Froma Bird's Eye View

By Raven West

The Decade in Review 2010-2020


Since 1968 I’ve been filling pages of a yearly diary. These books came from an insurance company in my home town of Ellenville, NY which is now owned by a high school friend of mine.

Every New Year’s Eve for 42 years after, I’d perform a “retirement ritual” where I would lay out all the past years’ journals, read through a few, add the current past year to the pile and return the entire collection to their well-protected memory box.

It was always so exciting starting a new book – so many empty pages yet to be filled and the smell of those brand new pages were both exciting and a bit terrifying.

Unfortunately, the company stopped giving away these books in 2010 and my annual ritual died. 10 years ago I purchased a new journal, but it wasn’t the same. I didn’t have nearly the amount of time to write in a personal journal, (I was an assistant edior writing daily about irrigation and erosion!) nor did I really find the need to use this method as a way to resolve emotional issues (mostly having to do with a variety of members of the opposite sex).

As a result, the journal I started in 2010 is just this year reaching the final few pages!  Instead of having a year to reflect on, I have an entire decade! IN ONE BOOK.  If I forget anything, there’s always FaceBook and Google Search to remind me, tools that really didn’t exist 10 years ago!

So, here it is.. My DECADE in review. Beginning with a “then and now” photo:

a decade of me.jpg

What a difference a decade makes! I’m sooo very thankful I do NOT have to make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight!

Here are the highlights of the past decade with hope the next 10 years and my next blank journal I will purchase tomorrow – will be just as exciting!


  • Bill and I celebrate 30 YEARS of legal co-habitation!
  • Kim and Justin get married
  • Published “Undercover Reunion”
  • First 50,000 words of Vashti’s Daughter
  • Keynote Speaker at Care Giver Conference in Ellenville


  • Lost 25 pounds on Weight Watchers
  • Formed the Green Industry Speakers Bureau


  • Finished first ½ Marathon
  • First Grandson – Kim and Justin’s baby Julian born
  • Started working for Weight Watchers
  • Moved to Oxnard


  • Finished 2nd ½ Marathon
  • Michelle and Barak engaged
  • Finished 3rd ½ Marathon with Michelle and Tandy in July
  • 60th Birthday Celebration!


  • Michelle and Barak get married
  • Left WW – Published River Ridge Living
  • Moved to Channel Islands Harbor
  • Column “Heard It On the Grapevine” for Citizens Journal
  • Finished 4th ½ marathon
  • Granddaughter – Kim and Justin’s baby Calista born


  •  Tandy and Tim get married
  • Finished first 5k marathon


  • Tandy, Michelle and I see final performance of Les Miz on Broadway in NYC
  • Michelle and Barak move to New Jersey
  • Michelle and Barak get married
  • Completed second 5K – Santa to the Sea on my birthday!


  • Second Grandson born – Tandy and Tim have baby Derek
  • Magazine Folded
  • Started working for MK Marketing Brand Ambassador for Qunol
  • Started working as a sales agent for SENTEXT text message marketing
  • Moved to Camarillo
  • Elected Chair of the Libertarian Party of Ventura County Chair


  • Third Grandson (fourth grandchild) born – Michelle & Barak have baby Gideon
  • Taped “Storyteller Project” a Hanukkah Miracle


  • Forth Grandson (fifth grandchild) born – Tandy and Tim have baby Logan


TO BE CONTINUED………………………………..




His Name is Earl

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there are approximately 50,000 homeless people in and around Los Angeles living on streets, parks and freeway underpasses. This is a story about just one. He name is Earl.

About fifteen years ago when I lived in Thousand Oaks I was working as the store manager for Radio Shack located at the corner of National and Sepulveda in Los Angeles. Driving the 101 during rush hour was a nightmare, but the moment I made the right-hand transitional turn to the 405, the drive became a virtual parking lot. In order to arrive at the store in time to unlock the doors I would exit the 405 and take the alternate more scenic route over the Sepulveda pass.

That route traveled under a freeway overpass at the corner of Wilshire and Sepulveda. From my window in the mini-van I could see above all the cars that stopped at the red light which gave me a perfect view of a man who was sleeping on the cold concrete. On many mornings he’d come over to the drivers in the stopped cars and every morning I hoped that light would be green so I wouldn’t be one of them. But he was hard to ignore.

Although his clothes were dark and torn, he always had a smile on his face as he approached the drivers and politely asked for a bit of spare cash. Most just kept their windows rolled up – stared straight ahead and ignored him, but every once in a while I’d see someone hold out a few dollars. His smile would grow to a huge grin that lit up the dark underpass with the glow of gratitude. It was infectious.

One morning I was stopped in the lane closest to him and happened to have some spare cash, so I gave him a few dollars. He smiled that broad grin and, with a sparkle in his eyes he said “thank you, have a great day”. For the first time in many, many mornings, I felt like I was going to have a really great day! After that brief exchange, I started looking for him whenever I drove passed his “home” and worried a bit when he wasn’t there, which wasn’t that often.

Winter came and the weather turned especially chilly, even for California. I knew that cold concrete was going to get even colder for him to sleep. I went into the closet and pulled out a few of my husband’s sweaters he’d never worn and a spare blanket and pillow that we’d use for guests and put them in my van.

I remember it was a Friday morning, just before the weekend when I saw him, as usual walking over to the cars stopped at the light. Once the light turned green, I drove really slowly, not caring that I was pissing off the cars behind me, in order make the red light. Once I’d stopped, I motioned him to come to the car and handed him the blanket, pillow and clothes – then I asked him his name.

“My name is Earl” he said talking the items from me. He added a “thank you” along with that illustrious grin and walked away. A car next to mine rolled down their window and the passenger who saw the exchange said “You’re a very nice lady” to which I replied “His name is Earl”

For many weeks afterwards when I was stopped at the underpass, I’d wave and shout “Hi Earl – how’s it going?” and he’d come to my car and we exchanged pleasantries for the brief seconds before the light turned green.

I never thought to ask his history, or what led him to his situation. I felt it was none of my business, it was just enough to know him in the present and share a smile. When I noticed the people in a stopped car next to mine with their windows open trying to avoid looking at him, I’d say loudly “His name is Earl”. At first, they were startled, but they always smiled back.  It wasn’t long after I noticed that other stopped drivers started calling out to him by name before handing him a few dollars.

Somehow knowing this man had a name transformed him from a faceless anonymous homeless individual into a real life human being.

About a year later, I was transferred to manage the Radio Shack in Thousand Oaks. On my last day driving the route, I made sure the light was red so I could stop and Earl came over. I told him this was the last time I’d be seeing him because I wasn’t going to be working in Los Angeles anymore.

His eyes filled with a bit of sadness and a touch of worry and then, with true sincerity in his voice said: “Are you going to be all right?”

I was stunned. Here was a man with no home – sleeping under an overpass in disheveled clothing – asking strangers for a few dollars and He was worried about ME? I was overcome with a feeling of a connection to humanity I’d never felt before. Materialistically, I had everything, Earl had nothing, but in that one exchange he had given me something that no amount of money could buy.

I’ve driven the Sepulveda pass a few times in the past fifteen years but of course, Earl is no longer there. I often wonder whatever happened to him. I hope he found a permanent home someplace safe, warm and just as caring as he deserved.

I’d like to say this experience had somehow changed my response to seeing a person holding up a sign stopping traffic at the end of a freeway off ramp but I’m sad to admit, this has not been the case. There are just too many of them. These nameless, faceless unknown individuals come and go, and I just drive by.

Perhaps one day a man, or a woman in need will be holding up sign that reads “My Name is…” and that will make a difference the next time I’m stopped at a red light.

But it won’t be Earl.

Bill Maher is Right! Obesity is Disgusting!

Related imageIt is not often that I agree with Bill Maher – however his recent tirade on “Fat Shaming” was dead on – Americans are not only fat, but disgustingly obese.

Maher is not the only person stating the obvious: Dear Fat People by Nicole Arbour.

As expected, the response from the “feel good” media has been viciously one-sided in support of fatties like James Cordon and the ladies on The View,

You would think that living in sunny Southern California, land of beach bums and bikinis, the ability to take a walk or a hike any day of the week mostly every day of the year we would be the healthiest people in the county.

How horribly wrong that picture is.

Maher is right – we can get away with criticizing – and/or making fun of people who smoke, it’s an unhealthy habit to be sure, and we can get away with insulting the very few who still wear real animal fur, myself included, but make a comment to an obese person and you’re liable to be sued for “hurting their feelings.” People, the TRUTH hurts, so why not DO something about it?

Shall I not say that looking at you taking up three seats, sucking four times the oxygen out of the room doesn’t offend ME?

Commercial industries don’t want us to be thin or healthy…there’s no profit in a healthy society. Quite the opposite. As early as 2012, businesses jumped on the “Fat wagon” Fat profits: Business embraces big people!

The clothing industry now has “plus-size” models, there are more 14-21 plus size clothes racks than 8-12, The giant warehouse stores even supply motorized carts so these fatties don’t even have to get any exercise, they just drive their carts from food station to food station stuffing their mouths with free samples and loading their carts with processed food that’s full of fat, sodium, cholesterol and sugar.

Don’t they have mirrors? Or are the mirrors in their homes distorted ones like those in the fun houses? These obese slobs don’t even bother to hide their rolls of fat in public. It’s almost as if they’re proud to show off their huge size by wearing tight fitting shirts in neon colors, or pants that show their underwear line up their butt crack! What they should wear is a huge sign on their ass “OVERSIZE LOAD” in bright neon!

What’s so depressing is that their children are just as fat – parents should be charged with child abuse – years from now these same kids are going to be a drain on the already suffering health care industry with high blood pressure and early onset diabetes that we’re ALL going to have to pay for one way or the other.

I will agree that in some circumstances there are generic traits that regulate some to be more prone to weight gain than others. While we’re not necessarily “born fat” our tastes and eating habits are formed at a very early age and if the adults serve meals loaded with fat and sugar, that’s what their children will also crave as they get older – so then they can blame their parents as why they can’t fit into a normal size theater seat.

Not a subjective observation. Growing up in the 50’s my mother knew nothing about healthy eating. Everything she served was fried. Vegetables consisted of corn, peas or potatoes. There was more starch on the dinner table than in my dad’s dress shirts.

Her weight loss method consisted of yelling at me, embarrassing me in front of my friends and forcing diet pills down my throat.

None of these worked. It wasn’t until I joined Weight Watchers, at the age of 16 that I learned about good eating habits and received the encouragement of a group of adults who also wanted to learn to make healthy food choices and healthier cooking methods.

After my first child was born, I went back to WW, lost 36 pounds in 16 weeks, went to work for the company and kept off the weight until daughter #3 was born. Over the next few years 25 pounds came creeping back, and when the scale went over the 150 mark, I ran back to WW, dropped the 25 pounds, ran a half-marathon  and am now, once again a comfortable 137.

This isn’t an ad for Weight Watchers – it’s only a testimonial from one person who knows being overweight isn’t a “disease”, it’s not (in most cases) a hereditary malady….it’s a choice.

We’ve put “no smoking” signs in every public area to keep smokers away from non-smokers. Why can’t we also put a “no fatties” zone so the rest of us don’t have to be subjected to being disgusted by these slobs?

Why do the rest of us who worked hard to lose weight and live a healthy life style be subject to these disgusting fatties – sitting next to us on a plane – taking up two seats at a movie theater – waddling down the grocery aisle while stuffing free food into their mouths every step of the way?

And we’re not permitted to say anything because we can’t “hurt their feelings?”


We’ve all heard the lame excuses: fatties can’t help themselves, fatties are born that way, and obesity is a DISEASE. Really?

You have control over your hand, over your arm, over your lips. It’s NOT a disease if you have the power NOT to put something that’s going to KILL you in your body, no matter what that toxic item is.

But, as long as we coddle to and cater and reward these hippos with huge acting and modeling contracts, listen to their “accept yourself as you are”   bullshit and offer giant sized food portions and unlimited “all you can eat” buffets and don’t make them face the reality of what they’re doing to their bodies, their children’s future health and the rest of us who have to suffer living with them, Americans are going to get fatter while the rest of us will have to suffer in silence!


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