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?