The Parallel Road

This past September, my column was entitled Choose Life. At the time, I assumed I would receive the standard portion of negative feedback from readers—after all, I had crossed the “PC” line in that piece (as I often do) by mentioning God and quoting scripture. To my surprise, my estimations were way off, as I received a good number of positive comments and not a single negative one.pubmessage

And so, with that approving re-enforcement (my sincere “thank you” to all who responded) I shall venture a little farther down a parallel road…

With Christmas just a few days away and the end of 2014 fast approaching, it is inevitable for me, as it is for many, that my mind begins a process of reflection. I think of the year passing; of events and people and relationships.

My thoughts include the discouraging and negative experiences too, but not in a negative way. Indeed, I become excited about the blessing that each new year presents, as we are once again afforded another opportunity to “get it right.” The advent of 2015 brings nothing but possibilities, as it is (always) up to us, and the mistakes, wrongs and destructiveness of the past year are all just that—past.

I am always mindful of the fact that so much of our strife is born of fear; the seed of negativity and destructive behavior—the seed of evil itself. But fear cannot exist in the presence of its opposite—love.

And so, this holiday season, my wish for you—for us all—is that we have the wisdom to choose life… and love. That we reject fear and look for the good in each other; that we seek to understand; that we rejoice in our potential and seize the opportunity and blessing that lies ahead.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. Phil 4:8-9 (KJV)

He Said/She Said with Robin and Shawn

Dear SSHS,
My best friend is getting married soon and has asked me to be her maid of honor. The problem is I really don’t like the guy she’s marrying; I think he treats her poorly. Is there anything I can do at this late date to help her realize she’s making the mistake of a lifetime? ~Not Sold in Sunol

She Said: Well, you could refuse to be her MOH on the grounds you can’t support the marriage, but I can almost guarantee you’ll lose a friend, which is a pretty high price to pay for being right. Frankly, you should have expressed your concerns within the first few months of their courtship, because it’s too late now…unless she asks. If she does, be tactfully honest but let her know if she decides to go through with it, she has your undying support. That’s the role of the BFF and the MOH.

He Said: Like Robin said, you had your chance early on in the relationship and it sounds like you blew it. If this guy really does treat her poorly, then she’s going to need your support even more now. Voicing your displeasure with the hubby-to-be at this point will only drive a wedge between the two of you. I say go through with it, and make sure you step up your game even more as her BFF by continuing to support her when she does hit those rough patches in her marriage.
Dear HSSS,
The guy I’m dating is a “neat freak”. He insists on everything being a certain way in his house, and I’m just way more laid back than he is; otherwise we have great chemistry. I’m afraid if I tell him this is a deal breaker, he’ll flip out. What do you think I should do? ~Kinda Sloppy in Pleasantonhsss

He Said: You’re definitely in the minority of women on this one. And finding any type of chemistry, let alone great chemistry, is tough to come by. If everything else is great between you two, then I say get over it and focus on his better qualities. But if it really could be a deal breaker, then now is the time for a conversation about it. Bring it to his attention that his “neat freak” habits bother you, and if you both can’t compromise and meet in the middle, then you probably have bigger problems, and it’s time to move on.

She Said: May I have his phone number? Just kidding, but neat is a turn-on to some of us. As I see it, you get five non-negotiables in a relationship. They may include honesty, loyalty, compassion, communication, good social skills, intelligence, etc. Are you willing to use up one of your tickets on his being too neat? Now, if he’s controlling, that’s something else, and that could be a deal-breaker, but create your top five, and if he possesses those, try and overlook his persnickety-ness.HeSaidSheSaidgraphic

Robin Fahr is a public relations specialist and co-host with Shawn Shizzo on Conversations and He Said/She Said seen daily on Tri-Valley TV, Channel 30. Send your questions to

The Holidays: Renewing the Spirit

December: the month when most of us celebrate our faith. Our focus can sometimes be snatched, grabbed, and/or stolen, quite frankly, because we are bombarded with commercials and sales. We’ve already been through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, whatever they called their Thanksgiving sales. We have seen the fads, new toys; the “gotta haves,” and the pushing in line to get the “gotta haves.”makesense

One thing that never should be changed through all of this brouhaha is our spirit of renewal; of faith, goodness, and most important—family.

When we look back on this past year, we’ve seen a lot of stuff. Good stuff… but also a lot of bad stuff and strange stuff.

We’ve seen new technology; new phones, new tablets, new games. We’ve seen more hatred—from beheadings and shootings, to international saber rattling. We’ve seen politicians who seem more interested in fighting than running a government. We’ve seen computer hacking and social media hating and haters.

The strangest fad may have been just last month, with the huge craze of women wanting to augment their bodies to be just like J Lo or the Kardashians. What total nonsense.

Most all of us have become busier. We have more deadlines to meet. Our kids have more deadlines to meet. We hurry, we rush, we don’t take as much time out to do the things we think are very, very important.

So in this month, this month of December, with all of its multicultural, multi-spiritual holidays, let’s really take the time to throw out all the “noise and clutter” of the year and celebrate our spirits. And let’s make sure we know what the core is of everything we are individually. And let’s remember family!

From mine to yours: All the best.

It makes perfect Sense.

A Personal Christmas Story

Took a sentimental journey to renew old memories. Visited the Normandy beaches of France. Watched the names tumble by – Omaha Beach, Utah Beach, the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, Caen, Dunkirk, Bayeux, Cherbourg – on and on they rolled. No, I wasn’t there when they became household words. Too young, just finishing high school. But every day on the radio, in the newspapers, and on a big map at school and at home, I marked the locations with red lines and stars.Untitled-1

So I went back this fall, and once again studied the terrain. Walked the sandy beaches, threaded my way through the rows and rows of white crosses and Stars of David – and remembered.

And out of these nostalgic remembrances came, of all things, a very private and personal Christmas story. I ask you to bear with me for one month and forget about passport stamps. Travel back through the years to salute the life of one of the lucky ones who came home to build a better, stronger life here in America.

My story is about a friend who I will call Jim. Jim was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago during those nasty depression years. Jim’s dad was a plumber by trade, but similar to most men in those years he did not have a steady job. Each day he would carry a sign saying “Professional Plumber for hire,” and he might be picked up by someone with a plugged drain or a leaky faucet.

During Jim’s twelfth year or so, his father got a great two day job and was paid in cash on the morning of December 24, just in time for Christmas. On his way home that afternoon he stopped at a grocery store and purchased one orange for each of his children – a real treat in those days. The orange was one of those thick-skinned Washington navel oranges – one which you tried to peel without too many tears – maybe four inches across. It wasn’t one of those thin-skinned varieties.

Slowly over the years the giving of an orange on Christmas Eve became a tradition at Jim’s house.

Now Jim finished high school toward the end of World War Two. He enlisted at graduation, and a month later he was being shown which end of a rifle a bullet goes in, and which end it comes out of. A few months later he found himself filling in for some wounded GI only a few hundred yards from the German lines. His poor luck continued. Almost immediately on his arrival the Germans began a fierce counteroffensive which was called “The Battle of the Bulge.” The fighting was ferocious, and books and movies have commemorated this battle. While rations and ammunition were scarce, the USO still felt it necessary to deliver mail and packages to keep up the morale of the troops. Christmas was approaching.

Jim got his box. His kid sister had knitted him a pair of wool socks because his letters said his feet were always cold and wet. His mother had stuffed as many homemade chocolate chip cookies into the package as she could. And Dad – Dad, of course, added an orange.

Jim was lucky. He made it home. Got an engineering degree on the GI Bill, met a sweet gal named Pat, and got married.

On their wedding night lots of Jim and Pat’s friends got up and gave them a rough time, lots of teasing and laughing.Then it came time for Jim’s Dad to speak. Never a very articulate guy, the whole wedding party fell silent when he got up. He stood behind the mike, quiet for a few seconds, then turned to Jim and said “Jim, from now on you gottta buy your own oranges.”

Have a happy holiday season and eat an orange to remember one member of the “Greatest Generation.”

Slow G’s Eatery

It was one of those late night thoughts that creep so effortlessly in the dark of the night. I was sprawled out in bed, reading (something health/diet related) and was stricken with the fear that I was ostracizing you, the readers, and chastising those of you who were not living like me. Here I have been preaching to you my families new found glory in nutrition and health. Up on my soapbox, force- feeding you my philosophies and practices, and suggesting—nay, telling you, how you should live as well. These thoughts are a bi-product of our one-sided

Then I took a step back. Why shouldn’t I care about you and your longevity? Even if I never meet you, why shouldn’t I try and spread the gospel on nutrition and health? And why shouldn’t I be dismayed at the availability of businesses promoting the same message through their consumer-based fare.

I have decided that I was being neurotic, but I still very much want to hear from you. Like my Facebook Page, “Written By Tobin,” go to my website,, or follow me on Twitter @tullist, to open up the conversation.

So, I continue my quest with a little egg on my face.

Through a wonderfully executed cross-promotion with Acai-Me, my wife heard of an amazing, health conscious deli in the Fresh and Easy shopping center on Diablo Road, called Slow G’s Eatery. I walked in and ordered lunch and asked to speak to the owner. The man preparing my sandwich had a backward baseball cap and apron on and introduced himself as Gary. I explained how excited I was to find him and that I wrote the Restaurant Column for Alive. Without hesitation, he said “You’re Toby!” I had just met one of my readers.

Gary is one of our angels that have answered their calling. He traded the boardroom for cutting boards in an effort to make the world healthier without sacrificing flavor or quality. The egg on my face is that he has been doing this for three years! I was shocked I had not been here before, but I refuse to live in the past. I know now (after eating here a couple of times) that I will know Gary Ramponi for a long time.

Slow G’s has a three-pronged message: “Cut Sodium,” “Cut Sugar,” and “Cut Unhealthy Fat.” This is not enough to write on a logo and forget. People should live up to this high standard, and Gary is doing it! Here’s how: No packaged meats. Gary makes all of his own deli meat in house. Raw, skinless chicken breasts are the only way to cut sodium, pork and roast beef slow cooked in his dual ovens.

He makes all of his own sauces and spreads. His edamame pesto is out of this world; high in protein and fiber and replete with fresh basil and nuts (no added salt or sugar). He is at the Danville Farmers Market every weekend picking up his ingredients in an effort to maintain his farm-to-table mantra as well as supporting local growers. His bread is supplied by Semifreddi’s Bakery and he donates the daily-unused quantity to people in need through St. Vincent de Paul.

Gary’s motivation comes from the same place this article comes from, “a frustration of not being able to find a place where he knew the food was of good value and wasn’t laden with unhealthy fats, sodium, and sugar.” In short, Gary “get’s it.” He is doing for us, what we may be scared or intimidated to try ourselves, and he has been doing it quietly for a long time. My aim is to change that. Slow G’s Eatery is not merely a part of a movement, they are the driver.

So go and rediscover how a deli should taste. Introduce yourself to Gary, and tell him that you are interested in living a long and happy life.

440 Diablo Rd. @ I-680, Danville

Cruise Into Some Trivia

Just returned from a wonderful Princess Cruise to Mexico. My wife did not see too much of me because there were three separate Trivia games onboard the ship each day. They deal more in General information than I do, but there are some goodies I can share with you. Because the Entertainment staff is fairly British, no baseball. How shocking! Hope Princess does not sue me for stealing their material.

1. What was the first movie that featured Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers?

2. What is Sting’s real name?

3. Who was the first boxer to defeat Muhammed Ali?

4. What is the third largest sea in the world?

5. Who was the author of the book “Witches of Eastwick?”

6. My favorite. Shortly after Margaret Thatcher passed away, an old song was re-released and soared to the top of the British pop charts. What was it?

The Rouge Holiday Hot List

Let Us Make Your Holidays Merry and Extra Nice

Our Favorite Things
It’s that time of year when our beauty boutique comes alive with excitement with new cosmetics and gifts galore in every corner. To keep up with all the excitement, we have put together some of the hottest beauty gift ideas to help you find that perfect gift for your special someone. We want our store to be precisely where your gift list and happiness intersect. Nothing makes us happier than helping you make holiday dreams and wishes come true. Customer service is our passion and the force that drives us, every day, to surprise and delight you!

What’s Hot

Fleur Visage Waterproof Lip Liner’s. These extraordinary Lip Liner’s have the new technology women dream of. With a new gel formula that lasts all day, it includes a powerful stain, while achieving definition with a precise and effortless glide-on line. Add a little pop to your lips this holiday season with a perfect pout that won’t run into lines, fade, or smudge.

We’re excited to introduce our new, all natural, organic line Barr Co. It takes classic Americana style and combines it with wholesome, natural ingredients that have been known to do wonders for the skin. Pure-ly trendy to suit every taste.

Chan Luu’s Winter 2014 Jewerly Collection is in store and is sure to “wow” you this season. Known for their beautiful wrap bracelets, which come in an array of hand-cut semi-precious stones, sterling silver, gold vermeil, and custom dyed leathers, Chan Luu continues to be a trend leader in fashion today. Whether your style is modern/bohemian, or simple and classic, Chan Luu jewelry gives you the perfect, trendy statement for your own fashion canvas.

Have you ever wished you could capture the aroma of the holiday season? Well now you can, because Illume candles have done just that. Their scrumptious pumpkin collection for 2014, is the perfect gift to make anyone’s home smell like the holiday season. One whiff of this pumpkin dream and you’ll head straight to the bakery to order a pumpkin pie! They even come in different styles to suit everyone’s home.

Everyone is all about organic, natural spa products and what better way to spoil someone this holiday season than by nourishing their body with organic soaps and scrubs? We have a huge assortment of delicious soaps and scrubs with aromas to awaken the senses with every use. Heal the skin with the magic of the earth.

Michael Stars is always a popular choice for your loved ones. The Michael Stars scarf collection is so on trend and fashionable this season, everyone on your list will love them. Michael Stars collaborate cozy with style to ensure your look is smart and trendy all year round.

At The Rouge we only carry the finest cosmetics and skin care products, plus trendy Chan Luu Jewelry, Michael Stars, and spa indulgences that are sure to please. Don’t know what you need for holiday gift giving? We have holiday gift certificates and wish lists available.