Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ODE TO THE THIN MINT



ODE to THE THIN MINT
by Leslie Aitken

Oh thin mint of the Girl Scout variety, 
how you mock us with your "Serving Size: 4 cookies"!
You know that when we open that crinkly cellophane tube
we are just puppets created only to eat the first serving
without thought! Then to realize halfway through
"the second serving size" that we have ravenously eaten
NEARLY EIGHT COOKIES!
Giving no thought to caloric, sugar or fat content,
feeding the annual insatiable need for
THE THIN MINT!




Wednesday, December 12, 2012

HAPPY WEDNESDAY, HAPPY SEASON and HAPPY TO BE IN ALTADENA!


HALLOOOOO!!!  Happy 12/12/12!  It is so chilly this morning that I had to go put on socks with my sandals! Ahhh -- joys of  winter in California!  Speaking of CA -- this morning I would like to say how THANKFUL that I am for living in Altadena!!  We have such a funky, vibrant, opinionated, and artistic community and it is a beautiful place to live!!  I have been thinking lately about how lucky I am to live here.   

On Dec 1, Webster's Fine Stationers had their Holiday Open House and what fun that was! In the morning Lori and Scott served delicious Danish, coffee, tea and hot cider.  Local Artist Karen Bagnard was there in the morning with a holiday card debut that benefits Christmas Tree Lane.   Jabberwocky Jerk was there featuring their yummy locally made sauces.  LA in Stitches (that's me) was there all day with my line of original handmade knitwear.  In the afternoon, Lori put out a crudites tray with dips, and a tray of candy and cookies.  The afternoon welcomed live spoken word with Aldonia Bailey, and a beautiful spontaneous song performed by Amin El.  The evening featured more food with a delicious fruit and cheese platter and a hilarious book reading and signing with Margaret Finnegan, author of The Goddess Lounge (the main character hailing from Altadena).
   
This past Saturday was the Christmas Tree Lane Festival and Tree Lighting Ceremony.  Did you know that the Christmas Tree Lane Association is a 100% VOLUNTEER group?  Every year the lights that are enjoyed by thousands are put up and taken down by local volunteers.
It is also THE OLDEST electrified Christmas light exhibit in the United States.  They always need volunteers......so check them out. It was a wonderful community event with a craft/art fair, live music, caroling, a lighting countdown, marching band, food and free coffee and hot chocolate.


Every Wednesday at Loma Alta Park on Palm Street, from 4 -7 pm is the Altadena Farmer's Market
  And what a "foodie" delight it is.  This ain't your run of the mill farmer's market!!  Want grass fed beef, organic eggs, locally grown produce, exquisite olive oil, excellent jams and coffee?  Organizer Joseph Schulinder is putting Altadena on the culinary map!!  Check it out!! 

Have you been to our crazy cool Altadena Library?  I LOVE our library!  Rumor has it that there are "modernization" plans in the works -- and I hope they don't change a thing!!  It has the original 1967 architecture, design and decor.
I absolutely dig the cool globe lights and library tables and sunken reading area.  The lighting and feeling of being surrounded by nature is wonderful.  
The "Friends of the Altadena Library Association" sponsored a FANTASTIC holiday performance by the Mark Twain Middle School Ringers last night.  These kids are a group of very talented and dedicated musicians and students.  They performed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.  They came to Altadena from West Hollywood to perform at our library and it was enthralling........and FREE for anyone who wanted to attend!

This coming Friday night – “Good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise” -- will be this season's last Food Truck Friday of the year.  It is held in the Webster's Parking Lot and features an ever changing list of Food Trucks with delicious offerings.  There are lots of tables and chairs set up, encouraging chatting with friends, family and neighbors. 
This week Danny's Farm will be there with their petting zoo.  Webster's Community Pharmacy and Webster's Liquors will be offering 20% off ALL PURCHASES!!  Have you seen the fun cards and gifts at Webster's Community Pharmacy?  Check them out.  I will be at Webster's Fine Stationers again with my knitwear and we will debut a new line of Guy Wear, designed by my son Daron Anderson.

The local lights seem to be particularly lovely this year.  The commercial strip on Mariposa is charming – including Altadena Hardware – newly picked BUSINESS OF THE YEAR.  The tree shines brightly atop the Webster’s building.  Of course a drive up Christmas Tree Lane is a MUST – and a visit to “The Balian House”.  If you are driving up from Pasadena, try driving up El Molino.  There are great lights on many of Pasadena’s grand old houses – and it leads you directly up to Christmas Tree Lane.

Oh -- and by the way -- come by and see me some time at LA General Store Design Studio at 149 W. Altadena Drive!  I have a sewing and design studio where I make my knitwear and can design anything from swim wear to wedding dresses.  My son Daron Anderson has just added his design skills and will be working on new lines of men's wear.  I also do repairs, alterations and remake old items into new.  We are open by appointment -- so give us a call at 626-529-3386 or email at lageneralstore@hotmail.com.


We are small – yet can be mighty if we all work hard and  TOGETHER.  There is a lot that will be happening in the next year here in Altadena.  For updates and news make sure to check in with our TWO local blogs:
Altadenablog    (http://www.altadenablog.com/)
Altadena Patch    (http://altadena.patch.com/)
Also -- these are some of the local groups that you can be involved with:
Altadena Chamber of Commerce
Altadena Historical Society
Altadena Town Council
ACONA - Altadena Coalition of Neighborhood Associations
Christmas Tree Lane Association

It takes a village to make a town -- and we have a great one!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Hurricane That Determined a Presidential Election

Hurricane Sandy has been called "Frankenstorm", another "Perfect Storm", the "Storm of the Century", but the one thing I haven't heard mentioned is how it will determine the outcome of the Presidential election. I discussed this with my three kids last night. This is a serious conundrum. We certainly DO have TROUBLE in River City, and New York City and thousands of other cities along the Eastern seaboard to the Midwest. 

We have had a Katrina like event, that affects states from N. Carolina to Maine. It has closed airports, subways, businesses and schools, all the way inland to OHIO. Last night, over 50 homes burned in Queens.  The US stock exchange was closed yesterday and will be today. Millions of homes are without power. It will take MONTHS to do the clean up.  Many states and cities are declared disaster areas...........and we have the most pivotal presidential election in years IN SEVEN DAYS FROM TODAY! 

Many communities will be without services for much longer than a week. Is it even possible to have an election? How many polling places have been compromised or destroyed? When people lose their homes and their cities have been seriously damaged, how can they be expected to vote? Who wants a president who is campaigning for votes under this situation? He is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't!! Half of the country has been critical and disrespectful of him -- but boy do we need him to be calm, collected and presidential in this time of need. 

No matter what your affiliation, I think it is safe to say that in no way can there now be an accurate vote. All of the millions spent on this will amount to naught and we will never know what might have been because Mother Nature -- that environment we keep messing with -- has ROARED in and made the decision, not caring if your state is "Red or Blue". It doesn't matter one whit what extreme measures are taken, no vote at this point will be representative of what it would have been a week ago. 

This may be one of the most pivotal and history making political situations of my lifetime. Our country is in a state of emergency, making us at our most vulnerable. Is this a time to change our leadership? Who wants "a new guy" with NO on the job training for the position, taking over in a crisis? The world looks to the US to assess its bearings -- IT IS WATCHING WITH BAITED BREATH.

What a difference a day makes! Get a bowl of popcorn and watch the movie -- it is going to be a thriller!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

BELONGING AND BELIEVING

When I was a kid, my Dad always told me, “If you want to keep friends, don't discuss your views on religion or politics.”
This I have held to, and tried to keep my beliefs to myself -- for the most part.  But today, I tentatively threw my hat into my local political arena -- so to speak.  And I was censored for my opinions!!  HA!  Since that happened - I think I shall go ahead and make a comment about religion. Might as well,  I’m all ready batting 0 for 0!

I was raised in a combination fundamental/ecumenical religion.  I realize that statement is an oxymoron.....but it is, in this case, true.  We observed all of the Old Testament Holy Days, like in Judaism.  And we kept many of the kosher eating laws, except the pareve part of the law.  We kept seventh day Sabbath like Adventists, but ate meat and danced. We believed in Christ and his return to the earth accompanied by war, end times, and tribulation. So add in some Jehovah's Witness and rapture tenets for good measure! We learned scripture, the Ten Commandments and that Christ came to forgive us of our sins, but we didn't celebrate Christmas or Easter.  There were so many changes in doctrines over the years that there is now a splinter group for every differing opinion, and the original church -- once HUGE on the Pasadena scene with The Worldwide Church of God and Ambassador college has all but disappeared into hundreds of sub sects.

So I have observed from the sidelines with my bowl of popcorn, “watching the movie of life”. 

I have strong beliefs in right and wrong, honesty, personal integrity, loyalty and trustworthy-ness. There have been times that I missed "belonging" to something.  My older kids went to a Methodist sponsored pre-school.  When they got older and went to grade school, they showed interest in a kids group sponsored by a Baptist church, and I supported them.  When both of my girls expressed interest in going to a version of the church I grew up in a couple of times, I let them go.  I wanted a magic bullet -- something to latch on to, but never found it.

We are social creatures.  We interact; there is wisdom in the group.  Without it "social media" wouldn't be so popular today.

My parents were shining examples of church members.  They participated and volunteered far above and beyond what they needed to do. Now however, I feel badly for them in their old age, without the support of a group.  They never left it, but their church kind of left them.  When they were young, they looked after the elderly in our church, making sure they were okay and driving them to church and checking in on them.  I liked that about my folks, the way that they went above and beyond.  I wish they had that now.  I wish they had the love of a congregation too.

Having lived in California….. I HAVE SEEN IT ALL.  And while I haven't found a congregation, I have dabbled.  For a while it was the church of being free to be me, then the church of the PTA, and then the church of The Girl Scouts of America, and there was even a dalliance into the congregation of the local bar.........where lots of other lonely souls go to worship regularly. 

I have a friend who is Buddhist and I have gone to meetings with her.  The chanting is soothing and calming and, yes, transcendent.

I have friends involved in The Course in Miracles and one who is Daoist.  I have friends who are ministers and who have written books on spirituality and the joy that their beliefs have brought them.   One of my friends said to me recently, "Leslie, I would really like to see you involved in some sort of practice, something that you believe in and can commit to.  I think it would bring you the peace to fill that empty spot in you that causes such anxiety."  I appreciated her kind and insightful observation. 

I kind of envy those people who boast about HOW AWESOME their God is.  I wish I could have summa that!  And yet, there is still the hesitation.  I know that I don’t want to be atheist because they seem so ANGRY all of the time!  And sarcastic!  And furious with anyone who could be SO DUMB!  I also am too curious and passionate to be agnostic.  Am I, like Woody Allen, destined to always be questioning the meaning of life?  Is that why he married his step daughter?

I know that I am not alone in this state of uncertainty and angst.  Then there are the scriptures that live in my head, branded forever in my gray matter:
“Trust in the Lord, wait patiently for him, and he shall give thee thy hearts desires.”
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men, the things that God has prepared for them that love him.”
“Ask, and ye shall receive.”
“…..if God so clothes the grass of the field, shall he not much more clothe you, oh ye of little faith?”
These and others float around my head constantly – “I got a million of ‘em”

All of this has been MUCH on my mind of late.  The last four years have been the HARDEST, most relentlessly financially desperate years of my life.  Starving for your art AIN’T all it is cracked up to be!! I have this cartoon that lives in my head of me as an old woman among a pile of amazing designer knit wear that no one has ever seen!  There is so much advice and so many meme's:
“Take it to God, turn it over to him”
“Be positive and grateful and you will attract positive energy towards you.”
“Work smarter -- not harder.”
“Turn it over to the universe, chant about it, the universe wants you to succeed.”
“Keep Calm and Carry On”
The words swirl around like a tornado in my brain!


The other night I woke up in such a state of confusion.  I had left the ION channel on (one of the only 3 channels that I get without cable – the other being ION Life and Qubo – whatever that is).  When they aren’t playing murder-y/detective/police shows or featuring the CUTLERY shopping network, they have preachers on!! I woke up to a man shouting – "GOD DOES NOT WANT YOU TO BE IN DEBT!!"

Whoa – that got my attention.  He went on to say that God doesn’t want us to be without and live in run down conditions – he wants us to prosper and do well.  I was taken aback and admittedly a bit dazed.  For a minute, I kind of thought it was a message for me – so I listened more intently.  He said that God wants us to reflect his love and live in the kind of houses that strangers want to stop and take pictures of – and maybe be a little envious of.  Then he got me when he said...............
“BECAUSE, YOU KNOW.......... 
YOU’RE NOBODY ‘TIL SOMEBODY HATES YOU!”

AAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!  I wanted to throw the nearest rotten tomato at the TV.  If that was my message from that preacher -- I want no part of his idea of God.

So, here I am tonight, back in my chair with all my angst and questions, and my bowl of popcorn, watching the movie of life.  Feel free to chime in if you want. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012

ITALIAN Daydreams

One thing that I learned this year is that I absolutely HAVE to travel to Italy! I have been fortunate enough to travel to some of Europe, but never to Italy.  To quench my desire to visit there, I have been having my own Italian Film Festival -- I started with, of course, Under the Tuscan Sun.  Italy is as big a co-star of that movie as anyone.  The country should have been nominated for a best supporting actor award as it gave the most seductive performance!
   
Then I found the movie "Pane e tulipani" - a movie in Italian with subtitles about a beleaguered Italian woman who restarts her life in Venice.
 
Next, for a change of pace I watched "Three Coins in the Fountain" -which is a charming 60's era movie/travel log for Italy, the Trevi Fountain and all things Italian. 
   
Tonight I had a knitting project to finish and was looking for a movie to play in the background and found "The Good Woman" filmed entirely in Amalfi, Italy.  That alone was enough to convince me to watch it!  I liked the movie, but I LOVED the setting and the villas were amazing.
    
Now I am watching a made for TV movie called "A Secret Affair".  It is a pretty cheese-y romance novel/movie, but it begins and ends in Venice and that is good enough for me!
   
I don't know that I'll ever get to go, but I'll keep my hopes high!  In the meantime, let's hear it for Netflix........and ITALY!
 



Saturday, May 12, 2012

FALLING IN LOVE WITH A MOVIE

Have you ever fallen in love with a film?  I am thrilled when that happens.  I got a gift this morning via Netflix; I fell in love with a movie.  I wasn't looking to fall in love, I didn't expect it -- but it happened anyway.  I found a small, simple, underrated, under promoted movie that I am falling in love with.  I use the term falling because after watching it once I am infatuated with the story, the writing, the acting, the actors, the music, and the subject matter. I am smitten and know that I will watch it again. The movie is "The Answer Man".

This is one of the most charming movies that I have seen in a long time. It was released in 2009, and didn't make a blip on my movie radar. However, Jeff Daniels is at his best and so is Lauren Graham and the rest of the cast. The story, the way it is directed, the lighting, the cinematography, the music and the characters are wonderful -- not to mention the subject matter of spirituality and cynicism in our world.
Kudos to John Hindman for his direction. I can't help but think that Mr. Hindman has been a student of Woody Allen's films. There is a sense of humor to the film, and a sense of angst, and a sense of searching for the answers that nearly all of Allen's films contain.  

The last time I felt like this was when I saw the movie "The Holiday". It is another one of my favorite enchanting movies -- you know the type, a movie that seems like visiting with a friend when you watch it.  These movies make you feel safe and happy after seeing them.  Here is a list of my Top Five:

1.  The Holiday

2.Hannah and Her Sisters

3.  Alice

4.  Singing in The Rain
5. Sleepless in Seattle
I enjoy good cinema of most types, but when I want the reassuring comfort of a movie that wraps its arms around me and gives me a hug, these are some of my favorites.  And, if you have Netflix, check out The Answer Man -- my new favorite. I would enjoy hearing from you if you watch this movie -- let me know what you think, and let me know if you have any films that give you the "warm fuzzies".  






Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flower of the Day

HAPPY MAY DAY -- May 1, 2012
I was going to do a flower of the day, because tomorrow is always a new day and I have a wonderful collection of pictures of flowers.  But somehow life, school plays, "The Prom" and work took priority to my blogging.  Today is the first day of May, and we had nice surprise rain here in sunny CA. Any time we get rain after March here, it is like a special little gift from Mother Nature.  I think since today is a special day, I will post pictures of two different flowers!
The first photo is of a foxglove:

Digitalis purpurea

Did you know that:  The term digitalis is also used for drug preparations that contain cardiac glycosides, particularly one called digoxin, that are extracted from various plants of this genus.
Dahlia is a genus of bushy, tuberousherbaceous perennial plants native to MexicoCentral America, and Colombia

I hope that you enjoyed these lovely photos.  Remember to click on the photos to get the best view.  Enjoy!


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