My Day with Little Luna

Grandma is tired.

We picked 2 1/2 year old Luna up at 7:30 am at the parking lot of the Barnsdall Art Center (Sarah is working at Children’s Hospital on a rotation for the next ten days and the hospital is a block away), then returned Luna to that same parking lot this evening around 6:30 so her mom could take her home. In between that time, Luna, Grandpa and I had quite the time.

This morning, after returning from the Barnsdall, we made homemade waffles and scrambled eggs. Yes, Luna helped with by measuring and pouring ingredients into the mixing bowl. We also had freshly squeezed orange juice.

Then we headed outside to the back yard where Luna played in the dirt, looked at all the vegetables in the garden, played with blocks, and then explored all the nooks and crannies behind all the plants back there. Of course, Cordelia was there the whole time. Sammie was inside resting.

Back inside for a snack – and then lots of drawing with crayons and colored pencils.

Lunch time with turkey meatloaf and potatoes and grapes for dessert. Also, more orange juice.

Then bath time to wash off all the dirt from the backyard activity followed by a 3 1/2 nap. (Grandma only slept an hour.) Cordelia kept watch for Luna the entire time she slept.

Up at 4 for another snack, then outside in front to run and jump and play in-between times of petting William, our cat. Then Grandpa came out and turned on the water hose so there was lots of slipping and sliding and running through the water.

Upstairs for a second bath to clean off all the grass from the front yard water activity.

More drawing with colored pencils and crayons.

Time to pack up to drive back over to Barnsdall to meet up with Mommy. More snacks on the way.

Good visit with Sarah, who looked remarkably rested given that she had just worked 10 hours. Meanwhile, Luna jumped and ran and talked to our dogs, who had come along for the ride.

Then we all said good-bye, and Sarah and Luna headed east and Ray and I headed west through the traffic. We returned about 45 minutes ago and I’ve had a little dinner and it’s now 8:18 pm. I am ready to put my feet up and relax for the evening.

How I ever did this with 3 children while running a business and a household is a mystery to me. I think I remember being perpetually tired.

Off to take my own bath and settle into bed.

I love Luna’s weekly visits to our home. The dogs, the cat, Grandpa and I adore this little girl.

The Artist at Work

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Lost Art: In Defense of Hardbound Books

I stand firmly in the camp advocating the importance of hardbound books. I realize we can save trees if we go entirely to a digital format for all books, but all I can say to that is, “Bah, humbug.” While I understand the value of reading on a digital device, I do not especially enjoy reading for pleasure on one after working on a computer all day. Reading for me is recreational, but when it is coupled with something that looks like my work instrument – my computer – well, it begins to feel occupational. Besides, I like books lining my bookshelves. There is something comforting and heartening about seeing books right there at my disposal. I feel better knowing that the wisdom and storytelling genius of my favorite authors is right at my fingertips in the form of a real, honest-to-God book.

Not to mention that I deeply regret the demise of bookstores. Where am I supposed to go during my free time to see all the new books that are being published? Where am I supposed to go just to hang out and read older books that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet? Where am I supposed to go to be around other people who value books as much as I do? Yes, libraries still exist and I do love them. I can go there. But I also love bookstores filled with books that I can browse and then buy to take home to my library.

Yes, I have been part of the problem. I ordered books from Amazon and not from Barnes and Noble and the now defunct Borders Books, Crown Books and B. Dalton’s. Did I realize at the time that my actions (along with the majority of the reading public) would have such a profound effect on the book industry and/or the national and international reading public? The answer is no. If I had known, then I would have bitten the extra dollars bullet and supported my local bookstores. The ones that are now gone because I was so stingy and shortsighted.

Thank God for used bookstores. At least they are still around and attracting customers. Still, I am annoyed that my choices of where to go to find new publications are now so limited. Yes, Book Soup – a great independent bookstore is around the corner and there’s one Barnes and Noble about five miles away – but what the heck? Only these two bookstores and a handful of small independents for Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and the majority of West LA? That is patently absurd in a day and time when cultivating critical thinking skills seems more important than ever.

We, who benefit from the advance of the computer, must be careful not to be held hostage by it. We, who are so busy working, need to be cautious when it comes to giving our power away through our very busyness. There is a profound benefit to sitting down with a book in our lap. We have time to catch our collective breaths, to relax, let our minds slow down, so that we can think with more clarity. Digitized reading devices are efficient, yes; however, sometimes we need to be cautious of such efficiency. It can rob us of the processing time we often need to be more creative, more discerning, more conscious in a world that desperately needs us to stay conscious. And we haven’t even begun to discuss the value of gorgeous illustrations and photographs found in art books and children’s books. Oh dear Lord, what did we do?

Technology is great. I am a hardy advocate for all the wonderful advances the computer brings to our lives. But let’s not forget that some benefits of a book are intangible. Reading for pleasure is not solely about having access to the information or the story; it also involves pleasure of the senses: the sight, smell, sound and touch that is part of the experience of holding a real book. A Notebook or Kindle can supply the content of a book, but is a poor substitute when it comes to the sensory pleasure of feeling a book’s heft. It is not unlike wishing to feel the warm skin of your lover, but having to settle for FaceTime instead. Yes, communication has occurred, but the quality of the experience has been greatly reduced.

I realize there are a good many people out there who would beg to differ with me about their Kindle or Nook. They can carry one device that holds countless books anywhere they go and enjoy the written word. They are not burdened with heavy books to lug to and fro to work or play; they can read with great ease anywhere they wish and enjoy the experience just fine. And I say to them, “Hear! Hear!” There is a place for these e-readers. I own one myself. My argument is that we must be careful not to inadvertently replace all real books simply because we refuse to visualize the consequence of primarily supporting digital devices. (Remember bookstores.)

The answer: let’s have both.

Read on e-readers when it’s convenient and real books the rest of the time. Bring back bookstores so we have a safe and fun place to congregate. Recognize there is room in the world for all kinds of ways to read, and then enjoy all that the literary world has to offer.

In the meantime, please support those brick and mortar bookstores – new and used – that are still putting up a good fight. Their future will definitely affect our future, for better or worse.

What’s most important is for us to all keep reading in whatever form that may be. However, a world without real books to hold and see and love would be very sad indeed. It would also be reminiscent of many a dystopic novel, in which people have been told that books are an unnecessary remnant of the past.

Let’s not let that happen.

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concept of e-learning

My Updated Website & What I’ve Learned

I have added several new pages to my new website, changed the colors, added more photos and, in general, given it my best shot so far with my current skill level in website design (read: minimal – moderate). I am still baffled by how to connect this to a Google search so it’s actually helpful to my writing coach business, but I guess I will slowly figure this out. If anyone has a WIX website and knows the answer to that question, please contact me in the Comments Section. I have been trying to unravel that mystery for several days now to no avail.

Alas, I am ready for a second unveiling for those of you who are willing to give this a look-see and offer feedback.

The address is: http://lenleatherwood.wix.com/writing-rules

Lessons from Creating My Own Website:

1) Yikes, this is not very easy.
2) Good grief, shouldn’t I have hired someone to do this for me?
3) Dear Lord help me figure out how to connect this to Google and other search engines.
4) Why didn’t I use a WordPress website since that’s where my blog is?
5) Do I now need to create a website for our estate business? Probably. Should I use WordPress? Holy s–t, you mean after all the work I just did learning how to use the WIX site?
6) Do you really think having a website is that important anyway?
7) Again, calling for help on how to connect my website to actual search engines.
8) Will I be 80 before this thing is actually up, running and useful?
9) I do feel fairly proud that I did this all by myself.
10) I guess time will tell if a website is useful. The good news is that whether it’s tied to search engines or not, I actually really do now have one. Hooray.

Okay, on that note, I’ll close. Again, any feedback will be helpful.

Hope everyone is having a good Sunday. Angelenos and Texans, I hope you are all staying out of the heat.

Talk tomorrow.

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Heatwave in LA

LA is experiencing a heat wave and it’s been tough on all of us. The temperatures over the past few days have been high. Yesterday is was 97 degrees; today close to 95. Plus the humidity has been up so the heat feels even hotter. Add to the mix all the asphalt from the roads and the concrete buildings all over the city and it suddenly becomes one big radiating mess. One of the women I know said that the temperature INSIDE her apartment was 95 degrees yesterday and only cooled down to 90 at 11 last night.

Many of us don’t have air conditioning because most of the year it is not needed or else we only have an air conditioner in the bedroom. Ray and I are in that category. Today and yesterday, we had work that required being in other parts of our house. It was fine earlier in the day, but by mid-afternoon as the western sun was beating down on the west side of the house, the downstairs got pretty unbearable. Today was the same. Luckily, we’ve had the option to head up to the one cool room in the house; many others don’t have that choice.

I believe the heat wave is due to break either tomorrow or the next day. I hope so. Many Angelinos suffer in extreme heat, especially those who have no money for extra resources. Hopefully, we’ll get some relief soon. Head for the beaches, folks.  They will be crowded, but at least there’s the cool ocean breeze and the water.

Take care. I’ll be checking back in tomorrow.

FULLERTON CA, AUGUST 8, 2012:  Fullerton locals were  cooling off in the Spray Pool at Lemon Park in Fullerton on August 8, 2012 while the temperature was around 95 degrees. A heat wave will maintain its grip over the Southland today, sending valley temperature past the century mark, but the humidity will be lower than forecast, meaning the heat won't be quite as oppressive as had been expected, forecasters said. (Glenn Koenig/ Los Angeles Times)

A Busy, But Fulfilling Day

It is 11:28 pm and I have had a very long day. I had my writing friend here at 8 this morning. We wrote for 1 1/2 hours together. This was, of course, wonderful since we are both excited to have a designated time to work on our works-in-progress.

For much of the rest of the day, Ray and I did work related to our estate business. This is also satisfying because this is work that needs to get done and we both felt good that we are moving forward as we should.

This evening, I participated in a writing group. We discussed the writing that we’re involved in and critiqued each other’s work.

Then, I had a late night student with whom I was working on a school writing project. This was more editing on my part then writing. I was simply helping my student shape his work to read stronger and clearer.

Now it’s almost midnight and I am heading to bed. I am up early to head over and pick up granddaughter Luna who will be spending part of her day with Grandma and Grandpa. She will play while we work nearby. That will be fun for all of us.

On that note, I’ll bid you good night. I hope you’ve had a happy day.

We’ll be talking again tomorrow.

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Revisiting Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers – A 5-Star Recipe

This is a great recipe for a turkey burger.  It comes from Cook’s Country Magazine, which is part of America’s Test Kitchen and I can guarantee this is one seriously excellent burger.

The Fried Onion Burger (FOB) apparently originated during the Depression in El Reno, Oklahoma, which is 25 miles from Oklahoma City. Mashing onions into the burgers allowed the cooks to use less meat. However, I must say that the flavor that you get from these burgers makes up for any meat you might not use.

Let me know if you try it.  I’d love to hear your impressions.

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

1 large onion, halved and sliced 1/8 inch thick
salt and pepper
12 oz 85 percent lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 T unsalted butter
1 tsp vegetable oil
4 slices of American cheese
4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted

1. Combine onion and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to a colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Using tongs, transfer onion to clean dish towel, gather edges and squeeze onion dry. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp pepper.

2. Divide onion mixture into 4 separate mounds on a rimmed baking sheet. Form beef (or turkey) into 4 lightly packed balls and season with salt and pepper. Place beef/turkey balls on top of onion mounds and flatten firmly so that the onion adheres and patties measure 4 inches in diameter.

3. Melt butter with oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Using spatula, transfer patties to skillet, onion side down, and cook until onion is deep golden brown and beginning to crisp around the edges, 6-8 minutes. Flip burgers, increase their heat to high and cook until well browned on the 2nd side, about 2 minutes. Place 1 slice of cheese on each bottom bun. Place burgers on buns, add desired toppings and serve.

I served these with rosemary roasted potatoes. This was a great side dish for these burgers. Yum.

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Our Visitor Tonight: Daughter Liz

Liz came over for dinner tonight. Ron is off in Argentina with his Spanish class and that left her a little more free to make the trek over from Glendale after work. I made her one of her favorite meals: noodles with homemade tomato sauce. The fact that my children were fed this meal every night literally for years makes me wonder why any of them would want it now. However, all three of my girls have told me that spaghetti or noodles with my tomato sauce is one of their primary comfort foods – it reminds them of home. I will just take that as a compliment and leave it at that.

Liz is the new coordinator of the Glendale Adventist Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program, which is where her sister, Sarah, is working as a resident. This gives these sisters a chance to see each other at least a day or two a week at work, plus Liz lives really close to her new work so the family can rendezvous at her apartment when we are returning Luna to her mother after keeping her at our house. (Liz’s place is closer for us than Sarah’s). So, all is well in the employment department for Liz.

Tonight we just sat and caught up on all the news related to work and home over the past couple of weeks.

Thank you, Liz, for making the trek over. It was lovely to see you.
Send our best to Ron when you talk to him. Tell him to have lots of fun.

Talk soon, folks. It is time for bed.

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