Friday, April 30, 2010

Do You Know Where Your Cell Phone Is?

Hopefully your cell phone is safely tucked in your purse, pocket or glovebox. How can something so small and so prevalent in our world today be such a big problem? Distracted driving has become a national epidemic.
The statistics are sobering with 28% of all accidents, 6,000 deaths and half a million injuries as the result of cell phone distraction either texting or talking. Drivers are 23 times more likely to have an accident when using a cell phone. Texting while driving has been banned and 6 states ban hand held phones but no states ban all cell phone use despite the fact that the University of Utah reports that their research demonstrates that the crash risk doubles those of driving with .08 alcohol blood levels.
A British campaign went viral with parents and schools requiring students to watch. The shock value aimed at impressing young people, the dangers of this rising problem. There should be no reason to be on your phone when you realize it could save a life or protect one. With a 30% reduction in focus and attention when using a cell phone while driving, it does seem to be a no brainer.
Oprah has focused her attention to No Cell Phone Day and has placed a policy in her company of no cell phones while driving to and from work, including the limousine company she hires. It has caused a bit of an uproar, but since her days as a national reporter working on stories about MADD, Oprah has seen the drop in drunk driving accidents from that campaign. She hopes this will be as effective. You can sign the pledge and be a part of the solution. That's exactly what a wise grandma will do. I am number 227855.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Childhood Dreams

As a young girl, my favorite heroine was Annie Oakley, a rootin' tootin' cowgirl. Being a bit of a tomboy, she fascinated me. She was a woman who stood as an equal among men, something to aspire to in my generation and yet she had already done it, with grace and style in what was considered very much, a man's world.

Another young cowboy, Charlie Russell, did as much to fill childhood dreams of the Wild West. Living most of his life in the West, he became a frontiersman at a young age in 1880. His extraordinary artistic talent captured the essence of this frontier. No other artist had spent so much time working with horses on a daily basis like Charlie Russell, making his acclaimed artwork a true replication of the spirit of the region. A beloved Western figure, Russell, is a storyteller, environmentalist, a man ahead of his time because of his passion for the American cowboy.

Lois V. Harris, a storyteller in her own right, brings Charlie Russell to life in her new non-fiction picture-book, Charlie Russell Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist. Using Russell's art on each page, Harris tells the story of a young boy who dreamed of being a cowboy. Although his teachers didn't find it amusing when Charlie drew pictures instead of doing his homework, the young artist preferred history and adventure to math.

The book chronicles the life and times of this American artist from his childhood to the time he bought his first wide-brimmed hat, horse and saddle. The joy and hardships of the world of the cowboy literally sing from the pages like tumbling tumbleweeds across the prairie.

Lois Harris, has written both fiction and non-fiction for children's magazines, the L.A. Times and two picture-book biographies. Her storytelling creates visions for children of history as living, vibrant stories, encouraging children to read and write, to follow their dreams. Even an old writer who still dreams of riding a Pinto pony with her hat bouncing merrily on her back, thinks history is best told through stories.

A delightful read for around the campfire or cuddled in a warm bed. I especially like the last quote by Charlie Russell a few months before he died, at age 62. "I lived to play and I'm playing yet." Yes, that indeed, is what a wise grandma would do.

To pick up this beautiful picture-book for your child, go to your local independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble, Borders or order online from or There is a story in every picture and childhood dreams on every page.

Charlie Russell Tale-Telling Cowboy Artist
by Lois V. Harris
Publisher - Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Hopping Good Breakfast

Due at my daughter's for an Easter midday feast, the age old question of "what's for breakfast?" required an answer of a light and delicate nature. But after all, it is Easter, resurrecting from forty days of sacrifice, for those of us who follow the Catholic traditions. More importantly, a time of new beginnings, Spring, albeit a bit soggy of here in the Northwest, is slowly waking up from its long Winter nap.

Something new and different seemed to be the order of the day. Although this recipe is making its debut Easter 2010, I can say with all humility that it is delicious and the bonus - it is a healthy start to an otherwise indulgent day. Enjoy the delights of Spring and good health! Hippity Hop!

Sweet Potato Pancakes - Serves 2

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 T brown sugar
1 tsp ginger (fresh grated ginger would be fabulous!)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace, nutmeg
1 egg
1/4 c flour
2 T butter

Grate the sweet potatoes and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Drain and remove as much water as possible (I use a salad spinner). Mix in bowl with remaining ingredients except for the butter. Mix thoroughly.

Melt butter in large fry pan. Spoon in pancake size dollops and fry on both sides until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes on each side on medium high heat (avoid burning the butter).

Serve with fresh orange slices, a dollop of cream cheese, yogurt or sour cream. Toast with a glass of pomegranate juice as you relish each nutritious bite.

FYI: The sweet potato is ranked number one in nutrition of all vegetables. With dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, Vitamin A & C, iron and calcium it is a powerhouse of good eating! That's what a Wise Grandma would do!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Living Memoirs

This past year, I have witnessed the passing of four dear people, parents, grandparents and some great grandparents. To say the least, this has been challenging, sorrowful and more importantly a changing of the guard.

Recently I experienced a road trip like no other, as four of us women traveled to bury one of our own. Our mission was to immerse ourselves in memories spanning a woman's 87 year journey through life as we cleaned the house that held so many memories of our childhood.

As we rummaged through each room, torn with what to keep and what to toss, we found there was more to Phyllis than "just a mom". Friends came in and out of the house one day with stories of her life B.C. (before children) and A.C. (after children). With pictures of her posing attractively on the California beaches, at her teller job, dating, they had us laughing at her antics and crying out for memories we never had of her.

We kept trinkets and photos that were dear and watched as the trash company hauled away 8 large trash cans of "stuff". We locked the door to an empty house, realizing it was the last time we would share a meal, laughter and tears in the house that was home for 54 years.

As I sift through the pieces of her unfinished memoirs I find there are writing about a woman known only to me as my "other mother". I am grateful for the road trip. It was a journey of sisters, friends and companions. We find ourselves as matriarchs standing guard over legacies that cement families and generations. May we be up to the task and do it with the same grace and dignity as our dear Phyllis.