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Why Edelweiss Memories?

edelweissEdelweiss is a rare Austrian flower that only grows at high altitudes in the Alps. When a person picks a bouquet and gives it to loved ones, it brings great joy.  And that is my desire with this blog; to bring you joy with a bouquet of memories. creativity and encouraging thoughts.

On this blog I’ll post my artwork, favorite quotes, poetry; all the things I want you to know about me, our interesting ancestors, and our family. I encourage each of you to read it, comment, ask questions and share your stories, so it will become an ongoing revelation of who we are.

Discovering a New Path

July 5, 2016….it was a long time coming but back in September of 2015, I decided I could no longer travel the dark and rocky path with deep crevices and danger at every turn. I knew there had to be another road but the direction wasn’t clear. I made the decision to step off this path that led no where and make my own way. It wasn’t easy, yet I knew there must be a road to take me to safety.  Sunlight appeared and at last I found my new home and felt the peace of security.

I’ve been smiling for the past six months, just a comfortable, happy smile that feels warm and safe. My little home is just the right size for Cindy and me. We have everything we need and feel love here.

The support and love from my family and friends made my transition smooth. I don’t know what I’d do without them. And now I’m meeting new friends and enjoying creative time in my large art studio. Teaching watercolor to Dana, Sarah and Chase is fun. I also teach my Book Club friends how to paint. Then there’s my art Journaling group where we have lunch and paint or write in our art journals. Several times a month I meet with a group of women here in Laguna Woods called The Memory Makers to sort photos or scrapbook and share ideas of creative ways to share the precious memories of our family.

My life is on the right track and I’m doing what is right for me. In fact, I’m “free to be me,” my new words I live by. I feel alive and no longer bound by the negativity of the past.

2/9/19…..It’s been 3 years and Cindy and I couldn’t be happier. I feel I’m called to encourage my family and friends and create and write. I hope these memoir entries will inspire and be meaningful to all who read them. My legacy to you.


Ah, the wonderful expectations of love and finding my true love at 19.

I had been dating Jack Rocchio, a boy my age who attended Cal Tech. He was tall (one of my prerequisites) and smart (another), and fun to be with, but I knew he wasn’t the one! I was very intuitive even then. Jack had asked me to go “steady” (meaning no dating anyone else) and I said no. I didn’t want to miss my opportunity of meeting Mr. Right if he came along.

That was a good decision. A few days later, my modeling teacher asked me if I wanted to be in the Alhambra, “Hi Neighbor” parade, riding on a float with a few other models. She also mentioned her best friend’s brother was returning from Korea and wanted a date with one of her models. I agreed after she told me he was 6’4″ and a very nice guy. 

As the parade was ending and turning the corner to the park, I spotted Gloria (my teacher) standing with this tall handsome young man and my heart skipped a beat! I remember thinking to myself, “I have a feeling he might be the one.”

I didn’t know that Gloria had picked another model on the float and told Bill he could pick either of us. Obviously he picked me.  There was a dance at the park but he asked me if I’d like to go grunion hunting at the beach instead. (He felt funny about being there since the other girl was rejected.) We drove to some beach and yes, the grunion were actually there! We had a lot of fun with him chasing me with a slimy fish!

He was still in the Air Force and had to leave for New Mexico in a couple of days. He asked me out the next night to see a funny Jerry Lewis movie. We drove around looking for the theater where it was playing, and lo and behold it was at a drive-in! We did see the movie (sort of)!

The next day he came to visit me at  Dot’s house since I was baby-sitting her kids for the summer. We talked and finally said good-bye but he told me he’d write. I remember  watching his car backing out of the driveway and hoping we would meet again.

In late September, 1952, we started exchanging letters and began to get to know each other. I could tell he was a sensitive and caring man, very intelligent, with lots of plans for the future. Letter writing reveals a lot about a person.

Fern Dell Park

In November Bill said he was coming to Calif. on leave for 3 days. I was in my 2nd year at Pasadena City College but had Veterans Day off. He arrived early at my house in Temple City. (I lived with my mom and I could tell she liked Bill a lot.) I made a picnic lunch and off we went to Fern Dell Park in Los Angeles near Griffith Park. The day was magical. The quiet and beauty of the park helped us share even more about ourselves. We talked about the many things we had in common, our families and our hopes and dreams. He told me about his dad and the ranch in Texas and being an L.A. policeman. He had 2 older sisters he was very close with.  We talked all day and it was comfortable and lovely. This was the day I fell in love with Bill Rubarth. 

The next evening, Bill took me to meet his family. I was kind of scared  but soon realized his family was just like mine, easy going and nice. I met his dad, his Aunt Besse, Pat & Peg (his sisters) and his grandmother, Mary Felder who raised him from age 12. (His mother died during an operation and this was very difficult for Bill.) The next day he flew back to the Air Force base in New Mexico.  We continued writing our letters but now they were daily. (I still have all of his letters and mine.) His tour of duty was ending in January 1953 and he said he would call me Christmas Eve.

It was Dec. 24, 1952 and the phone rang at 6:00 pm. I just knew it was Bill. I answered and I thought he was calling from NM but he said he was down at the corner and had managed to get discharged early.  Mom fixed dinner and after dinner Dot & Bob with Bobby, Jerry and Sandy arrived along with Bud & Jean, Judy and Linda. So Bill was introduced to my family. We spent a wonderful Christmas Eve together and after everyone left, Bill asked me to go for a little drive with him. It was then that he proposed. I said yes and he told me he wanted to get married in February but I said I couldn’t go to school and plan a wedding that quickly, so we waited until the beginning of Easter vacation, Friday, March 27, 1953. (Yes, I know, we only had 6 dates before he proposed!)

We had a small wedding at the Michillinda Presbyterian Church in Pasadena. My sister, Dot was my Matron of Honor and Janet and Maureen (girl friends) were my bridesmaids. Bill’s brother-in-law, Bill Phifer was Best Man, with Bud and Bob as ushers. Sandy was my flower-girl. We went to Lake Arrowhead for our honeymoon. And we lived “happily ever after” (almost!)





Bill (Blaine) and I were married 32 years. We always said we’d love each other “for ever and a day,” and just because paths change and we grow into different people doesn’t mean our love ever ended.


The Story of my Blue Sapphire Ring

Perhaps you have noticed this lovely blue sapphire ring I wear now. This is the amazing story of my ring. My Aunt Grace Bancroft (who had no children) willed this ring to me because my birthstone is sapphire. She told me this story.

A cousin on her mother’s side, was a very independent little girl, and at about the age of 10, her parents kicked her out of the house. She lived on the streets in New Jersey. She slept in a doorway but a kind woman who lived there let her sleep in her apartment. But she had to work selling newspapers on the street. Her name was Babe. At least that was the name she was called on the street. She hung out with the boys who sold newspapers and learned how to gamble and win! She kept saving her winnings because she had a dream.

When she grew up, she wanted to go to Monte Carlo and gamble. Babe realized her dream in her teens and boarded a ship headed for France. On the ship she met a very rich man and later married him and lived a long happy life in New York. This ring was her engagement ring.

In the 1940’s she took my Aunt Grace to France and to Monte Carlo. I can remember as a child hearing Aunt Grace talk about Babe. She must have been a strong, wonderful woman.

The ring is set in a platinum setting with 2 small diamonds on each side. All I know about her is this story and her name, Babe Ritchey. I wear it now and feel my distant relative’s spirit. I believe it shows the tenacity of our family and how even unfortunate circumstances can be turned into beauty by the belief in your soul.


2014….A year to observe the beauty of the moment and capture it in pictures and words.
S E R E N D I P I T Y…….
In the past I’ve always picked a word or phrase for the year, that made me feel I have a lot of work to do to achieve it. No, I don’t want to do that. I am who I am and I want to live my life, discovering serendipity, observing the miracles.

Serendipity, noun, the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
“a fortunate stroke of serendipity”
synonyms:    (happy) chance, (happy) accident, fluke; luck, good luck, good fortune, fortuity, providence; happy coincidence
“the consequence of serendipity is sometimes a brilliant discovery”

Yes, SERENDIPITY will be my word for 2014. I’ve always loved that word. It sounds fun and spills off the tongue in a melodious way. I’ll be looking for those serendipity type of occurrences that bring a smile to my heart.

Year of Living in Spirit. Open to serendipity, creating in Flow, listening for guidance, walking hand in hand with Divine Spirit.

Mission Statement….
I see myself growing even stronger with even more energy to accomplish what I was put on earth to do.

Ii see myself making great strides with my artwork, traveling, learning new processes, meeting new people. Looking for serendipity in my artwork like the painting above. I had nothing in mind but color and then I found a bird. More birds appeared and then the trees. How fun! Such an example of serendipity!

Quietly observing a moment of serendipity…
My kitty
Sun warming her body
Rolling from side to side
Living in the moment

Relaxing in my chair
Feeling free
Looking out at the trees and grass and feeling peace

What a delightful time
Together in the now
It may only last a minute or two
But I can take it with me
All day.

(770) 368-0735

This story has been told so many times it hardly seems necessary to include it, yet it was a life altering event and made an impact on me.

I was probably in about the third grade at Roosevelt Grammar School in San Gabriel, Calif. when this obsession occurred.  I say “obsession” because I have always loved color and have been intrigued by the many different hues in a crayon box.  Coloring was my creative outlet.  There was only one problem.  My box of crayons only had the basic 8 colors and Carl’s box had at least 24 beautiful crayons.

Carl sat in the next row, a couple of seats behind me.  I can remember walking down the aisle on my way out to recess and seeing all of his crayons carelessly strewn across his desk.  I thought if I had all those colors, I would certainly keep them neatly inside the box.  Day after day, I looked at the crayons and wished they were mine.

And then it happened. One day I noticed the most beautiful shade of pink I had ever seen in a crayon. It was right on the edge of his desk. Suddenly a plan quickly developed in my mind. Carl had already left the room to go to recess, as well as the other children and the teacher.  Oh how I wanted that crayon.  It was so easy, I just let my fingers graze his desk and suddenly the pink crayon was inside the palm of my hand.  I walked quickly out the door checking again to see if anyone had seen me.  The crayon went safely into my pocket.

I knew I couldn’t use it at school, but I fantasized about all the beautiful drawings I could make at home using the pink crayon.  I rationalized that Carl would never miss it.  Boys don’t use pink anyway.

All the way home on the bus I kept fingering the crayon in my pocket.  But the guilt started to creep into my heart.  My mother trusted me and I knew how wrong it was to take something that belonged to someone else.  I began to feel very dirty and the pink crayon wasn’t as important as it once was.       At home when I was alone, I took out the crayon and wanted to try it out, but I felt so ashamed, I couldn’t even make a mark with it.  I carefully wrapped the pink crayon in my hankie and took it back the next day.

Carl had never missed it.  I could hardly wait until recess so I could undo my terrible deed.  I never got caught but I learned without a doubt, that thievery would never be a part of my life.  I knew it was more important to be able to live with yourself and hold your head up high.


1939 Flood Disaster in Anaheim

The heavy rain came down for days, soaking the ground until it could scarcely hold any more water.  We lived in Anaheim on the corner of Broadway and Lemon in an old frame house that was built up off the ground about 7 steps.  Daddy was in Los Angeles and hadn’t returned home or perhaps couldn’t get home because of the rain.  Mom and I were asleep when we heard someone pounding on our front door at about 2:00 A.M.

Mom was frightened and peeked out to see my brother’s friend, Glen Claypool shouting that we had to leave.  The dam had broken and the water was swirling higher and higher through Anaheim. Mom wrapped a blanket around me and Glen lifted me into his arms and told my mom to hang on tightly to his arm.  Mom, in her robe and nightclothes, did as she was told and waded across Broadway with fast moving water up to her waist.  We went into a building and up some stairs, Mom and Glen soaked to the skin.  I don’t know whose apartment we were in, but it was crowded with other wet, sleepy people.  We all sat and waited and waited.  Hot coffee and cocoa was handed out and I can remember the fear in my heart.  Since there was  no TV, we didn’t know what might happen next.

Finally at about 6:00 A.M. the water had subsided and we walked through the muddy streets to return home.  Luckily the flood never reached the top step of our home but everything in my dad’s sign shop in the garage, was muddy and ruined.  It took days for my parents to shovel out the mud and go through the mess to find my dad’s sign shop supplies so he could reopen  his business. But even with the loss of many of his tools, he was always positive and knew he could build again.

During the ensuing days, the women in the beauty shop talked of nothing else.  Many lost their valuable possessions in the flood.  We were lucky.  It would have been disastrous if the flood had destroyed my mother’s beauty shop.  There was no insurance and all of the equipment had been bought on credit. Mom was always a planner and I know going through the depression and this disaster made her even more careful.  She knew she had to be the major breadwinner since my Dad’s sign business was a little unstable at times.

That memory has stayed in my head all these years. I learned a lot from the disaster. Even at an early age, I always knew I could count on my mom to protect and take care of me.  She was a very strong and wise woman yet with a soft heart filled with love.



My 80th Surprise Birthday

Take a look at my photo album from my birthday party. I love being surprised and the party was perfect, thanks to the hard work by Lise, Chase & Christina, Art, Kata, Kathy and Dana  making the play list (all the way from Spain) and anyone else i missed.


6626284986 to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

My First Day of School

Mother held my hand as we entered the front doors. Everything smelled fresh and clean. The Kindergarten room was off to the right, separated from the other classrooms by a wide hall. As we entered, Miss Clark, my teacher stood in the center of the room. Lots of other boys and girls in new clothes were mingling around her and cautiously looking over the room.

At first I wasn’t sure about Miss Clark.  Her tall, thin frame and straight black hair severely pulled back into a bun, made her plain face seem unfriendly.  But then she spoke, “Welcome Donnalyn.  I know you will love kindergarten.” she said as she pinned a name tag onto my dress. Her soft, kind voice assuaged my fears.

I kissed my mother good bye and felt just a twinge of fear. I quickly glanced out the windows to see if I could still see her.  As I approached the rounded window area I saw the most comforting sight.  There at the base of the windows was a child’s height, long, padded window seat, curving to fit the glass. Sunlight created patterns on the cushions and warmed the area.  Next to it were books, lots of books and I so wanted to just sit there on the window seat and read.  Kindergarten was a safe and wonderful place!

A bell rang signaling the teacher to begin class.  She showed us to long tables with chairs just our size.  I sat near the end because I didn’t know any of the other children.  I looked at their somber faces wondering if any of them would be my friend.  Miss Clark took roll and called all of our names.  I listened carefully for my name because I wanted to do everything exactly right.  She gave each of us a paper with some shapes on it and a red crayon.  She told us to circle the objects that were alike.  I looked it over and immediately knew which were alike and carefully circled each one.  I printed my name with pride on my paper and gave it to her.  She smiled and said, “Good work, Donnalyn.”  The warm, pleased feeling I received when she acknowledged my work was just the beginning of a lifelong desire to always want to do my best.

After a busy morning, Miss Clark said, “All right boys and girls we are going to have some milk and cookies and then it will be recess time.”   After finishing our snack, children started going out the side doors into a play area but I was  sure that “recess” meant that kindergarten was over so I headed out the main door to find my mother. Mom wasn’t there and I was scared, really scared.  Just at that moment, Miss Clark gently took me by the hand and explained it was play time.  My face got red and I began to cry. I wanted so badly to do everything right and now I had failed. Miss Clark assured me it was fine.

I wasn’t too anxious to go outside.  Being brought up in mom’s beauty shop, I didn’t know how to talk and play with other children.  Soon a little girl with curls like mine said “Hi, I’m Barbara.”  I smiled back and our friendship began.  She was shy too, so we felt comfortable with each other.

From that day on, I loved school. Even to this day,  I love taking classes and of course pleasing the teacher and doing my best!



Every Child Should Have a Pepper Tree

My mom and dad found the perfect home for us in Temple City.  We didn’t own it but it satisfied all of our needs. Mom had her beauty shop in the front rooms of the house, Dad had his sign shop in the little single car garage in the back, and I had my secret world under a huge old pepper tree in the back. The pepper fronds hung to the ground and I had to part them to enter my Tarzan world. Dad had hung a swing and trapeze for me and my imagination filled in everything else. Of course I was Jane, Tarzan’s wife and one of my dolls was Boy. Oh, the adventures we had under that old tree. There were monkeys and apes from my imagination and we had some narrow escapes. On Saturdays I’d take my 12 cents and walk to the movie theater a block away and watch more Tarzan movies to fuel my jungle life episodes.

I drove by the property on the corner of Reno and Las Tunas not long ago. It’s now a parking lot for a K-Mart. But never mind, I have my memories and it will always be my favorite spot. Isn’t it wonderful to imagine and dream?


I guess I always knew my childhood was different from other children’s lives.  The children I read about in my collection of books, always portrayed a home with a picket fence in front and a mother who baked cookies for her children and a father who went off to work and came home at night.  Sure my mom was at home but our home consisted of a few rooms behind her beauty shop.  And Dad’s business was in the garage painting signs or trimming windows at the local department store.

My world of play was my imagination. I never thought that we were poor, but I knew money wasn’t plentiful either.  There wasn’t an abundance of toys but that didn’t matter.  I could always figure out something creative to do.

One day, when I was 7, I discovered a beautiful round beauty shop mirror stored under my mom and dad’s bed.  I pulled it out and cautiously leaned it against the bed.  I could see all of myself so I began to dance around in front of it, practicing the dance steps I had learned at tap class.

Suddenly the mirror slipped and crashed into many pieces.  I was horrified!  I remembered my mother telling me that if you broke a mirror you would have 7 years of bad luck.  I thought, maybe if no one knows about it, there won’t be bad luck, so I carefully took the pieces out the back door and hid them in some tall grass in the back yard.

Of course Mom found them.  She didn’t get after me but I felt terrible because I knew I had broken something very expensive.  In the midst of all the turmoil I did some quick calculations and figured that I would have bad luck until I was 14 years old.  (I remember turning 14 and thinking the curse is finally off!)