Friday, July 14, 2017

Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram #4

flicker almaraz
In June, I ran into Paula (born 1927) and  her lovely daughter.  We were chatting about where she grew up and she told me such a wonderful story about meeting and marrying her husband.  All of which happened (of course) before they invented Instagram...

flicker history camp pendleton

Paula was finishing high school when she met and married her husband Harlan (“Whitey”).  She said he was enlisted in the Navy as a Pharmacist's Mate assigned to the Marines at Camp Pendleton.

At 90 years old Paula still had a broad smile and twinkle in her eyes as she told me that she has always LOVED to dance. As a teenager she wanted to dance every song. She was relentless and so, Harlan would enlist other marines to dance with her.  In a sweet memory shared by her daughter, she said that Harlan liked to say he “wanted to get paid if he had to work that hard (at dancing).”  Mother and daughter had a good laugh at that one.  

Harlan was the youngest of 5 brothers.  All four of his other brothers were already overseas in the war.  Paula said they didn’t usually send out the 5th/last brother into combat but they needed Harlan, so he went.  She said all of them made it through the war, but on the day after the war was over her husband’s oldest brother was killed when his ship was sunk (they didn’t know the war had ended).  

I asked her how she dealt with waiting for her husband while he was serving overseas.  She said she was in high school so she just kept busy with her school work (and dancing! – her daughter was quick to interject) and didn’t think much about it.  She never got to see him much before he was sent overseas anyway, only when he got leave.  

When Harlan came home from the war they moved to northern California and bought the A&W in Newman.  They renamed it "Whitey’s Mug.

Harlan passed away in 2012. Harlan and Paula would have been married 71 years this year.

Everyone has a story to tell.  What's yours?

{All the stories shared in "Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram" come from the lives of real people that I am privileged to meet each day. They have led exceptional lives and I feel honored to hear the stories that they tell.} 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram #3

image flickr almaraz

I met D.C. on the anniversary of D-Day.  He looks like your average retired gentleman, he speaks clearly and always has a smile.  We chatted for a bit about how his day was going.  I asked him if he remembered anything about WWII?  That is when he told me about some very interesting things that happened before they invented Instagram...  

D C (DOB 1939) who was born in South Africa just at the start of the war.  He said his parents didn't know who would win the war so they gave him two middle names.  One British (James) and one German (Ivan) in case he needed to pass as either nationality as he grew up!

They were on the first boat of civilians to cross the Atlantic near the end of the war before Germany had surrendered.  It was an old troop boat and very rough riding (he thinks he was 6 years old at the time).  His dad did "periscope duty" as part of his passage.  All the men would take a shift watching for U-boat periscopes and the boat would zig-zag all over the ocean.  He and his brother and all the kids on the ship would play with their wooden cars and when the boat would change direction or pitch and roll they would let their cars race.  He said they had the most fun letting the cars race as they tried to make tight turns to avoid U-Boats! (When he smiled at this memory, he looked like a child again, just for a moment).

 I asked him about living in South Africa and he told me that his mother was a Native American born RIGHT HERE in Modesto to a tribe that is part of this area.  Through a series of events, she joined a church that sent her to south Africa to check on the church school and there she met her husband.  

He said it was love at first sight and the two thought they would sneak away from church (they attended on Saturdays) and go on a little romantic row boat ride.  Unbeknownst to them, a newspaper reporter snapped a picture of the handsome couple in the row boat and put them in the paper, much to their chagrin and her father’s anger (he was a “big wig” high up in the church)! But, it didn't matter, they were in love and were married straight away.

D.C. is a man who is filled with faith and was pleased to be able to share his happy examples of a life well lived.  It was so wonderful to meet him.

Everyone has a story to tell.  What's yours?

{All the stories shared in "Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram" come from the lives of real people that I am privileged to meet each day. They have led exceptional lives and I feel honored to hear the stories that they tell.} 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram #2

image: flickr almaraz

Yesterday I spoke with a man who was almost 80, he used a walker, wore thick, "coke-bottle" glasses, and had a sly, mischievous smile that reminded me of L. Tom Perry's.  I asked him if he had always lived in our town?  He had the BEST story for me about the week he moved here from Southern California...and that is when I learned about a few amazing things that happened before they invented Instagram.

McCoy was born in 1938.  He moved with his family to our town two days before the end of WWII. McCoy was  6 years old.

He said they lived out in the country but when they heard that the war was over the whole family piled in their car and drove to town.  He said the streets were filled with cheering, drunk people who were "whooping and hollering."

They parked and got out just in time to see two stark naked women running around the shallow pond he said used to be in-front of the courthouse.  McCoy's mom AND his grandmother tried to grab him and cover his eyes but he "was too quick for them and saw enough to keep him busy for years!"  (I wish you could have seen the happiness and excitement on his face when he told this next part!)

Just then, two police officers in their balloon legged pants, high shiny boots, and wide brimmed hats got in the pond to chase the women!!  Round and round they went, water being kicked up as all four ran! The women were laughing and shouting and the police officers were shouting and shaking their fists as their hats flew off in the chase. McCoy said it was one of the most exciting days of his life!

McCoy also told me that the area that is now occupied by the West Campus Junior College and a few Business Parks used to be an Army Hospital.  Hammond Army Hospital.

image: modesto radio museum

You can learn more about Hammond Army Hospital HERE:

You can learn more about our Courthouse HERE:

Everyone has a story to tell.  What's yours?

{All the stories shared in "Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram" come from the lives of real people that I am privileged to meet each day. They have led exceptional lives and I feel honored to hear the stories that they tell.} 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram

image: Flickr Almaraz

Algernon “Al” will be 90 next month.  Algernon spent his entire working life as a fireman.  I saw him on the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day Invasion, because he was the right age I asked him if he had ever served in the military...that's how I learned about a few amazing things that happened before they invented Instagram.

Al never served in the armed forces.  Al was a firefighter.  

Al has a halting way of speaking, due to his age and a few health issues, and it seemed difficult for him to talk today, like he had to force the words out of his mouth.

I considered Al for a moment. I was unsure if I should press him for details but he seemed so eager, looking right at me for the first time, his eyes wider and clearer than I was used to seeing.  So, I plunged right in and asked him a question that transported him back nearly 80 years. "What made you want to be a fireman, Al?"

Al thought about my question for a minute and said it was because he “cared too much” and "couldn’t stand to not help at accidents".  He said it started when he was a 12.    

Scrawny, by his own admission, 12 year old Algernon's life saving career started on a snowy night in 1939.  

(Photo: Pexels Free Images)

He was with his mom and 5 sisters on a car trip in the Adirondack mountains. It was, indeed, snowing. Algernon said they saw a car fly by them in the “suicide lane.”  Just a ways up the road they watched as the driver of this car crashed into a parked car.  The driver was ejected and somehow, in the wreck, the front tire had flown off the car and the driver's head ended up under his vehicle’s front brake drum, with the full weight of the car's front end pressing down on him. 

Algernon said his mother stopped the car, unsure what she could do but told her children to stay in the car and not get out for any reason. He said she didn't want them to see the carnage.  Al could see the wrecked car had started smoking, threatening to catch fire.  Another motorist stopped seconds later. This other motorist, a man who was an interior decorator (not the strongest of men by Al's assessment), ran to their car and told Al to get out, he needed his help.  He jumped out without hesitation.  

The other motorist told Al he was going to lift the front of the car up (the average weight of a car at that time was more than 3,200 pounds) and he wanted Al to drag the man free by pulling him by the legs.  

So that is what they did on that snowy night.  

Algernon told me the snow fell in slow motion as the other motorist counted to three.  The car smoked and Al looked up just as the other motorist shouted "Three!" the signal for him to drag the man's body free of the 1.6 ton vehicle. 

The man was taken to Glenn Falls Hospital. He lived.  Al and his mom and sisters resided in Hudson Falls, NY.  He said his mother went over to check on the man and was happy to report to them that he had survived the crash and was on the mend.  

In a simple twist of fate the other motorist became Al’s step dad.  Al said on some Saturday nights you could find his dad alone in the garage. He would jack their car up and put blocks under the front end and try to lift the car (it was the same model as the wrecked man's car had been).  

Al said his step dad was never once able to lift it.  

But he had lifted it that snowy night.  

(Photo: Pexels Free Images)

Al served as a fireman for 54 years and helped countless people along his way. 

Everyone has a story to tell.  What's yours?

{All the stories shared in "Things That Happened Before They Invented Instagram" come from the lives of real people that I am privileged to meet each day. They have led exceptional lives and I feel honored to hear the stories that they tell.} 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday's Matter FHE : Sin Seeps In

At our home, and millions of others around the globe, Monday nights are reserved for family...a Family Home Evening! Or FHE for short.  We like to discuss gospel principles, spend time together and make sure to have fun!  I've heard *cough* that for some families FHE can be difficult.  For those of you struggling through I have one piece of advice for you... :)   Be patient.  It will all work out.  You are doing a GREAT job!

So from our family to yours, I would like to welcome you all out to Family Home Evening!!

Thank you for coming!

{Opening Song} (Start with some thing silly...End with something Spiritual) How about....

Once There Was a Snowman (you know, since it is 107 today).

You can find the music and lyrics HERE

{Prayer}  (Thumb Wrestle - Winner gets to give the invocation)

{Lesson: Sin Seeps In}
You will need just a few supplies for this one. Don't worry.  It's easy-peasy lemon-squeezey.

clear cups half full of water

Food coloring

slips of paper, enough for each cup and a pen

paper towel sections...maybe 4" long and 2" wide for each person participating

{Read or Listen To}  On the Edge by Pres. James E. Faust

{Discuss and Learn}
Talk about how the false belief that hanging out on the edge of sin will not result in consequences has tricked many good people.

Have everyone name a sin or temptation that they see is affecting people around them, at school, in the world, wherever it may be.  Write one on each of the cards and prop the card up on one of the water cups.

Add a few drops of food coloring to the water, different in each glass.  Get some helpers involved!

Stir until the water is completely colored.

{Read} 2 Nephi 28 :21-24 together

21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
 22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
 23 Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.
 24 Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!
 25 Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well!

{Talk About} how Satan does his very best to "pacify" us.  (You can use the example of a screaming baby who is quieted by a pacifier)  Satan tries to lie to us and tell us that THIS sin is nothing to scream about or be upset about, it won't hurt to just hang out on the very edge of it...
Have your family members dip just the edge of their paper towel pieces into the colored water and hold it there for just 2 seconds (1 Mississippi...2 Mississippi...).
See what happens!

What Satan does not tell us is that Sin Seeps In.  He will lure you to the edge and pacify you into believing it is nothing to run from or be frightened of and before you know it you are soaked in sin.  Satan will use this to tempt you to go to the edge of another sin and another until you will not be able to cleanse yourself from it all.  
BUT there is always a way to come back!

{Closing Hymn} Redeemer of Israel

{Activity}  It is 107 outside so...don't go outside!  Let's play a nice board game.  I vote Parcheesi!! (It's the Classic Game of India, don't 'cha know?)  

{FHE Doesn't Have to be

PERFECT, It Just Has to BE!}

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Conservative's Take on Day One of the 2016 DNC

It don't think it is a big secret that I tend to be a more conservative voter, however, I see wisdom in at least listening to what the other side has to say. That is why I watched the opening night of the DNC's list of speakers last night. I even watched it on MSNBC, which I and many others, feel is the most liberal of the news outlets.
To me, watching it or listening to it myself, gives me the chance to make up my own mind about what went on and how I feel about it, as opposed to relying on a journalist's take or a newscasters piece about it.
Here are my thoughts on what I saw, not that it matters because I hope you decide for yourself. 
I was shocked to see the newscasters and the speakers ignoring and talking over the top of Bernie supporters in the crowd who were chanting (enough people chanting that I could make out what they were saying over the speakers and see them shouting on the screen). They were NOT few or far between.
The newscasters at one point said, "We are trying to track down the protesters and find out what they are saying." When it was perfectly clear they were shouting things like "Lock Her Up!" "We Trusted You" "Bernie" and "Hell No DNC We Won't Vote For Hillary!"
I saw so many people in the crowd (not just a handful) chanting, may more standing silent with their mouths taped shut, or crying, or holding signs for Bernie as they ripped up or discarded Hillary signs.
Say what you will about Bernie's political beliefs (I know I have!) but he really got a grass roots movement going. It is disgusting to see the likes of Sarah Silverman telling Bernie's supporters they are "Being Ridiculous!" I think if I were a Bernie supporter I would have been furious at the gall it took to make a remark like that. Her tone was as if she were talking to misbehaving children.
It was disgusting to hear Elizabeth Warren telling the crowd that the political system is "rigged" in favor of the powerful and than Bernie reminds us of what "Democrats fight for everyday." Does she not see the irony of that statement? How did it not dawn on her that in this particularly "rigged" situation many in that crowd felt like it was Hillary who was the "Powerful" that they were fighting against?
It was clearly evident to me that even the democratic party is fed up with the same old backwater politics, the secrecy, the manipulation, the greed and the condescending-sidetalking-hollow promises-making-establishment candidates that have been the norm for decades. Just like those on the Republican side seem to be.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sunday's Supper: Glazed Mini Meatloaves, Gnocchi with Red Pepper Sauce and Three Layer Key Lime Pie

{Main Dish}  Glazed Mini Meatloaf 

I know..I know. Meatloaf?  Yes!  It is a rare treat to get red meat at our house and what better day than a Sunday?  This recipe has been with me since the start of our marriage.  I hope you like it as much as we do.  The sauce is definitely the boss in this one.  It is a wonderful addition.  Try to find the Italian Cheese toasts - they make an amazing meatloaf and delicious crumb topping for many other dishes too.  Here is what they look like:

1.5 lbs ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
2 C crushed Musso's Italian Garlic Cheese Toasts, crushed
1 C ketchup
1 Green Bell Pepper, seeded and minced
1 Medium white or yellow onion, minced
1/4 C Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 C packed brown Sugar
1/2 C ketchup
1/4 C Worcestershire Sauce

Heat oven to 400

Combine all ingredients for meatloaf and work until well combined.  Press into a  into a muffin tin. Place tin on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any excess grease). Bake for 25 minutes.

Mix all ingredients for sauce.  Set aside.

Remove meatloaf from oven.  Drain off fat and turn if baking in muffin tin.  Return to the oven to bake 10 more minutes.

Remove from oven, top with sauce and bake 5 more minutes.

Serve warm.

{Side Dish}  Gnocchi With Red Pepper Sauce

Often, with meatloaf we will have mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese but this gnocchi was surprisingly good with the meatloaf, to me.  Get some greens with a fresh salad or other delectable veggie.

1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated gnocchi
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6-ounce) jars roasted red peppers, drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 to 2/3 cup heavy cream, or to taste
1/4 cup minced parsley
Fresh lemon juice, to taste
Chunk of Parmesan for grating

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the gnocchi according to the package instructions. Drain in a colander in the sink.

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat until hot, add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Add peppers, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a processor or blender and puree. Return sauce to pan, add cream and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add parsley, salt, pepper and few drops lemon juice, to taste.

In a large bowl, toss the gnocchi and sauce together. Divide among bowls, top with minced parsley leaves, and grate some Parmesan over the top. Serve immediately.

{Dessert} Three Layer Key Lime Pie

 If you use a pre-made crust, this pie is super easy to assemble, it is light, tart and delicious!

4 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature, or whipped cream cheese
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/3 C  Key Lime Juice (I like Nellie and Joe's bottled Key Lime Juice)
3 C whipped cream

For the Crust you can get a pre-made graham cracker crust or make a delicious one yourself out of crushed animal crackers!

1 1/2 C crushed animal crackers
3 TBS brown sugar
6 TBS melted butter

Preheat the oven to  325.

Mix all crust ingredients and press into a pie plate.  Bake 18 - 20 minutes, allow to cool before filling.

For The Pie:

Layer #1
Combine Cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and 1/3 C key lime juice and whip until combined and smooth. *Taste to make sure it has enough key lime flavor - you may want to add more juice if needed*

*Pour 3/4 of this mixture over your cooled pie crust - SAVE 1/4 of mixture for your next layer!*

Layer #2
Combine 2 C whipped cream and  the 1/4 mixture left over from layer #1 and fold until well combined.

Spread over the first layer.

Layer #3
Spread Whipped cream over the bottom two layers.

Cover pie with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or more until set.  The pie will not be green, however a few drops of food coloring will change that if you want.

Monday, May 9, 2016

And The Meaningless Award Goes To...

When I was a little girl we had winners and losers in games, and sports, and academic contests.

Arthur Leipzig, Red Rover 1950

We tried our best to be among the winners and learned to get up, dust ourselves off and try again if we ended up among the losers.  After all, there could only be one winner in most contests.

Contrary to what seems to be the current sentiment this did not send us to therapy or crying to our mothers.  This phenomenon of trying to make everyone FEEL like a winner, to me, seems pretty insulting.

When did we as a nation and a population decide that never failing anyone was the best course of action?

Is the end game of all this grade inflation, ego stroking, unwarranted-praise-giving nonsense to build up self-esteem? The premise of that is asinine.  Unless you are looking to build a generation of men and women who think they are amazing, not because they did anything amazing but because their Participant's Trophy says so.

Is there any better feeling in the world than battling through something, learning something, doing something difficult and finally succeeding?

Where would we be as a nation, as a people, had we not struggled to accomplish and contemplate ways to do the impossible?

Striving to be the best stretches us and helps us grow in unimaginable ways.

How insulting it must be to kids around the country, to be denied the chance to compete and to accelerate in the everyday, right of passage activities we all enjoyed.

How hollow those "victories" must feel.
Who are we to deny failure and all the opportunities that come with it to the growing generation?

Many of life's most important and precious lessons can only be learned from the toughest battles.

I am not saying people don't need a hand up now and then or a pat on the back when they are feeling low.  That is exactly what we need to be doing to help each other along.

No one likes to fail.  It is a fact.

I think if we could all have our way we would all be perfect but it is not in the accomplishment that we attain perfection, it is in the resilience of our spirit and the hope in our hearts.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday's Matter FHE: The Lonely Goatherd

At our house and millions of others around the globe, Monday nights are reserved for family.  A Family Home Evening!

It's just the two of us here (well 4 if you count the cat and dog - and I do) and we do our best to hold FHE and to make it interesting, fun and silly.  We can never get enough silly at our house.

Laughter is the BEST medicine.  A smile is the GREATEST accessory. A good joke is the BEGINNING of beautiful friendships.  So come, let me tell you a joke and we can be friends!

"My grandfather is hard of hearing so he has to read lips, which I don't mind so much, I just wish he didn't use that yellow highlighter."




P.S.  If you are looking for some good, mostly squeaky clean jokes (some PG-13) check out the Prairie Home Companion Joke Shows HERE.

Our FHE always starts the same way..."I would like to WELCOME Everyone Out to Family Home Evening!!"

{Opening Song} The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music

Music and lyrics together!  Turn it up and sing along.

{Opening Prayer} (Whomever can make the best goat noise)

{Lesson} I loved this video for this FHE because we all feel alone sometimes.  It is important to recognize that we are never alone.  No need to be the "Lonely Goatherd", the Good Shepherd is always watching over his flock.

"We draw upon the power of Christ's Atonement at those times when questions abound and answers are few"
                                         -Ronald A Rasband


[READ] "Who Should Love a Goat" The Friend, June 1981

A sweet little story about a young herdsman's son who wants desperately to keep his crippled goat.

"If a boy and an old man can love a goat so much, don’t you think a father can love a son even more?”

[Shout It Out]  Make a list of ways we know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us.  Go ahead. Shout it out!

Need some help??  Check out this article written by youth from around the world describe moments when they have felt God's love for them.   "How I've Felt God's Love"

{Closing Song} Tell the joke!  It will be hilarious!  Trust me, they will love it!!

"Knock knock - Who's there? - Owen. - Owen who? - Owen the Saints come marching in..."

When the Saints Go Marching In (if you have littles, have them be the echo!)


Put on your own Joke Show! Make a little stage, someone be the announcer, and everyone take a turn telling a joke or funny story or singing a silly song.

If that is too much work for a Monday (I hear ya!)

I say everybody have some ice cream and then go play hide and seek.  Our cat is REALLY good at hiding ;)

{FHE Doesn't Have to be

PERFECT, It Just Has to BE!}

Okay! Okay! One more for the road...

Did you hear about the two peanuts on the subway? One of them was a-salted.   

Get it??!!  A-SALTed?!  Bahahaha

Waka! Waka! 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What's For Dinner Wednesday: "Feisty" Tacos

If you are looking to add more meatless meals to your rotation but are wary of how all the carnivores in your house will react then give this one a go!

Feisty Tacos

Feisty Crumble and Potato taco filling


2 Cups diced potatoes (you can use O'Brien Frozen potatoes if you want)
1 small onion, minced
2 Cups Beyond Meat Feisty Crumbles (Soy free!)
1 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 Corn Tortillas

Oil for cooking
Salt to taste


In large cast iron skillet (or whatever kind you like to use) put in enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan and heat on high heat until the oil is good and hot.

Carefully add the potatoes and the onion and the Feisty Crumbles and reduce heat to medium/high cooking until potatoes start to brown.  Stir every few minutes and scrape the bottom of the pan as you go.  You want both the potatoes and the Feisty Crumbles to have some crunch on them. Season with salt.

Once potatoes are tender and "meat" begins to get crisp and brown, top with cheese, turn heat off and cover pan until cheese melts (a minute or so). Then remove lid and scrape it all around to get all the crispy bits mixed in.  Trust me you don't want to leave those behind.

Warm corn tortillas.

Fill tortillas with potato and meat mixture and any other taco fixin's you like (I like sour cream and avocado) and ENJOY!

Also makes a great filling for enchiladas with red sauce.

{Quotes to Cook By}

“Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco...” 

“Empty packets of hot sauce remind me of the love I used to have for her. Now all I’m left with is this yummy taco.” 

“If not for me being stoned and clinging to a taco, it would have been terribly romantic.”