A Regular House in a Regular Neighborhood

After I divorced several years ago in 1999, I decided I wanted to keep our big house in the fancy neighborhood. But in less than a year, I realized that neither the house nor the neighborhood was "me". So, I put the big house on the market and looked for a "regular" house in a "regular" neighborhood in my hometown of Long Beach. The only condition I had was that the house I was searching for needed to have enough room for my kids to come home after they were grown if they needed to or wanted to. When I saw the house I'm now in, I knew it needed some improvements but I fell in love with it. I knew with some paint, gardening, and hard work, I had found my home.

The past several years, I've lived here with my oldest daughter, Brande. She is a busy person that loves to travel and she travels with her job a good portion of the year. Sometimes when she was gone, I have to admit, I missed having no one here, and would find myself chatting with my cats;0} In October, my son Bryce and his wife, Justine, moved back home with us at about the same time Brande's traveling was wrapping up to an end. And last week, my middle child Katie, moved back home with her husband Vinnie, and my grandchild, Riley, and her six cats!! They are remodeling the house I grew up in, the one they bought after my parents died. All of a sudden, my commitment to having a big enough house for the kids to return to has come true!
So far, so good! There are always towels to be washed, dishes to load into the dishwasher, and a slight shortage of hot water, milk & cookies, but we are all "home". The big house in the fancy neighborhood would have provided a lot more square footage for us now, but you know. . . it wouldn't be "home"! I feel really grateful to have the opportunity to be together with my family. I know not everyone would feel the same way, but I "like" my kids, their spouses, and of course my little buddie Riley! Sometimes I hear people talk about never seeing their kids or grandkids. I feel bad for them because I know what they are missing. And for now, I'm just happy living with my family in a regular house in a regular neighborhood that I can call home!


Jack Johnson

I've been a fan of Jack Johnson for years. And I think we may have attracted some additional fans by playing his music at Country Roads. I was introduced to his music by my oldest daughter, Brande. She was on vacation in Hawaii and became addicted to his music back in those days. I think what people don't realize is that Jack Johnson didn't set out to be a song writer or a musician. Growing up in Hawaii and being a pro surfer, he still dreamed of working in the film industry. He attended UC Santa Barbara as a film maker. And as many things turn out, when he made a student film, it was the "music" in the film that got everyone's attention more than the film itself. He also does a lot for our environment, including fundraisers.

I personally listen to Jack Johnson's music when I want to be anywhere but "here" if you know what I mean. I too, love Hawaii, especially the island of Maui. I guess his music reminds me of the clear water, blue skies and easy lifestyle there. I have to tell you, I love his brand new CD that was just released, "Sleep Through the Static". I really like all the songs on it, but I'm especially fond of "Hope". . . it's an awesome song.

So, the next time you're shopping at Country Roads, I hope you enjoy our music, including Jack's! I know some of our customers complain about what we play but I always look at music like you do at art. It's personal, and has long as its not offensive, I see nothing wrong with playing different types of music!


Happy Birthday Mom!

My mom would have been 81 years old today. It's weird how we remember those dates of those that aren't with us anymore. My mom has been gone now for about year and a half. She passed away four days after my little grandaughter Riley was born. My mom had been in such poor health for so long that we think she hung on just until her great grandchild was born! My mom never got to see or hold Riley, but Teri, my sister, did bring my mom a picture after Riley was born. That's why we all thought she just waited to "let go". She wanted to make sure her little great grandaughter arrived in this world safe and healthy.

I thought about going out to Forest Lawn today with some flowers. I couldn't though, especially when I know my mom's not there. My oldest daughter Brande was going to bring flowers to my mom's grave too, but she couldn't either. So, instead she donated money to the SPCA. My mom loved animals, guess that's where I get it from.

As I drove home from "the store" (that's what I call Country Roads) tonight, I noticed how beautiful it was outside. Although it was cold, it was one of those beautiful SoCal days when you can see the mountains and watch the sunset off the coast at the same time. It made me forget about the traffic and think of happy times with my mom and know in my heart she's doing good, she's happy and life is much better for her now. She is no longer sick or in pain. And as far as going to Forest Lawn, she wouldn't want me there since she knew cemetery's make me sad. It's nice to remember the good memories of my mom now, and I'm sure she is keeping an eye on me to make sure I'm being as good a grandma as she was! Happy Birthday Grandma Johnnye!


New Years Resolutions

Here we are on the first day of February and have had 31 past days to keep our resolutions of '08. This year I decided to do something different than the usual lose weight, eat better drill. I made a resolution to find something to be grateful for in each and every day. It is so easy to get frustrated with traffic or pettily stuff that doesn't really matter. We all get caught up in that and often take the little things life offers for granite. So, for the past 31 days, I'm working on teaching myself more about gratitude. And the good things are really there if we really pay attention. A strangers smile, someone opens a door for you, or someone takes the time to tell you how much something you did meant to them.

When you work retail, you obviously get your share of rude and not so nice people. But on the flip side, there are a whole bunch more of our customers that I'm grateful for. They tell me how much they love the store, or how much they love something they bought from us in the past. And I gotta tell you, I'm so grateful for those words! They mean a great deal to me.

So, as we all face month two of our new year, I know I'm remembering to be grateful each and every day. It's about the small stuff, you know? Like when my little grandbaby Riley smiles and gives me a big hug, no matter how bad my day may have been, when those big blue eyes of hers sparkle at me, I truly feel gratitude!