Twenty Minute Sundays & Me

Spring Break is over and the beginning of a new quarter lies 22 hours in my future. I would love to be a couch potato and watch Doris Day movies for hours on end, ignoring the blinding light of the speeding train headed in my direction. But my mind forces me to the realization that this is a golden opportunity of time to get my life in order for the next three months. Not only does school appear in my horizon, but also I have two major competitions to coordinate and my youngest child will graduate high school in June. My ducks need to be in a row and swimming along the straight and narrow just to keep my head above water.

sunday blog
Whitsundays Australia

Enlisting my go to practice of time management, work begins. I have a method for accomplishing a “to do” list with structure (my family and even co-workers shake their heads at my process) which is affectionately known as 20 Minute Sundays. In the truest definition, 20 Minute Sundays is a process of tackling a set of chores in twenty-minute intervals. It starts with pen and paper, jotting down general headings, usually four or five, and then rotating through the categories every twenty minutes. And yes I use a timer. I find it helps me stay on task and not get consumed with any one activity. Today I had four categories, Housecleaning, Cal Poly, Organize/Bookkeeping and Me. I really wanted to write and without a Me moment I might not ever finish this post.

So off I started, timer set, projects outlined and I decided to put The Office on Netflix for back ground noise. The Office is not only an iconic television show, but also one I have related to over the years. Themes and story lines that were funny yet piquant, resonated with me as an educator and office employee. Michael Scott could very well be the poster child of what not to do as a manager. Working through the morning the final season paralleled my movement through the list. Kitchen cleaned, syllabus complete, closet organized, blog writing, laundry started, and so on (you get the point). When the final episode aired it was time for a lunch break.

As it came to a close, Pam reflected on the series and how she didn’t watch their PBS special because it was just to hard for her to see herself.

It took me so long to do so many important things; it’s just hard to accept that I spent so many years being less happy than I could’ve been. It’d be great if people saw this documentary and learned from my mistakes. It would make my heart soar if someone out there saw this and she said to herself, “Be strong. Trust Yourself. Love Yourself. Conquer your fears. Just go after what you want, and act fast ‘cause life just isn’t that long.” – Pam Halpert The Office

And there it was, The Office connecting with me once again. Lately I have felt like I am afraid, unsure and basically worried about everything. Putting others first leaves one feeling unappreciated, tired and at times pretty unhappy. Am I being true to Jacky or am I being what everyone else expects me to be? This past year has been full of change and I have seen it as a sign. A message from above that I am missing out of opportunities that I am not opening myself up to experience.

Do I know exactly what I want to go after, maybe not, but I am going to build the strength to trust my feeling and conquer all obstacles. More time for writing and less time jumping to others demands.  Exploring more and allowing adventure to replace fear.  Allowing myself to relax and not be scared.

My timer just went off, and I must move on to another chore. (or maybe it is time for a little Doris Day) But fear not, my list starts with Me and that is a pretty strong heading.


You Got A Friend In Me

You got troubles and I got ’em too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together, we can see it through
‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me

Truth be told if I could be anything when I grow up it would be a writer. And although my blog is filled with words that are my thoughts, the idea of writing fictional stories dance around in my head like sugar plums on Christmas Eve. Few know of this dream and even less encourage my ambition of prose, yet there is one who yearns to read my first novel.

Yesterday was this very special person’s birthday. She is my biggest cheerleader, especially when it comes to my writing. Her continued requests for manuscripts is unyielding. Searching for that perfect gift I reflected of our almost five decades together. As her and I have traveled near and far, we have experienced food, fun and foolishness, that I just couldn’t capture in a wrapped package. So in honor of her, I thought the best gift was to spend some time writing.

I sit here on this rather rainy day and ponder on what to write. Although the date of my last blog posted does not reflect, I have began many topics in the past months. Yet never completing one to posting status. A second hand post from my past just wasn’t going to accomplish this special task. The birthday girl’s first idea for me when I started writing a blog was to explain how I managed to use rewards programs and points to subsidize my travels. But if you truly knew this Capricorn sister of mine, that topic really doesn’t capture enough for a birthday tribute blog. A short story, a day in the life, an adventure of Doris and Floris, just weren’t worthy themes, my quest was to find that timeless,yet simple truth that would not only celebrate the person, but capture the essence of Tisha Lynn Hammers Tucker.

I received a book over the holidays entitled So Audrey, 59 Ways to Put a Little Hepburn in Your Step. You can never go wrong with a little black dress, and who doesn’t enjoy a splash of color to brighten their day. Don’t even get me started on never underestimating the importance of beauty rest. Audrey ranks up there in all time classics and the more I thought about it so does Tisha. To celebrate her completion of one more time around the sun, here are ten tips to put a little more Tisha in your step!

1 – When life hands you lemons, grab paint, glue, pair of scissors and ribbon to transform into the centerpiece, champion wreath, parade float or craft of choice.

2 – Why wear rain boots, heels, slippers, or loafers, when a pair of flip flops can work for any occasion?

3 – Collect children, lots and lots of children, they don’t even have to be related to you or each other. The more children the better, allow them to come and go and by all means have great snack foods in a secret drawer.

4 – A fabulous glass of champagne is the perfect ending to each and every day.

5 – Love your family unconditionally, even when you want to strangle each and every member.

6 – Be the solution, always say yes to a task, and when the first two land you on the path of no return, laugh your way to the finish line.

7 – Develop the skill of ignoring all phone calls, text messages, emails and allow life to happen. A since of urgency and the need for instant gratification is highly over rated .

8 – Agriculture is God’s gift to each and every one of us, embrace a baby animal, smell freshly disk fields, and enjoy home grown gardens when given the chance.

9 – Be nostalgic. History and heritage are often taken for granted. Find the story in everyone you meet, trust me it is always worth learning.

10 – Your friends are your family!

Warning putting a little Tisha in your step might cause you long hours of work, wrinkles to form on your face from laughing to much, unending amounts of love to share and like the Grinch cause your heart to grow over night.  But any cue you can gain from her, would make that funny face of Audrey’s glow with a grin.

Saturday in the Park, I think it was the Fourth of July

For My Love of Farmer’s Markets & Great Stories

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a inquisitive girl with an endless imagination. Exploring her surroundings she encountered both friend and stranger. And when faced with an unanswered question she found it much easier to dream up a solution than trek through the woods in search of the truth.

Although this little known phrase may start timeless tales of childhood wonder, and  eventually be followed with the ever so popular “and they lived happily ever after”, life seldom is this clear and simple. Is dreaming up outcomes and making up stories the best way to start solving a problem and achieve that ultimate perfect ending to the story?

Over the last year I had the opportunity to work with a very talented lady on the subject of team building and communication in the work place. The most significant take away for me was the concept of “making up stories”. The concept is pretty simple. When faced with hear say, situations with holes in the details, or the art of reading another’s mind, just stop, open your mouth and ask the clarifying question. Start with the truth instead of your mind’s version of the tale.

Sounds fairly simple.  From my professional life to my to personnel relationships, I find myself constantly reminded not to make up a story. This valuable lesson has come in handy in the classroom as students toss ideas around instead of doing the research and asking the questions. And surprising enough I have discovered for most of us it is easier to make up the story than to actually take the time to form a clarifying sentence. Why is that. Are we just lazy? In a hurry? In need of entertainment? Or just stuck in a cycle of story telling?

Although it can be hurtful and down right frustrating having imagines dancing around in your head that are completely a figment of an outcome created in the space between your ears. It can also be fun. For example, who hasn’t sat at a restaurant and made up the fairytale story of the couple sitting in the neighboring booth? I decided to take this practice to the streets so to speak, and get to the bottom instaed of creating a tale for some unsuspecting stranger.

I love going to Farmer’s Market each week. It makes me happy. The thought of buying fresh goods and creating a culinary gem is truly a joy. After years of attending Templeton Park on Saturday mornings, the location of my favorite vendors and their products are second nature to me. Yet, there is one stand that I have never visited but is totally fascinating. Do I have my story all made up? Guilty as charged.

A single commodity stand with the same gentleman standing behind his table can be found park side come rain or shine. He sells squash and his product is perfectly presented, polished and uniform in size, shape and color. However, his inventory is always very low, sometime less than 15 vegetables. The economist in me just can’t wrap my head around how he can afford to continue to maintain his stand week in and week out. He is a perfect stranger that I insist on writing his biography. So I decided last week to change this pattern.

When I told my mother my plan to set the story straight so to speak, she was concerned that I would be arrested for stalking the poor squash salesman. But I am happy to report my findings and assure no security had to be called.

James DeWelt is a second generation farmer from Atascadero. His parents actually helped start the Farmer’s Market and he felt the need to carry on the family tradition after their passing. He grows one of the finest strands of zucchini. He plants five, 30ft rows which he starts a new batch of squash every three weeks to insure proper pollination. When a plant starts to show sign of age, he will replace with a new baby squash vine. He offers a very competitive price of $3/ pound. And he had clients lined up once the opening bell rang.

After our nice, educational chat, I purchased a pound of this exquisite vegetable. That night as we dined on our fact finding zucchini I couldn’t help but wonder, was it really the best squash I had ever cooked or did it just taste so good because I knew the real story?

We Will … We Will … Rock You #CPAGBROCKS

my grad
My Dad & me June 1989

As we approach June, I recall what I was doing nearly 26 years ago, getting ready to graduate from Cal Poly with a degree in Agriculture Business Management.  Fast forward to 2015 and the degree has changed to Agribusiness. I now sit on the other side of the desk witnessing a fresh crop of students getting ready to hit the work force. From technological advancement to the leading crops produced in our state the playing field has changed in so many ways.  The one thing that hasn’t changed is how important Agribusiness is to not only California, but to the world.

What is Agribusiness you might ask?  Wikipedia defines Agribusiness as the business of agricultural production. The term was coined in 1957 by Goldberg and Davis. It includes agrichemicals, breeding, crop production, distribution, farm machinery, processing, and seed supply, as well as marketing and retail sales. All agents of the food and fiber value chain and those institutions that influence it are part of the agribusiness system.

In Introduction to Agribusiness, taking a lesson from Ag In the Classroom, I would use a loaf of bread to illustrate the industry. Imagine every job that went into producing the product, from the farmer to the retail outlet, one would find sales, marketing, finance, accounting, policy and human resources were occurring. Agribusiness is a complex, broad area of study that represents many specialties and skill sets. But what makes Agribusiness special? Why a unique discipline? Seriously, what is the big deal?

AGB Gala 2014 ~ Student Hosts
AGB Gala 2014 ~ Student Hosts

Agribusiness enables one to not only learn by theory but apply it to an industry. One could even say “Learn by Doing.” Agribusiness is an industry that feeds and clothes the world. An industry that employees millions of people. An industry that is celebrated across our nation at fairs and festivals. An industry that involves generations of families, creates a passion, and connects people.

My blog is my content platform.  Those that read the posts get a glimpse into my mind set and thought process.  Once posted, my words are spread across facebook and LinkedIn with the magical click of a button.  However, the readers are basically my friends and family.  Many who have a similar background, knowledge base and lets face it a love of agriculture.  My reach is narrow in the quest to expand the importance of Agribusiness. Or is it?

The other night I had an epiphany.  What if I started a grassroots quest to spread the importance of Agribusiness.  More specifically, Cal Poly Agribusiness.  I have the skill set, the resources available and students full of content.  What was my call to action, the battle cry? #CPAGBMAKESADIFFERENCE was too long and #CPAGBKICKSASS was inappropriate, thus #CPAGBROCKS was created.

In the final month of spring quarter a group of Senior Project students are launching Thirty Days of AGB Champions across on the Cal Poly Agribusiness social media sites. With the #CPAGBROCKS as our inspiration, our goal is to showcase each and every senior.  Using simple mathematics if every student shares our post our message will spread faster than a juicy Hollywood rumor.  And while you are at it, feel free to use #CPAGBROCKS in any and all posts related to the world of Agribusiness.  As I watch the Class of 2015 cross the stage on June 13th, I can silently sing, We are the Champions.. No time for Losers ‘Cause we are the Champions of the World.

Follow our posts either on facebook Cal Poly Agribusiness Department or blog Cal Poly

bowling wfa 2013
WFA Convention 2013 – Cal Poly Fair Progam

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters Turn Around and Say Good Morning to the Night

Betty’s Beach Whitsundays Australia

When we began our Senior Project Australian Adventure and I challenged the students to write weekly blogs, they stared back at me with blank looks on their faces. Daunted by the task of writing was a definite draw back, but expressing their true, inner thoughts was the real monster in the closet.

Putting on my teacher hat, I attempted to find an example of how best to tackle this new chore. And then the light bulb appeared above my head, music. We all have some sort of musical “go to” place. From old school sources, yes I still have all my 45 records from junior high school, to digital accounts; it is likely that a soothing tune is no more than a finger tip away. A place we store all our favorite tracks that help us guide the many ups, downs, twist and turns of our daily life. Our playlist is a true glimpse into our souls. And maybe not something we are willing to share with the rest of the world.

Writing a blog is like exposing your playlist to the universe. It is scary putting your thoughts out in the public and opening yourself to the feedback of your readers. Or worse yet have a new post met with an empty void. I used songs to start each of my blogs down under, to keep in theme with my original playlist lesson. But now that I am back and my loyal readers (all 10 of you) are demanding new content. I found myself looking to music for my inspirations.

Attracted to the less straightforward lyrics, multiple outcomes and endless puzzles were quickly becoming a theme. Returning to my daily life six weeks ago I was instantly greeted with many new obstacles and or changes in my world. Some I had control over and others were just happening. I began to feel like Alice chasing the White Rabbit down the hole. Did I have to follow, expose myself to the change or could I sit back and wait for the outcome? And if I didn’t follow, would I be missing out on the best adventure of my life.

Maybe embracing the confusion and anxiety you experience in your daily life, although frightful to admit, will pull your world into perspective? By exposing your weaknesses you will only grow and expand as a person. Just like writing a blog post, you get braver which each and every word published. Maybe every time we turn the music up loud we are actually opening ourselves to a truer self?

Standing still and watching the rest of society try new things will never get you to the ultimate tea party. Personally, turning at the corner of “lets try something new”, always seems better than stopping at the crossing of “what might have been.” I am not saying we shouldn’t be cautious of giant pink cats with grins or eating unidentified food, but moving forward through the journey is the only way to find home.

While Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters
Sons of bankers, sons of lawyers
Turn around and say good morning to the night
For unless they see the sky
But they can’t and that is why
They know not if it’s dark outside or light

Our State Fair is a Great State Fair Don’t Miss it Don’t Even Be Late

Call it an addiction,  a genetic disorder,  a wild passion, label it any way you would like, but I have a love of agriculture and fairs running through my veins. And well that makes perfect sense to me as my heart beats to a tune of a different drum. I gravitate toward vintage livestock photos, snap countless photos of display ideas, and examine signage, fonts and program themes with the scrutiny of an orthopedic surgeon analyzing  X-rays.  And when I happen to be lucky enough to come across an inspiration, well I capture it.

Combine my heart with my head and that is where life starts to get a little “ranch”. My mind works in a fashion that is different from most.  I live on the corner of math and logic meet creative process and chaos.  Objects are not three-dimensional, but six dimensional.  I see things for what they are now, what they have been and what they could be in the future. The word that I have decided that best describes my true nature is creation.

The final week of senior project we celebrated American agriculture. We visited a farmer’s market, made brunch and dined like a family. We toured a brewery. Experienced the entire process from the grains being unloaded to the bottling line. And finally we visited the Royal Adelaide Showgrounds and learned the deep history of the Royal Adelaide Agriculture Society.  That was a month ago and here I sit still pondering how to express my vision in a blog post.

Harnessing that creative process and narrowing it down to a simple message is a challenge.  I needed a week at Brain Camp.  Time to change my perspective and tackle my dilemma from a different vantage point.  But where do I find the space, time, and that view from above?  And then I stopped and realized for the past three months I have done nothing but capture the little moments of inspiration.  Why not share them.  Sure there is no obvious common thread, but then again, isn’t the common thread my mind’s eye?

As we drove home from our tour of the Great Ocean Road, I looked at Lilly and said “Isn’t all this farm land just beautiful?”  From as far as the eye could see were open fields full of grazing sheep and cattle. We even passed a farmer in his field assisting a cow with her calf.  Hard work, land, nature, well that filled my heart and the many breeds of livestock, vintage farm houses and ratty old signs caused visions of fair exhibits to dance in my head.  So to all of those like minded fair crazies, this blog is a wish for a fabulous 2015 Fair season.



Some of God’s Greatest Gifts are Unanswered Prayers

Just stop for a moment.  Stop and think.  How many times did you want something so badly and it didn’t happen?  How many times have you (it is okay to admit it) looked up above and asked God for something and it just didn’t occur?

I confess, I am as guilty as the next guy.  From my kids successes to my own personal gain, I have peered above for some sign of what will be the outcome.  Guess what, I might as well as, flipped a coin to determine what would happen with that wish, hope or maybe even a prayer.  I do firmly believe in the power of prayer, I just think he saves it for the really BIG issues.

In the fall of 2009, I applied to be part of the 2011 Study Aboard experience in Australia.  I discovered in January of 2010, I was accepted and happily took on the role of getting students excited about the program.  But with the economic crisis and the exchange rate working against me, my dreams were shattered come October.

Fast forward to January 2014.  I sit in my university office, overwhelmed with planning the AGB Gala, class, and the dreary nature that winter quarter delivers and yo and behold I discover an email searching for professors for Australia Study Abroad 2015.

Was it a dream?  Was it a sign?  Lets face it the name Adelaide has had a soft spot in my heart since childhood.  I have actually longed to live in Adelaide (the area at home) I guess God does have a funny way of answering your prayers.  And well if the truth be told, if Nolan would have been a girl his name would have been Adelaide.  So I responded, crossed my fingers, and kept it to myself in fear it would fail.

Fast forward 12 months later and here I sit.  Call it “better late than never”, refer to it as “answered prayers”, but I will tell you the proof is in the pudding.  I can’t imagine experiencing this journey with anyone else but the twenty-eight Cal Poly Mustangs that I share Adelaide.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a few other bonuses in this unanswered prayer.  The exchange rate ROCKS! Luckily for my wine, fashion and “perfect bite” habit, it continues to improve the more I shop.  And did I mention the weather? Summer in Australia can be a day at the California Mid-State Fair, hotter than h#%$! We have had a few days over 38c (100 f).  It has been in the mid 80’s (non metric talk) and we have experienced cool, wet and windy weather. Which makes my thyroid so very happy.

Today starts our finals week.  Tomorrow we have our last supper as an entire group. Am I sad? Uh, yea, hello, have you not been reading my blogs?

I am going to miss those twenty-seven faces looking back at me in class. Their questions about wine, marketing and the look on one’s face when I actually teach a non business student something new. I am pretty sure they will never see a teacup the same again! I have always said to my classes, “I have three kids of my own, I don’t need anymore”, well I think I just adopted a whole ship full.

I will miss my conversations with my side kick Tom.  I seriously could have NEVER done this without him.  Tom’s experience in traveling can only be topped by his knowledge in teaching abroad.  I am not sure if we are the Mom and Dad of this group or the crazy, cool uncle and aunt.  Probably a combination of the all four.

But as much as I hate to admit it, I am going to miss our weekly outings with senior project the most.  They force me to do the one thing I have been pushing myself for three years to do…write in my blog!  And well to be perfectly honest, they have made this experience unforgettable.  They are all very unique people and have so many hidden talents.  I only hope I have had 1/10th of the impact on them, that they have had on me.  And worse case, God made sure we had some unforgettable adventures.

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Maybe Garth was sending the world the right message.  Just because things don’t always turn out the way you want, plan, dream, wish, pray, or whatever religion you embrace, it is OK.  Because sooner or later, and trust me sometimes it might be later, that great gift of hearing that non answered call makes perfect sense.  And it is f&^($@g unbelievable.



Chicago, Chicago That Toddlin’ Town

Dear Chicago –

For over a decade you have been my favorite city.  From your timeless architecture, to the nostalgia of Wrigley Field, from the lore of hosting the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 to the bulls & bears at Chicago Board of Trade, you just blew me away.  Yet, I feel the time has come for our love affair to take a back seat, as my heart has stumbled upon an unforeseen joy.

My new love is full of food, fashion and life.  There are many characteristics that you hold in common.  However, my heart now belongs to Melbourne.

In the movie Eat, Pray, Love, there is a discussion on how every city has a word, well Melbourne’s word is COLOR.

Enjoy a glimpse into Australia’s cultural capital.

PS I am saving the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the National Gallery Victoria for a later post.


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A B C ……. It’s easy as, 1 2 3

Well I am a week behind with my class assignment and blog writing.  They have kept us busy with field trips and out of class activities.  Learn by Doing was the theme selected for last week, and Better Late Than Never for this week.  I guess you could say I am living right on the edge of both topics.

Cal Poly has built the educational experience on the foundation of Learn by Doing.  As a product of that environment, I must say I embrace this philosophy in my classroom.  Luckily, the classes I teach lend themselves to this mode of instruction and make creating an interactive lesson plan seem natural.  My time in a University of Adelaide classroom as been no exception.

The majority of our class work has focused around the Australian wine industry.  We have been blessed to have two amazing guest speakers from the University of South Australia.  The current and relevant consumer and wine marketing research they have shared is overwhelming and inspiring. But that is just the nature of the wine industry in Australia. Their ability to collaborate instead of compete is evident in so many ways.

One noticeable object we encountered was that our students lacked a basic knowledge of wine.  Don’t misunderstand we do have wine and viticulture majors and others who have worked in the industry back in the states, but they are the exception not the rule. During my investigation for class material I stumbled upon the National Wine Center of Australia.  They graciously developed two classes for the students; one for our novice pupils and one for the students with a more sophisticated palate. These classes were Learn by Doing to the tenth power.

The majority of the students took a class called Wine Essentials.  They experienced different types of tastes, as well as, wine faults.  Then they learned the characteristics of wines that are traditionally produced in South Australia.  The second class, Brilliant Wines of South Australia, featured fourteen of the most well known wines in the market place.  The students were not only learning through doing, but they learned through seeing, smelling and tasting.

A couple of days later we had our last wine tour filed trip, a visit to the Adelaide Hills.  There was a noticeable change in the students approach to the tastings.  Their discussions were about the wine as an experience.  “This smells like tropical fruit”, or “Does this wine have lots of tannins?”, it was such a treat to watch them evolve and grow from our first wine outing.

Gaining even a basic understanding of wine is lesson best learned by doing.  And becoming a certified sommelier is not as easy as simple as do re mi.  The greatest lesson to be gained is, drink the wine that tastes good to you…. and that is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

And by the way,  we also learned a new definition for ABC, anything but Chardonnay.

Here is another post I did about Learn by Doing  It is a nice shout out to Western Bonanza which is happening this weekend.

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