ThankYouVeryMuch

 

 

The other morning, Mister and I were smack-dab in the middle of our P90X workout when I realized that for a particular weight-lifting exercise, I was getting into an Elvis pose. That itty-bitty thought made me giggle, which made the workout a bit easier. (Laughter – it does a body good.)

 

Later that afternoon, I was standing in a grocery store check-out queue when I spotted a tabloid headline saying something to the effect that Elvis had been murdered. I was checking out the tabloid’s coffin photo of The King when I noticed a gentlemen in line beside me.

 

His clothes were nice but nondescript. The only interesting thing about his attire was the way his collar was turned up. He was a slight man, his full height barely reaching an inch or so above my shoulder. And he was elderly. But none of that was worth noting. What was worth a second look was the man’s hair: it was a full-on Elvis wig. And that thing wasn’t fancy, no sir. No spendy human hair there. It was made of plastic doll hair, pitch black and a little matted in spots. When I stole a peek at the sideburns, I could see the glue on his cheeks, holding them in place. More than one clerk addressed him by name, so he’s surely a regular. No one said a word about his get-up. Instead, he kept trying to talk football with someone. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut and not say I’d watched the weekend’s games. But I didn’t open my pie-hole. I just let the old dude finish his shopping and take his leave.

 

Sometimes I have odd magnetic days like that. I’ll have something particular dancing around on my brain, and before you know it I’ll have run into that very thought in multiple manifestations out in the world. It’s just something that happens, and if there’s a greater meaning in it, I’ve yet to understand.

 

As for this week’s Elvis wave, all I can say to the Universe is ThankYou, ThankYouVeryMuch.

WEXMAS

 

 

For 10 years now Mister and I have been fortunate enough to be invited to an annual event known as WEXMAS. It’s been going on for 15 years, so we feel attached to this seasonal soiree and its attendees. This past weekend, the bash went down.

 

 

WEXMAS, in its youth, was known as “Armenian White Elephant Christmas Party.” Our friend, Feeny, is the hostess with the most-ess and she throws a mean WEXMAS, with an Armenian feast and more panache than you can shake a tinseled stick at. Each year, Feeny brings an eclectic assortment of folks together to exchange the weirdest, coolest and sometimes grossest gifts imaginable. For instance, there’s been an actual “Golden Ticket” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. There’s been a giant bag of shredded US money – $2 million dollars worth (I kid you not). Those things are awesome. But there’s also been a box of various half-empty lotion bottles and a glass penis sculpture. One man’s trash…

 

 

This year Mister and I put together a box of assorted finds from the new abode (shown above). Most of the items were discovered around the house, left behind by the previous care-givers (cassettes, Leif Garrett book, old “Vibe” magazine). A couple of items came from our own moving boxes (DVDs, Guinness Book of World Records – 2000 edition, CDs). A couple of included items were old WEXMAS gifts that we never disposed of (fireworks, colored Margarita salt). This box of goodies was funny and desirable – it was “stolen” once by someone who got all googly-eyed over that Leif Garrett book. Again, one man’s trash…

 

 

Mister and I have not always fared so well in these exchanges. We’ve come home with some real doozies. Some years we’ve immediately placed our “gifts” into a goodwill box. Other years the items have ended up in the trash. That glass penis sculpture? It’s packed away somewhere. We’ll find it eventually and then we’ll decide if it’s a keeper or not. If it’s to go, it will be wrapped and set aside for next year’s WEXMAS.

 

This year, however, Mister and I ended up with some pretty cool goods. He got this awesome framed-fish-photos piece, which we will actually hang, y’all.

 

 

And I ended up with a “Sweet Valley High” board game. Someone at the party asked if I planned to sell it on eBay. I told her I planned to play it. (Duh.) And I will.

 

 

WEXMAS is always the party of the year, and I suppose that can be attributed to a variety of factors. But the biggest reason the party is so killer is Feeny herself. She is so amazing. Honestly, Mister and I marvel at this gal and feel tremendously honored to know her and call her friend. She’s cool, she’s smart, she’s funny, she’s hot. And we love her. Truly.

The Professor

 

 

Note: I wrote this a few days ago, but am only now posting.

 

Russell Johnson, “The Professor” on Gilligan’s Island, has died.

 

I know untold criticism has been leveled at the show. I know some of you may think it’s the dopiest waste of time on the planet. For all I know, you’re right. But there is something more to be said about it: Gilligan’s Island saved my life.

 

These are the opening words of a short story I recently shared at my women’s writing group: “I was first left alone to babysit my two young sisters when I was 6 years old. As I had no idea what I was doing and in fact needed my very own babysitter, I turned to the only source of comfort in our house: the television. Early on, my TV-sitter of choice was Gilligan’s Island. Those re-runs kept me company and helped me laugh.”  You may need to re-read those words in order to understand the gravity of what I’m trying to express. I was 6. Responsibilities larger than my small frame were placed upon my shoulders. I was in the first grade, y’all. It was terrifying and overwhelming to have to care for my 2 small sisters. I was incapable of the task, but no choice was given. I broke down more than once, sobbing because I didn’t know what to do or how to process my situation. To have an escape – in any form – was life-saving. TV was my only escape.

 

There were other shows, sure. But Gilligan’s Island was my favorite. Here were 7 people in the impossible situation of being stranded on a tropical island, with no means of rescue. They were all different, and yet they somehow managed to survive. No, I take that back. They somehow managed to thrive in the face of their isolation. And “The Professor” was a key player in their lives. He re-charged radio batteries with pennies for cry-eye. “The Professor” rose to every challenge and never showed defeat.

 

I looked to “The Professor” the way some might have looked to their uncles or big brothers. He was smart and funny. Trustworthy. And when I saw him handling challenges on the island, I was inspired to do my best to handle the nut-job challenges in my little kid world. And the laughter? All I can tell you is I didn’t completely lose my mind during that time. I think laughing had a lot to do with that.

 

When I watch Gilligan’s Island these days, it is purely for entertainment. I usually pop in a DVD while ironing. It helps to pass the time and yes, it keeps me company. As it happens, I have a fairly decent pile of laundry in need of my ironing attention. Some time in the next few days, maybe I’ll get out my ironing board and my Gilligan’s Island collection. It’s the least I can do for “Roy Hinkley” after all he did for me.

Christmas All Over Again

 

 

I recently mentioned that Mister and I are finally unpacking some boxes, nearly a year after moving into the new abode. Through this task, I am beginning to understand something very important: not all boxes are created equally.

 

When I opened boxes containing bowls and coffee cups, I got all smiley. By the time I got to the boxes of Mister’s parents wedding china, well, I was a giggling fool. I understand my appreciation of the china. It has history and it’s beautiful. I also understand gratitude for the extra coffee cups. Since I only operate the dishwasher once every few days – when it’s full – I sometimes run out of coffee cups. The extras will make a big difference on that front. But the bowls? The IKEA bowls? They should produce absolutely no joy in Mudville, and yet they do! What can I say? I’m a dork. A very simple dork.

 

It’s funny how we all have our things that make us happy. What spins my wheels may bore the stuffing out of you, and vicey versey. And that’s okay. I suppose it’s a blessing just to have one’s wheels spun in the first place. (By the way, what things do you have that make you smile? Just curious.)

 

For now, I’m overjoyed to have a few more dishes in the cupboards. To quote Jack Osbourne (something I do all the danged time): “It’s the little things, Kelly.”

20 Years Ago…

 

 

Today marks the 20-year anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake. It ripped through parts of southern California at 4:31 am on 17 July January 1994.

 

Mister and I were asleep, like we should have been, when the rumbling started. It was loud, y’all. Super loud. When a book case fell on the foot of our bed – in the pitch black of early morning – I thought maybe the ceiling was falling in on us. The only light I saw was the reflection of the flash produced as electric transformers blew. Then there was the crash of the bathroom wall mirror being torn from the wall and hitting the floor.

 

I won’t lie – for a few seconds I had no idea we were experiencing an earthquake. My cold-war childhood led me to believe we were being attacked, that war was taking place. Because the earthquake lasted around 10 seconds, I had time to figure out what was happening while it was happening. Then I knew we had to take action.

 

I yelled to Mister to find some shoes and get them on, quickly. We pulled on clothes and got the hell out of the house. We were lucky – we were able to open our garage manually and get the car out (nothing much had crashed down on it). We sat in the car, in the driveway, listening to the radio for emergency information. After only a few minutes, our next door neighbors came to check on us. They invited us over for coffee.

 

Terrified of being alone, we accepted their invitation and entered their pristine home. They had already cleaned up the mess suffered in their house and had fired up their portable generator. There was indeed coffee, as well as other edible comforts. These particular neighbors had lived through the Sylmar Earthquake of 1971 and were prepared. Though aftershocks were already rattling, those neighbors took care of us and soothed our frazzled nerves. I will be forever grateful for that.

 

After a while, Mister and I decided we needed to get back to the house and inspect the damage. Once more, we were lucky. The shattered bathroom mirror was the worst of it. We cleaned up the mess and tried to calm the heck down. It didn’t really work, but we had to try.

 

The Northridge Earthquake messed me up for a long time. When the very earth beneath your feet is unstable, what does stability even mean? And all those aftershocks? Each one sent me reeling.

 

There have been other earthquakes in the last 20 years, and there will undoubtedly be others. But the Northridge Earthquake – that one was a doozy. I may remember it today, but I do not remember it fondly.

Mr. Bill

 

 

I was cruising Ventura Boulevard recently and spotted Mr. Bill Murray on the boot of the car in front of me.

 

I love Bill Murray. I do. I first fell for him when I was a wee lass, sneaking up late at night to watch Saturday Night Live. Most of the jokes were beyond my single-digit age, but I still laughed. A lot. I wasn’t crushing on Bill Murray or anything. I just liked him. He seemed approachable. My young mind trusted him.

 

When Mr. Bill left SNL and made his first movie, “Meatballs,” I went nuts for it. I still flippin’ love that movie. For all its dorkiness, it has so much heart. I like to think that if I’d ever gone to summer camp, it would have been that one. At least that’s the way I’ve always imagined it.

 

When I saw the sticker on this car, it made me smile. I don’t know a ding-dang thang about Bill Murray. He may be the most ordinary guy on the planet, or he may be a gi-normous freak. Either way, thoughts of him reside in a special place in my heart. Clearly, a Maxima driver in L.A. feels the same way.

Oddities Schmoddities

 

 

After posting about finding a dead hummingbird by my back door, I heard from someone who wondered if I kept any of the feathers. I did not.

 

Those feathers were indeed beautiful, but I am a bit of a germaphobe. As it was, after I moved the little guy out into the yard so that he could decompose (or serve some other purpose in life’s circle), I about needed a Silkwood shower. I know, I know. It’s my sickness.

 

But thinking about keeping things like feathers and frog skeletons – which my dear reader listed among her own collection of oddities – I got to thinking about a super cool place I once visited.

 

It’s called the Natural History Museum at Tring and it’s located in Tring Hertforshire in the UK. When Mister and I went, we were told by a dear friend and Tring resident that the main thing to look for was the flea wearing a sombrero. Our buddy assured us that was the most brilliant item in the museum. Once inside, we realized our friend was a bit whacked out.

 

The museum houses countless specimens, many now extinct. I don’t recall how far back the collection dates, but it is astounding. As Mister and I wandered around the museum, our mouths were agape in awe. There was so much to see, my brain nearly overloaded. By the time we found the flea wearing a sombrero, we had toured the entire facility and were absolutely gobsmacked.

 

I don’t mind when folks have their own private collections of oddities. I mean, there are limits, people. No shrunken human heads or anything. Please. But regular old stuff that occurs in our natural habitats? That’s okay. Shows a bit of character, if you ask me. Odd character, maybe. But character, just the same.

 

And by the way – if you ever, ever, ever find yourself near Tring, make a stop at the Museum of Natural History. It’s worth the trip. And yes, make sure you find the flea wearing a sombrero. You’re welcome.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 2

 

 

 

So week 2′s D-squared T-squared Challenge has been completed. This one was just Mister and me, like the first week’s challenge.

 

I’ve been away from music for quite a while. It’s been my choice, and the distance has been something I’ve felt I’ve needed. I’ve not so much as thought about writing a song for yonks. My guitars have been packed away for ages.

 

When Mister suggested co-writing a song as this week’s challenge, I didn’t put up a fight. I simply got out my old notebook and unpacked “Connie Jean” from her dusty case. As most of the idea for the song came from him, I made him sing it to me so that I could find the melody and chords. Honestly, I pretty much just took what he gave me and followed it. I contributed very little.

 

But here’s the thing: I did it. I didn’t fight and I didn’t fret. My fingers remembered how to play guitar and my voice, well, I keep my voice in pretty good shape. So that part of me sounded the way I expected.

 

I won’t be sharing the rough with you here, as I prefer to clean up recordings before opening them up to scrutiny. But that’s not the point. The point is – week 2′s challenge is checked off. And it was music. And my head didn’t explode (nor did my heart). Maybe there’s hope for me yet. Maybe. Thanks to Mister.

The Circle of Life

 

 

Yesterday Mister and I awoke to find a dead hummingbird outside the kitchen door. The feeders are located nearby and we don’t know if he mistakenly flew into the glass or what. (Mister thought I should title this post “The Circle of Crack,” as those danged hummingbirds can’t seem to get enough of the syrup we make and place in the feeders.)

 

The little guy was just lying there. He was still beautiful, even in his death. (And though this specimen is all browns and is probably a female, I’ll keep referring to it as a male.)

 

I love hummingbirds. I love anything that fertilizes my plants and helps my food grow. I see dead honey bees all the time, and that’s heartbreaking, too. Seeing this little guy is just as sad for me.

 

Right or wrong, I placed the little guy in the yard. He’s part of the circle of life. And that’s okay. It really is.

Snuggle Weather

 

 

Here in California, we’re not hurting on the weather front. I know some folks are going through unimaginable cold these days, and I don’t know how to respond to that. I’ve experienced ugly-cold before, but only in short bursts. This sustained freeze you’re enduring is nuts. Honestly, I don’t know how you’re all doing it.

 

The only thing I know for sure is this has got to be the very definition of Snuggle Weather. I’m fortunate: I’ve got Mister. And that guy is a little heater. I also have a cozy, comfortable bed. I know that’s a blessing, too. And I appreciate it. Tremendously. There’s something about climbing into a made bed with smooth sheets that causes me to smile. The promise of comfort, of rest, is beautiful.

 

I do hope you have someone to snuggle with during these cold, winter nights. It makes all the difference in the world. It certainly does for me.