Friday, August 30, 2013

F is for the Least of these


 This is the 6th  week of the A to Z blog meme. This weeks'  blog hop is sponsored by the letter "F". Click on the link below the  logo to read more about the meme.


 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Matthew 25:40 NIV
This past Saturday, August 24, I participated in a community outreach program known as Hand 2 Hand.  It was a time to help people in the community by offering food, medical exams, vision screenings, dental exams, haircuts, clothing, and to the first 500 kids, school supply-stocked backpacks. In addition, breakfast and lunch were provided, as well as presentation of the Gospel, and an area where people could have prayer for their needs. All free of cost. There was also activities for the kids, as well as face painting and kettle corn, and other kid-friendly snacks. The local police department had a booth and gave out goodies to the kids, and there were many booths of info on low-cost resources. My church was one of the sponsors and planners of the event, and this was the second year that I was a volunteer.
The last couple of years, the event was held on my church's campus in a more affluent city, and there was not that great of a turn out. This year, it was held in a nearby city that has a greater needy population and the event  took place on the campus of a middle school.
My role this year was to sit at the entrance table and help get people registered and answer any questions. Last year, I had assisted the families in picking out clothing, but this year, I'm unable to do long term standing/walking, so needed a sit-down job. (Pending hip replacement surgery) We were stationed below a nice shady pop-up shelter, so not greatly affected by the gradual warming of the day.

                           Guest waiting in line

Volunteers arrived at 7am to set up the individual stations. The organizers had done a great job in placement of services and where volunteers were helping out. We were identified by fluorescent colored name tags. Our guests, the participants, were given white name tags. The population in this neighborhood is predominately Hispanic, and so we had a lot of Spanish speaking helpers. There were other churches involved.

I heard stories from the organizers of  how so many of the services offered resulted from God's intervention! People spoke up because of over-hearing conversations. I understand that the principal of the school was very involved in getting use of the campus facilities. The medical services were provided by the local Western University of Health Science students and their instructors. What was really cool for me is that the physician who oversees the clients in my 3 group homes was helping out, as he is a instructor for the university's  medical assistant program. He brings his students to care for our developmentally disabled clients every other month!

The event was  well organized, but of course, there were minor problems that occurred; but we overcame and adjusted as needed. There was plenty of bottled water to go around to keep everyone hydrated.
The event was scheduled to end at 1:30, but by 12:30, the line was gone, so people started tearing down certain stations. There was still stacks and stacks of clothing so people were instructed to take as much as they wanted, rather than the limit posted at the beginning. Still, a lot of clothes were left and they were destined  for  a local thrift store that  benefits particular non-profit organizations.

At the end of my shift,   I was hot, tired and in pain, but also happy to be able to have had the opportunity to help others. I felt that the majority of  people we served this day were appreciative and I pray that we were Jesus to them.

Friday, August 23, 2013

E is for Earthquake!
This is the 5th  week of the A to Z blog meme. This weeks'  blog hop is sponsored by the letter "E". Click on the link below the  logo to read more about the meme.
Living in Southern California predisposes me to experience the periodic earthquakes that we are known for. There are daily rumbles below the earth's surface that we usually do not feel, but some times, there are  moderate rock and rollers. And then there are the ones that feel like you are riding in one of those dragon swings at the amusement park!
Seismograph photo: seismograph seismograph_show_tremor_md_wht.gif

My first memorable quake experience  occurred February 9, 1971.  It was about 6:00am and I was about to get up and get ready for high school. I don't remember much of the details  other that it really shook, and caused major damage where it was centered in Sylmar. It measured a Magnitude of 6.6 on the Richter Scale. I do remember that school was cancelled for the day! I lived in Rowland Heights at the time, and that was at least 50 miles away from the epicenter. One interesting note about this quake, was just the day or so before, my biology teacher was talking about earthquakes! It kind of freaked him out.
There were other smaller quakes in the following years, but nothing too significant, but when the Whittier Narrows Quake hit, that was a biggie! It occurred  at 7:42 am on Thursday, October 1,1987 and measured  5.9 on the Richter Scale. When it struck, I was at work. The client's TV's were on and breaking news broadcasts were proclaiming  major damage to the city of Whittier. I LIVED in Whittier  and was quite upset! I lived with a roommate at the time and was unable to reach her. I convinced my supervisor to let me leave at noon to go home and check out our home. The only damage was a crack in an outside wall. The major damage happened in uptown Whittier, about 6 miles from where we lived. At the time, I  attended a church  that was close to uptown Whittier, and there was some structural damage along with dumped files and bookcases in the offices.

 On the Saturday following the quake, I helped set up communion trays for Sunday's monthly service. (It was a large church and we needed to do this ahead of time) The women helping out joked that we hoped another quake did not occur and spill the numerous trays of  juice that we had stored in the refrigerator.
So-guess what happened? Yep- an aftershock! Except this seemed as big as the originating quake! Actually, it was a 5.5, but it was a different type of quake so felt more intense and it was still dark in the early Sunday  morning.  My bed was on wheels, and I was literally rolling side to side with the room swinging so hard I could not even get up out of the bed! I get Goosebumps just remembering that event. I have a friend who is a chemistry professor at Whittier College and she recently recalled the consequences of those earthquakes. She described to me that when they walked into the lab, chemicals had spilled out, containers were shattered on the floor, and there was a smoky mist in the room. She compared it to a scene from "Dante's Inferno."  Sounds very scary!
                Here is a news video of those quakes.                                             
The  Northridge Quake on January 17, 1994 at magnitude 6.7 was another historical quake in my life.  I was still living in Whittier at the time, but now, I was in my own apartment, and Stephanie had come to live with me just seven months prior. It was about 4:30 in the morning and I was up, being an early riser. I remember it being Martin Luther King holiday, and I was off work. I was also sick with what was soon to be diagnosed strep throat. I had taken a bag of trash out  to the dumpster, which was about 100 feet away and was returning, when that familiar rumble started. The neighbor's wind chimes were clashing like a fan blowing straight on them. I sped into the house to see Stephanie up and terrified. She was 11 and it was the first earthquake for her. The glass pendulum globe lamp was swinging in a wide arc and I was surprised that it didn't hit the wall and smash all over the floor. We did not have any damage, other than a few pictures falling off the wall. There was, however, major damage in Northridge, and Sylmar areas. Freeways collapsed, and the news showed cars dropping off into the chasms caused by the splitting of the roads. It was horrible.
Research for videos of this quake was very upsetting, so I'm opting not to show them- it's too sad to see the damage and the emotions the  cameras captured. You can check them out for yourself if you are interested. But it is hard to watch. 
In my job as administrator of 3 group home for adults with developmental disabilities, I have to ensure that the staff have monthly fire and disaster drills. In 2011, I signed up my homes to participate in the "Great California Shakeout". This is a yearly event where everyone does a drill at the appointed time that "The big one", a mass simulated drill, has occurred. In our case, our clients were at their day programs when the 10:20 AM drill on October 20 was to be held, so we did ours early. I downloaded the website's sound effect of the drill and took my computer into the house, yelling "EARTHQUAKE!" My staff, who have had on-going training on what to do, where laughing and thinking this was a fun joke. I was serious and very frustrated. I told them the house was collapsing and what were they going to do about it. Finally, I got them to be serious and to get the clients, who were all in wheelchairs, outside to a safe place.  I did this with all 3 homes- all with pretty much the same reaction. I could not believe that the staff seemed so unprepared for a real emergency. It was scary and made me realize that I should practice actual evacuations more often than the scenario drills. After the event was completed, and just because I wanted to, I wrote a long narrative on my experience and gave it to my supervisor, and that was the end of it. (Our company did get credit for doing a community service project.) I've not participated in the Great Shakeout since then as it was just too much effort, and my supervisors were not that impressed. Of course, I continue to train the staff on how to react in emergencies, but until it actually happens, they just do not take it seriously. (Very frustrating!)
I know I've been fortunate that thus far, my family and I have not been adversely affected by quake damage. But you just never know. They say the "Big One" will hit. It's just a matter of when that will be.

                                   So,  have you experienced any earthquakes?  How did you feel?


Thursday, August 15, 2013

D is for Digital Scrapbooking
This is the 4th  week of the A to Z blog meme. This weeks'  blog hop is sponsored by the letter "D". Click on the link below the photo on the right to read more about the meme
 But over the last 5 years or so, I've been addicted to digital scrapbooking. This is all done through the computer and I can do so much more than with the traditional method. I've made and given away  numerous "storybooks" and can still get lost in the hours of creativity.
I have some wonderful software from the company, Creative Memories, and up until recently, there was always more "paper" and embellishments that I could purchase and download. I've been a loyal customer for all these years, and it's heartbreaking to know that the company will be no more. You see, they've recently filed bankruptcy and in the process of "restructuring." What this means is that the company, Creative Memories, will be defunct in a few weeks. We have yet to be informed as to what will be available to us. All the company consultants will be let go at the end of this month. My consultant has become a dear friend and my heart breaks for her loss. (God has met her need in another direction.)
From what I understand, I can still use the software that I have, but cannot count on CM to print and ship the product. I believe that I can save the images as a jpg. and upload to a file, and then have it printed out at places such as Costco or Target.  It will probably be cheaper, but the  high quality promise  won't be guaranteed  such as Creative Memories maintained.

I've made my grandniece, Sammi, numerous books, and just recently, made storybooks for all 4 girls; scrapping  memories of their trip to California this past Spring. Stephanie says they love them and  I was hoping that she would be able to  send me a photo of them enjoying the books. I was thinking of a group shot- but she went above and beyond, and shot individual poses! Bless you, Stephanie! (And I love the bright colors!)

 All these years of making books I've never made one for myself, until now! When I completed the girls' book, I made a 12 by 12 sized book for me! I don't know when I will get it, for the company is backed up in their orders, so it could be awhile. Here is a sample 2 page layout from the book. It's the day we went to the beach. (My "B" blog entry)

I've also started a smaller book, grouping my favorite photography shots in like colors. I was thinking that I should get them off the computer and put to use, so a coffee-table type book would be a fun way to display the pictures. I should get back to that project!

As you can see, it's a time consuming hobby, with so many  techniques to try out. I've barely dented the surface in attempting the digital enhancements, but I really enjoy the time that I can tune out the world and dwell in the land of digital scrapbooking.

                                Do you have any hobbies where you can get lost in another world?

Friday, August 9, 2013

C is for Cherry Moose Tracks

This is the third week of the A to Z blog meme. This weeks' blog hop is sponsored by the letter "C". Click on the link below the photo on the left to read more about the meme.

Yes, I know that I'm supposed to be working on loosing these last few pounds that I've been fighting, but I crave this wonderful flavor of ice cream!

For the purpose of the blog this week,

I needed  to purchase the carton of

 Cherry Moose Tracks  so that I could  demonstrate  what it looks like. :)

Stater Bros is a grocery store  chain in our area, and their brand of this frozen  dairy dessert is rather addictive.
 The soft pink cloud of creamy delight is laced with chunks of fudge, and scattered  miniature chocolate covered cherry cups
 The chocolate  just melts in the mouth and the maraschino cherry flavored ice cream blends
 like taking a bite of ooey gooey chocolate covered cherries.
 I eat  more ice cream  than I should. Well, actually, I should not even buy it.
 But I did.
 But only because I wanted to write on it for this week's "C" blog- right?
What's your favorite ice cream?


Friday, August 2, 2013

B is for Beach Babies
This is the second  week of the A to Z blog meme. This weeks'  blog hop is sponsored by the letter "B". Click on the link below the photo on the right to read more about the meme. 
From April 1 through May 10, 2013, my niece, Stephanie, and her family of 4 little girls came to California for an extended stay due to her husband Tristan's  job
They stayed in a hotel suite in Pasadena, which is about  33 miles from my home. While Tristan worked during the week, I would take off a day from work to go on adventures with  Stef and the girls and I had a ball! On weekends, Tristan would join in on the fun. We went to the zoo, the museum in Los Angeles,  participated in an English Tea, walked local malls,
Knott's Berry Farm, Down Town Disney and played in parks with duck ponds. However, my
 most favorite adventure of all was the day we went to the beach!
Saturday, April 27 dawned sunny and breezy. I met them at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. What a wonderful place it was and we had so much fun exploring.
After the exploring was done, we walked across the parking lot to the beach. Seven year old Sammi has seen the ocean before so was caught up in digging in the wet sand.  Three year old Lily was in awe, as well as two year old Lucy. Baby Annie, who was to turn one on May 3, was not so impressed

The girls were allowed to get wet in their clothes, which added to their fun!  I was so impressed with Tristan and how wonderful a daddy he is to his girls.

Sammi preferred the sand and spent most of the time building castles. She did enjoy the waves
Lily loved the water, but not too thrilled with the sand. Once she felt comfortable, there was no stopping her!

Lucy was not thrilled with the water, but liked the sand. She's very inquisitive and wanted to check out the seagulls.
Annie did not care for the icy water or the warm sand. Smart girl- it was chilly to me! But the family, who recently moved to North Carolina, had lived in Colorado. Temperatures in the'70's was warm to them!

                         How's this for Super Daddy! He hauled those 3 kids in stroller across the sand to the parking lot.

It was getting on late afternoon, and Stephanie wanted to have dinner at Ruby's Diner at the end of Huntington Beach Pier. Ruby's is a 1950's style diner and has chocolate shakes to die for!
 The girls were cleaned off, dressed in dry clothes and promptly fell asleep in the car.
 I followed them the 45 minute trip to this other  beach that is very popular and  very crowded.
Pictures of Ruby's Diner - Restaurant Photos
                                                              This photo of Ruby's Diner is courtesy of TripAdvisor

We had a delicious meal and took a leisurely stroll around the pier. The sun was low on the horizon and it was quite breezy. We  parted ways around 7:00PM as all of us girls were becoming quite cranky!
This was a wonderful day and I had a great time. My only regret is that I spent the time taking pictures rather than joining the girls in the sand.

The family is back home now, and I've recently completed making each girl a digital storybook of their time here. I also made one for myself! I get to relive those days over and over and remember the fun through the photographs (and forget the times when we were not so pleasant to be around). I look forward to the next time I get to be with my niece and her precious  family.
                                                      (To learn more about my relationship with my niece, click here)