Happy Mother’s Day!

© Paha_l | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Paha_l | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Given that I wrote a weekly newspaper column for almost a decade, I guess it’s no surprise that I’ve got a Mother Lode of columns about Mother’s Day. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Mother Lode, sometimes hearing just a little bit about someone else’s mother is all it takes to really appreciate your own.

My Secret Mother’s Day Wish for a remote control to stop time whenever I want to.

That Other Mother reflects on the reality that I was a much better mother before I actually had a child.

Mom’s the Word, Happy Mother’s Day, mom. This one’s for you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

A passion for philanthropy

New consulting ventures offer nonprofit groups much more than the sum of their parts


The fabric of Santa Barbara’s intricately embroidered nonprofit community has some new embellishments in its design, as two consulting groups have recently announced their formations: The Crandell Company and Resource Innovators. Continue reading

Take Your Daughters to Work Day

“I know that girls can be anything that they want to be,” said featured speaker Barbara Ibarra Keyani as she shared her moving story of going “beyond her barrio” to UCSB, MIT, becoming a mother of two daughters now in college and her current position with the Santa Barbara School Districts with the 80 girls and 50 women who participated in Girls Incorporated’s annual Take Our Daughters to Work Day on May 24. Continue reading

Mating in the Millennium

Stuart Miles (Freedigitalphotos.net)

Stuart Miles (Freedigitalphotos.net)

The singles scene is changing fast.

Leslie Dinaberg tags along to dig up the dish on blind dating — 21st-century style.

MAN SEEKING WOMAN: Funny guy with killer body and money to burn seeks woman who doesn’t believe everything she reads.

Eye catching ad, isn’t it? It should be. That’s the online dating promo for professional online personal ad writer Evan Marc Katz, founder of e-cyrano.com, just one of the many Web sites for people who are looking for love in all kinds of interesting places. Continue reading

Engineered for Success

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is one of the first questions Ed Ware asks his computer engineering students at Dos Pueblos High.

A software engineering department manager at Raytheon for 23 years, Ware offers students a view of engineering from the workplace, rather than the classroom. With the support of his employer, Ware spends three mornings a week allowing students to “try on engineering and see if it’s something they really like.”

Clearly engineering is something Ware really likes.

“A rewarding part is being able to take a subject matter that I love and convey it to somebody else through teaching,” said Ware, who is beginning his second year with DPHS’ Engineering Academy.

“Ed is an unbelievably fantastic teacher,” said Dos Pueblos principal David Cash. “He knows students well and relates well to them.”

It’s selfish really, said Ware, the father of two daughters (one at DPHS and the other at Goleta Valley Junior High).

“I enjoy being on campus, especially when I have a daughter … I think we’re a lot closer. I understand what her life is like … and she’s not ashamed of me,” he laughed.

“It’s just been a great partnership all around,” said Cash.

The idea for the engineering academy started about four years ago. An essential part of getting funding for the program was being able to demonstrate active partners in the business community. Raytheon — which had already adopted DPHS through the county Partners In Education Program — was the first business the school went to talk to, said Cash.

Raytheon responded by getting involved in the engineering academy in a big way.

“It’s just a perfect avenue for us,” said spokesman Ron Colman. “Our big community involvement push is math and science education. This is a great way for us to impact the community via the schools, also a great way for us to, in effect, recruit future employees.”

Ware described his teaching experience as being very rewarding.

“I love the old Wide World of Sports ‘the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat’ slogan (as an analogy for) watching the students with their first project,” he said.

When students start his class, “they’re great end users,” said Ware. “But they don’t know what’s inside the box, how it works, or what’s behind the screen.”

In his last class Ware had the students tear apart a computer to really understand what the CPU is.

“We learned how to program, we learned the language of computers,” said senior Karla Ortiz, who is participating in the engineering academy for her second year.

Raytheon views the program as a good way to light the imaginations of students, such as women and minorities, who wouldn’t always be exposed to engineering opportunities.

“I think it’s an awesome program because I think a lot of girls didn’t know that much about computer networking,” said Ortiz, whose father is an engineer.

Ortiz particularly enjoyed a field trip to Ware’s office. “It was a really great experience to see how the environment works at Raytheon,” she said.

Ortiz was also a fan of the guest speakers.

“He brought this girl engineer named Candy (software engineer Candy Lou) into class. It’s a really great program because it’s advocating for girls that ‘hey, it’s not just a guy thing,'” said Ortiz.

“I give them a thumbs up for Raytheon to actually put that program out there,” said Ortiz, who is considering a career in engineering or medicine.

And when Ware grows up?

“I think I want to be a software engineer,” he said.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon (2003)

Generation BMX

Young racers test their mettle with their pedals

Faster, higher and often younger than you might imagine, BMX racers are tearing up the dirt at Elings Park every Friday night.

Elings Park BMX (courtesy photo)

Elings Park BMX (courtesy photo)

The sport, which first became popular in the 1970s, is one of the fastest-growing competitions in the country, partially due to the popularity of the X Games and BMX-inspired DVDs, video and computer games. BMX (bicycle motocross) is scheduled to become an Olympic sport in 2008 and, according to Dale Bowers, track director of Santa Barbara BMX, there are three or four local bikers who “could be peaking” at that time.

Several local BMX racers will be competing in the National Bicycle League NBL Grands in Louisville, Ky., this weekend, including Logan Beebe, Chris Burke, Austin Davis, Michael Davis, Austin Hamilton, Jarrett Kolich Kolich, Amber Melgoza, Brianna Wiley and Jason Wiley.

While the level of expertise in Santa Barbara is high, Bowers emphasized that there’s a BMX skill level race for everyone, including beginners — and grownups. If you can ride a bike, you can BMX, which means there are some pretty impressive 5- and 6-year-olds out there.

Racers work their way up, depending on their age and how good they are, said Scott Berry, a 13-year-old La Colina Junior High student.

“I saw commercials on TV and really wanted to try it … we came up on a Friday night and just watched,” he said. “I just liked what I saw and wanted to try it.”

Bowers recommended that interested families follow Scott’s lead: just come to the track and check it out. “It doesn’t cost anything to come in and watch. Not much you can do for free on a Friday night, and its exciting entertainment.”

For participants, too, BMX is very affordable, said Scott’s mother, Debbie Carder.

It costs $45 per year to join the NBL, with a 30-day trial membership available for $30 (which is credited toward the full membership). Races, which take place most Fridays beginning at 6 p.m., are $8, and practices, at 6 p.m. Wednesdays, are $5.

“They’re so helpful, too,” emphasized Carder. “Even the older kids … they take the time to help the little ones. They go out of their way. They’re not snotty. They just take them under their wing … without being asked. It’s kind of like a family in a way.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

Talk about a walk

Photo by graur razvan ionut (freedigitalphotos.net)

Photo by graur razvan ionut (freedigitalphotos.net)

After 27 years, these ladies think they’ve hit their stride

It’s been said that walking a mile in someone’s shoes fuels greater understanding — so just imagine what walking three miles together, five days a week, for 27 years, will fuel.

In the case of walking partners Judy Bernstein, Beverley Brier, Natalie Gaynes, Barbara Mizes, Blanca Presser and Phyllis Cox (who joined the group in 1998), they’ve shared laughter, friendship, triumph and sorrow. They’ve also seen how the South Coast has changed in the Patterson Avenue/Kellogg School neighborhood they’ve walked for so many years.

“We have been through the many travails all these years, starting with young children, teenagers, college entrance exams, weddings and now grandchildren…” Brier said. “One gentleman who has seen us walking for years said we look like Pacman, the mouths are all going a mile-a-minute.”

The mouths may be moving quickly, but so are the legs. Even our 20-something photographer was huffing and puffing as we took an early morning walk with these dynamos.

Presser and Gaynes started walking together and the others quickly joined in. Bernstein said she started out trying to get in shape for her first trip to Europe, adding that having a group of friends to exercise with is very motivating.

“It’s so long and so boring and so tiring and when you talk, you don’t notice it,” Bernstein said.

“We solve the world’s problems on our walks,” Brier said.

“But most of them are personal,” Bernstein added.

Cox recalled that she joined the group the year before her daughter got married, and had her friends help guide her through the planning. Last week, Mizes was planning her father’s funeral and Brier was helping with a memorial for a close friend.

While the ladies have serious discussions during their walks, sometimes inspired by their lives and sometimes by the changes they see, they also have fun.

Not only have the women formed friendships among themselves, they’ve gotten to know the neighbors. The men at a residential care home wave each morning and let them know if they’re running late, while the neighborhood dogs expect a pat on the head.

“I cannot tell you how many people that I meet at a dinner party who say, ‘Do I see you walking?'” Mizes said.

The sweat is pouring but the banter stays lively throughout our walk.

Some of their husbands wonder how they have so much to say to each other, but Brier said they’re never at a loss.

“If you want to say something you have to jump in,” said Mizes, who once recruited a member (Ginny Alexander, who has since moved) on a flight to London. She even tried to get the Beacon staffers to join.

“We’ll get you through all of the trials and tribulations,” she said. “Every time you think you’ve got a problem, by the time you go through us giving you input you’ll feel better.”

Thanks. We already do.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

The gift of charity

anankkml, freedigitalphotos.net

anankkml, freedigitalphotos.net

It’s hard to avoid the symptoms. “I want that.” “Mommy/Daddy/Grandma, buy me this and this and this…”

Here are some ways to help prevent your child from coming down with an annual case of “the gimmes,” and maybe even provide a little bit of instruction about the true spirit of the holiday season.

Start in your coat closets. Pull out all the old coats your children have outgrown or you don’t wear anymore and take them to Casa Esperanza (816 Cacique St., 884.8481), Transition House (425 E. Cota St., 966.9668) or the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission (535 E. Yanonoli St., 966.1316).

Or better yet, get your friends in on the act and host a coat party. Have guests bring coats that are used but still in good condition. Put younger kids to work cleaning out pockets and using masking tape to mark areas that need to be mended or buttons that are missing. Help older kids sew buttons and do simple mending. Other kids can decide which coats might need dry cleaning and which are ready to go. It’ll be a celebration sure to give everyone a warm feeling.

Another variation of this is to have a food party. Ask your guests for canned food and have children help pack it up for the FoodBank of Santa Barbara County (4554 Hollister Ave., 967.5741). You also can host toy or book parties along the same lines.

Sponsor a needy child or family. Transition House has more than 130 children to be “adopted” this Christmas, said volunteer coordinator Xochitl Ortiz. Interested sponsors can call her directly at 966.9668 x115 to receive a wish list from a child or visit the shelter at 425 E. Cota St. and pick someone to sponsor from the “Giving Tree,” where ornaments list a child’s name, age, and wish for something he or she would like for the holidays.

“We can definitely use all the Secret Santas that we can get,” Ortiz said. “We have almost twice as many people as we did last year or the year before.”

For those unable to make two trips to Transition House and want to just buy a toy, Ortiz said popular requests this year are Bionicles, Hot Wheels, My Little Pony, Video Now Players and Cabbage Patch kids. Wrapping paper, tape and ribbon are also needed.

You can also sponsor an adult, “by maybe donating a gift card to like Macy’s so that they can get work clothes after the holiday sale,” said Ortiz. “We’re hoping to get everything in by Dec. 20, only because if someone doesn’t get adopted, it gives staff enough time to go out and shop for that family or that individual.”

The Salvation Army (4849 Hollister Ave., 964.3230 x13) also has a similar program, with about 120 more families waiting to be “adopted” for Christmas. Working from a “wish list,” sponsors buy each child in the family a new, wrapped gift, one clothing item for each member of the family and a food or grocery voucher for Christmas dinner.

“You can even request a certain age group of children and we’ll try and match it as closely as possible,” said Lt. Stacy Cross, who asked that all items be brought to the Salvation Army by Dec. 17. There are also “Angel Trees” (similar to the “Giving Trees” described above) at most of the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust branches, La Cumbre Plaza and toy drives at seven of the local Longs Drugs locations.

Another way to give to the Salvation Army is making cash donations to bell ringers. Young children enjoy putting coins in the kettle and it’s a good chance to explain to them that the money goes to help people who are less fortunate.

Laurie Jewell Evans suggested this is also a good opportunity to teach children about budgets. Decide how much money you will donate this year, then put that money into an envelope in small bills and coins and keep it in your purse.

“Then, every time my daughter and I pass a bell-ringer, she can take a coin or bill from the envelope and donate it, until all the money is gone,” she said.

Another way to donate your spare change is through San Marcos High’s annual Penny Drive to benefit Unity Shoppe. Canisters are located at most of the local schools. You can also drop off your dollars and cents at the South Coast Beacon, 15 W. Figueroa St.

Sometimes all it takes is just a reminder of just how fortunate we are to put the holidays into perspective for all of us. Ortiz shared this story from Transition House.

“It’s not an over the top Christmas … when it’s a family as a unit that’s homeless, it can become quite a hard time for them to have to spend at a shelter. The parents get depressed because they feel like they’ve failed. The kids feel discouraged because they have to go back to school and tell their friends what they got for Christmas and they’re worried they might not get anything. And a lot of them don’t tell their friends they are staying at a shelter.

“It’s a really tough time for them, so we try to alleviate that … we surprise them on Christmas morning with all of the gifts. … We can’t do it without the help from the community … as soon as they find out what we need, everyone’s so wonderful as far as being able to provide.”

Originally published in South Coast Beacon

It’s all about hue!

Image by gubgib freedigitalphotos.net

Image by gubgib freedigitalphotos.net

Gone are the days of a one-color-fits-all approach to decorating. Now homeowners are choosing colors to illicit a mood and perk up a room’s decor.

Wall color is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to add some color to your home, said Pat Musarra, owner of Affordable One-Day Design.

Ralph Lauren even offers Color Testers, a new product line that allows you to sample the complete palette. Each Color Tester packet provides paint coverage in a satin finish for 2-foot by 2-foot sections of wall, retails for $3.99, and may be purchased online at www.rlhome.polo.com.

Even if you’re leery of paint, with so many varieties of home accessories available, it’s easy to start small and experiment boldly with color on items like throw pillows, vases, candles, slipcovers, candy dishes, sheets and towels and table linens.

“New lighting is very important. Just changing lampshades can have an enormous impact,” said Musarra, who also recommended taking a look down at your floors. “Area rugs or maybe pulling up wall-to-wall carpeting and laying down a hardwood floor or some kind of new laminate floor … Especially if the wall-to-wall carpeting is old or the color’s outdated.”

In addition to freshening your home’s look, colors can be used to create a mood.

“Red will wake up a room,” said interior designer Rosemary Sadez Friedmann. “It should be used as an accent in accessories, part of a pattern in upholstery or one impressive chair or bench. Red is a good color to have in a nursery because it stimulates and aids the development of neural connections in an infant’s brain.”

Musarra said she’s seen red — and other bright colors — used a lot as a kitchen accent color, with coffee makers, mixers and other small appliances now available in a wide variety of colors.

Orange is another color that is “uplifting, stimulating and enlivening,” according to Barbara Richardson, director of color marketing for ICI Paints. “It has the ability to raise our spirits and to make us feel optimistic — a quality that is in high demand right now.”

“Yellow would be a good color for a workout room, particularly if aerobics were involved. It’s also a good color for a game room, study or office because it helps to keep you attentive. A yellow bathroom will take the chill out of the air,” said Friedmann.

Whatever color you choose to update your home’s look, experts advise you start small, with maybe a few throw pillows or some new kitchen linens.

“It’s amazing how many inexpensive ways there are to update your home,” said Musarra, who specializes in quick and cost effective design strategies.

Musarra charges a flat fee of $200 for her services, which include a two-hour home consultation, followed up with a written design plan.

“I also restyle the room for you while I’m there,” she said. “Move furniture in, move some out, re-hang artwork, re-group accessories, and give a room a whole new makeover, using basically what the client has and at the same time, offering suggestions as to what she or he should buy to complete the look they’re trying to achieve.”

What colors are hot

“It” is either Violet Tulip, Coraly Orange, Full Bloom (a Salmony Pink) or Turquoise Blue, depending on which expert you ask about the “it color” in home decorating this year.

“I’m seeing a lot of pinks and salmon and turquoise and brown, not my favorites, but I am seeing a lot of those colors,” said Pat Musarra, owner of Affordable One-Day Design.

Pantone – the company that crowned violet tulip as this year’s queen – has even created a new color system called Colorstrology, which “infuses elements of astrology and numerology with the spirituality of color.”

According to Michele Bernhardt, creator of Colorstrology, 2005 will resonate with spirituality and healing.

“The year will begin with a heavy influence in regard to foreign affairs, education, religion and sports. Peace, balance and cooperation in all types of relationships will be a major theme and can also be a major challenge. Violet tulip can help us see past our differences while dissolving our feelings of separateness,” said Bernhardt.

At www.colorstrology.com, you’ll find your personal birth color, along with a personality profile and advice on your color vibe. September, for example, is Baja Blue, “a divine and alluring color that resonates with beauty, purity and wisdom.” This color “can help ease tension and promote tranquility,” making it an ideal choice for a bedroom or a yoga studio.

Taking the color horoscope a step further, a Virgo born on Sept. 8 would have Etruscan Red as their personal color for the year, a color that “corresponds with depth, vitality and passion.”

According to the site, “wearing, meditating or surrounding yourself with Etruscan Red inspires you to move through life with energy and wisdom.”

Sounds like a good color to decorate the office.

What color is your mood?

Here are some color guidelines based on the type of mood you want to create.

RED__Use red for excitement. It is associated with power, passion, dominance, activity and heat. It represents youthfulness, impulse and intensity. Red is also a grounding color and can make you feel secure.

ORANGE__Orange represents excitement and can be stimulating. It can make you feel like hurrying and that is why it’s usually a color used in fast-food places and quick mart-type stores. They want you in and out quickly. Happiness, liveliness, exuberance and boldness are also associated with orange.

BLACK__Use black to evoke drama, elegance, power, sophistication and mystery. Black is also associated with death, fright, aloofness, fatigue, cold, darkness and bereavement.

YELLOW __Yellow is eye-catching, inspirational and raises ones spirits. It is also said to aid digestion, communication and sharpen memory. Design experts advise you treat yellow like sunlight. You want it around for the happiness it produces but you don’t want it to be overpowering.

GRAY__Gray is said to be steady, resigned, stable, deliberate, guarded, dignified, indecisive, disciplined, protected, cool and neutral.

PURPLE__Purple can be used to increase spirituality and enlightenment. It evokes feelings of elegance, restfulness, supremacy, creativity, royalty and reverence. Purple is also said to promote peace, quiet overactive glands and lower blood pressure.

BLUE__Blue is a breath of fresh air, evoking feelings of openness, tranquility, serenity, restoration and well being. It is also said to lower respiratory rates, promote relaxation and increase healing.

BROWN__Brown reminds us of nature and the earth. It is also said to be restful, rich, casual, tranquil, safe, homespun, reliable, stable, sturdy and simultaneously cool and warm.

GREEN__Green reminds us of harmony, balance, compassion, wealth, security and growth. It is said to promote relaxation and refresh the spirit. Green is also a good color to promote health, although it may not reflect well on all skin tones.

WHITE__White evokes feelings of cleanliness, simplicity, safety, purity, enlightenment, individualism, idealism, optimism, joy, innocence, hope and reflection.

Want to find the real hue?

Take this completely unscientific quiz to find out which color (or colors) suit your inner self.

Check off all of the descriptions that apply to you, then count how many A, B, C, D, E and F personality traits you had. That’s your true hue.

B. I frequently rearrange my furniture and repaint my walls.

B. I love jury duty.

E. I always tell the truth, even if it hurts.

D. I often engage complete strangers in conversation.

E. I feel overwhelmingly compelled to pipe up during city council meetings.

B. I burn the midnight oil at work and volunteer for extra tasks.

F. I am a back-seat driver.

D. I would rather shop at a farmers’ market than a mall.

C. The hardest part of throwing a party is deciding the menu.

F. I am the boss, or I should be.

F. I feel good about me, especially when I compare myself with others.

B. I love details.

D. I define myself by my parenting skills.

A. I was never good at sharing.

B. Someday I’m going to chuck it all and go live in the wilderness.

C. Home is the center of my world.

D. When friends call, I can be counted on to help.

E. Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.

A. My friends and family say I’m stubborn. What do they know?

F. Some might find me arrogant.

A. Hallmark commercials make me cry.

A. I’m the first to volunteer for charity functions and luncheons.

C. Pushover doesn’t even begin to describe how easy it is to talk me into things.

Your True Hue

A. Seeing green.

You are confident and caring, and would feel good in a room of sage, basil or celadon. The new greens for 2005 will lean toward the seashore tones. Botanical-inspired greens remain popular.

B. Yellow fellows.

You will feel energized in a room with buttery walls and mahogany furniture. Let in the light with minimal window coverings. The new yellows for 2005 will lean toward ochre and gold.

C. Purple people.

Forget practicality; celebrate your spirit with shades of violet, lavender and silver. Use eggplant or plum as an accent.

D. Orange you glad.

You love food, home and entertaining. Surround yourself with pumpkin, copper or muted auburn. Orange will bring cheerfulness and order to your home.

E. Blue you.

Your dependable, serene nature will feel at ease in rooms washed in shades of gray-blue and soft turquoise — both popular colors for 2005. Definitely use blue in bedrooms for a peaceful night’s sleep.

F. Red hot.

You like to be in charge. Choose red for accents: think floral arrangements rather than carpets. Or start small in the kitchen with a new fire engine red coffee maker.

Originally published in South Coast Beacon (2003)

Raise Your Hand for Right Hand Rings

© Evaletova | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

© Evaletova | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Your left hand says “we,” your right hand says “me,” according to a recent ad campaign sponsored by the Diamond Trading Company, the world’s leading diamond sales and marketing company. The “women of the world raise your right hand” campaign encourages modern women to buy themselves the diamonds they deserve. According to local jewelers, many of them already are.

“Absolutely, right hand rings are certainly something a lot of women are looking at,” said Scott Harwin, sales associate for Bryant and Sons. “That left hand is kind of reserved for the engagement ring, so that right hand is open.”

“People buy right hand rings all the time for different reasons,” said Laura Givertz Gibbings, owner of Fibula Daniel Gibbings Jewelry. Gibbings said that about 80 percent of her customers are women buying for themselves, while Harwin estimated his sales to be about evenly split between gifts and purchases for self.

“Typically women will buy more of wider band to compliment what they are buying (on the left hand). People tend to put more color on the right hand as well,” said Gibbings.

Her customers do collect rings, “a lot of them,” along with necklaces, bracelets, and ensembles. “Generally they want to get a whole set and they tend to buy in color coordinates.” Emeralds and pink sapphires are very popular, as are golden colors.

Women are buying just about everything, from watches to diamond stud sets to three stone pendants, said Bryant.

In addition to the ad campaign, celebrities are also driving the right hand ring craze. Cynthia Nixon, Debra Messing, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Garner, Joan Rivers, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary Louise Parker, and Sarah Jessica Parker sported right hand bling at the Golden Globes, while music divas Beyonce, Queen Latifah, Madonna, Ashanti, Sharon Osbourne, Patti LaBelle, Faith Hill and Mary J. Blige were among those “raising their right hand” with diamonds at the Grammy’s.

Jewelry trends follow the award shows, according to Gibbings. “Chandelier earrings were very popular (after last year’s Academy Awards show) and Indian jewelry.” She expects this weekend’s Oscars to set some new trends.

“Platinum is not as strong right now. Besides the fact that it’s gotten incredibly expensive, things are just swinging toward a little bit more dramatic statements in jewelry. … And I think people are tending to be more sentimental about their jewelry purchases,” Gibbings said.

Women of the world, raise your right hand.

Why a right hand ring? You’ve earned it!

Your Left Hand Feeds the Family

Your Right Hand Takes the Cake

Your Left Hand Knows the Limits

Your Right Hand Knows no Boundaries

Your Left Hand Holds the Keys

Your Right Hand Drives the Car

Your Left Hand Weeds the Garden

Your Right Hand Picks the Flowers

Treat yourself… you’ve earned it!
– From a generousgems.com advertisement for right hand rings

Originally published in South Coast Beacon