“Q” is for Quake

Those of us who live in earthquake country tend to relegate the fact down the list of things we ponder quite far–especially those of us who have taken care to become trained as Community Emergency Response volunteers and set up our stash of emergency gear.

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A couple Fridays ago I was reading in bed when the room began to rock in a gentle manner. Perhaps twenty or thirty seconds of shaking drew out to seem ten times it true length, as occasions such as these tend to do. Most people who have experienced a quake will tell you the thing that immediately goes through their mind is, ‘Is this going to get worse?’ and ‘What do I duck beneath if need be?’ Actually far too many of us have the natural tendency to run outdoors which is exactly the wrong thing to do. One does not want to be near windows should they shatter, not crumbling brickwork.

Back to that volunteer training thing. One learns straight away that dropping beneath stout table or other furniture is the best place to survive and, post-quake, one is to find and care for one’s family first. Becoming a superhero might fly in films, but most of us need to be assured that those we love are okay before we are of any emotional good to face what might come in the event of a destructive quake.

Today’s top news in a seven point two quake in Mexico. This after a handful of other quakes reported in the last few weeks along the earth’s crust, ‘ring of fire’. All reminders that those of us lucky enough to call California and other cities along the ring of fire home must take readiness for the inevitable with all seriousness. I did not say ‘freak out’, ‘awfulize’, or ‘fear’. All areas of the world have natural occurrences that can threaten life and limb. Whether hurricane, wildfire, tornado, dust storm, drought, flood or earthquake–we humans need to educate ourselves and do what we can to prepare for any consequences of these natural disasters.

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Developed in the San Francisco Bay area and originally called “N.E.R.T.” (Neighbourhood Emergency Response Team), this fire department led series of courses is invaluable in preparing those who wish to be of help to their families and others in a more detailed way, but everyone living in an area that provides this training could benefit greatly from its content. Preparing home emergency supplies, ‘go packs’ for each car, education about triage and the organizational structure of emergency personnel, basic search and rescue, and first aid are all covered within the content of this excellent series of classes.

F.E.M.A. has now become involved and is a good central place to learn more and locate local training:  http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams

CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. Should you be interested in this invaluable training, I highly recommend it.

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“P” is for Pull Out Your Hair Pet Peeves

Pet Peeves are highly individual, but some, it seems to me, are universal.

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- People who wait until all their purchases have been rung up to begin looking for a way to pay for them (in wallet or purse)

-Men who spit. How many women have you seen let go of a loogie in public? ‘Women don’t chew tobacco, you say? Balderdash. Women have just as many reasons to want to rid themselves of something in their mouth as men. Women take a tissue from their pocket or purse and delicately remove the offense.

-slow internet or internet that crashes inevitably right as you are about to send a letter to the president outlining how to solve world hunger.

-cats who scratch for no other reason than they can.

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-smoke detectors that beep when your toast is yet to be even underdone.

-people who do not bother to park within their visibly painted parking space lines.

-Dog hair that insists on clinging to the bottom of ever chair foot despite your attempts to dust mop or vacuum them away. Nothing short of lifting each leg individually and wiping it with a wet rag, will do the trick.

-Dr Oz telling you agave is the best thing since, well–sugar, one month, then telling you it will send your blood sugar through the roof and turn you diabetic as well as obese, the next month. (Let alone the avalanche of recommended supplements that would have a person filling a plate a day with these expensive pills if he were to take all this ‘advice’.

-people who allow conspiracy theories to rule their better judgment to act in a reasonable way or who act in unproven ways because of a handful of testimonials.


**not vaccinating their children against highly contagious diseases because of conspiracy theories that have been proven fraudulent. (100% of pediatricians vaccinate their own children)

**using natural remedies to the exclusion of proven, highly studied medical interventions.

**Any grocery item that is left with a teaspoon remaining in the jar without anyone in the household taking responsibility/remembering to put it on the shopping list before it is almost gone.

–gardeners who spray weeds with lethal full-spectrum weed killer endangering all the wanted plants surrounding the weed (and any pets you might have that use the yard) rather than use a manual weeding tool and pop the weed out.


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**Mindless robotic gardening – ‘mow, blow and go’, when the grass is already short, but the bushes obviously need pruning. Engage eyes and brain–do the chore that is most needed!

What are your pet peeves?

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“O” is for Old

A kindergartner thinks his middle school brother is ‘old’.

Teenagers look upon their parents as ‘old; their grandparents as downright ancient.

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Day old bread? — Old.

The first Harry Potter film? — Yup.


Last night’s pizza?


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Your mother’s wedding dress–

All are looked upon by some as old whilst others may disagree.

Is a person a senior citizen at fifty as the AARP taunts or is it sixty seven when adults are allowed to claim their maximum social security benefits?

First grey hair a horror?

A few lines at the corners of the eyes? Alluring or aged?

“It’s all a matter of perspective,” you say.

Yes and no.

Perhaps the age of an individual is how he or she is feeling on any particular day. I know the day after a really hard work out I feel about eighty. The day after that—nineteen.

Lighting can make even a young person look old. Put on the right filter over camera’s lens and even the most senior celebrity can look like her daughter.

So what really defines ‘old’?

“Having lived or existed as specified with relation to younger or newer persons or things,” says the dictionary.

“In relation to.” Perhaps that is now, and always shall be, the true litmus test.

When we feel young, we act young and even look younger. When life has battered us down, even the most positive of us can appear haggard.

When the storms of life add up, sinking our youthful ship of confidence, it is up to each one of us to shift perspective and reach into our large reserve of gratitude and remember that it is only through our choice to see things as opportunity, each of life’s challenges as a lesson and the breath that remains in us as the beginning of a new and better now.

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And that my friend, is what children do each and every day. Fall a thousand times and rise one thousand one. See the good in every circumstance and if you can not change difficult ones, change your outlook of them.

The only thing you can control in this world is you—and your outlook. A smile and a can-do attitude smooths the rough edges, both of personality and facial features.

The year is young, the day brand new and each of us given another opportunity to move toward a more wonderful future–if you see it that way.

Young at heart is the true fountain of youth. When did you last let your heart decide?




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“N” is for Never

‘Never say never’ is the old saying.

It seems to me that there are certain things that do not follow that wisdom.

Never abuse a child.

Never abuse an animal.

Never play a ‘joke’ at someone else’s expense.

Never strike out in anger.

Never do secretly what you would not do in front of God, your family and friends.

Never be unkind—yes, even to those who are unkind to you. You have no idea what internal battles they are fighting. Their unkindness is their problem reflected upon you.

Never mortgage your future for the whims and luxuries of today.

Never put a photo online that you would not want your family, friends and God to see—because they inevitably will.

Never engage an internet ‘troll’. Their acidic tongue and cruelty is their problem, not yours. (See ‘never be unkind’ above)

Never promise to do something you know you can not do.

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Never bully.

Never use your position of power at the expense of an underling

Never expect perfection of yourself, others or nature. It does not exist. Trying to reach it will only cause you unneeded agony. You are beautifully imperfect.


Never give up on finding and living your purpose.

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Oh…and see to those few nevers that need saying and living.


What are your ‘nevers’?



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“M” is for Myrtle

Myrtle is a gorgeous, graceful tree that flowers abundantly with lovely blooms.

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Myrtle was also my grandmother’s name.

Born one of seven children of Norwegian immigrants, raised by a widow in Chicago at a time when the marriage of a Swede and Norwegian was considered a ‘mixed marriage’, my grandmother Myrtle was a woman who survived the great depression and worked behind the scenes to make a real difference in the world.

Long before women worked outside the home, she found a way to raise my father, assure that the letter of acceptance for all enlisting men of Park Ridge, Illinois guaranteeing them entrance into Northwestern University was saved and presented to the admission officer after the end of World War II when my father returned from the eastern front as a lieutenant and pilot, took in my great uncle, was the backbone of her siblings as they made their ways through life and treated me, her only granddaughter, like a person and not just a child– Grandma Myrtle was quietly amazing.

She never told stories about her strength or her stalwart nature. She lived it. Anyone who took the time to observe knew that this was a formidable woman who treated all people as equals and loved fiercely.

She was married to a man who was even more introverted than she, so she took the reins and made

Myrtle and Grandpa Hjalmer, the Swede
Long before I knew them :)


sure her family survived and thrived. Myrtle was one of thousands of women who will never be written about in the pages of a history book, but without whom, history would look much bleaker.

Grandma has been gone some thirty years, but I can still see her gentle smile, hear her quite laugh, feel her strong hands massaging my tired childhood shoulders, smell the furniture polish of her dark walnut dining room table, taste the rich, warm old world meat and potatoes with ice box cake dessert as topper.

My brother and I could always look forward to playdough stored in her walk in pantry, and make-shift toys to cut, roll and shape it. A jar of bubbles, a plastic red tomato that used to hold ketchup in the tub to squirt at the tiles, and extra cookie and some milk mid afternoon and the privileged of being allowed to sleep out on the screened in back room on hot summer’s nights.

She lived in a Chicago brownstone with huge concrete flower pots decorating the steps out front, a square laundry drying contraption out back and a basement that still held a washing machine that required running each piece of clothing through a ringer to dry it enough to hang. Wooden clothes pins and a marking pen made small doll companions and the old walnut encased turn table playing songs from the sixties that still give me a rush and a lump in the throat when I hear one in modern day coffee shop.

Dad is gone now. So is my only sibling. So Myrtle live now only in my memory. Thank you for allowing me to share just a small slice of what she was, what she will always be in the tapestry of our American past. They say that my father’s generation was the ‘greatest generation’, but their mothers and dad built them at a time when there were very few material assets to help.

I love you gram.

Myrtle Amelia Andersen Pearson
Gram as I knew her




What was amazing about your gran?


Posted in Aging, Integrity, Life, Loss | Tagged , , , , , , | 21 Comments

“L” for ‘LD’ -Learning Disabled

Too many people who struggle with learning differences or disabilities are thought of, if not out loud, then in actions/in-actions, as ‘lazy and dumb’. These are disabilities or difference that are not visible, like physical differences/challenges; no wheelchair or cane as visual cue.

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“To treat everyone equally is offensive, because it fails to recognize anyone as an individual.
― Jarod Kintz

This reminds me of the story I read on a disabilities website in support of how stupid it is to treat all children in school ‘equally’. I wish I had a dime for every time I heard a teacher or administrator say “if we offer that to your son we have to offer it to everyone.’ Or it’s sister statement “That is not available to everyone so we do not offer it.

The story:

A man fell to the floor in a room of school administrators, suffering a heart attack.

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“Does anyone know CPR?” One man shouted.
One member of the group raised her hand. “I do.”
The small crowd moved aside for the trained person to approach the man, now turning blue.
The woman remained seated, unmoving.
“Why don’t you help him?” someone screeched.
The CPR trained woman said “If I do CPR on him I would have to do it for everyone here.”

Do kids need differing approaches to learning? You bet.

Should they be offered as needed crafted to the individual?


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Does it happen?

Not often enough. We mandate special education and interventions to meet the needs of all our children but we do not FUND the implementation. This puts schools in the role of having to dole out help as best they can.

Schools are not the bad guys–society is for not valuing each and every child enough to fund an appropriate, and therefore ‘equal’ education for every child.

Okay–off soapbox.


The mom of an ADD and learning different/disabled child


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“L” is for Leap

–a leap of faith.

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Life is meant for learning and growing. If you stay where you are and never take chances, you are going nowhere fast. You will get what you have always gotten, or less. “Put your hand on your heart. Feel that? That’s called ‘a purpose’. You’re here today for a reason. Don’t give up and don’t give in. And above all, don’t let one or two dark clouds cover the entire sky. The sun is always shining on some part of your life. Sometimes you just have to forget how you feel, remember what you deserve, and keep pushing forward.” -Angel Chernoff Your greatest task isn’t to find your passion, but to discover and eliminate all the barriers within yourself that you have built in its way.  Even when you’re afraid, keep trusting – keep your heart and mind wide open.  Peace is not the absence of struggle and failures, but the presence of mind to take those experiences and learn from them. Your passion is out there covered up by your fear and procrastination. Move forward in life with integrity and honour, whether or not anyone ever knows the positive things you have done.  Choose your actions so that at the end of the day you walk in your honor. The results, whether or not they are what you expected, will be what you need. And things will happen in their own time.

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Those who you can positively affect are your longest lasting legacy. If you can change the way people think and feel, the way they see themselves, and the way they interpret the world, it means you can change the way they live their lives, and thus, how they affect others. Your actions are your voice. Like a ripple emanating from a pebble dropped into still water, your influence goes on and on, rejuvenating with each person who takes upon themselves to pass that wisdom on. When you fail it usually means you are being redirected to something better. Patience and positivism, no matter how slow your progress or how many mistakes you make, will lead you to where you are meant to be. To be sure, you are light years ahead of those who are not trying. Progress cannot be rushed. It is a gradual process. Don’t settle for ‘good enough’ when you know deep in your heart that you are meant for more. One small step, one small leap at a time. Every day counts toward your goals, so make each day count. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Life is NOW. This is your time. Don’t wait your life away. Take those small leaps in spite of your fear. Fear only exists in your mind. Don’t let it rule your future. Muster your courage and leap— your goals are more important than your fear. You have all you need to reach your best self. You are strong enough, smart enough, good enough, capable enough to push hard enough each day to move beyond where you were yesterday. Every great accomplishment is the sum of these small steps through fear. Great challenges make life interesting and overcoming them makes life meaningful. Create the life you were meant to live. One that feels good on the INSIDE, not just looks good on the outside. Design a life living in your truth and you will not be disappointed. Leap toward what you love and you will find yourself. Your fears are feelings, not facts. It takes courage to grow into who you are meant to be. You are what you do and not what you say you will do. Anything is possible with enough courage, time and persistence. Impress yourself, not the world. Live happily in the present, work toward the future and create your own sunshine.

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Go ahead… LEAP! No matter your problems, there are always those facing more.     ****************************** Faith is feeling very much alone. Struggling to come to terms with a medical diagnosis she fears to be the end of her world, will those fears come between her and her destiny? LEAP OF FAITH

Cover by Alex Kent

The only thing for certain is that her life will never be the same. http://christinelondon.com/books/leap-of-faith

Posted in Finding Your Passion, Integrity, Life, life passion, New Beginnings, Success | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“K” is for Kilt – With Pride

What is it about a kilt that gets the blood flowing faster? To those of Scottish decent, it is the battle cry to their history; a sort of national icon round which hearts and minds are drawn to remember the heroic struggles of Scotland’s past.

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Retribution for the audacity of the assault on the English right to the British throne, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s claim extinguished at the bloody battle of Cullodean brought down the iron fist of the English. No more were the plaid of each clan to be worn. Any display of a tartan, let alone the highly functional kilt worn through all kind of weather, in battle and at home, could lead to persecution and death.

The law was repealed in 1782, turning what had been seen as the uncivilised outfits of mountain thieves into national dress claimed by the whole of Scotland.

” You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.”

How does one snuff out the patriotism that runs deep as the very blood in a Scot’s veins? Short of taking his beloved land from him, try to make him cow tow to any other man’s ways at the expense of his own.

Does it work?

Only to strengthen the Scot resolve to be who and what they are.

“Scottish patriotism is stronger than any national pride south of the border.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed in Scotland regarded themselves as being Scottish first and foremost.” – Daily Mail, UK

When the Lords of the Islands departed after Cullodean, the clans regarded the king that sat in Holyrood nominally, still valuing the broadsword and dirk over plough shaft. Indeed the poor rocky soil and windswept moor is unsuitable for the farming of the lowlands. Grim, fierce and dreary are these isles on many a day as seen by the outlander. Supernaturalism belongs to the folklore as the aurora borealis does to the skies. Ballads exist in popular memory taking the colour of the period through which they’ve lived repeated generation to generation around island peat fires. Curiously culled in Celtic scenery and imagination, one is lured by this mystical magic, impressed and bewitched by desolate woodlessness, soaring peaks and distant crash of waves muffled in the wind.

This island is pervaded by a subtle spiritual atmosphere, long floating spring days, light streaked midnight skies and torrents of cascading waterfalls flow over stalwart granite.

No one truly knows a country until he walks through it; he then tastes the sweets and bitters, smells the earth and air, sees the vastness of its panoramas, hears its earthen sounds, feels the spirit of its people.

This land speaks to the soul who takes the time to feel it.

The kilt is the very symbol of this people’s unconquerable spirit, this gentle love of place steeped in fierce loyalty. Tread lightly you who would besmirch a Scot wearing the robes of his Highlands. One long swath of warm woolen fabric folded and held in place by pin or tuck, this garment is protection against the chill of a highland night and symbol of one’s family of origin.

Stand tall the proud Scotsman.

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You are cordially invited to read more of this land and the love of it:






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“J” is for Java Jive – the Love Of Coffee

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“If it weren’t for the coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.”
― David Letterman

You may not be addicted to caffeine as many coffee drinkers are, but the unmistakable allure of the rich and bitter brew is undeniable. Whether hot or iced there is something about the aroma, the lingering smell and flavour as it fills your senses, that brings us back time after time.

Adored through history, even our music pays homage.

The song lyrics of Jave Jive are a great example of the silly rhymes of jive.

“Oh, slip me a slug from the wonderful mug / I’ll cut a rug till I’m snug in a jug,” and, “I love java, sweet and hot / Whoops, Mr. Moto, I’m a coffee pot.”


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Written by Ben Oakland and Milton Drake, “Java Jive” reached No. 15 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The Ink Spots performed it for years, and there have been numerous recordings by other artists, including my own group, A Choired Taste. Yup—guilty. We LOVE Java AND this piece that, more than sixty years later, still brings a smile to the face of coffee lovers.

Image of A Choired Taste by Alex Kent

To hear A Choired Taste sing Java Jive click:




Posted in Art/Artist, Music Event, Musings, You Tube | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“I”, The Heart of Individuality

“I” is for In·di·vid·u·al·i·ty – noun


the quality or character of a particular person or thing that distinguishes them from others of the same kind, esp. when strongly marked.

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Do you consider yourself an individual with flare possessing a marked difference? In our modern society, what does that mean?


Wearing clothes that resonate more with the 1960′s than today

Living on a houseboat instead of a condo, apartment or land locked home

Driving to work on a scooter

Sporting purple hair

Having an unusual tattoo


While these things might make you stand out in a crowd do they truly make you individualistic?


Maybe to be a true individual requires divergent thinking more than a certain ‘look’. In modern day when everything is ephemeral and the ability to focus on one thing at a time has been smothered by too many distraction, perhaps to be a true individual means a little bit more.


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In this day and age it has become scarce as ice in the desert to find anyone who uses the phone to chat, writes a letter with pen & paper mailing it with a stamp, looks others in the eye as he passes acknowledging them with a nod or smile, obey the speed limit because it is the right thing to do and not out of fear of getting a ticket…


Some of our greatest minds have touched upon what the deeper meaning


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
― Mark Twain


“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”
― Jim Morrison


“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
― Mahatma Gandhi


“I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.”
― Rita Mae Brown


“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche


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