Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Are the Best Things in Life Free?



Occasionally I mention items of local interest in my blogs. Being a thrifty soul I especially like promoting free events. Below is information about a free concert series and classic car show. Feel free to share the information with friends. If you want to relate the info to one of my past blogs on the importance of music and singing revisit one of my past posts


But for the current news here is what is coming up.


Spring concerts and classic car shows return Friday evenings 6 to 8 p.m. April 4, 11, 25 and May 2 and 9 for the free Music at the Village and Classic Car Show at the Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center, 20050 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale, AZ. 

    The free outdoor event will kick off with The Roadrunners 50s/60s band  April 4, followed by the Gene Iannette Jazz Quartet April 11, One More Time Band on April 25, Still Cruisin Band on May 2 and back to the Roadrunners 50s/60s band on May 9. All music will be performed on the patio of AJ’s Fine Foods.  The weekly classic car show will be held in the shopping center parking lot. Seating is limited and attendees are encouraged to arrive early and bring a yard chair.
     “Nothing says spring time like music and cars,” said Mary Walker, president of Power Promotions and event coordinator for The Village at Arrowhead. “This event has become one of the West Valley’s most popular events. Whether you want to gaze at the latest in fashions, cruise down memory lane checking out classic cars or simply enjoy live music in a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere, this event has something for everyone.”


     The Village at Arrowhead offers specialty shops that provide the ultimate shopping experience with distinctive fashion, home furnishings, restaurants and personal services in one of the most architecturally unique and aesthetically pleasing shopping centers around.
                For more information contact Marks Public Relations at 480-664-3004.




Monday, March 10, 2014

Trees and Me




I love trees. When I was a young girl I liked to climb in any tree that would hold my skinny, little body. My favorite was a mulberry tree in our backyard. Sometimes I would take my dolls up with me. I was a bit of an anomaly, a tomboy who liked dolls. I guess I thought my vinyl children would appreciate the view. 

One time my young niece, Michele was missing. My mom thought I had climbed up the tree with her new grandchild. I didn’t. Not because I wouldn’t. I just didn’t think about it. They found baby Michele had rolled off the bed and had fallen asleep between the bed and the wall. The sleeping tyke was unscathed and I was off the hook (that time anyway.) However, in my mind’s eye I can still see my mother clad in her apron, hair in pin curlers, flailing her arms and warning me that if I had the baby up there I had to bring her down right this instant! 

Sometimes my brother, Terry, would climb the tree with me, but mostly this was a solitary expedition. Terry needed a reason to climb – to dislodge an errant ball or drop bombs on an enemy when we played war. I just liked to climb up the tree and contemplate life. I remember thinking I was closer to Jesus when I was in the tree. At the time our family attended a Nazarene church. I would later convert to two other religions in my life – first Judaism and then Buddhism, but I think I may have had an insight about trees and spirituality. When we are in nature, we are closer to our spiritual essence. 


I admit it, I’m sentimental about my leafy-limbed friends.  The first PAID freelance story I wrote was about an unwanted Christmas tree. Ironically the $30 (and priceless excitement) I earned from that story is more than I earn from writing this blog. But sometimes you just have to do what makes you feel good – in spite of compensation.

Trees were an integral part of my first job after I graduated from college. As the newly hired public relations coordinator for Mesa Parks, Recreation and Cultural Division I became the spokesperson for our Arbor Day program. I remember listening with pride as our mayor and members of the Parks and Recreation board spoke the words I wrote about the importance of trees. Our city even won an award for their environmental efforts.  Another one of my duties was heading the tree donation program. I encouraged people to buy live Christmas trees and donate them to the parks, donate trees to honor births, anniversaries and deaths, as well as choosing trees (as opposed to other gifts) to celebrate years of government service.  I am proud to say that under my direction the program become so successful that it was disbanded. True story. We didn’t have enough room in the parks for the number of trees that people wanted to donate. 

Eventually my job was trimmed from the budget as well, but my love of trees has continued to grow. That is why I was excited to accompany my spouse, CB, to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. I love to amble among the trees, shrubs and plants, listen to the chirping of birds and watch the butterflies. There is such an awesome diversity of plant life at this arboretum. When I walk the dusty roads I can imagine an Australian billabong,

an English herb garden or how the Native Americans used plant life for building materials and medicinal use. 

On this excursion we learned about the importance of bees. I have new respect for the little buzzers and the vital role they play in our environment. We have lots of bees in our yard. We don’t spray pesticides or herbicides, we have colorful plants and we have a little pond, so our house is a little Mecca for the  rugby-clad insects. I admit, I’ve been stung a time or two in my life, so bees, wasps, hornets and other stinging bugs make me nervous. But I know if I leave them alone we will both be fine. I feel the same way about people who don’t share my political beliefs. But that is another story.

However, when it comes to trees and other things in nature, I do believe we should do our best to speak out and protect them. I don’t want to go into a diatribe, but I must say that I believe that we need to live in harmony with our environment if we are to survive as a species. This is a physical and spiritual reality.

As I walked through the arboretum I marveled at butterflies, watched in amazement to see a scarlet-red cardinal fly by and took in the fragrant smell of flowers and blossoms. Amongst the trees and plants I felt like a kid again.

I recently bought a new phone and took several pictures during my little stroll. I have probably taken 30 pictures in my life. Ten of them were taken at the arboretum.

There is something about being amongst the trees that makes me want to share. I guess that’s how it was when I was climbing the mulberry tree with my dolls. The view from a tree top is like no other.

In conclusion I just want to encourage everyone who has ever loved a tree, to love them all.  One of my favorite quotes is from John Muir (who shares my birthday – same day – different year.) On behalf of all my woody friends, here it is.


“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.”

So my thoughtful and intelligent readers, here is one last bit of advice. This is something I channeled from my dear, deceased mother. Admire a tree, save a tree, but don’t climb it with a baby in your arms or else!



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Metal Man Loves Tungsten Ring



My son-in-law Greg, offered this post. I hope you enjoy it.
I love metal. As a welder and blacksmith I bend, pound and shape metal to make all sorts of useful and artistic items.  Ironically (okay a little iron pun there) heavy metal is my music of choice. Pantera, Volbeat and Testament are a few of my favorite bands.

That is why when I needed a replacement for my wedding ring I chose Tungsten. More specifically I selected a polished Tungsten ring with carbon fiber inlay (itemTD066-8) at http://tungstendirect.com/8mm-polished-tungsten-with-carbon-fiber-inlay/. If you go to  www.tungstendirect.com you will see some other great choices as well.

I use my hands a lot for work and I wanted something that looked cool, but held up better than softer metals like silver, gold and platinum. Titanium is strong too, but something about that metal irritates my skin. I know a few other people whose skin reacts to titanium too, so if you are considering that metal, make sure you don’t have a problem with it before you commit to a ring you are going to wear all the time.

My Tungsten band has a sleek, aerodynamic appearance and the carbon fiber looks awesome. The inlay is smooth and doesn’t have any indentations. Another ring I owned had indentations and the ring caught on my pants every time I put my hands in my pockets. But best of all, this ring is tough. No scratches, dents or dings, in spite of the abuse I put it through every day. 

My mother-in-law, Sally, noticed a guy who works at the recreation center was wearing an interesting-looking ring.  She asked him if it was made of Tungsten.  The guy was proud to demonstrate what his jewelry was made of it. Apparently he took his ring off, rubbed it against the brick wall and showed her how it survived unscathed. This was not news to me, but my mother-in-law was impressed. When Sally told her friend, Joan about the guy’s ring, he did a repeat performance for her. Apparently Joan’s husband lost his wedding ring. Who knows, maybe a Tungsten ring might be in this guy’s future? I’m sure it would be a fraction of the cost of his original wedding band.

I think Tungsten is a great choice for jewelry in general, but wedding rings in particular. If you’re making a lifetime vow to someone you need something that can last.  If you’re a guy like me and you work with your hands, tinker on cars, and fix things around the house, it helps if you can wear something that won’t scratch, bend or dent. Some of the more expensive metals like gold, platinum and silver don’t hold up well.  You either have to baby the ring and take it off (and pray you don’t lose it) or your wedding band winds up looking like a used crankshaft.

But I’m not apologizing for my ring. Even though my wedding band didn’t cost anywhere near one that is constructed of a precious metal, it is still awesome.  The carbon fiber inlay reminds me of the hood I saw on a tricked-out racecar. In fact, NASCAR and other racecars are using more carbon fiber – and not just for lightweight-strength. It’s because it looks amazing. 

Women can talk about the sparkle of gold and diamonds, but I like a metal that is tough. And Tungsten is all that. Welders, mechanics and others who work with metal and machinery know that Tungsten is 10 times harder than gold, five times harder than tool steel and four times harder than titanium. And it holds its shape and shine. No wonder you are seeing more Tungsten in the aerospace industry, civil engineering, motorsports and military equipment. 

In my ring the carbon fiber is used as an accent against the gun-metal color. But it’s more than just a fancy design.  Carbon fiber is a workhouse of a composite. It’s a perfect complement for Tungsten’s durability. Carbon fiber is being used more and more for sports equipment like tennis racquets, golf clubs, softball bats and hockey sticks.  Having sports equipment that is super sturdy AND lightweight gives an athlete an advantage. 

Political correctness aside, this is an awesome ring for a man. That said, now my wife said she wants one too.  I can’t blame her. She welds, she works hard and buying a Tungsten ring is something a working man can afford. I think it would make a great Valentine’s Day gift.  Most of the women’s rings are only around $109. Here are a two examples: 



Most of the men’s rings are in the $100 to $199 range, but if you want something with diamonds you will pay anywhere from $500 to $1,000. It’s worth checking out 



It all boils down to different strokes for different folks. Some like silver, some like gold. But like I said, I like metal. And I think my Tungsten ring with the carbon fiber inlay is a handsome choice that reflects my trade, my hobbies and my knowledge of metal.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Taming of the Grouch



Have you ever wished you had a “refresh” button for your life? 

We acquire a fair amount of knowledge from study and personal experience, but at times it seems all it takes are a few setbacks, and poof, we revert to our old bad habits. 

It happened to me.

I was in a car accident a year ago which left me unable to do a lot of the physical activities I enjoy – including playing softball with my team, the Stingers. Nearly a year has passed. I received therapy, slowly began preparing my muscles by taking yogalates classes and now it was time to play ball again. I started off pretty good and got some solid hits, but in my enthusiasm to sprint to first base I pulled a hamstring muscle.  Part of the problem is I didn’t warm up properly. It was a knee jerk reaction – hit the ball and run. 

I have never been a powerful slugger like many of my teammates such as Mary Lou, Stella and Tracy, so part of my effectiveness as a softball player is being able to get a hit and beat out the throw to first base. The same formula is true with my fielding. I may not stop line shots like Kathy or Jo, or snag fly balls like Karen, June or Ruth, but if a ball gets past me at least I can chase it down at a respectable pace. The pulled hamstring was taking away my mobility edge.

Mary Lou and Shirley, our couch and manager, found pinch runners for me at the next game, but I batted a miserable 0 for 4. Needless to say I was not a happy camper. While in the dugout my teammates, Connie, Carla and Mo encouraged me. They reminded me that I had hit the ball solidly, it just had the misfortune of landing in our opponent’s mitts.  It happens to everyone, including our most powerful hitters. Still I was grousing and made a few negative remarks about my performance. 

Normally I am a “glass-half-full kinda gal,” so my pessimism raised a few eyebrows. My teammate, Jo, was especially surprised since she knew I not only valued an optimistic attitude, I penned a book about it (Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.) She suggested I reread what I wrote.  Talk about a wake-up call.

That evening I pondered what Jo said. The hamstring pull was a pain, but certainly not the end of the world. What was causing me to unleash my inner grouch?

Upon reflection I realized I went into a slow, but steady downspin following my car accident the year before.  Over time, some of my positive routines disintegrated into bad habits. Instead of exercising like I would’ve liked to do, I had to be sedentary and heal. I began watching more television – including programs that were violent and depressing. This not only gave me nightmares, it affected my attitude. Slowly, but surely, I was giving my inner grouch permission to run amok.


Fortunately Jo’s comment caused me examine the issue and correct it. I was a little embarrassed with my flirtation with the dark side, but it’s not like I had total amnesia on all things hopeful.  I just needed a little refresher course. And being a middle child who likes to share, I thought many of you who normally embrace optimism, but occasionally relapse, might benefit from what I discovered. Here are a few tips on how to refresh your optimism.

·         1. Go back to the basics. It doesn’t matter if it’s your golf swing, a diet or life. Review the basic principles of what you are trying to achieve. Chances are you didn’t develop an esoteric tendency that nullifies ALL your past efforts, you just need to review some of the fundamentals. The good news is you don’t need to start from the beginning.  Just do a quick review, discover where you went astray, and get back on track.
·            
o    2. To prevent from going too far off course, monitor your progress on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. It can be a list, check-up sheet, journal or any tool of your choosing. The point is to have a barometer to measure your level of optimism.  When you review your emotions you can spot when your attitude is taking a nosedive and catch it before it becomes a serious problem.

3.  Create an internal emotional vibration that matches the positive things you want to manifest. You can’t attract happiness when you dwell on misery any more than you can make orange juice by squeezing an onion. Match your thoughts, speech, actions and emotions with your desired outcome, NOT YOUR FEARS.

In conclusion, remember we all make mistakes. No one is perfect, not even the self-help gurus. Also, I might add, nothing is gained by beating yourself up. For example my hamstring is healing, but it still hurts. I can complain about it for hours, but that doesn’t help. Not even a little. Instead I choose to look at this painful experience as a life lesson. Maybe I had to get a pain in the butt to learn how to not BE a pain in the butt.  Now how is that for a refreshing thought?