The Perfect Sunday!

Usually I work on Sundays. But today I had a chance to do something I hadn't done in a very long time. This is Bryce's truck as we get ready to unload our "stuff" at the store! And this is only the first load! It's been a really long time since I went out in search of "stuff", meaning my addiction to antiques. I guess life had just kind of gotten in the way of doing something I really love for the past few years. I spent the day with my son, Bryce, which that in itself is something I love to do. We went to a friends house in Chino. Her aunt had died and living on an acre of land and being a pack rat, there was stuff everywhere!! And my friend wanted us to see if there was anything we wanted.

Bryce and I both love architectural stuff. He found these way back of the property, buried in an old shed. I know to most people these wouldn't look like much, but to us, they are awesome. The patina on them, the wear, the shape, they've got it all. They originally were used as part of rain gutters, the top part that mounts to the roof. The yellowish, white one was a corner one, which has different angles on it.

I kept the white rain gutter below. Since Bryce found all the rain gutters and also found a dead rooster too and had threatened to throw it at me but didn't, we agreed he should keep the other two rain gutter pieces. It was amazing how much stuff my friends aunt had saved in her lifetime. There were boxes full of stuff like vintage clothing, hats in their original boxes, tons of Disney stuff, plates, silver, and much more. It reminded me of my parents who died last year, and didn't quite have as much stuff, but did have a life time full of memories as my friends aunt did.

As I was digging through stuff, I found a little, old box taped at the top. When I opened it I found this awesome wedding cake topper in perfect condition. I asked my friend if she knew who it belonged to, and she said it was her aunts. I asked her if she didn't want to take it and told her she "should". She said she had already taken what she wanted so I took it and told her she could come visit it at my house. And to be really honest, I've always wanted to start a collection like this so I guess I'm on my way! Sometimes its the simple, little ways we spend our days and who we spend them that mean the most. I ended my day by having dinner tonight at our favorite family Mexican restaurant in Long Beach with all my family, Mexican Affair. I feel very grateful right now for being able to have one of "those" kind of days today!!


When Do Little Kids Stop Get Killed by "Guns"?

Usually, I try to keep stuff on my blog that is light, happy or about the store and what goes on there. I'm off today, and finally got to sit down this afternoon and read our local paper, the Long Beach Press Telegram. There was an article about a little boy, 11 years old, that was killed while walking with a 20 year old at 10pm at night to get some doughnuts. I ask myself, "why wasn't this child safely sleeping in bed, it was a school night". Then I reminded myself, it is so easy to judge others, especially when you aren't walking in their shoes. The surgeon that tried in vain to save this little boy wrote a column that was published in the Press-Telegram today. It was the middle of the afternoon as I sat in my family room with tears streaming down my face. Tears for the doctor, the little boy and his family, and our world, the way it is now. My oldest daughter, Brande, called me last night. She teaches an after school program in Pasadena. There are many lower income kids there. Brande has them write in their journals, a way to be creative, a way to put your feelings into words. She sadly had to take a journal to the school counselor because a little eight year old boy kept drawing pictures of shooting his little brother. Eight years old, a baby! We've been in Iraq for five years now. My son's friend enlisted at a young age. Last year, while he was in Bagdad, he was messing around in the barracks and accidently shot and killed his commanding officer. Timmy just turned 21 years old, and to me that is still pretty young! Now he is facing life in prison for accidently shooting a friend while serving his country. I remember several years ago he was at my house helping his two older brothers and my son move a big display cabinet into my kitchen. I guess we never know what the future holds. I don't get it, the violence that is. Guns kill people, its that simple. But I guess its not simple enough to try and regulate "guns" just a little bit better. Anyway, the article I've been talking about is posted below. As gut wrenching it is, it is worth reading! There's got to be a better way for our kids to grow-up. They are still kids, babies, no matter what color and are "entitled" to their childhoods!

A heart that can't be mended
By Dr. Mauricio Heilbron Jr.
Article Launched: 03/17/2008 07:43:57 PM PDT

An 11-year-old boy was killed and a 20-year-old man was wounded in an apparent gang-related shooting in Long Beach Sunday night. The shooting occurred in the 2000 block of East 15th Street about 10 p.m. The victims were standing in front of a residence when they were approached by two suspects, police said. The 11-year-old and the 20-year-old did not appear to be related. Jose Luis Garcia Bailey, 11, was struck in the upper torso in the ensuing gunfire and declared dead at a hospital. The man was struck in the lower torso and is expected to live.
- News report posted on presstelegram.com

By Dr. Mauricio Heilbron Jr.
I just finished sewing up a dead boy.

I pronounced him dead at 10:34 p.m. Sunday. It's now 11:27 p.m. I know I won't be able to get to sleep for a long time. I feel like I shouldn't.

I'm a trauma surgeon at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach. I was sulking in my call room on Palm Sunday because I missed yet another important moment in my 5-year-old son's life. A tarantula crawled all over him at his best friend's birthday party, and my wife had e-mailed me a glorious photo of this big, hairy arachnid on my son's face. The phone rings, and I am summoned to the ER for a "gunshot wound to the chest." That's bad, but around these parts, sadly not a surprise. Then the ER secretary adds, "... in a 12-year-old." That changes things a bit. As I hurry down to the Emergency Department, I play out several horrific scenarios in my head - a mental exercise in preparation for what certainly was to be a difficult situation.
I arrive to a room filled to capacity with doctors, nurses, techs, volunteers, firemen, policemen and paramedics. The strictly medical people are swarming around an impossibly small figure, in a flurry of needle sticks in search of a vein, monitor-pad placement in search of a vital sign, stethoscopes vainly searching for a breath sound or a heartbeat. The non-medical personnel had formed a concerned and curious peanut gallery. One ER doctor blurts out the important points, "GSW to the chest, pulses in the field but ... ," while another ER doctor is prepping this small chest for an ER thoracotomy. In English, an "ER thoracotomy" is where you flay open a chest in a soon-to-be-dead patient, in the hopes of finding a hole you can quickly but temporarily fix. Once that is done, it gives you a chance to give the patient necessary things like blood and IV fluids (where they now will not simply flow out of those repaired holes), and get him to the OR so you can fix him properly. It is the trauma surgery equivalent of a Hail Mary football pass. This is not a "difficult situation"; this is a nightmare.

The ER doctor hands me the knife, as if to say, "Here. It's yours." I think the kid is dead, or if not dead, then he certainly is "unsalvageable," which is a horrible word to use for a human being. I don't think he's fixable. However, if he is to have any hope of survival, the only way to save him is to crack him open and try to plug up the holes. Cracking open an 11-year-old boy (he was two months shy of his 12th birthday) is going to tear my own heart in half, I think to myself, but this is part of what I do, so I slip the gloves on and take the knife.

There is precious little skin to cut through, and I'm in the chest in a few seconds. His chest cavity is filled with blood, which spills out of his chest like a macabre waterfall to the floor. There's a shredded tear in his lung, and a big, ragged hole in his heart. All the IV fluids that my associates are pouring into the patient are flowing out this hole and on to my shoes. I put my finger in this hole - such a big hole in such a small heart - but blood and fluids still flow unfettered. My other hand finds another, larger hole on the other side of his heart. My fingers touch. His heart is empty. Mine breaks.

The boy's family is brought in while I am bathed in his blood, as "studies have shown" that this is better for everyone involved, to be present as the end nears. I scramble for a way to just stop the bleeding. I just want it to stop. It's spilling over my hands on to the gurney. His mother is begging me to do what I can. I know I can't do anything. She tells me to take her heart, and give it to him. I know that's not possible, and she knows that's not possible, but she could not be more serious. The first ER doc is sitting alongside the mom, gently telling her that we've done everything we can do. His mother looks at me. My hands are still in the boy's chest, trying to do something, anything. In her eyes, I see a soul that I am about to crush with a little nod of my head. I do so.

As the howl of unimaginable grief shakes the entire ER, I am filled with anger. Why do we still sell guns in this country? What is this child doing on the streets after 10 o'clock at night? Why are we killing our innocent young soldiers overseas, and ignoring the merciless gangbangers - terrorists in their own right - that are invading ourstreets here at home? I try to put these thoughts away, because now, in front of his family, I have to sew him up. I have to close this huge gash in his left side, that I made. I place the first stitch, and as I'm tying the knot, I look at the boy's face. He's small for 11, not that much bigger than my son Ben. All the adrenaline is gone. My shoulders sag. I feel myself start to cry, and I know that I can't stop it. I have no way of hiding because literally everybody is looking at me, including his mother, and my hands are busy, so I can't wipe the tears away. I make eye contact with the mom, and whisper "I'm sorry." I finish closing his chest up, and shuffle off to the sink to wash this child's blood off my arms.

In the doctor's area, I start filling out the pointless paperwork. Several nurses and doctors come over to offer encouraging words, or a consoling hand on the shoulder. I want to quit. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to quit because that means I can go home. When I go home, I can quietly open the door to my son's room, and sit on the floor right next to his bed. I'll watch him sleep, that blissful sleep only found in young children. I'll watch him for hours, and tell myself how lucky I am to have him in my life. I want my son to put my heart back together.

But I can't go home, as I'm on call until 8 a.m. I can't quit. Tomorrow I have patients, surgeries, rounds - the usual stuff. Hopefully, I'll be home for dinner. When I come through the door, I'll hear his cheerful yell of "Daddy!" and he'll jump into my arms. He will in all likelihood never know how much that moment means to me, but it is precisely that resuscitative energy that will restore me. To keep coming back to this sort of work.

I will sneak into his room after he falls asleep. I'll give him an extra kiss good night. And then, just maybe, I'll close my eyes.

Dr. Mauricio Heilbron Jr. is chief of surgery at Little Company of Mary Hospital in San Pedro and a trauma surgeon at St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach.

Ginny KNOWS Country Primitives

We have this dealer at the store, Ginny DeRosa. When I first met her, she had walked into Country Roads one morning looking for space. We usually never have space, but I thought we possibly were going to have an opening the following months. THEN, she pulled out photos, and it truly was a OMG moment!

When you look at the photos of her spaces, it doesn't even come close to what she really has in there. You see, Ginny also has this talent of getting a tremendous amount of merchandise in small areas! But nonetheless, its all great stuff!

The above "Funeral" sign didn't last long. It has this awesome gold-leaf lettering for a funeral business on old, thick, glass. I collect old signs, so you can guess why this great piece is no longer in the store! It was love at first sight for me.

Don't forget, and as you can see from the small sampling of photos, Country Roads has never lost the "Country" in the "Roads"!! And added bonus, we have great prices to match great stuff.


Happy St. Patricks Day!

As many of you already know, Old Towne Orange has a lot of local “color”. And because today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would share with you what we saw early this morning. In the above picture (which isn’t the best picture) is an elderly man dressed as a leprechaun. And as you can see by his outfit, there is no denying that it is truly St. Patrick’s Day. The best part was that before I took this picture, he was leaving Rod’s Liquor, with a big bottle of booze and his walker. The little leprechaun was ready to start his own St. Patty’s day celebration before lunch, or maybe “with” lunch and some corned beef. Just one of the reasons why I love working in Old Towne Orange. Happy St. Patty’s Day to you all.


Country Roads. . . "always your favorite, never the same"

Yesterday while I was at work, I decided to walk around the store and take a bunch of pictures. I think sometimes I “visualize” how Country Roads really looks through pictures. I know that probably doesn’t make sense, but I think I take for granite sometimes how really awesome the store is and what we have to offer our customers. Many people remember back in the beginning when we opened our “door” that January 2nd 1993, we were primarily country. Somewhere along our journey, we’ve added a little bit of this, a little bit of that which makes me happy. And I admit that I am bragging that our prices are pretty affordable as well! Our displays our great, both inside and out, and if you copy & paste this link below,(it "should")have a little slide show to share with you. If you haven’t been in lately, you may want to stop by! And don’t forget to join us on Easter Sunday, March 23rd, from 10am – 3pm. We’re having another awesome sale you won’t want to miss. I hope you enjoy the slideshow!!


Max and Ruby

Yesterday morning, two ducks landed in my pool. Being the dork I am, I was excited! I really love animals including ducks. The ducks were a couple. I named them Max and Ruby after one of Riley’s little cartoon shows. Well, Ruby and Max spent the day in my backyard. Riley and I would feed them bread after their naps throughout the day, and I thought it was pretty cool to have a duck pond in my own backyard (except for the poop).

For some reason, its just been "one" of those weeks, challenging. Just a combination of things, nothing tragic but creating the neccesity for extra Excedrin here and there! You know, I'm not perfect, but I always try to look for the little things in life that make a difference to me, that make me happy. So, this time it was Max and Ruby and the bond they shared, the fun they had in the pool, and the excitement Riley found in feeding them. As the day came to a close and the sun began to set, Max and Ruby took off out of the pool, and flew away. Probably back to El Dorado Park’s duck pond which is near my house.

This morning as I was doing the “morning chores” I noticed the water in the pool was moving. When I stepped outside, they were back, Ruby and Max. So once again, Riley and I went out back to feed them. And once again I watched them gracefully swim under the water, take their baths, and play all day. And once again, as the sun began to set Max and Ruby flew off. Not sure if they'll be back tomorrow, but that is the way life works, no guarantees.
I guess the reason I’m writing about Max and Ruby is that I’m just happy that I’ve learned to appreciate the little things in life. The small stuff that makes me smile and warms my heart. Maybe that comes with age, not sure. The one thing I am sure about though is that there are ways to cope with the unpleasant things in the outside world. Just remember to take the time to look for the Max’s and Ruby’s in life and appreciate those free moments we get when we don’t really try!