Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Dragonfly Lives.....By Joyce Oroz

If you have not ventured into the Dragonfly Gallery in Aromas, why haven’t you? Not a gallery groupie? Haven’t the time for snooping around a cozy establishment bursting with creativity? You have better things to do? If I were you, I would spend a precious fifteen minutes investigating the claims I make about our beloved gallery. Discover for yourself the treasures on display. If you would like to know more about the artists, I will be happy to help you any Friday between one and four o’clock. Yes, there are Dragonfly t-shirts for sale along with hand-carved wooden Santas, handmade jewelry, knitted items, pottery, quilts, cards, wooden boxes, paintings, photographs, prints and books by local authors. What more could you possibly want? The gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 to 4:00, but not this Sunday because it's New Years Day. Hope I see you Friday. Make it a New Years resolution!

Now, motor on down to 380 Blohm Ave., Aromas, California.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Video by Joe Truskot

I recently heard from my friend, Joe Truskot, who has put together a video you don't want to miss--instructional as well as beautiful to watch.

Joe owns more talents than toes, including his rose book (Central Coast Rose Manual)

You'll find this video especially interesting if you've ever served on a board of directors for a nonprofit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Passing the white glove Joyce Oroz

Holey moley, the new year is right around the corner—time to toss the tinsel and nix the pine needles. But I’m exhausted from the holiday hoopla. Suppose I don’t feel like cleaning closets right now. Suppose Aunt Clara is coming for a visit. Read on…….here is a little story from a friend that I want to share with you. She says, "I just read about a decorating tip that I thought was brilliant and wanted to pass it on. Go buy yourself some 'Get Well Soon' cards and put them on your mantle or table, so that when people come over and the house isn't Martha Stewart ready they'll see the get-well-cards and it will give you the excuse .... that you haven't been feeling well. A woman after my own heart. Brilliant."
Thank you, AR

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Lint for Christmas

"In the spirit of Christmas............

A dear friend recently wrote……
When we went to New Orleans to see our son, Dave, he took us to various art galleries and one in particular had some "strange art." One artist had collected dryer lint for the last 10 years and then stacked it, by separating the years. The price of this art was substantial and I commented, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" I was quickly chastised by Dave, to remember that, "Art is in the eye of the beholder." I try. I really do try to let these things go but sometimes I just can't. So, as soon as I got home, I started collecting my dryer lint and the attached is Dave's Christmas gift from me. I know he'll be in awe with the lint from his father's underwear, bathroom rugs, towels, t-shirts and the like. This woman artist in New Orleans has nothing on me. I even amazed myself and this is my first ever try at stacking & collecting dryer lint ~ artist that I am. Enjoy the laugh and Merry Christmas to All!

Thank you, my friend, for sharing

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Who's Counting? Joyce oroz

An original carved wood Santa by Barbara Scoles

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” Albert Einstein

In Christmas terms, the knitted tie, the potted cactus, the pet rat and the electric nose trimmer might not be counted in the “most adored present list,” unless, of course, they were given with good intensions by people who love you. In that case, they make the top of the list.

Presents are tangibles, easily sorted, rated, recycled or trashed (in extreme cases.) But sorting out the family and friend dynamics is a little tougher. Does Aunt Mary wear the skunky perfume because she knows I hate it? Did Uncle Bob burp at the table because he didn’t like his gift from cousin, Martha—tickets to a musical? Will my niece ever forgive me for buying her a sweater three sizes too big? Yes, I gave George the peanut brittle--didn’t know he was allergic to peanuts. But I’ll call the paramedics right away. And so it goes with family and friends.

Isn’t it funny how God gives us ugly bilge to work on so that we can be more prepared for the bigger, more significant problems and choices in life—like, the choice whether to be happy—or not when your world seems to be falling apart.

This Christmas, count up all the good things in your life and put them in your breast pocket. Now add up the bilge and drop it in the dumpster with the knitted tie, the cactus, the rat and the trimmer, and walk away. Feel better? I hope so. Now, enjoy the new year with a happy heart!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sandy discovers greatest recipe ever! Joyce oroz

Sandy licks her lips when she reads my recipe book, and barks a happy tune when she discovers Barbara Gilkey's peanut butter cookie recipe. Being a typical Lab, she has a full range of favorite foods. She has been known to lick up spilled oatmeal, fermenting green leftovers, kitty pooh and other undesirable organics.

Moving along, I really should be baking in the sun on a beach in the Bahamas, but the reality is, I don’t have a ticket. While my mind is toasting in the sun, my hands are busy whipping up old-fashioned peanut butter cookies in a new-fashioned way. The recipe is so simple it only has three ingredients and it doesn’t even call for flour of any kind! Are those joyful shouts coming from the gluten-free peanut gallery? Now, let’s fire up our ovens and BAKE!!

Peanut Butter Cookies

1-1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup sugar
2 unbeaten egg whites

Blend peanut butter and sugar well.
Add egg whites and mix thoroughly.

Roll into walnut sized balls,
Place on ungreased cookie sheet
And flatten each one with a fork.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes @ 375 degrees.
Cool before removing from pan.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Friday, December 16, 2011

gluten-free Joyce oroz

This is a recipe for Cherry Date Balls by Barbara Endersbe…..
gluten-free and fabulous!
I eliminated the granulated sugar because the dates and
cherries are so sweet—your choice.

Cherry Date Balls

2 eggs, well-beaten
1 cup sugar—optional
1 cup chopped nuts---I used pecans
1cup chopped dates
½ cup flaked coconut---I used unsweetened
½ t. almond extract
½ t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt
Cooking spray
36 candied cherries
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine eggs, sugar, nuts, dates, coconut, almond extract, vanilla and salt. Place in buttered 8-inch square pan.
Bake 30 minutes, stirring mixture thoroughly every ten minutes. Remove from oven and stir well, then let cool.
Spray a little cooking oil on your hands, then shape the dough into balls around cherries. Roll in powdered sugar.

This is my gluten-free recipe for molasses cookies……hope you enjoy them!

Molasses Cookies

2 cups almond flour
½ cup millet or rice flour

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 t. teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ginger

1 t. teaspoon cinnamon
¼ t. ground cloves

1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil

1/2 cup black strap molasses
1 egg

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
Stir together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl
Mix wet ingredients into dry
Scoop batter one tablespoon at a time onto the parchment paper lined baking sheet
Bake at 350° for 8 minutes
Cool and serve makes about 20 cookies

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gopher Takes Down Joyce Oroz

Gopher takes down five-year-old Shoestring Acacia

It’s hard to imagine a rodent the size of a small fruitcake, taking out a ten-foot tree. The tree happened to be a shoestring acacia I had babied for five years. I planted it in a wire basket, knowing there were critters in the ground plotting its demise. I faithfully tended my little tree, giving it food, water and kind words.

Two feet down, right under my feet, the gophers were laughing and doing high-fives as the acacia roots lengthened, eventually pushing their way out of the wire cage, and deeper into the sandy earth where the greedy monsters drooled and waited.

Over the years, my favorite little tree grew straight and tall, it’s branches proudly wearing thousands of foot-long stringy (but graceful) leaves. I imagined my tree growing to twenty feet and giving refuge to small birds needing a place to hide from the local cats. I couldn’t wait for its branches to stretch out and provide filtered shade over the grass.

Under the grass the fruitcakes were busy gnawing delicate tree roots down to the nub at a time when Mother Nature was orchestrating a mighty wind storm all over California. Finally the winds diminished enough for me to go about my gardening duties. Suddenly I noticed that my tree was leaning. I dropped the hose and reached out to the acacia’s slim reddish trunk. It easily moved several inches in every direction.

Life can be cruel, but I was not about to let my tree die. I raced to the back yard, making several trips actually, gathering long sticks, rope, a large rock and duct tape. I quickly staked and wrapped the trunk until it looked hokier than the blouse I sewed in my seventh grade Home Ech. class.

I quickly stuffed half a pack of juicy fruit gum into my mouth and chewed until it was soft. Juicy fruit is a gopher killer. I didn’t make that up. I poked the wad down a gopher hole. Now, if the tree grows new roots and the gophers partake of gum (and die) I will be satisfied. Later that day my neighbor told me his cat smelled like juicy fruit gum. A flavor I love!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Nosy Art Oroz

This little ditty comes from Art's novel, Okinawa Moon....taken from a real event and a really huge rat living in the B-29 bomber he was assigned to during the Korean War.

The Nosy Rat

by Arthur Oroz

The food was eaten,
But not by the crew.
Holes in the boxes,
Yet tied up like new.

I knew twas not me,
And it was not you.
So it must be the rat,
Not the B-29 crew.

We finally found him,
As huge as a cat.
Reading the plane’s log,
So cocky and fat.

Sadly we crowned him,
Hard with a mace.
Buried him deeply,
In a box lined with lace.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fish for Joyce oroz

It’s December, time to take a trip to the aquarium, observe
the fish, their fabulous fauna and their freaky friends. Why December? Because
Christmas is coming and the average frazzle-minded shopper-planner person needs
a little get-away. How do I know that fish relax the mind? Because it happened
to me.

I entered the aquarium with food-lists, gift-lists,
to-do-lists and lists-of-lists buzzing in my head and weighting me down.
Moments later I was laughing hysterically at three rambunctious otters romping
and wrestling in and out of the water. Their fat fluffy bodies flailed and
flounced in pretend otter fights. They were having more fun than a sea animal
should be allowed to have and I couldn’t stop laughing.

Subsequently, my grandchildren led the way to a giant kelp
tank where a scuba-girl fed a variety of fish-types from a small bucket that
held an endless supply of recycled fish parts. She talked to us in garbled utterances
as she fed small squid to passing sharks.

Moving right along, our motley party visited Betty and Bee
(penguins) at, of all places, the penguin pond. Bee did her laps under water by
pressing her beak against the glass while working her wings back and forth (about
ten miles worth), coming up for air periodically. Betty preferred to pose,
penguin-style, on the rocks above, while Reggy waddled down the path looking
studly in his black and white tux.

Then came the octopus, spread-eagle and suctioned onto his
glass enclosure. His arms were as long as mine but he had six more of them.
From there we trekked to the opposite end of the building where we found
displays of swimming jellyfish, seahorses and silvery anchovies. Suddenly my
stomach growled and I had visions of fresh pizza. Fortunately, the restaurant
downstairs had everything we needed.

After a great lunch, we climbed the stairs and stood in the
dark in front of a giant (humongous) glass tank where sharks prowled, giant
turtles did the breast stroke and tuna loafed. Or was that lunch? At that
point, my mind was so relaxed, I would be lucky to remember the way home.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Book Review of "Read My Lipstick" (Josephine Stuart Mystery)

Dear mystery reading friends, I want to share a review of “Read My Lipstick” with you, and encourage you to cuddle up with your Kindle $4.99 and enjoy my stories. Yes, I am unabashedly asking for more reviews.

By B. Altman (Reviewer)
This review is from: "Read My Lipstick" (Josephine Stuart Mystery) (Kindle Edition) $4.99 

Well, Ms. Oroz has done it again!! A really fun book and I found it very hard to put it down. The adventures of Josephine and her darling Basset Hound...This story takes you all all the way from Aromos,Calif. to Tahoe in the snow. There is just one crazy thing after another that happens to Josephine. I am anxious for her next book..
I loved it!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Barbara Frances in Joyce oroz

Today I am interviewing a very special lady, Barbara
Frances, who is a remarkable and dedicated quilter. Her quilts are hand-stitched
(even king-sized quilts, hand stitched?) It's true. I watched her making those
tiny precise stitches over and over again. The results are astounding. Her
designs are original and speak about the glory of nature.

Barbara, how did you become a quilter? Did anyone
influence you along the

I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by marvelous
textiles and
handwork. My mom was raised in Madagascar, and had
wonderful fabrics and
African handwork that we were allowed to take to school
for “show and
tell” at an early age. As I got a bit older, I would
visit my grandmother
and watch her take fine, tiny stitches as she made doll
clothes for me,
and I wanted to be able to sew like she did. At age
eight, I designed and
sewed my first garment out of a pink flowered flour sack.
For some reason,
my mom did not want me to wear it outside the house. Go

When we were living in San Leandro, we weren’t able to
get to the beach
very often. I was missing the ocean, and wanted to have
something that
brought the look and feel of the ocean into our home. I
thought about the
Hawaiian quilts that I had fallen in love with while on a
vacation to
Hawaii. Since I had no experience cutting a true Hawaiian
quilt pattern, I
decided to use the seaweed picture I had in my mind, and
applique it on a
natural colored background to capture the essence of the
Polynesian style.
A friend saw my work and wanted the same style of pillows
for her new
sofa, but preferred leaves to seaweed, so I created
applique patterns for
her which were inspired by the plants around my home.

Please tell us about the technique you use. What is
different about your
work as compared to other quilters?

When I started working with appliques and hand stitching,
I decided that
since I was just doing this for myself, I could do
whatever I wanted. So I
used my favorite hand stitch, the running back stitch
that was easy, fun
and created a great texture. With the exception of one
row of binding, I
prefer doing all the work by hand, while sitting in my
antique rocking
chair. I enjoy the control of doing one stitch at a time,
and there is
something very soothing about hand sewing. I do not know
other quilters
committed to using only organic or sustainable fabrics,
or doing all the
work by hand, but it is what gives me satisfaction and

Barbara, these quilts are truly beautiful. What materials
do you like to
use and why? Who dreamed up the wonderful designs?

As a confirmed vegan and tree-hugger, I decided to use
only environmental
fabrics. I use organic cottons, hemp, hemp blends and
bamboo fabrics. I
used only organic cotton batting in the quilts for a
number of years, but
recently switched to a bamboo batting. The pillows that I
make have kapok
inserts (kapok is the fluff from the seed pod of a
silk-kapok tree). All
my designs are my interpretation of what I see in Nature.
I often take
pictures of kelp or copy a leaf for a pattern. We were in
Maui when I saw
a breadfruit tree for the first time. As many times as I
had read about
breadfruit trees, I never realized how big the leaves
were. So I traced
several sized leaves and brought the patterns home. I am
not a swimmer, so
several of the quilt patterns are my vision of what it
would be like to
swim among the seaweed. Since the subjects are always
earth related, I
feel it is very important to use only Earth and animal
friendly fibers.

When you are not quilting, what other creative things do
you enjoy doing?

When I’m not sewing, and that isn’t often, I enjoy
working in the yard and
garden or walking on the beach. Then I get new
inspiration, and head back
to the sewing room!

Barbara, how can the public look at more of your work and
where can they
purchase your lovely quilts?

My quilts are custom order only, since there are so many
options with
size, color and design. They have been shown at the Santa
Cruz Art League
Fiber Arts show, the Pajaro Valley Quilt show and the
International Quilt show. We have also shown them at
events, such as Earth
Day, Cabrillo Music Art and Wine Festival and the
Capitola Art on the
Beach. Some of my wall hangings are available at the
Clear Heart Gallery
in Petaluma. We are expecting the new studio, located at
our home at 399
Carpenteria Road, Aromas, to be completed shortly after
the holidays. Once
completed, we would be happy to have people stop by to
see the quilts.

Thank you, Barbara for taking
the time to educate us on quilting. We wish you all the best.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Shaking in Her Flip Joyce Oroz

“Allie, put your collar up like this and pull down the hood. Nobody will know who we are, you know, in case the owner’s around.”

“Right,” Alicia said as she rolled her eyes and adjusted her jacket. “Why don’t we have lunch in that little café over there?” She pointed to what looked like an old cable car attached to the side of the pier about ten feet above the water. “We can watch the boat from there and no one will see us snooping around.”

The trek to Connie’s Café included climbing back up the steep stairs to the wharf, a short walk and then down a set of wooden stairs to the ‘open’ sign hanging on the Café’s weathered door. Alicia opened the door, looked inside, and grimaced.

“These places always look a little dingy, but that’s where the best food is,” I said as I nudged her through the door. “I love places like this.” We sat down at the first table with a view of the boats. It was near the door and across the small room from a group of four noisy men who were tan, windblown and smelled of fish.

“That’s our menu, up there,” a young blond woman with big hips said as she pointed to a scribbled chalkboard-list of foods hanging above the grill. “I’ll be back in a minute.” She marched over to the men and refilled their coffee mugs.

“See anything you want, Allie?”

“No salads, guess I’ll have the chowder. How about you?”

“Chowder sounds good. I wonder if they serve it in a bread bowl,” I said, brushing someone else’s crumbs off my paper placemat.

“Don’t forget to watch the boat.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Avery's chicken and Art's ditty on Thanksgiving Day

Alright, already! I know it's not a turkey. Happy Thanksgiving.

True Love

It can happen at once,
With a look or a glance.
Or linger so sweetly,
It must be romance.

No matter, however, how
It happened to you,.
The lawyer’s your friend,

when it’s time to be blue.

The fault lies in heaven,
You both were so true.
The flower just withered,
It lost all its dew.

Your counsel agrees,
With all of your chatter.
While counting his silver,
So, what does it matter?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Aromas explodes with art! by Joyce Oroz

This weekend is a “two-fer,” two fantastic art sales in one trip to Aromas! The Holiday Art Festival at the Aromas Grange is in full swing Saturday and Sunday 10:00 to 4:00. It is the first time ever that the Aromas Hills Artisans have put on this kind of all-out art show and sale under one roof. That’s right -- November 19 and 20, so get your list, check it twice and then check out the goods!

What can you expect to see at the Grange? How about zillions of original paintings, (oil, acrylic and watercolor), or maybe you want to feel the fun fur knitted items or gaze into stained or fused glass creations. The pottery is excellent, not to mention the photography, jewelry and on and on. Top it all off with some homemade baked goodies!

The other half of the “two-fer” is the Dragonfly Gallery, just one block from the Grange. You can’t miss the building decorated in extra large silver dragonflies all over it. Inside you’ll find wonderful arts and crafts and gift ideas such as worsted wool chickens, decorated magical boxes, jewelry, pottery, carved wooden Santas, Photographs, paintings, hand crafted wooden boxes and so much more. Even some signed copies of my book, Secure The Ranch and copies of Kathy Nichol’s book, Smell It Like It Is.
That’s how it is and we hope to see you there!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Julie Conrad takes the cake! Joyce Oroz...actually, she makes the cake

I am very excited to be interviewing Julie Conrad today. She is a shining star in the AHA's Galaxy. I saw one of her scrumptious cakes up close that just took my breath away. It was just one of many original, beautiful, creative, detailed, yummy cakes.

Julie, how did you get started in the cake business?

Well I have had two daughters grow up in 4-H. They always competed in the Home Arts Division at the Santa Cruz County Fair for baking. Each year we spent loads of time making cakes to come up with a winning cake recipe. The cakes tasted great but looked home made. As my children moved out I started taking cake decorating classes. I just did it as a hobby for friends and family. But the word spread and pretty soon I was getting calls from people I didn't know. So I decided to open up A Slice of Heaven Cakes last spring. We officially opened in July of this year. What are your favorite cakes to make?

Well honestly I enjoy them all, but I would say I have two types of favorite cakes. One is wedding cakes, I love to make the big elaborate cakes with all the fun wedding type decorations. The other type is where a client gives me an idea and lets me get creative with it. Like this chocolate cake they just said they wanted lavender- I had been wanting to do something different, so the dome was a fun challenge.Julie, please tell us a little bit about the process.

I usually ask for as much notice as possible when I am making a cake. It's not like a grocery store cake that is whipped out in a few hours. I start asking the client what they want, carved cake or standard cake shape. Then what type of decorations. Almost all of my cakes are made with some sort of sugar decorations. I start making them weeks in advance if possible. The figurines need time to dry and harden in between working on them. The flowers are a minimum of several days for the same reason. I start a rose by making the center several days ahead of time and let it dry. Then I hand make each petal and add them in one by one. Say for a peony it's about 40 petals, so you can see how this would be a lengthy process. Do you have hobbies or other fun things you like to do?

Over the years I have been an avid gardener, though while raising children and livestock I didn't have as much time to devote to it as I liked. I also love cooking, preserving, crafts. I was the local crafts and 4-H Guide Dog Leader for several years. I think my love of flowers and crafts really helps me now with the different aspects of the cakes. I also enjoy a little spot in my backyard that is reserved for the wild birds to come eat, bathe, and perch. That seems to be my latest passion, along with cakes. How can people see your cakes and contact you?

I have a website now for viewing my cakes and my flavor chart., also people can see my cakes on Facebook. I only make 2 cakes a week, 1 if it's a wedding cake or carved cake. By limiting my number of cakes I make each week, I can make sure to concentrate on the details. I usually ask of a deposit to hold the date. Some people have already booked into July and August of next year!

Contact me by phone at 831-726-1837.Thank you, Julie for a fascinating look at cake making.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A little ditty by Arthur Oroz

Bump in the Night

Has it happened to you,
in the middle of the night?
A sound, a movement,
Not much for a fright.

You listen so hard,
You can hardly listen.
Was that a thump?
I heard a bump bump.

Should I cover my head,

in my blanket secure?
My heart is pounding,
I must not demur.

So after more listening,
More noise in the house.
I crept creepy crawly,
Still as a mouse.

It was only a shutter,
Murmuring a mutter.
I closed it up tight,
so goodnight and goodnight.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Smell It Like It is.....Kathryn McKenzie Nichol's Joyce oroz

Kathryn McKenzie Nichols once wrote a book called "Smell It Like It Is" full of insightful small-town facts and humor plus everything you ever wanted to know about garlic. Kathryn's books are on sale for six dollars at the Dragonfly Gallery in Aromas and proceeds will be donated to the Aromas Hills Artisans (a non profit organization for the arts)

California journalist Kathryn Nichols has been writing for newspapers and magazines for more than 25 years, and is the author of two books. "Smell It Like It Is" is a composite of local stories, landscapes and giggles. It's Kathryn's off-beat look at things like the county fair, the outlet mall, holidays and, of course, more garlic than you've ever seen in your life.

Kathryn Nichols grew up smelling the country air she writes about. She worked for eight years as a journalist in central California, writing for the Paso Robles Country News, the Hollister Free Lance and the Gilroy Dispatch, where the stories in her book first appeared. Nichols won many journalistic awards during her two-year tenure as lifestyles editor.

Kathryn is currently a Featured Contributor in several categories on the Yahoo! Contributor Network, and writes for Yahoo! TV, Yahoo! OMG and Yahoo! Movies. Kathy is also a home and garden writer for, Bay Area Spaces magazine, and the Monterey County Herald, and writes about art and local personalities for Carmel Magazine and Artworks. She also helps edit the political website When not writing, she can be found spending time with family and friends, watching a movie, or digging in the garden.
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Monday, November 7, 2011


by Joyce Riley

When the clock struck the floor parts flew everywhere, springs over here, hands over there, its face on the floor with a broken clock stare.

“Why did you do that?” Raggety Ann cried.

“It was the monkey,” Andy replied.

Monkey let his small symbols clang.

“It was the cat,” Canary bird sang, while, in the corner, a cat with soft fur closed its bright eyes and began, softly, to purr.
“Oh, my,” said a child as it walked through the door,“How will I wake without a clock any more?”

Then, picking up springs, two hands and a face, the child did its best to put them in place. But, there was no tick. The hands wouldn’t stir. And, the cat on the shelf continued to purr. The child looked around, then, with a nod of the head, Invited the cat to sleep on the bed.
Now, every morning, when it’s time to get stirring, the child wakes up to a cat’s gentle purring. And, high on the shelf, where it has a good view, the clock’s hands are stuck on a quarter to two. But, it doesn’t mind what the other toys say. Clock knows that it’s right twice every day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dodged the Joyce Oroz

The old question comes to mind, does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Today I felt like I was living through an episode from “Secure the Ranch.” It all started when I decided to drop off a few things at our local Dragonfly Gallery. Since I volunteer there on Fridays, I had a key and since Kathy wasn’t in town I decided to try out the key and since the gallery has a security system I heard an unusual ticking sound and seconds later found myself being screamed at by an ear-splitting pulsating siren. I rushed outside and sat in my truck wondering what to do. A passer-by told me that the Sheriff’s Deputies would probably be arriving soon. Sweat ran down my face. I never think clearly under stress and lack of action is stressful, so I drove two blocks to the Market and pulled in next to a Sheriff’s car that happened to be parked there.
“Are you on your way to the gallery?” I asked.
“No, why?”
“I accidentally set off the alarm ….”
“The gallery is in Santa Cruz County. I’m San Benito,” he said. I decided to order lunch at the market. While I was there I borrowed a phone book and called the Santa Cruz Sheriff’s department. The nice lady who answered said I did the right thing, but it would be better to call the security company, whoever that is. So I left a message on Kathy’s phone, took my lunch home and hoped for the best. Kathy called a short time later to say she got my message and she had called the security folks. Everything was cool and no guns were drawn.

Excerpt from Secure the Ranch by Joyce Oroz

….Theda’s SUV was not at the cabin. I tried the door. Locked. I pulled out my key and opened the door. The house was quiet except for a soft humming sound coming from the wall beside the front door. Finally, I realized it was coming from a newly installed panel of numbered buttons with a flashing red light. My cheeks flashed red. “Oh my God, what do I do now?”
My cell phone rang. “Ah, hello.”
“Josephine, this is Barry, your insurance agent. Is something wrong?”
“Dang, I mean, Barry, you caught me at a bad time. We have a new alarm system in the cabin where I’m staying and I think I triggered the alarm. How do I turn it off? I don't know the code.” Solow must have sensed my panic and belted out a series of howls, making it difficult to hear Barry’s response.
“Better hope it's not one of those systems that goes straight to the sheriff's office.”
“Did you call the company that installed it?”
“I just got home.” I shouted, over the howling. “Hang on a minute.” I began pressing buttons, combinations of numbers, but with no good result. “Barry, what should I do? I’m pushing buttons, but the red light is still on and so is the humming noise.”
Solow howled urgently. “Quiet!” I shouted. My poor puppy dropped his head down and tucked his tail between his legs, making me feel even worse.
“Barry, are you still there?” Suddenly tires squealed outside, Solow wailed and my heart pounded double-time.
“Call ya later.” I dropped the phone and peeked out the front window just in time to see two deputy sheriffs, guns drawn, crouched behind their white sheriff's car. A rack of red lights revolved in circles, silently, from the roof of the official vehicle.
“Come out with your hands up!” shouted one officer. They had my attention. With legs like Jello, I walked to the door and slowly opened it. Both hands reached for the sky, just like in the movies. Things weren't supposed to happen like this in real life. Sergeant Machuca stepped forward as he holstered his gun, but the other sheriff kept his gun trained on me. Machuca rolled his eyes.
“I see you took my advice and had an alarm put in.”
“I'm sorry to get you up here like this,” I said, “but the door was locked and I don't have the code numbers yet.”
“Just happens we were in the area, no harm done.” Machuca waved at his partner.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mysterious Joyce Oroz

It was a day like any other day, except the fog was out, the sun was in and the ocean was calm as green cool-aid. Even the gulls were resting quietly or maybe they were chuckling under thier breath at the blubbery log-jam floating beside the wharf.
About a hundred plump, lethargic, do-nothings rested their wiskered noses on their neighbors paunchy bellies. They closed their eyes and rode the gentle movement of the water as if they were a living, snoring, flotilla of seals. But there was mischief afoot. Every so often a young over-achiever seal would leap across the water and bounce over Mom, Pop, Baby Bubba and Uncle Snooze. The whole flotilla snorted, fussed, rearranged itself and finally settled down--until the next athletic juvenile swam toward the pack and jumped into the fray. No wonder the seals are always trying to catch up on sleep. Have they never heard of day-care?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beware the orange smiley Joyce Oroz

Have you ever wondered about your neighbor’s nocturnal escapades? What’s with people who set a couple plastic jack o lantern candy buckets in front of their house to be festive. People passing by encourage them by saying, “how sweet.” Five years later there are bazillions of round-headed smiley faces pointed at the street. They cover the steps, climb the trees and collect ants. They outnumber the lawn chairs, rose bushes, blades of grass and rocks in the gravel driveway. But don’t worry, China can spit these bright orange babies out in no time. Who knew your water bottles would be turned into smiley-faced pumpkins….all the better to make you smile. Thank you neighbor for the smiles that will hold us until Christmas when you really plug it in!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Giving Wings to Creativity Joyce Oroz

Giving Wings to Creativity Award presented to Paul Burns, October 26, 2011

It’s not everyday the Aromas Hills Artisans give an award to a local business owner. In fact the GIVING WINGS TO CREATIVITY award was created because of Paul Burns, owner and President of Fireclay Tile located in San Jose and Aromas. Today I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Burns and touring his Fireclay factory in Aromas where old toilets, recycled windows and granite dust are magically turned into beautiful ceramic tiles.

The magic happens when the oddest of materials, the sharpest minds and excellent equipment come together. It’s the “green magic” we’ve all been searching for. Who knew it would be found in old toilets? In this case, 1,700 donated toilets from the Monterey Presidio, but don’t worry, replacements are on the way.

Linda Bjornson, president of the Aroma Hills Artisans, presented a handmade wooden box (crafted by Daniel Smith, AHA member) to Paul Burns, owner and mastermind of Fireclay Tiles. It was a joyful moment for all and all because fourteen years ago Mr. Burns had an idea. He wanted to make tiles out of porcelain toilets. He worked at the idea for a year before he found a way to successfully incorporate ground up toilets with other ingredients to make tiles. Now his Debris Series tiles are 70% recycled material.

Mr. Burns ordered a special kiln from Wisconsin. It arrived in four boxcars—yes, it’s that big! How hot is 1,800 degrees? He says his biggest expense is labor. Gosh, do we still make things in America?

Paul’s thirty employees turn out thousands of tiles ranging in size from one inch by one inch to fix-foot long solid counter top slabs. The tiles come in a full range of textures, shapes and vibrant colors. The intricate, Italian and Mexican style tiles are hand painted by ladies with steady hands and good temperaments.

The process is beyond interesting. It was wonderful to see American enterprise in action. Hat’s off to Paul Burns.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nancy Oleata in the Joyce Oroz

I am very excited that Nancy Oleata has agreed to tell us her story, and of course I will share it with you. She is an active member of the Aromas Hills Artisans group and a top-notch artist. The pictures of her work speak for themselves.

Please tell us about yourself, Nancy.

I was born in Washington state but never lived there. I have lived in every city on the Monterey Peninsula and now reside in Prunedale. I have a daughter, a son and 4 grandson's 4,5,6, and 14 and believe me they are a handful. I was married to my husband Mike for 39 years and last May lost him to cancer. Needless to say my life has changed. I now have an urge to make as much art as I can.

Were you always a creative person?

As a child I was always drawing and art was my favorite subject. My father was an abstract painter and I have many memories of him painting in his studio. I graduated from Carmel High and attended MPC for a while before marrying. When my kids were older I got a job as a floral designer and spent 15 years making floral art. It's not as much fun as some people think. Long hours at holiday times and many hours on your feet. I'd always painted at home but never showed anywhere. After taking a glass fusing class at MPC I decided it was time to quit my job and try my hand at art. The Aromas Hills Artisans was a great place to start. I met Linda Bjornson at open studios and she encouraged me to join the group.

What steps did you take once you decided to give up the floral design?

I've taken workshops in L.A. on fused glass lead by Roger Thomas. I just happened to find him on the web and really related to his style. He inspired me to try my hand at landscapes in glass which are so much fun. They take about 4-5 firings in the kiln before I'm satisfied. I also make practical pieces like plates and bowls but from an artists point of view. When I paint I like to start with a photo I've taken or some times a magazine photo will catch my eye. I think I'm a pretty fast painter and can usually finish a painting in a week. After a while you reach the point where you start overworking the piece. That's when it's time to stop. Although I have been know to change a painting after a couple of years if something about it bothers me. I switch back and forth from painting to glass whenever I get tired or frustrated with one.

Nancy, do you have other artistic things you like to do?

My other artistic endevers would be home decorating and gardening. I've taken 25 years to landscape my property and enjoy adding annual color.

Where can people find your lovely paintings and glass work?

I am currently showing my work in The Valley Art Gallery in old town Salinas and hope to expand to other galleries and the web in the future.

Thank you, Nancy for sharing with us today.