Tuesday, October 26, 2010


At 8:30 in the morning on Monday October 25 I heard a "bing" on my cell phone - it was a message from my friend Tom Stanton who has a computer repair business on Agate. He had heard a large crash and this is what he saw and sent to me!!

Apparently a driver had "lost his brakes" and spun out - driving through the fence at the Park Avenue Cafe - right where one of the most popular tables is. Dean Koontz used to have dinner right there on Monday nights - little did he know it could be life threatening. Luckily yesterday was cool and raining slightly so no one was sitting there. The
re is something to be grateful for.

A few minutes later they found the driver and the next thing we all knew - he was in a police car and off to Jail!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Hi to everyone who loves Balboa Island as much as I do. This summer has been a bit of a trial for me - but the sunshine is coming out in my life just as it does on Balboa Island. I had back surgery a few days after our wonderful parade. You can see some of the parade pictures on www.balboa-island.com.

I have new respect for the art of photography. Gar Travis, who generously donates his time to take pictures for my website arrived at 6:30 am the day of the parade to find a spot on the bridge where he would be able to view the parade and shoot the pictures from just the right angle. He waited there until 10:45 when the parade began and didn't leave until 1:00. The sun was hot, the crowd was large, but he persevered and loved it.

In addition to the images on my website, you can see more at www.garphoto.com Gar's site has over 60,000 images of everything from flowers to airplanes to the Renaissance Faire. You can tell he really loves what he does - and this isn't his job. It is a work of love and charity. Gar actually donates the fees for his work to various charities. Most involving children. I feel very lucky to know this man and to have his help every year.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Directly from

Sunday, June 6, 2010
11:00 am - 2:00 pm
The theme this year is “Family, Friends and FUN”.
An Island tradition filled with Children on Bikes, Island Dogs,
Decorated Golf Carts and Floats, Vintage Cars, Keystone Cops, Drill Teams,
Marching Bands, Local Dignitaries and much more!
It’s the Island Way of Welcoming Summer to ALL!
So come on down to Marine Avenue and join us for a special day with
Family, Friends, and Fun
Our bridge closes at 10:00 am, so get here early.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


It is that time of year again - May is our busiest month here on Balboa Island. First the All-Island Garage Sale, then the day we honor our Moms and this Sunday is the Balboa Island Art Walk.

In its 15th year the Art Walk has evolved from a few blocks of artists to Over A Mile of Art and Music on South Bayfront!! Debra Huse has done another great job of gathering Artists and Musicians to entertain and enthrall us.

A few years ago I bought a lovely painting by my neighbor Barbara Baumgartner. And last year I got some greeting cards from local photographers and Terry Lewis and Ralph Velasco. I use the cards all year long to send to friends and relatives on birthdays and other occasions. They love the beautiful photographs and I love supporting my neighbors. As a small business person I love helping the "little guy".

Come out and enjoy our Beautiful Balboa Island weather, listen to some wonderful music and buy a reminder of this fabulous day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Living in The Ferry Line is Always Fun

I looked out my window last week and saw furry animals. Human size! Another movie? A prank? Who were these people dressed as giant animals getting out of a bright yellow truck?

I headed for the street with my camera to put the pictures on www.balboa-island.com, but decided they would be more fun here instead.

The two young people - a man and a woman - were headed for the fun zone to just have fun with the tourists walking around. I expect this in Hollywood, not here. They said they just did this for fun. For the look of surprise on the faces of children when they saw them. To make people laugh.

What a great, fun thing to do. You just never know what you are going to see when you look out my window. This is the BEST street to live on. Balboa Island is a great place to live - but this street "rocks" as my grandchildren like to say!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Garage Sale Wrapup

The All Island Garage Sale was a smashing success. The weather co-operated. There were more people walking and less people blocking the alleys with cars. I only had rave reviews from the participants. One lady did get a parking ticket that I know of for being in the red zone "a few inches". That is why I warned everyone over and over on my Craig's List posting to stay out of the red zones - it was an expensive ticket - $69.00 actually. Kind of takes the "bargain" out of the Garage Sale. I also mentioned parking off the island and walking with a wagon or biking in - I saw much more of that as well.

One lesson learned. A woman lost her wallet getting out of the car on Agate. She was flying home on Sunday and her ID was in her wallet. She had no other form of ID. I called the Newport Beach police and they said no one had turned a wallet in at the desk. The officer on duty told me that if the wallet had been given to an officer it would be logged in at property. The property room is only open weekdays from 8 am until 5 pm. So she could not get her ID before Monday if it had been turned in.

The officer continued that if she went to the police department between 8 - 5 even on the weekends she could file a Lost Property Report. Usually the airlines will accept that as a form of identification. I also posted her wallet on the "Lost and Found" page of www.balboa-island.com just in case. We have had things found as a result of the postings. And people on Balboa Island are an honest, internet savvy lot.

This was a great lesson for me. If I am traveling and need to have ID I usually take my passport as well because it is easier to put it in the holder and hang it around my neck. Then I lock it in the safe in my hotel room. Now I know why. I lose things constantly. And even if I lose my wallet or forget my driver's license when I show it for ID - I still have my passport as a safe backup. I guess it was a happy coincidence until now :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

18 Year Old Drinking Age

This is a letter to the Daily Pilot that I wrote in answer to the front page article about a young man who wants to change the drinking age to 18 - Again!

It always amazes me that every generation fights the same issue of the drinking age.Usually the main reason is the military one. If they are old enough to put their lives on the line in combat they are old enough to drink. Eric Paine is not old enough to have seen the results of a lowered drinking age in my time (I am 63).

In this generation of "helicopter parents" and children whose main decision has been what game to play on the internet I don't believe that they are ready for EITHER option. I have talked to parents who 18 year old have gone into the service and they agree with me that at the very least a soldier should not be assigned to combat before 21 years old.

Young men and women at 18 are not old enough or mature enough to realize what they are doing when they sign up for the military. Because of my age I read the obituaries on a daily basis. Every day there are young men (and women) whose lives have ended before 21. It is terrible enough when the person is in his late 20s or 30s, but it is horrific if they are younger than 21 and starting out in life.

I realize that the argument against this is there already is a shortage of individuals available for military service. And 18 year olds are much easier to convince than 21 year olds. And what will the high school graduates with no college ambition do? Does this mean we need to sacrifice young lives? I don't think so. Just wait until they are a bit older - and 21 still isn't that old - then send them into combat. The reality of life will be clearer and their judgment will have improved through 3 years of non-combat military training.

Finally, I went to college in the 60s and 70s when some of the states had the 18 year old drinking age. Binge drinking was rampant then. It is part of college, unfortunately. It won't go away by letting kids drink at a younger age.

We live in a different society than our forbears whose young children worked on the farm and in factories. 400 years ago people were old at 35 and dead at 45. The stages of our lives were smaller - children had to grow up at a young age and were parents and soldiers in their teens. The average age of a bride has risen considerably in the last century. Isn't it time we rethink what is the actual maturity age for a person in the 21st century? I think so. 18 year olds are not, for the most part, grownups in the protective environment they grow up in this day and age.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


We are on the countdown to the 20th Annual All Island Garage Sale. It is hard to believe I have been doing this for all those years. With the help of my assistants - this year Patti Gordon and Patty Marjama. Delegation becomes a necessity, not an option as you get older!!!

The Balboa Island All Island Garage Sale is posted on www.balboa-island.com a year in advance and the phone calls about the date start coming in in September. I always knew it would be a fun event, but never imagined people would plan their vacations around it!! One person I know even cut a European trip short so he could come home and participate!! As I mentioned before my husband Mike doesn't like Garage Sales, so he still marvels that someone would actually come home from Europe for the Garage Sale!!

One of the reasons the Garage Sale is as popular as it is comes from the fact that the neighbors get involved in the walking and buying as well as the selling. There is a saying - "Nothing ever leaves the Island - it just moves from House to House." And in a large part that is true. However there are a lot of relatives of Island residents that show up with their treasures to sell at the sale as well.

We usually have over 100 alley locations. Bikes, Cars, Wagons, Strollers and People fill the alleys. Parking is impossible to find before noon after 8 am. Everything from antiques, to furniture to kayaks and exercise equipment can be found. And you have to believe there will be people looking for old gold jewelry this year with the price of gold over $1100/oz.

Come to the Island and enjoy the camaraderie and the fun - and pick up a few fabulous finds along the way.

In two weeks we will have the Balboa Island Art Walk - Sunday May 16, 2009. More about that later. Put that date on your calendar as well.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


This from my Columnist Dee Dawson - Dated Thursday April 15, 2010
I am going over to visit A.K. as usual on Thurs. Just a few short hrs. earlier, apparently a girl had come into Rachel's and tried to rob the place of a ton of merchandise. A.K. being suspicious of the girl already, acting incoherantly and weird (on crank or meth) approached her single-handedly to open her backpack. When the girl refused and threatened to "mess her up",
A.K. practically 'shook her down' to recover her clothing - and the girl took off running down Marine. IN the meantime, the Postwoman saw the rucus, dropped her mail-cart and joined inrunning, dialing her Cell for 911. Other town people were out walking and (also) getting on their Cells for the Police as A.K. was shouting for help. Then a guy who is a Soap-Opera actor ran out of his yard and gave chase also!! (This is practically slap-stick @ this point)
The girl ran onto S. Bayfront and into a private home's yard! They all tackeled her there and held her until the Police arrived. A.K. declined to press charges as she did recover her merchandise out ot the girls bag.
But honestly, she put herself into a particularly vulnerable high-risk situation!! These people could be armed - watch out for those Armenian girls (ed - AK is Armenian) - they're street tough!! (Recalling Rachel, in her 70's taking down a robber from theirplace with her own hands!!)
Editor's note - the "soap-opera" star was our own Peter Bergman!!!
On a much lighter note - don't forget the All Island Garage Sale coming to Balboa Island on Saturday May 1, 2010 and the Art Walk on Sunday May 16, 2010. Both events are a lot of fun and positive energy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


May first is coming quickly. The first Saturday in May And the event I envisioned when I first moved to Balboa Island 20 years ago. The Balboa Island - All Island Garage Sale. For many years I was in the housecleaning business and my clients were always giving me furniture and household items when they remodeled. I got to "redecorate" my own house with new furnishings at least once a year. Then I would sell the old items at a garage sale.

When I moved to Balboa Island I saw this was the perfect place to have a garage sale. I started small - with two streets - the "Opal-Topaz" garage sale. When others saw how successful that version was they asked me to help expand the idea. I told Mike "I am going to have an all-island garage sale". Mike said, "No one will ever come."

Was he wrong. It is a fun, fun, fun event - for Island Residents and outsiders. People start calling in September to ask me when it is even though the date is published all year long on www.balboa-island.com and on the program I distribute at the current garage sale.

The program has been an issue in itself. In order to keep the sale fun and fair I don't allow them to be distributed until after 7:30 am on Saturday morning. I used to have them printed at Staples. Strangely enough copies were leaking out before 7:30 am and people were showing up to buy the night before. Now I print them in house and no one ruins the fun. Everyone has an equal chance to find the wonderful bargains - no Friday night knocks on the doors :)

More about the garage sale in my next blog. Since I have been doing this for 20 years - crazy me - who does an event for 20 years - I have lots to write about.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Meeting the Mayor

This week I received a note from Tara Finnegan at the City of Newport Beach to post on www.balboa-island.com . Our new mayor, Keith Curry, was going to be across the street at the Beek Center to meet and greet the Citizens of Balboa Island and Newport Beach today.

Last year when I was involved in the Underground Utilities issue I wrote to all the City Councilmen and Keith was the only one who responded to me and to several other residents of Balboa Island. It was noted at the time and I wanted to tell him that we appreciate his attitude as a 'public servant' rather than one of being elected and then ignoring the constituents as so often happens.

His wife, Pam, greeted everyone at the door and was a down- to- earth really nice person who seemed interested in what we had to say. Keith listened to my problems and asked me to send him an e-mail outlining what I had going on with the City and he would direct me to the proper personnel. That is all I could expect. Just the fact that he took time from his Saturday morning to listen to the citizens was a positive thing. Especially since he probably didn't get as many "atta-boys" as gripes and concerns.

While searching the internet for a picture to post with this blog my opinion of Keith took another step up. There was an article in the Register April 2. 2010 (where I got Keith's picture) that talked about "gifts" that Keith had received - about $5,000 - in the last year. Keith was the only one to list his gifts except for long time City Councilman Don Webb and I believe he was exact and honorable in his listing.

It was too bad the headline was "Mayor reports receiving $5,422 in gifts". It should have been - "Mayor Reports Actual Gifts - What a Refreshing Change." Especially since the "gifts" were well within the limits set by law. I wish our Federal Politicians were as honest.

I think Keith will be a good person to represent our city for the next year. I wish him luck and if you ever get a chance to meet him - do so.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Park Avenue Cafe

The Park Avenue Cafe Is my favorite Restaurant on Balboa Island.

When I first moved here 20 years ago I had an interesting landlord, Mr. Kelly. Mr. Kelly was in his late 80s and would drive down to Balboa Island every Tuesday so he could go fishing with Jim Jennings on Wednesday and then return to Santa Monica on Thursday. Mr. Kelly and Jim both represented a lot of what Balboa Island was about in 'the good old days'.

When I first met Mr. Kelly he told me he just wanted a rent check once a month and a Christmas card. Not being one to let a relationship languish like that, we became great friends. And Mr. Kelly added taking me to the Park Avenue Cafe for lunch every Tuesday to his regular schedule. I loved the restaurant and the great 'home cooked' flavor of the food. We would have the same thing every week - me the Park Avenue Melt with no Onions and he the BLT.

Mr. Kelly was a lawyer and I could be one - so there was plenty of talk. It was then that I learned that sometimes older men lose the 'censuring ability' we have in gentile talk and say embarrassing things about sex and other topics - loudly - it made for interesting and unusual lunches to say the least.

After Mr. Kelly died I met Mike and we continued to go to the Park Avenue Cafe on a regular basis. I do not like to cook so sometimes we ate there almost every night. Mike loved the pot roast - just like mom used to make. In the summer he had to remember to make a reservation on Wednesday night so he could make sure it was still there when we got to the restaurant. Mike's other favorite was the Eggs Benedict on Saturday and Sunday morning. Me, I love everything - especially the Fish and Chips. We have friends from Vancouver who come and tell us how great that is, even though their part of the world has great fish and chips too.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner - the Park Avenue is just a few houses down from me and the food is consistently good and nutritious. Probably because the owners, Bill and Denise Hardesty, eat there themselves every day. And normally there isn't a long wait - waiting isn't something I do well. It used to be on Monday nights we had the added bonus of seeing Dean Koontz and his dog Trixie there - but all things change and that hasn't happened lately that I know of.

Last night we went to the Park Avenue and had a fabulous dinner. Recently I told Bill I missed the 'chicken chardonnay' that he used to have and he called me on Thursday and said the cooks bought the grapes necessary to make it. In addition Mike's 'steak and lobster' special was on the menu. So off we went with my niece Myria who is a vegetarian and enjoyed a fabulous plate piled high with vegetables and rice and a great bottle of California red wine. Add the wonderful warm rolls and a great salad and we were all happy when we picked our cat Magic off the patio where he consistently loves to beg for food and walked the few steps to our house.

Thanks Bill and Denise and Kiley and Cindy and Christian everyone who takes care of us. Thank you Mr. Kelly for introducing me to "the Park" and to all my friends who congregate there. And a giant thanks to Bill and Denise for the Gift Certificate which made last night possible. Your timing could not have been better!!

Since their restaurant is my favorite we give gift certificates to the Park Avenue Cafe to our Island Flooring Clients as a "thank you". And last night we got a wonderful "Thank You" from Bill and Denise and Kim in return. You guys rock!!!!

I love Balboa Island - the people and the business owners and everything about it, and that is why I live here and why I have had so much fun with www.balboa-island.com.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Balboa Island is Not Balboa Peninsula

I have owned and operated www.balboa-island.com for approximately 15 years. Since my friend Summer Bress had to relinquish her ownership when she was pregnant with Nigel and Mathilda. I mentally thank her every day when I update the website and when I get an inquiry from someone who wants to know about Balboa Island.

The most common questions I get are "when do the boat rides open?"; "what time is the Ferris Wheel open?" "When does the Catalina Flyer leave for Catalina?" and how much are the rentals on Balboa Island on the Ocean Front. As you can see I spend a lot of time explaining the difference between Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula.

Balboa Island is an Island in the middle of Newport Harbor. We are 90 percent residential with two small commercial areas. One is Marine Avenue and the other is Agate Avenue. Marine is really an extension of Jamboree Road. Jamboree crosses Pacific Coast Highway, goes down a hill, crosses the Balboa Island Bridge and voila - you are on Balboa Island's Marine Avenue. Two blocks of shops and restaurants. Everything from the Famous Sugar and Spice where you can get a Balboa Bar and Dad's Donuts where you can also find the same thing. There is an ongoing debate as to which location "invented" the Balboa Bar. (And I think there were contenders on the Balboa Peninsula at one time - which really mucks things up!) Included in the retail Mix are apparel shops like Persimmon Tree, Even Sisters and Alex's and CandlEssence my favorite candle store. All these and more can be found on www.balboa-island.com under "What's on the Island".

Then there is Agate. We have our restaurant here - the Park Avenue Cafe, Agate 108 where cottage plates originated and Island Flooring/Island Style. There are plenty of services on Agate - a Spa, a dentist, a computer tech, a chiropractor and coming soon a facialist. Agate is also where the Ferry lines up to go to the Balboa Peninsula and the Fun Zone. The Peninsula is where the ocean, the pier, the Fun Zone, the boat rentals and the Catalina Flyer all reside. Along with other shops and restaurants.

I am not familiar with too much on the Balboa Peninsula because, although it is only a Ferry ride away, the demographics are quite different. I jokingly call Balboa Island "Leisure World by the Sea" and the Balboa Peninsula is a much younger crowd and contains an area called the "war zone" where most of the resources of the Newport Beach Police Department are consumed.

As Newport Beach becomes more visible through tv, movies, newspapers and magazines I am sure the confusion between the two areas will go away. Right now I do spend a lot of time telling lost souls that, "No, the rides and the ocean are on the other side of the Ferry ride :)". You are actually ON Balboa Island right now - take a walk on the Boardwalk and enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Living on Agate has many benefits. On a regular basis we are visited by unusual cars Santas on Motorcycles, movie stars and car clubs of all types. Sunday was a beautiful day after a week of rain and the line was long. And in it there were a group of MGs. I love MGs. When I was in high school one of my friends had one and we used to run around in it and tear up the beach. These drivers were a bit older, but were having just as much fun.
Patti, my assistant, asked me why they were there sitting in the "forever line". I assumed that it was because it was a nice day and a fun place to park and talk with a bunch of like minded friends waiting to take the short hop over to the Peninsula. I did go out and ask though.
The couple I talked to was extremely friendly. The woman had a friend in high school who owned a 1952 MG just like the one her husband was driving. She and her friend used to come to the beach and cruise. I mentioned that it might be a "boy magnet" at that time. "Oh yes," she replied, "Especially if we opened the hood about 3" and said 'I don't know what is wrong - there is a strange noise!'" That really attracted a crowd of young men willing to help. I wish I had thought of that when I was a teenager!!
The MGs all belonged to the "Vintage MG Club" and were on a cruise to our Island across to the Peninsula, through Huntington and on to Sunset Beach. Just a nice, fun Sunday drive which they shared with us.

Just a reminder - the latest edition of the Island Breeze can be found at Wilma's, Hershey's, Island Flooring, and Barney's Barkery. We will be hand delivering it this week. And I apologize for the typos - my proof reader was sick and it definately shows. It is amazing how many times you can read your own writing and not see the errors of your ways.

Special apologies to Damon Burris and Mike McClure of Island Lights - they are ready to lighten your house for all your summer activities. I love the houses that have their white twinkling lights in the trees!!! Call them at 949.307.8613 and 949.903.9018.

The Island Breeze will be uploaded to www.balboa-island.com WITHOUT the errors today.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Social Security

I am 63-1/2 years old. Recently I said to Mike I would be 65 in a year an a half. He replied, "I never thought I would be with a woman who was 65 years old. I actually never thought I would be 65." Who does. Who actually FEELS that old. I would love to hear any thoughts on that. Some mornings I get up and I feel 12. Some mornings 25. And then there are the mornings when everything is stiff and sore and I feel more like 85!

Speaking of 85. I was trying to explain who Anderson Cooper was to Mike last night and I 'googled' Gloria Vanderbilt, his mother. I had missed her recent book - "Obsession" - an erotic semi-autobiography. There was a picture of Gloria at 85 - I hope I look 1/10th as good as she does. What really gave me hope was the fact that she released a book at 84! I am working on mine - slowly. So maybe I will finish by 84!!

I have wandered again. Back to Social Security. Lately I have been reading a lot of articles about how the system is broken. How we need to buckle down and cut future benefits and tax the workers more or the system will fail.

No where in any of these articles did anyone mention the fact that if Social Security money had been set aside and "invested" - even in lowly savings accounts or Savings Bonds or Government Bonds - and not touched by our politicians for their pet projects - it would be fat and sassy and ready for us. We put in enough money. It would have grown. Even without the risky investment types that the Bush administration was touting for us INSTEAD of Social Security.

And why are the politicians still pushing for the much more risky model of investing ourselves. Because they have done such a horrendously terrible job of managing our money. The money could be there for us if they hadn't spent it - on other things - and on their own 'rock star' life styles.

In all of my life I have never seen the attitude that is pervasive in our country now. With Democrats and Republicans - with everyone I talk too. There is a disgust with our leaders and a feeling that they have nothing in common with us. They don't. We are just 'peasants' to them. You may have a lot of money, but you really have nothing without the power that is their drug.

As I say every day, "we need a new set of morons." People who care about this country and have no ax to grind or pet project to push. People who have no ties to the pharmaceutical industry or large corporations and banks and brokerage houses. I read about a new book I am going to read, "Where are the Customer's Yachts?" A Good Hard Look at Wall Street. (I am trying to get the Newport Beach Library to order this book) I am sure that will reinforce my opinion that "gambling" with my Social Security money in the hopes that it will make up for the politicians wasteful ways is a giant error.

What does this have to do with Balboa Island - these politicians are affecting the lives of everyone here on Balboa Island and everywhere. I hear, "I don't know what is going to happen in this country," every day from our residents. And these are the people who you would think were "rich" and didn't need Social Security or other government "aid". I know older residents who are collecting Social Security and unemployment just to survive.

I am still grateful - Sun and warm weather is coming this weekend - Daylight Savings time is Coming March 14!!! And I am still expecting the "March Miracle".

Saturday, March 6, 2010

ATT and Great Customer Service

All my myriad of followers must wonder what happened to me the past few days. I have had Internet problems. Big Problems. I Could not stay on the Internet. To me this is the ultimate frustration. Not just because of this blog - but my daily living, it seems, revolves around the Internet.

I wake up and read my Horoscope and my daily reading. I play a little Farmtown. I answer e-mails from www.balboa-island.com and my six other e-mail addresses. A lot of times people want to know information about the Island. Does the Ferry run all the time - is it the only access? What is there to do? What time does the Fun Zone open (there is a lot of confusion regarding the difference between Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island). Lots of questions, lots of answers. Lots of fun. It is my answer to TV - I prefer interaction.

Every night my Internet was going down. Around 5 or 6pm after Tom Stanton my IT guy across the street had left for the night. So every night for weeks I got on the phone and called AT&T and talked to their technicians. And every night by the time I actually got a person on the line - the Internet was working again. It was quantum physics at work - if I paid attention to the net itself - after a certain period of time the dynamics changed and the net worked. Or, maybe there was a ghost in my DSL.

Now, I don't know if AT&T has a way of tracking my calls, but the level of competence of the technicians increased with each call. The first young man suggested I got to Wal Mart and buy and new modem. After that I got various suggestions including several that perhaps the lines get overloaded in our area around that time of night. Each technician tested my lines - in many ways - and found them in great condition. At least I got some answers in all this. I cannot imagine how many hours I have spent on this particular problem. I do wish AT&T would turn the volume down on their advertising on the "hold" function. I had to turn my cell phone down as low as it would go to keep from being blasted with the same drivel over and over and over and over again.

Last night I called twice. During the first call the Internet resurrected itself although I talked to a very nice young woman. During the second call I got "ED" - who tested and tested and then had me move disconnect wires and change things and we FINALLY determined that it was the router - not the modem. Not AT&T's problem. But Ed had a suggestion for me. Go to Best Buy and get a 2-Wire Router and he would call me back today and in 15 minutes I would be up and running again.

Now I would rather walk on hot coals than drive to the South Coast Plaza area where Best Buy is located. I prefer stores within golf cart range on the Island and hate traffic. I had a router I had purchased at Woot.com for $20.00. A Belkin router. I took a chance and this crabby old lady spent 45 minutes with a patient young lady from India and we got the router up and running. There were a few finer points that Tom fixed today so that all the printers were working, but in general we did a great job. Now all is well in Internet Land - and Mom is happy again.

Mike kept telling me to ignore the problem and "just go on to something else when the Internet is down." I replied, "OK - as long as I can unplug your TV during that same period of time and see how that works for you." Ed thought that was pretty cruel.

The bottom line is. Great customer service can overcome a lot. A company is only as good as the people who interact with the customers. If I had stopped with the young man who told me to buy a new modem at Walmart - when it wasn't the problem - I would still have a negative image of AT&T. Instead I talked to several women and Ed - all of whom enjoyed really helping people. That is what customer service is all about. And I have a much better opinion of AT&T than I did a week ago.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Today I would like to share a letter that came to me through www.balboa-island.com for publishing next month in The Island Breeze. My neighbor, and good friend, Debra Levin sent a copy of this testament to the character of the people who live on Balboa island. It is how I see them as well!!

A Heartfelt “Thank You” to my Balboa Island Neighbors

There are many reasons I love living on Balboa Island - the quaint charm, interesting architecture, wonderful weather, beautiful views and proximity to everywhere I need to go. But most wonderful of all are the people who live here and care about this community and its residents.

About 2 months ago, during some VERY windy weather, I was planning on going to the bank with some deposits and had put my checkbook and signed checks in my back pocket while finishing errands around the house. I live on South Bayfront, so this included moving the garbage cans in the back alley. I finally got ready to leave for the bank and my checkbook and signed deposits were gone. I looked everywhere unsuccessfully and had to start organizing to call companies to get checks cancelled and new ones issued.

To my amazement, I got a call from a neighbor I’d never met telling me he had found my checkbook around the corner and had dropped it in my mail slot. Soon thereafter, another neighbor I’d never met, stopped by with most of the paperwork I’d lost, which she had found in the street a block over from my house. And ,a little after that, a third neighbor I’d never met stopped by the house and dropped off the final missing signed check she’d found blocks away while walking her dog.

These people all went out of their way to do a real kindness to another resident that they didn’t even know. They are heroes in my book and the best example of why Balboa Island is the greatest place on earth to live.

I thank them all for being terrific neighbors and a shining example of the quality of people that make up the residents of this wonderful island.

Robert Levin

ThinkExist Dynamic daily quotation

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The March Miracle

I am a believer in Miracles. When someone asks how I came to Balboa Island, how I bought my house on Balboa Island and how my life has unfolded here. I say it is a miracle. A true miracle.
I rented a small office on Agate for our Island Flooring business in December of 1994. There was another office next door - eventually we rented that too. And sublet it to a two decorators - Linda Newman and Carol Bento. It was a great match since Flooring was a fairly new industry for me. Mike has been doing it since the 1970s, but I had been through several changes in my life at the administrative end of a business. I am one of those entrepreneurs who has at least one - and up to four businesses going on at once. Still do. I guess that is part of my ADHD!!
Linda and Carol taught me a lot about colors and design and when they moved on Island Flooring had grown enough that we took over both spaces at 118 Agate. Joan McNair, who owned the mixed use building Island Flooring is in, wanted to sell. For the self-emmployed qualifying for a mortgage is not an easy task. Joan was my angel - she carried the paper on the building and once I owned it I could easily get a mortgage from a bank at a lower rate. Unfortunately this was not the smartest move I ever made in my life, banks being what they are today.
But owning the building allowed Mike and I to move into the living quarters upstairs and solve the problem of housing on Balboa Island. This is a challenge since people sell, rent to relatives, raise the rent beyond your ability to pay and even pass away on a regular basis here in Paradise. Leaving renters to try and find another place. And the places are getting fewer and fewer as the little beach cottages and residences with back units are being torn down and replaced with single family homes.
Ownership has also allowed us to scale back to one unit in this "recession" and rent the other office. The small apartment is a weekly vacation rental after being a yearly for the first 7 years of the 10 that we have been property owners.
Now, if I own property in an area with the real estate values of Balboa Island. Without a dime of my own money originally - a banker friend loaned me the down payment because I didn't want to take my money out of the stock market :) If that can happen to me - it is a sure sign that miracles do exist. For me, for everyone.
I woke up one morning and heard a small voice tell me that there was going to be a "March Miracle". We all need Miracles. Especially right now. There are Miracles. So let's all pass it on - belive in the 'March Miracle'. You don't have to 'know' what it is - just be open to it. Be able to see it when it comes. It may be huge or it may be tiny - but there WILL be a 'March Miracle' for all of us. Just like there was a miracle for me that let me live and own on Balboa Island!!

Friday, February 26, 2010


One of the first people I met when I moved to Balboa Island was Amelia. We lived on the same street - Topaz Avenue. I will never forget when Jim Jennings first drove me to meet Mr. Kelly, my landlord, on Topaz. It was in the evening and the lights had just come on across the bay at the Pavilion. Jim said, "living here you should have no trouble attracting a new man in your life." Eventually he was right. And hopefully it wasn't because of the atmosphere of the street. But that is another story.
Amelia and her friends used to go out at night and have fun. One of her friends, Lana Chandler, had a daughter Ashley who had amazing Shirley Temple curls!! I used to babysit Ashley while Lana and Amelia went out. Ashley was about two years old at the time. It is a testament to the passage of time that when I Googled Ashley recently I found she was attending the UC Davis, was 6' tall with straight hair and was a star water polo player!!! How time flies when you are having fun.
But back to the subject at hand - Amelia. Every story on the Island has a million side stories. My mind has a hard time staying on just one.
Amelia passed away in January. She had been ill for a long time. I used to see her walking every day on the boardwalk, but it had been a couple of years since I had recognized her smiling face among the moms, baby strollers, other walkers and runners.
Her funeral service was at St. Andrews followed by a party - and that is the best way to explain it - at Harborside Restaurant in the banquet room. Amelia owned Amelia's restaurant here on Balboa Island (which is still listed on www.balboa-island.com) because she loved to feed people and entertain. This event was a tribute to those characteristics. The food was fabulous. Actually, it turned out one of the cooks had worked for Amelia earlier in his career. The people who knew and loved her were there. Family, neighbors and close friends.
Amelia's son and photographer, Randy Seton, had put together an awesome picture story of her life on a big screen tv in one corner of the room. A wonderful picture of her and her husband was next to the tv. We all stood and commented on how happy Amelia looked in all her pictures. How her personality shone through.
However, the most inventive part of the whole experience were the centerpieces. They were designed by her good friend Janet Curci from only edible parts - several types of greens, oranges, tangerines, grapes, and peppers. At the end of the event we all got brown paper sacks to take home - "doggy bags" if you will. No one left without a reminder of Amelia's hospitality. I know as I ate the grapes and tangerines and romaine lettuce over the next week I thought about what a wonderful, warm and thoughtful person Amelia was.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

20 Years on Balboa Island

I moved to Balboa Island in February of 1990. I never suspected at that time that this would be the place where I spent the truly "formative years" of my life. I was 43 at the time and I thought I was all grown up. Hah!! Even now at 63 I am still growing. Balboa Island was a wonderful nurturing place to be. I had wonderful role models and neighbors who were always willing to lend a helping hand. I truly miss Jim Jennings now that he is gone. And Joanie Cooper, Nancy Ebsen, Hal Holleman, Nita Wickett, and more recently Amelia of Amelia's restaurant. I am sure I have missed many individuals both here and gone who have lent a helping hand. And it continues to this day.
We have had a tough time in our business - Island Flooring. Our fortunes rise and fall with the housing industry and you know where that is right now. We have our building for sale. Almost every day someone stops by or calls and tells us that we cannot leave Balboa Island and that they are praying for us. And that we cannot go out of business - which we won't even if we had to move. We have been in this business for 40 years - and not always on Balboa Island. Although this is by far the best location. We live above our store and the worst traffic we encounter - as Mike likes to say - "is two-way traffic on the stairs".
Balboa Island has been a wonderful place for me. I have lived here longer than I have lived anywhere in my entire life. Not that we moved a lot as a child - but I left for college at 17 and never returned home. So 20 years beats 17!!! It is a wonderful community and I have tried to give back to - by maintaining and expanding the main website - www.balboa-island.com - after buying it from Summer Bress and by writing and hand delivering The Island Breeze to every house on Balboa Island.
Thank you Balboa Island for being there for me.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Paradise Found

It is late afternoon in my office above the Island Flooring office. I sit at my computer and work and enjoy the sun coming in though the french doors. When the summer comes I can open the doors and let the breeze come through.
This is a wonderful time of year here on Balboa Island. It is quiet - it seems especially quiet after the hubub of Valentine's Day, President's Day and Ski Week. All I hear in this moment is the sound of water from the fountain on the deck and the drumming of a lone basketball player bouncing the ball on the court at the Beek Center Park. Life is really perfect. And I feel relaxed.
Recently I filled out some paperwork and one of the questions was "Where in the World is your Dream Vacation Spot". I answered "home". And that is true.
When I first moved here, 20 years ago, I figured I could offset the high cost of rent with the savings in vacation costs. I was sure I would never have to travel anywhere else. I lived in Paradise. And for years Mike and I never traveled.
But the fact that we both work and live on Balboa Island eventually had caught up with us. With the small community and cell phones we were always on demand. I remember on one of our first vacations in Vancouver, BC Mike received a call from someone who wanted him to come and measure a job "right now". He KNEW we were in town because he saw Mike's truck driving down the street.
If he had looked closely our client would have seen it was Patty, our assistant. Patty had to move our truck on Wednesday because of street sweeping to avoid a ticket. That is when we realized that even though we lived in the most beautiful place in the world - we had to take a vacation elsewhere - to recharge. When we come home, and drive over PCH and look over the Island - we are always grateful that we live in "Paradise Found."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

More about Wildlife

Balboa Island is full of wildlife of all kinds - I am constantly updating the pictures to my website www.balboa-island.com with pictures taken by Gar Travis www.garphoto.com He has found taking pictures of animals - both domestic and wild - more gratifying than taking pictures of us humans. We live in a litigious society and animals are less likely to sue!!!
I especially love the dog and cat pictures. Sometimes, however, the animals can get a little wacky. We have a huge carport - enough room for seven cars. And it is carpeted with remnants from Island Flooring installations and old area rugs. It is like a huge covered shelter for any animal that chooses to hang out. There is even sometimes a water dish for those that are thirsty. Like a Starbucks for the local fauna.
Last spring I had a problem with an animal using the carport as it's bathroom. For reasons I won't detail here - I was sure it was a dog. I wanted to catch that sucker - badly!! I thought about putting a mattress behind one of the carpet displays in the carport and hiding there at night.
One of my clients came to the rescue. He sells security cameras and needed a room of carpet. So we traded the cameras and a monitor for carpet and I waited to catch the critter. And waited, and waited and waited!! I knew it just had to be a dog and the owner could now see the cameras and wasn't letting it loose in my area. Oh well, at least the problem was solved.
Then the rains came this January. And a present appeared on my carpet. Now I had them - I just had to scan the previous 24 hours on the monitor and there would be my culprit. My big dog. I couldn't wait to find the owner of that wayward dog!!
I ran the scan - who appeared - not a big dog - but Gemini - my neighbor's cat! He is probably one of the biggest cats ever, but who knew. Apparently he doesn't like to use cat litter and when it is raining my covered area is just his cup of tea!
Gemini sleeps in a bed next to a window facing my patio and I talk to him every day. "Gemini," I said, " I have you on tape and you better clean up your act or I will post it on YouTube and all your friends will see your dirty deed." That worked for a while, but the cayenne pepper sprinkled around the area worked much better.
I love you Gemini and I realize you have lost your yard to two huge dogs - but my carport is not your restroom!!!!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Roy Disney

One morning this winter I was walking alone along the Balboa Island Boardwalk. It was a chilly day, and I was loaded down with my bag of goodies from Cinnamon Roll Faire. I couldn't wait to return home and eat my favorite pastries.
Normally I have a walking partner, Kellie Savage. That Kellie was working so instead of walking and talking I was walking and paying attention to my surroundings.
Now there is an interesting idea!
I looked out at the bay and there was a boat with a Mickey Mouse flag at half mast. Strange . . . very strange. Suddenly I realized that Roy Disney, Walt Disney's newphew and a world class sailor, had recently passed away. I knew about the sailing part because Mike loves to sail and pointed out to me on many occasions that Pyewacket, Roy's boat, raced in the Ensenada race and often won.
I was lucky enough to have my camera with me, so I took several pictues of the 'Mickey Mouse' boat and the two boats following all of which had a number of people on them.
When I got home and focused in on the pictures I found that they were indeed Pyewacket - several of the boats had that name - and I can only surmise that they were taking Roy's ashes to sea. I read since that his ashes were to be scattered at sea - an appropriate place for those who love the ocean and all it represents.
I guess this was truly a case of being at the right place at the right time because I never saw any note of it in any print or online media.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Magic on Balboa Island

Balboa Island has a huge community of cats. And cat lovers. And the balance between the two can get very interesting. My cat Magic is 12 years old and has lived on Balboa Island all of his life. He originally belonged to a very nice neighbor of ours named Ginny Soth. Ginny became ill and one day Magic jumped in our window and made himself at home. When I called Ginny she said he was destined for the pound if she didn't find him a new home. Magic had already found his own new home!!
Magic is a sociable being. He loves to talk to everyone who walks down Agate Avenue and stops into Island Flooring and Island Style. He always has a story to tell. Magic also ventures down the the Park Avenue Cafe on the corner and begs for food. Because he is a naturally very thin everyone thinks he is starving. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He is fed well - although not as well as he might want. He would have chicken and milk for every meal - topped off with whipped cream!!
Magic, however, has allergies. As a result fish, milk and anything that isn't his hypoalgergenic food or chicken will make him very ill.
After much searching I found a solution to my problem. I always thought, "If I could just put a note on Magic." Well I did. K9collars.com, a company outside of Toronto, Canada will put anything on a collar you want - except swear words. I now have a beautiful collar on our Magic that says "Don't Feed Me - Allergies"
It was amazing how many neighbors admitted to feeding our little guy once they saw the collar and understood the problem. Everything from grocery store cat food to tuna fish. I learned my own lesson from all this - I always ask before I give any animal any treat or food.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My Friend the Hummingbird

I sit in my upstairs office early every morning. There are french doors leading to a small enclosed patio facing Newport Bay and the Beek Center Park. On the patio is a small fountain.
I love the sound of the fountain. I love the sound of fountains in general. My house is a testament to that. There are three fountains in front of my house - two on the back patio and this one on the front patio. Water is a relaxing sound. A great contrast to airplanes soaring overhead.
Every morning a small hummingbird comes to take a shower and drink from my fountain. She apparently gets up before the cats because we have many of those in our neighborhood - including Magic, my own cat. More about Magic tomorrow.
I enjoy watching the little girl take a bath in the fountain because she actually SITS on the fountain. Usually you only see a hummingbird as it flies - never sitting still. It reminds me that even the tiniest fastest creatures do take a brief, relaxing rest once in a while. \
We humans should take a lesson from that little bird. Yes, she is beautiful in motion - but she is just as interesting, in a different way, when she is enjoying his shower. You can almost hear her sighing with pleasure!!! Then she shakes a bit and takes off until the next day.
Life really is about simple pleasures.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today I am Saying No to Everyone But Myself

I have worked constantly for the past two months. Consolidated the Island Flooring and Island Style showrooms into one - rented out the other side to a very nice man who is going to do "fractional real estate". During this time I also went to three Trade Shows in Las Vegas. One by myself for all my sports items - looking for new things to temp the locals and tourists. I just wish USC wasn't so stingy about their licensing. I live in USC country and it seems half of the really classy items I would love to carry aren't available. And they do license some things that I wouldn't put my own name on. That trip culminated in a wonderful storm arriving in Las Vegas and Covering the mountains there with snow. It was a gorgeous sight. However, that same snow was rain here in the OC and after a few hours at Las Vegas airport I was sent back to town to wait until John Wayne opened up and I could return home. Not to John Wayne - that would have been a long circuitous trip - through Phoenix and arriving at 9:30 at night. Instead I flew into LAX which wasn't so bad for me - but Mike wasn't crazy about driving there - thank Goodness for Garmin!!
I came home - did some more rearranging and returned to Vegas. For the Las Vegas Gift Show and Surfaces Flooring Show. All I can say about the gift show is the displays are awesome, the people friendly and the food!!! Yummmmm. Women need to eat or their blood sugar drops. Then crankiness ensues. So they feed you. We didn't even stay for the night time "Chinese New Year's" event - we were too full - and we aren't talking chips here. Lamb kabobs, pesto, pasta, great chocolate and lots of alcohol if you are inclined.
The flooring show wasn't as much fun. But since today is my day off - the first since all this has taken place - I am not talking about floors. I am going to walk the Island and enjoy the beautiful place where I live!! See y'all tomorrow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day on Balboa Island

Another beautiful day.
When I moved here 20 years ago, in February 1990 you could have shot a cannon down Marine Avenue and never hit anyone. Balboa Island was a hidden secret. We were mainly a summer place with only the hardiest living here year around.
We weren't like the rest of Newport Beach. Most of the people owned summer cottages that had been in their families for decades. The McMansionization of Balboa Island had yet to begin.
It is still a beautiful place. But the mix of people is changing. Instead of the houses being closed up because the residents were at their winter homes in Pasadena, Whittier, San Marino, etc. Now there are many who have a third or forth home here on Balboa Island. And many of the summer residents have grown older and retired and moved here permanently. This means the little cottages have been torn down and replaced with single family homes.
A way of life is changing - and change comes at a price. But there is always change.
The sun is warm and beautiful today and once again the Ferry line is long and I am chasing people off the sidewalks with their bicycles - it is after all called a sideWALK. And ours our very narrow.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day on Balboa Island

What a Wonderful Sunny Day.
The Balboa Island Ferry Line is winding down Agate Avenue and around the block.
Balboa Island is crowded with people escaping from their homes after the rains which have plagued us for the past month. Even Orange County Airport was closed briefly during those rains. They were afraid that planes were going to "hydroplane" off the end of our short runways.
Come to Balboa Island and my little store, Island Style, and throw a coin in one of my fountains - it keeps the algae out of the fountain. Come and see me and buy a flag for your favorite sport team - NCAA, MLB, NFL, etc.
This is the perfect day to start my blog - I always have pages and pages of information that do not fit in my monthly Island Breeze newsletter and now I can share on a daily basis. This is going to be an interesting trip.
It is a great day to be alive.
Carolyn L Carr
Island Style
Island Flooring