjoy all of these 5 days for only $595.00.  If you can’t make all 5 days you can sign up for one or more days at $150 per day.  Contact me at for more information.


How about something a little more exotic!  Loreto is a beautiful town on the coast of the Sea of Cortez.  This all inclusive retreat will never be lower.  Join us October 21-27 and stay in your own private villa, all meals included and several excursions included as well as over 20 hours worth of writing!  Easy flight out of LAX, stay a day or two before or a day or two after for an extra $150 per night.  The cost of this 7 day retreat is $1,895.00


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Mondays with Melitas – September 8, 2014

WHAT THE DOCTORS PRESCRIBED                                     SEPTEMBER 8, 2014


Once upon a time I was 12 years old, and it was summer, and of course I was in San Juan Capistrano spending the time with Aunt Mae and Titán. My little sis, Vivian, was not there because I would spend so much of the summer there, and remember, she was Momma’s girl, and she’d stay home in Fullerton to keep Mom from getting lonely.


Several days a week Aunt Mae would drop me off at Doheny Park Beach where I would spend the time stretched out on the sand gathering some rays, and then I would get into the surf to ride the waves — no surf board, it was body surfing. The basic thing. Well, you didn’t need to be hauling a surf board around, and in that era they were mighty gigantic. Duke Kahanamoku, the great Hawaiian swimmer and hero in the 1928 Olympics, rode surf boards 15-20 feet long. OMG there’s another story. I can’t allow any more of it to creep in.


By the way, I have a faithful reader, who thinks I write some tall tales, and she does not quite believe them — she has even asked if I don’t make up a lot of this stuff, and I have to assure her that if it is in my story, it’s the truth; and JOAN, again — this is a true story. Believe me!


With the question of my veracity out of the way, we’ll get back to the beach. I was going to describe “body surfing,” but maybe another time for that. Do you see why I have such a time staying on the straight and narrow story when all these memories spring out at me and take my mind off the beaten path?


One morning I woke up with an horrendous pain in my right ear, so Aunt Mae had Doctor E. there in a matter of minutes. She could not stand to see her “Queenie” (her nickname for me — which I have never revealed until this very moment) suffer. The Doctor poked around, and then brought out this enormous needle, then proceeded to put it into my ear and puncture the ear drum. Oh, joy!

She was not about to go along with the small town quack, and wait for me to be pain free, and she saw that I was not doing too good, so she bundled me up, and off we raced to see the specialist, Dr. Currie over in Santa Ana.


Dr. Currie took one look, and said, “Mae, get back into your car right now, and take Melitas over to Saint Joseph’s Hospital. I will meet you there. We have a serious problem. She has a mastoid infection, which may call for immediate surgery.” Little did I know about all this. I was suffering, I was in a daze so getting into the hospital, being examined, then to a room (private) was all a blur. They told me later that not once did “Queenie” cry. Now that’s what I call a “little trouper.” Well, JOAN, maybe there were a few whimpers.


No operation. Dr.Currie would be there first thing the next morning. In the meantime, I was being monitored frequently, and I was so fortunate to find an Angel who hovered over me for the next 12 days. Her name was Sister Georgiana. I know she was Heaven sent. She babied me, she kept me clean, she fed me, she massaged my back, legs, and arms —she was there all through the day for me. She was so beautiful. I thought of her as the “Mona Lisa.” (JOAN, maybe that Mona Lisa part IS stretching it a bit.)


The doctor came in the first morning, felt behind the ear, and without saying anything about “operation” off he went. The mastoid is firm to the touch when healthy, but soft and squishy when infected. This went on, and I was so fearful. I would ask Sister Georgiana, “Operation today?” She would answer, “No, not today.” And I didn’t get any breakfast until the doctor came and left. This went on each early morning. The only thing that changed, was that Sister would come in right after the doctor left to tell me. The mastoid was obviously firming up. I was feeling much better, all due to the constant care from Sister Georgiana. And my folks, Viv and Aunt Mae and Titán being there with all their love helped me no end.


After 12 days, and NO surgery, (thank the Lord and pass the ammunition) Dr. Currie signed me out, and off we went to Aunt Mae’s. Mom and Viv came along to help with my recovery. The doctor gave Aunt Mae and Mom instructions to carry out, and prescriptions to administer, and that is where I am going to leave this up in the air.


Bottom line — I have a sneaky feeling that all that time spent body surfing and playing and laying around on that beach with sand everywhere, and I mean everywhere — ears to be sure — was the culprit as to why I spent a perfectly good summer in such bad shape.


There simply has to be a Part 2 to this tale. You will hear about one of the prescriptions. I could just KISS that Doctor. He told Aunt Mae to take me on a little vacation. Vacations were her forté.



MELITAS FORSTER                                                 MONDAYS WITH MELITAS


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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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