Walmart Strikes Again…


Dearest Readers:

With all that is happening within our communities, nation and the world, I had an experience with our local Walmart that really annoyed me!

My husband and I drove to Walmart to get sanitizing items. I stopped one of the managers, and I describe him as a sorry manager at that! I asked him if they had any sanitizing products. His reply, “No. We sold all we had last night when we got them.”

“Do you have any idea when you will get some more?”

He cast me a smug facial expression. “Well, it’s like this. When we get them, we sell out immediately.”

“I suppose you are not limiting the items?”

“Nope. First come first serve and customers can buy all they want.”

“In other words, you permit them to stockpile or hoard?”

“Lady, we can’t tell the customers they can only buy a few.”

I approached him closer. “Oh, yes you can. I worked in advertising and we limited products all the time.”

“Not at this Walmart.”

“Never did I say I worked at Walmart. And now, maybe I’ll shop elsewhere.”

Moral of this story – stay away from the West Ashley Circle of Walmart, Charleston, SC. They only care about the hoarders. NOT THEIR CUSTOMERS! Management only cares about how much they sell – not customers who need these products too!

Perhaps I’ll shop elsewhere! That manager needs to get another job!

Pismo Beach, CA…A “Go To” Getaway Destination


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 30, 2014
Media Contact:
Ann Flower Communications
Ann@annflowerpr.com

Pismo Beach: 10 Top Reasons to Visit in the Cooler Months
(PISMO BEACH, CA) – With mild temperatures year-round, anytime is a good time to visit Pismo Beach, and winter is no exception. A jewel of the Central Coast with miles and miles of uninterrupted beaches, scores of oceanfront hotels and resorts to choose from, a world class wine region minutes away, and hiking through the spectacular scenery of the Santa Lucia mountains, Pismo Beach deserves its reputation as a ‘go-to’ getaway destination.

A few of the reasons winter is still “prime time” in Pismo Beach include:

Monarch Butterfly Grove – November through February
Each year thousands of vibrant Monarch Butterflies flock to Pismo Beach, seeking shelter from the freezing northern winters. From late October to February, the butterflies cluster in a grove of Eucalyptus trees at the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove, just 3 minutes from downtown. The Pismo colony is one of the largest in the nation, hosting an average of 25,000 of these enchanting butterflies each winter.

Wine Tasting
Leading from the center of downtown Pismo Beach, scenic Price Canyon Road meanders a few short miles through the neighboring Santa Lucia range to the pastoral Edna Valley. An officially recognized American Viticulture Area, Edna Valley is most well known for its Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Wine tasting rooms vary from tucked away converted barns to impressive contemporary structures, but the common thread is a warm and welcoming attitude. Standouts in the region include Center of Effort, Claiborne & Churchill Vintners, Tolosa Winery, Wolff Vineyards, Kynsi Winery, Sextant Winery, Edna Valley Vineyard, Saucelito Canyon Vineyard and Chamisal Vineyards. Other nearby wine producing areas that offer tasting opportunities are the Avila and Arroyo Grande Valleys, as well as Paso Robles. Within Pismo Beach itself, several businesses offer the chance to sample locally-grown vintages, including Tastes of the Valleys, a wine bar and store with up to 700 wines offered by the glass; San Liege Wines showcasing the talent of Curt Schalchlin and his wines made from Central Coast sourced fruit; and Vino Versato, pouring a selection of 35-40 wines by the glass while also serving as the tasting room for several local wineries, and featuring live entertainment.

Pismo State Beach
Spanning an impressive 17 miles, the wide open and pristine sands of Pismo State Beach extend southward from the Pismo Beach Pier to the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in the distance. Offering opportunities for long walks, surfing, swimming, kayaking, fishing, camping and even horseback riding, the opportunities for outdoor recreation as well as the views are endless.

Hiking
Winter brings ideal temperatures for tackling the varied terrain and variety of hiking options available in and near Pismo Beach. Right in town, take it easy on the Shell Beach Bluff Trail, a wheelchair-friendly paved path overlooking the water, or take the parallel Ontario Ridge Trail with a nearly 700-foot elevation gain. Combine the two for a 3 mile loop that explores the coast between Pismo Beach and Avila Beach. In July 2015, access will be available to the newly acquired Pismo Preserve, which includes 900 acres of open space. With 10 miles of existing dirt roads and single-track trails, many with spectacular ocean views, it will form a vast resource for hikers, as well as cyclists and equestrians.

Biking
San Luis Obispo County is considered a mountain biking and street biking paradise, and you can bring your own or rent some wheels right in town. For a coastal tour, bike from Pismo Beach to Avila Beach, traversing a path that wanders through lush landscapes and follows an enchanting stream. Take in the wine country on a 15-mile trek through the Edna Valley AVA, or explore the hills on the region’s many mountain bike trails.

Birding
The mild climate of Pismo Beach attracts many over-wintering species, and is home to many year-round bird residents. Pismo State Beach encompasses a variety of habitats for birdlife, providing serious and casual birdwatchers alike with a myriad of choices, from the freshwater lagoon adjacent to the Oceano campground and the Pismo Lake Ecological Reserve to the shore birds found along the beach and dunes. Nearby Montaña de Oro and Morro Bay State Park are also destinations for birding enthusiasts.

Oceano Dunes
Recognized by scientists and conservationists as the finest, most extensive coastal dunes remaining in California, Oceano Dunes are located just south of Pismo Beach. For those seeking to inject some adrenaline into their stay, it is also the location of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. A popular playground for off-roaders, with 5.5 miles of beach open for vehicle use and the surrounding 1,500 acres of dunes dedicated to off-highway vehicle use, it draws visitors from around the U.S.

Wildlife Viewing
Nearby Avila Beach offers opportunities to see California sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters and a plethora of sea birds. Rent a kayak and paddle the calm waters of the bay for a closer look at these extraordinary sea mammals, and explore the ecosystems beneath the Harford Pier to view resident anemones, sea stars and barnacles. Pay a visit to the Central Coast Aquarium, steps from the beach, to experience the region’s sea life found beneath the surface. Winter brings migrating Gray Whales, and common and bottlenose dolphins are also always a possibility.

Shopping
When a dose of retail therapy is in order, Pismo Beach has just what the doctor ordered. With an impressive lineup of 40 sought after brands, including Aeropostale, Calvin Klein, Coach, Jones New York, Levi’s, Nike, Nine West, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Izod, Guess and Sketchers, among others, the Pismo Beach Premium Outlets has something for practically everyone. Downtown Pismo Beach offers even more opportunities, with a diverse collection of boutiques, surf shops, gift and collectibles markets, and wine stores.

Hearst Castle
It may be one of California’s most popular destinations, but the summer months can bring sold out tours and long lines. Winter offers a perfect opportunity to explore the castle and take in some of the more off beat tours such as Cottages & Kitchen, Upstairs Suites and the Evening Tour without the crowds.

About Pismo Beach, California
The Classic California beach town of Pismo Beach is located on California’s famous Central Coast, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles along Pacific Coast Highway and US-Highway 101. Overlooking more than 26 miles of pristine Pacific coastline, enjoy Pismo Beach’s great weather, plethora of outdoor activities, rich wild life and nature preserves, seaport inspired cuisine and fresh farmland produce, downtown wine tasting rooms, and neighboring world class wine producing regions of Edna Valley, Arroyo Grande Valley, Avila Valley, Paso Robles, Santa Maria Valley and Santa Rita Hills. Pismo Beach offers the perfect pairing of Wine & Waves with a truly “Classic California” experience. Pismo Beach is also noted for being one of the most dog-friendly towns in America. See our wide variety of lodging choices accommodating every budget and lifestyle, by visiting ClassicCalifornia.com. Also, join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. Media inquiries, please contact John Sorgenfrei at john@tjaadvertising.com or at 805.541-6020.

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Antique Shopping — Melissa’s First Shoes


Last week while running errands, my husband wanted to know if I had additional errands in mind. Occasionally I enjoy walking through antique shops. A few years ago, one of my favorite shops was Hungry Neck Antique Mall, but it closed and now is Trader Joe’s. Driving along Coleman Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant, I’ve noticed a sign for Six Mile Antique Shop. I dropped by once, noticing many, and I do mean many, venues of antiques, trinkets and interesting items. Since I have a birthday this summer, I suggested dropping by Six Mile Antiques, just to see what they had. I’m interested in an antique mantel clock, one that chimes.

Years ago, I considered shopping in an antique mall a form of shopping for junk. Not anymore. Walking along the booths, my mind grew curious. To many people, antiques are simply junk that no one wanted anymore; however, to someone who appreciates treasures from years past, ‘junk’ and antiques are a silent story form that writers cherish. I glanced at tiny trinkets, glassware, silver, plates, cups, pictures and art. One person’s junk is another person’s treasure. How I wish I had the room, or the financial freedom to purchase so many of these treasures.

Shopping at an antique mall takes me back to the history of my grandparents, maternal and paternal. My mother’s parents I knew well, since I lived with them as a teenager. Grandma had many trinkets I loved, especially her ‘what not’ shelves, placed gently in the corner by the front door. Every Saturday, I polished it, removing the ceramic ladies, dressed in antebellum Southern attire, shining them with a toothbrush to keep them clean. Then, I polished the wood, hoping that someday I would have the what not shelves in my home — in memory of Grandma. Never did I get them, after her death.

My paternal grandmother had many antiques. Tiffany lamps, statues, porcelain vases, china, depression glass and silver. I did not have the pleasure to get to know my Dad’s mother well, since our family situation was dreadful. After her death, I managed to smuggle three pieces of depression glass, and a few pieces of silverware, dating back to the 1800’s. My mother busied herself with placing these inherited items into boxes, in route to the pawn and antique shops. When she turned to answer the phone, I found several items and rushed to my bedroom with them. Today, I still have those items. After my dad died, I kept his secretary desk that has been in his family since the early 1900’s and a beautiful wooden library table. These cherishable pieces have taught me to appreciate antiques.

Leaving my IPhone in the car, I walked along more booths, following the entrances to additional interesting areas. Glancing at china, cherishable depression glass, which I collect, dolls, jewelry, trinkets, or ‘what nots’ — stopping to look at an interesting pair of baby shoes.

Remembering when my son was little, there was a scuffed, well used white pair of baby shoes. The price was $18.00. I still had my son’s first baby shoes, somewhere, boxed up for preservation. I picked up the scuffed shoes. The leather was soft from little baby steps moving, bumping, falling, stumbling, and finally, walking, taking that first little baby step to independence. I turned the shoes over. Written in blue ink were the words, “Melissa’s First Shoes.”

The wheels of my curiosity began to race. Who is Melissa? Is she someone local? And why did someone give the shoes away? Why didn’t Melissa keep the shoes? Her first shoes. Melissa. Just who is Melissa?

My husband’s voice broke my trance. “I found a clock.”

“I’ll be there in a moment,” I said. “Look at these shoes.”

“Baby shoes. Who cares!”

“They’re Melissa’s baby shoes.”

“Whatever. Are you interested in seeing the clock?”

Hastily, I followed my husband. The clock is a steeple clock that chimes at the hour. It is beautiful. We tested it to make certain it worked and after a few minutes of bartering, we purchased the clock, for my birthday.

While boxing the clock, I went back to look at Melissa’s Baby Shoes once more. I showed them to the clerk. “Do you know anything about these shoes?” I asked.

“No…but look how scuffed they are.”

“Yes. Melissa obviously took her first steps to independence in these precious shoes. Someone actually took the time to write on the back of them, ‘Melissa’s Baby Shoes.’ Her first shoes. Why would someone give them away?”

The attractive, mature woman glanced at the back of the shoes, smiled and nodded.

“Poor Melissa.”

Thinking about those shoes and the name, Melissa, this week my curiosity continues. Someone actually cared enough to scribble, “Melissa’s Baby Shoes,” in blue ink on the bottom of the shoes. Now, those historical shoes rest on a shelf, in an antique shop. Where is Melissa? What happened to her, and why didn’t she, or a family member, keep those shoes, in her memory? Why would someone take the time to scribble her name on the bottom of her shoes — in memory of ‘Melissa’s first steps,’ only to have the shoes end up on a shelf, in an antique store?

Perhaps the title, “Melissa’s Baby Shoes,” is a metaphor for me, teaching me that to many shoppers, items in an antique shop are junk; but for me, these items are historical trinkets, taken from the life and memory of someone. Perhaps a clock, such as the steeple clock now sitting on my mantel, was a clock that a family had in their home for many years. Now, it will reside in my home, chiming on the hour, and I will cherish this clock for the rest of my life.

Still, the inscription, “Melissa’s Baby Shoes,” plays in my mind. Perhaps today Melissa is grown, with a family of her own. The shoes did not have a date, so my imagination can create a story about Melissa. Maybe she’s a dancer. Maybe she is someone, like me, who had precious items from her childhood tossed away, because no one cared. But for Melissa, I believe that someone did care enough to write “Melissa’s Baby Shoes” on the bottom, perhaps to remember Melissa and her first baby steps. Her first, unstable, but steady steps into the future. Maybe today, someone suffers from Alzheimer’s, forgetting the significance of Melissa’s first steps. I’d like to believe that Melissa was cherished enough to have the significant first steps of her childhood recorded in history, for others to know. Those tiny white shoes, with all the scuff marks and indentations of a child’s first steps will remain for someone to treasure. Melissa’s Baby Steps. So precious. So significant. Baby steps, leading to independence and freedom. Someone loved Melissa enough to preserve these moments. I hope Melissa’s Baby Shoes find a proper home. Melissa, if you are looking for your first shoes, contact me and I will be happy to share, “Melissa’s First Baby Shoes.”

Welcome to Hawaii – Day Five and Beyond – Hawaii Is Like A Dream Come True!


Monday, August 20, 2012 – Sorry for the delay in sharing my astonishing dreams about Hawaii. I’ve been just a bit busy lately with several assignments to do, rehearsals for a show at the Charleston Elks Lodge, more assignments – unexpected, but so welcome, and of course, getting all the photographs I took of Hawaii printed. I had over 503++ photographs to print and I must say, my new camera certainly performed well. When Phil looked at some of the photographs, he actually complimented my photography skills. How nice!

Additional events that have kept me busy lately:

A few weeks ago I was selected as a ‘qualifier’ for the Lowcountry Karaoke Idol Contest in Charleston. For this part of the competition I sang, “At Last.” The club finals for Manhattan’s Bar & Grill were Friday, August 17, 2012. I’ve practiced my song [“I Who Have Nothing”] to make certain I knew it and could hit the notes. Piece of cake! Tom Jones is one of my favorites and I sing his songs all the time! At the competition, I was as calm as a cucumber, but I did check out the competition! Four guys, three girls will compete, and I knew one of them! I was a bit concerned because she and I are great friends and I will do nothing to jeopardize our friendship! After all, great friends (especially women!) are so hard to find. The clock was ticking…10pm and the competition begins! I listened and watched the singers, paying attention to see if they were getting into the performance. Many of them looked at the monitor – silly, don’t you know you are SUPPOSED to lose points IF you look at the monitor! Several singers were not too bad! Finally, my name was called. I grabbed the microphone, and turned away from the monitor! I confess, when I’m singing, it is a performance and I am totally focused on what I am doing. I did not notice if I had the attention of the crowd or not. I just belted out my tune, moving and grooving with the audience. Much to my surprise, I was selected for second place. The score was 66-64 and if the first place finalist is unable to represent Manhattan’s for the City Finals, then I will perform. C’est la vie! Story of my life! I suppose second place isn’t too bad – after all, it’s karaoke – except I love performing!!!

An additional surprise occurred while jet lag was refusing to leave me. Early one morning, I checked e-mail, receiving an invitation to attend a press trip to Aruba. I read the itinerary and invitation well, letting it rest on my desk while I debated about it. The press trip was less than two weeks away. Not enough time for me to query publications about story ideas. Since I’ve never been to Aruba, I declined the invitation, requesting a rain check. My rule is to at least have query letters out to publications before attending a trip. Gosh, how I wanted to go!

BACK TO HAWAII

Waikiki Beach

Today, our discussions will include additional events on Phil’s birthday – July 8, 2012 — evening events, walking to International Market Place, along with the characters we met, the street performers, and other interesting characters.

We had a nice day traveling around Honolulu, admiring the breathtaking beauty and views, the coastal highway, searching for whales, which we never found, and the amazement of Blow Hole. How I wanted to sneak a rock, shell, or something unique that I could stash in my suitcase, but I was fearful that I would get caught, so when I found something, I simply let it slip through my hands. No lava rocks to take home. No sea shells. Nothing from within the lava foundations, the sea, or within the depth of the ocean. After all, I remember that silly form I signed before departing the American Airlines plane to enter beautiful Hawaii. I suppose I am just a bit too honest for my own good. If someone asked me if I am carrying something I shouldn’t, my eyes would give me away. I suppose I will never be a good liar! Besides, according to some of the legends of Hawaii, if you remove a lava rock, you are destined for bad luck – and I’ve had more than my share of bad life in my lifetime!

Breathtaking View along the Coastal Highways

Lava rocks and the mountains are truly amazing to look at while riding along the coast. To the left, your eyes admire the unique shape of the mountains. To the right, your eyes stare at the glittering iridescent blue ocean, the white caps slapping gently on the beaches and coastline. While I’ve always had an incredible passion for oceans, nothing compares or equals the turquoise waters I admire as we travel along the coast. I pinch myself. Please God, if I’m dreaming, never let this dream end.

A few hours later we head back to the hotel. We are tired now, ready to relax and walk along Kalakaua Avenue. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyyHaVPWj0k  The sun is setting now as we walk. I am amazed at the wide sidewalks on Waikiki Beach. There are hundreds of people walking, but no one bumps into Phil or me and no one has a cell phone glued to their ears. In Charleston, people appear not to be able to walk unless a cell phone dangles from their ears, and they shout their supposedly private conversations into their phones, so the entire world can hear the latest one-sided gossip. Who cares!

INTERNATIONAL MARKET PLACE

International Market Place is only a three block walk from our hotel. Dressed in shorts and a Hawaiian print shirt, with my Shape-Ups on my feet, I am ready for the business of shopping. I admit it. I hate shopping. Rarely do I find anything I want and I am a bargain hunter. Working in retail establishments for many years, I know how much items are marked up for profit, so I tell myself to look for bargains, or appear not to love an item too much. I want to barter!

While walking I notice the designer shops. Many of them I’ve never heard of. I live on a budget so these shops look wonderful and oh so tempting, but I would probably be flabbergasted by the price tags. I choose not to go inside.

We approach the entrance of International Market Place. Merchants are everywhere. Pleasant to the shoppers, the culture of Hawaii has taught the merchants how to charm and approach them. They nod their heads to everyone, speaking to a few, probably in hopes of making a big sale. I stop at several jewelry booths. OK, I admit it…I am a jewelry fanatic! I admire the coral, shells, the beautiful lei’s. All the jewelry is so beautiful. I honestly do not know where to start!

International Market Place has changed dramatically since I visited it during our R&R. There are many specialty shops now. No matter what you are looking for in Hawaii, you will find it along Kalakaua Avenue. One thing to remember is to ask for a better price at the Market Place. Almost every merchant I approached was willing to negotiate with me. There was one shop where the shopkeeper said, “If you don’t like that price on the sticker, you will not find a better price around Kalakaua Avenue.” I left her shop without purchasing anything.

I can truly say, International Market Place is one of my favorite places to shop, because I can negotiate. After all, my trip to Hawaii was planned in less than twenty-four hours and I had no time to get to the bank for additional funds. Thank goodness. I could’ve spent a small fortune.

A wood carving artist at International Market Place

Headed back to Hyatt Regency Waikiki, the street vendors and entertainers are out. I snap a few shots of an Elvis wanna be, a man dressed in newspaper, another guy dressed in gold lame, and an interesting floral archway where a woman was inside with only her beautiful face exposed.

Only one of the many interesting street performers in Honolulu

By now the streets are filled with pedestrians. Much to my surprise, everyone moves without pushing or shoving, and everyone uses crosswalks. While we walked across the street onto an area filled with additional hotels, we stop at a park, pet a dog and decide we will cross the street in the middle of the roadway. A police officer sees us standing along the middle of the sidewalk. I reach for Phil’s hand as cars rush by. I have a phobia of crossing busy streets, reminding Phil he must hold my hand tightly if we cross here. [I was hit by a drunk driver when I was nine-years-old, suffering a severe concussion.] I’ve never been able to cross busy streets without shaking since then.

The police officer has stopped, watching us. “That’s not a cross walk,” he shouts in our direction. I jerk my hand from Phil. “We can’t cross here. There must be a cross walk somewhere.”

We thank the police officer and move towards the traffic light. After we cross, the police officer nods to us. No doubt he was ready and waiting to give us a jaywalking ticket, but we followed his advice. After all, I really did not want to spend a night in the jail! Can you imagine – Phil and I arrested for jaywalking and spending the night in a jail? How dreadful!

After we get back to the hotel, we hop in the car headed to Ala Moana Shopping Center.

ALA MOANA SHOPPING CENTER

Years ago, we spent lots of money at Ala Moana Shopping Center. We were so young and carefree and our time in Hawaii was ticking away quickly. In two days, he would catch a flight back to Vietnam. When a lovely lady at the hotel we stayed at suggested shopping at Ala Moana, we spent a day there, looking at shops, admiring all the merchandise. Phil found a double-breasted jacket [yes, they were the style back then]. I took him inside, and we bought it. I didn’t care if he didn’t get to wear it very much. He wanted it. Money wasn’t an object. I wanted his memories of our first trip to Hawaii – our honeymoon – to be something to remember!

Now, Ala Moana Shopping Center is filled with all sorts of specialty shops and restaurants. Many of these shops are designer shops. If you are looking for something unique and special, Ala Moana is the place to find it! http://www.alamoanacenter.com/Center-Information/Hours-Directions.aspx I found three pairs of shoes. Just how I would get them home was a concern, but I could not pass them up! Shoes are my weakness!

Exhausted from a full day, we decided to dine at Blazin Steaks http://www.blazinwaikiki.com/ After dinner, we rush back to our room to watch a movie. My time in Hawaii is slowly ticking away and I am so sad to see it ending. Please, if I am dreaming, Never let me awaken from this dream!

Aloha!