Monday, April 28, 2008

My Town Monday: Home on the Ana

I've lived in Anaheim for over 20 years now, and it took me a while to figure out what the name meant. The town was settled in 1857 by a group of German winemakers and farmers. From my college German, I knew "heim" meant home, but at first I didn't realize the "Ana" part referred to the Santa Ana River. Perhaps that was because nowadays the Santa Ana River is a concrete-lined flood channel that rarely has any water in it. :) The photo shows an Anaheim street circa 1879. My, how things have changed.

After the vineyards were destroyed by disease in 1885, the winemakers switched to oranges. The city seal shows oranges in the foreground with a view of snow-capped mountains in the distance. Even now, on a clear day, you can occasionnally see the mountains far away in San Bernardino County. The orange groves were gone by the time I moved here, but there were strawberry fields. Locally grown strawberries can still be found at the occasional fruit stand in Orange County and they are delicious. It seems a shame to pave over prime agricultural land, but that's what's happened all over southern California. When my family first moved here, there were still orange groves in the San Gabriel Valley, where we lived. I remember the fragrance of the orange blossoms in spring.

Anaheim is now the tenth largest city in California, with a population of 345,556. You can occasionally spot an old farmhouse tucked into a neighborhood. The Mother Colony House, built in 1857 by founder George Hansen, still stands today at 414 North West Street. (Mother Colony was the name of one of Anaheim's orange growers.) The oldest museum in the county, it was dedicated on March 14, 1929 and is decorated in period style. It's described as "American Territorial style cottage" built of redwood, now painted white. It's quite small, consisting of only three rooms. A larger, two-story Queen Anne house stands next door. It was designated as State Historical Landmark No. 201 in 1950.


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin, Thanks, Travis! Click on his site to read his latest post and find links to the other participants.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Driving Through History

While browsing through stock photos this week, I can across the picture of an antique car and it brought back memories of my childhood. I grew up with a strong sense of history, and part of it came from my father's hobby of restoring vintage automobiles. Over the years he had many old cars, but one of my favorites was a two-cylinder, 1909 Buick. It was a beautiful car, with maroon paint and matching leather-padded seats, and brass lights and trim. My mom liked the car, too, until it was time to polish the brass, a job that usually fell to her. With only two cylinders, the Buick wasn't exactly a speed demon, but it sure turned heads when we drove it around town.

Antique Car
© Photographer: Reefer

In the 1950s and 1960s, restoring old cars was a good family hobby. There was meet somewhere on almost every weekend, and there were always lots of kids there. The cars would be judged, based on how authentically they'd been restored, and my dad wracked up a bunch of trophies over the years. It was also a chance to get dressed up in vintage clothing, and one year my mom and dad and I won a prize for "best-dressed family". I have a picture of us somewhere and I'll have to digitize it one of these days. Later, rich collectors got into the hobby and ran up the prices so it wasn't as affordable for middle-class folks.

My other favorite of my dad's old cars was his 1928 Model A Ford roadster, and sure enough, I found a stock photo of one very like it. (See below.) My dad bought the Model A in 1956 for $250.00, a bargain price even then. After he'd fixed it up, the man who sold it to him regretted his decision, and eventually bought it back from Dad when he grew too old to work on it anymore. As a child, I spent many an hour in the rumble seat, and when I was old enough, Dad taught me to drive it. Thankfully, it rarely needed to be cranked to start up the engine (unlike the older Buick), but it had a double-clutch system, so it was more challenging to drive than most cars of the time. It was an incredibly reliable car and it moved along pretty well, about 45-50 mph, so we could even take it on the freeway if necessary.

1928 Ford Model A Roadster
© Photographer: Margojh

Did your family have a hobby and did you enjoy it as much as I did?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Was William Shakespeare a Taurus?

A few days ago, I wrote a post on the zodiac Taurus and listed William Shakespeare as a famous person born under the sign. Since then I've delved a little deeper and learned that although April 23 is widely accepted as Will's birthday, no one really knows when he was born. What we do know is that he was christened at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. Since the sun enters Taurus on or about April 20, chances are good that he was a Taurus, but if he was born a day earlier, he'd be an Aries.

Are there any clues in his works, I wondered. Clearly, he was a romantic, as evidenced by his sonnets and many of his plays. That indicates someone ruled by Venus. On the other hand, he loved a good sword fight, at least in his plays, and wrote movingly of King Hal leading his men into battle in Henry V. "Once more unto the breach..." So I'd say he was influenced by both Venus and Mars and probably had a planet or two in Aries, as well.

I've seen his plays performed on stage and watched some of the movies. Being a romantic myself, I love the comedies and romantic plays like Romeo and Juliet best. The Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet is just beautiful and I love the score. I'd have to say, though, that A Midsummer Night's Dream is my favorite of all his works. It's so silly and funny and wildly creative.

What's your favorite Shakespeare work?


Monday, April 21, 2008

My Town Monday: Library Readers Group

Saturday I attended my monthly readers group at Anaheim's Euclid Library, my local branch. Last week was National Library Week, so this seems a good time to feature the library. The group began in February 1997, so we've entered out twelfth year together. Only one person, our intrepid leader, librarian Karen Gerth, remains from the original group.

Our group is a little different in that we don't all read the same book, like most groups do. I wasn't in on that first meeting because I was scheduled to work the information desk that morning, but apparently the group didn't like the idea of same book every month. What they decided instead was to pick a topic for each month and let everyone choose their own books. When I saw what the group was doing, I asked for a change in my work schedule so I could join, too.

Our monthly topics range from the serious, like literature, history, politics, and biography, to fun topics like Books Made Into Movies, show business, and various genres, including mysteries, romance, fantasy and science fiction. This last month we read books set in California or written by California authors. We have our own book bin in the library, and the librarians fill it up with books on our topic.

Every month I take notes on what everyone has read and type up a bibliography with the author and title, plus the reader's comments about the books. The monthly topics and bibliographies are posted at the library website. The group is a lot of fun and I've made some dear friends. It also keeps me reading outside my romance comfort zone, which is a good thing.

Are you in a reading group, and if so, how do you decide what to read?


My Town Monday comes to us via Travis Erwin. Thanks, Travis! Click on his site, One Word, One Rung, One Day, to read his post about Charles Goodnight and find links to the other participants.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Taurus

Do you remember Ferdinand the Bull, from the story by Munro Leaf and the Disney cartoon? Ferdinand was the bull who prefer to smell the flowers rather than fight in the bull ring. Well, Ferdinand was a perfect metaphor for the sign of Taurus.

In real life, the bull is a symbol or power and potency, but the sun sign Taurus is a "feminine" sign ruled by Venus, the love planet. Like the bull, Taurus is slow to anger, but dangerous when provoked. My mother was a Taurus, and while she was usually quite easy-going, I learned that she was a force to be reckoned with on the rare occasions she lost her temper. Most of the time she played peacekeeper, a role much needed in a household containing two Scorpios and an Aries!

Taurus is a fixed, earth sign. My mother wasn't crazy about change, but she sure had a green thumb. She could make almost anything grow and loved to garden. Like most people born under the sign, she had a lot of patience, but could be stubborn. It's a fixed sign, after all. The typical Taurus has a love of beauty combined with exquisite taste. My mom used to joke about having champagne tastes on a beer pocketbook. But being a practical Taurus, she never spent more money than she had. (Taurus can be notoriously tight-fisted, but also good at managing other people's money.)

Taurus can be a loving, peaceful companion. Compatible signs include the other earth signs of Virgo and Capricorn as well as the water signs Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

Taurus often has a musical or artistic bent. My mother loved music and had a lovely singing voice, which I, alas, did not inherit. Famous people born under the sign include Fred Astaire, Lionel Barrymore, Johannes Brahms, Catherine the Great, Gary Cooper, Oliver Cromwell, Bing Crosby, Elizabeth II, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Henry Fonda, ballerina Margot Fontyn, Sigmund Freud, Ulysses Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Adolph Hitler, Willie Mays, Vladimir Nobokov, Robespierre, William Shakespeare, Barbra Streisand, Shirley Temple, Harry S. Truman and Orson Welles.

Is there a Taurus in your life?


Friday, April 18, 2008

On Patriotism

When I started this blog, I swore to myself I wouldn't let it get political. Up until this week, that wsn't a problem. But then I watched the recent Democratic Debate on ABC and found myself disgusted and incensed by the shallow nature of many of the questions.

I found the "lapel pin" question particularly annoying. Since when is a flag pin made in China the sum total of patriotism? It's a nice symbolic gesture, and I've been known to wear one on occasion, but the lack of one shouldn't be construed as having any meaning. As my mother always taught me, actions speak louder than words. "What you do speaks so loud, I can't hear what you say" was one of her favorite sayings. To me, patriotism isn't something you wear on your lapel; it's something you hold dear in your heart.

However, the question did get me to thinking about the meaning of patriotism and how best to show it. We all can't, or shouldn't, serve in the military or run for public office. So how can a private citizen demonstrate his or her patriotism? Here are a few of my ideas.

1. Pay attention and make up your own mind. A democracy depends on an informed citizenry.

"Dissent is the highest form of patriotism." -- Thomas Jefferson

2. Vote. 'Nuff said.

3. Find a way to give back. President Kennedy famously said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. - - ask what you can do for your country. "

Now I'm not saying we should all run out and join the Peace Corps. There are other ways to give back. Donate money to a good cause, perhaps a veteran's charity. If you don't have any money to spare, volunteer your time locally to help others. Like it or not, we're all in this together.

I'm sure there are other ways to show your patriotism. Any suggestions?


Thursday, April 17, 2008

My New Look

This week I re-designed my website and my blog. I tried several different logos, but in the end, there was only one choice. I love my "blue feather" logo.

I think the design is both simple and elegant, the colors rich and vibrant. What do you think?

Linda / Lyndi

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Town Monday: County versus Town

I've recently learned about the "My Town Monday" blog posts started by Travis Erwin at and thought it was a cool idea, so here goes.

My problem is I don't have just one town. I divide my time between Anaheim and San Clemente here in Orange County, CA. OC is the smallest county in Southern California. Geographically it's located on a coastal plain and ranges from the inland hills north of Brea and Fullerton (currently green thought that won't last much longer) to our fabulous beaches. But most of the county is pretty much border to border suburbs.

For instance, a few weeks ago I was in the parking lot at a Starbuck's when my car failed to start. Naturally I called the DH who showed up sans jumper cables. We had to call AAA to get the car started. Problem was, LOL, we didn't know which town we were in: Anaheim or Garden Grove. The two cities run together on so many streets, the boundary lines aren't always marked. When I travel and people ask me where I'm from, I often say Orange County instead of naming a town. If I get a blank stare, I add Southern Calif. or LA. Everyone knows LA.

Thanks to the recent TV show, The O.C., my county is better known than it used to be. FWIW, no one I know called it "the O. C." before the show came out. We just say O.C. After all, it's not the only Orange County in the country; there are others in Florida and New Jersey and I don't know where else. So my "My Town Monday" posts may take place anywhere in the county.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

More Sense and Sensibility

As I've mentioned before, I love Jane Austen and her works and a visit to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath was a highlight of my trip to England in 2003. Here's a picture of the townhouse at 25 Gay Street where Jane lived for a time.

Last Sunday I watched the second part of Sense and Sensibility on Masterpiece Theatre and loved it. I teared up more than once as Marianne and Elinor both suffered broken hearts and sighed when, at long last, they found love. LOL, it's not as if I'm not familiar with the story, but it's one I love and the production was good enough for me to get caught up in the emotions. I didn't remember Brandon fighting a duel with Willoughby but that was a fine scene. I loved it when Brandon drew blood.

The Masterpiece Theatre pages at are wonderful. My favorite is the Men of Austen page which includes dating profiles of each man. I was surprised to realize how fabulously rich some of her men were. In today's currency, Colonel Brandon's 2,000 pound income would be equal to $1.2 million US, and Mr. Darcy's 10,000 pounds per year is the equivalent of $6 million! Even Edward Ferrars 100 pounds per year income translates to a respectable $60,000 income in today's money.

As much as I enjoyed the story, I can't help comparing social conditions then with now. I wonder how many of today's mothers would consider the thirty-five-year-old Brandon a suitable match for a seventeen-year-old daughter? Of course, there is that $1.2 million income to consider.

Who's your favorite Austen hero?

Linda / Lyndi

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Egyptian Zodiac

Today is my birthday, so I thought I'd do something fun and different. My Egyptian sign is Thoth, and it's surprising how well it fits me, since he's the "God of wisdom, scribes, and writing".


Enthusiastic, enterprising, courageous, likes to take risks.

Colors: male: rose, female: white
Compatible Signs:
Bastet, Isis
Apr 1 -Apr 19, Nov 8 - Nov 17

Role: God of wisdom, scribes, and writing
An ibis-headed man, or a baboon. Often seen with the moon on his head in either of these forms.
Sacred animals:
ibis, baboon

What is Your Egyptian Zodiac Sign?
Designed by CyberWarlock of Warlock's Quizzles and Quandaries

What's your Egyptian sign? Does it fit you or not?

Linda / Lyndi

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Behind the Paintings

My readers' group is doing California topics this month, so I went to the library and searched for Hollywood and gay. One of the books I found, Behind The Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood 1910-1969 by William J. Mann, had a little surprise for me. In the back of the book there's an "In Memorium" page and one of the names I found there is Orry-Kelly, a familiar one to me.

Orry-Kelly, born George Kelly in 1897 in Australia, became head of the wardrobe department at Warner Brothers in 1932. He was also a painter, and the reason this caught my attention is that my DH and I now own several of his paintings. The pictures originally belonged to my husband's aunt who knew Orry-Kelly personally. I fell in love with them the first time I saw them. They're obviously paintings of New Orleans, one of my favorite cities, but in a much earlier period. In reading the book I learned that Orry-Kelly dressed Bette Davis in Jezebel (1938) which was set in New Orleans during the antebellum period. Perhaps that's where he got the idea for the paintings. Though he was irreverent in person, his wardrobe designs were understated and elegant, as are the paintings, I think. Orry-Kelly won three Oscars for Costume Design for An American in Paris (1951), Les Girls (1957) and Some Like It Hot (1959). He must have gotten a big kick out of dressing Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in 1920's drag.

When our aunt passed away, I asked if we could keep the pictures. My DH said he didn't think they were worth much, but I didn't care; I just liked them and still do. Alas, my photos don't do justice to them. But it's kind of cool to own a small piece of Hollywood history.

Linda / Lyndi

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Enjoying Sense and Sensibility

Sunday evening Masterpiece Theatre aired part 1 of a new version of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I wasn't sure if I'd like it since I so loved the film version starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslett, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. I saw the film at the theater, then bought the CD of the soundtrack and played it while I was writing my Regency romance, Lady Elinor's Escape. (The photo to the right shows the entrance to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England, taken by yours truly in 2003.)

But I'm happy to report the new version hooked me immediately, opening as it did with a rather steamy scene of the dashing but rakish Willoughby seducing a young lady before a roaring fireplace. You can bet that got my attention!

As with all Masterpiece Theatre presentations, the acting is impeccable and the details seem authentic. Watching, I was reminded of the fact that Europe was still in the Little Ice Age 200 years ago. Though the cottage the ladies move to is in a lovely spot, it looked terribly chilly to this pampered Californian.

I was also reminded how powerless women were at the time and how the method of primogeniture disinherited all but the eldest son (or closest male relative). A young lady without a decent-sized dowry stood little chance of making a good match. Fortunately, Jane's young ladies always come about in the end.

I love Jane Austen's works. She was ahead of her time in many ways and she was a master of characterization. My three favorites are Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion.

Are you a Jane Austen fan? Which is your favorite book / movie?