That Time of Year



It’s that time of year, when Mister and I are trying to catch up on movies before the Oscars. It’s no easy task, I tell you. Movies take time and money. After the deluge of holiday releases, we’re behind in our viewing of awards contenders.


There have been some awesome pics here at the turn of the year, but my fave is still The Way Way Back, released in July of last year. Just thinking about it gives me a smile.


I can’t say the same for some recent releases, but overall I’m enjoying the viewings. And the Oscar nominees will be announced January 16th. Fingers crossed for my choice!

Lost and Found



Mister and I are a couple of months shy of one full year at the new abode. So of course we’ve just now started unpacking. Jeez Louise.


I am not a hoarder. Simple enough statement. But Mister. That guy will save just about anything, if left to his own devices. I get on him (as space is finite), and he’s started to get on himself, too. It helps. But the impulse is still there. Pray for him.


Anyhoo, as we’re starting to slowly go through boxes, we’re uncovering things packed away long ago. Things we thought were gone. Things we simply forgot. One such thing is a pillow Mister made when he was a kid. It’s a yarn, latch-hook thingie with black felt backing. The front shows Snoopy and Woodstock.


Now this is positive hoarding! I love it because kid-Mister made it. Mister loves it for, well, I don’t know why he loves it. Maybe for the very same reason.


Reasons aside, it’s staying. Other items, not put away or set aside, are finding themselves in a big old goodwill pile. But not Snoopy & Woodstock. I’ve already snuggled with this pillow while napping. Yes, it’s staying.

Hiking in The Desert



I wanted to finish up my desert business by sharing photos from a hike.



This particular hike took place in Pinnacle Peak Park, and man oh man is it spectacular. Living in La-La Land, I’ve become a bit jaded when looking at vistas and backdrops. So much of what I see around home is fake. So when I took a gander at the surroundings of Pinnacle Peak, I wondered if it was real. I mean, the terrain looked like a freakin’ professionally landscaped garden! How was I supposed to believe my rods and cones were accurately interpreting a natural, random landscape? But then I thought about it and decided Mother Nature is surely the ultimate gardener, so there you go.



This particular Saguaro Cactus seemed to be pointing the way, so that no one would miss the trail.



Speaking of the trail, it’s only 1 3/4 miles long (one way). And it isn’t a loop, so if you find yourself in Scottsdale and decide to hike this lovely terrain, keep that in mind. No dogs or bikes are allowed, but there were about a skillion people on the trail the day we hiked it.



But oh! It was glorious. I highly recommend it.


D-Squared T-Squared – Week 1



My New Year’s Day post contained info about a weekly challenge for the year. However, the post did not provide info on the challenge’s origins.


Mister and I are happy drunks. (We’re not drunk all the time, mind you, but when we do imbibe to the point of inebriation, we’re happy. So glad to have cleared that up.) Anyhoo, we’re happy drunks. And when we’re tipsy and smiley, we tend to grab a telephone. That’s when the Drunk Dialing commences.


It was during December that one such tipsy and smiley evening occurred. We hatched the idea to come up with a weekly challenge for 2014: one creative session/challenge per week. Once we decided to include friends and our fingers did the walking, it was a snap. (Remember that old phone ad?)  We call this ambitious project “D-squared T-Squared” – or “Drunk Dial Think Tank.” Jealous?


So this past weekend Mister and I kicked off the challenge with week 1′s project: photographing Los Angeles’ Union Station. We didn’t invite anyone, as we sort of threw the outing together at the last minute. The 2 of us hopped on the Metro Red Line and got off at the last stop: Union Station. The first thing we did was hoof it over to Philippe The Original – the place the French Dip Sandwich was invented…



I don’t like this place. I love it! The sandwiches are super-yummy and the pickled eggs are a rare treat…



With full bellies, we were ready to begin the photo session. We took the long way back to Union Station, walking through Olvera Street…



and Chinatown…



We’d covered a lot of ground by the time we made it back to Union Station.


We carried our own cameras and tooled around separately to take photos. Union Station, for those who don’t know, served as a major setting in the movie Blade Runner. (It’s been featured in other movies, too.) And though it’s considered small in comparison to other Union Stations (according to the folks at Wikipedia), it’s still pretty spectacular. It’s gorgeous and when I’m there I feel a sense of timelessness.



Back to the project… Mister and I had taken about all the pics we could and were pretty tired from our downtown day. (We had been to Mexico, China and the set of Blade Runner, for cry-eye.) So we decided to get back on the train and head home. Mister’s now whittling through his pics, to decide which is his favorite. And that’s the goal: 1 good photo. Taking pictures is tricky. You want every single one to be a masterpiece, but it doesn’t (usually) work that way. Out of an entire session, most of us will end up with one really good photo. Maybe. That, friends, is success.


As for my own favorite, I’ve decided this little snap will do just fine for my first week’s project…


Top Dog



I have a new favorite dog.


I met Bentley during our recent Scottsdale visit. He’s gorgeous, yes. But that’s not what made him top dog in my book.


That dog won my admiration while playing hide-and-seek with his bone. Here’s how it went down: Bentley brought the bone to my feet and dropped it. His master told me I should go and hide the bone somewhere in the house. I did. Bentley waited, patiently, until I returned to the room and took a seat. Then he headed off to find the bone. Within a super-short period of time, Bentley returned with the bone and dropped it at my feet. Then he picked it up again and went back around the corner to some other room in the house. After a moment or two, Bentley returned and sat at my feet, sans bone. His master then informed me it was my turn to go and find the bone, as Bentley had hidden it for me. What the? I wasn’t as fast as he’d been (super-keen sense of dog-smell and all), but I did find the bone and Bentley looked pleased.


Bentley did a lot of other impressive tricks, and I enjoyed every one. But the hide-and-seek routine – that really won me over. Here’s to you Bentley! Long may you reign!


La Cucina Italiana – Finita



La Cucina Italiana has been my very favorite food magazine for a few years. I have shown unrestrained excitement each time an issue has arrived. The recipes, the stories, the photos – I have savored every page.


And I’ve saved every issue I’ve received. I keep them in a nice, tidy stack – ready to peruse any time I need a dose of Italy. I’ve made full dinners from its pages and I’ve drooled over yet-to-be-tried recipes.


The current issue is to be the last released in America. I learned this when I read the editorial near the beginning of this issue. The magazine has been around since 1929 (!), so the end of its run is a heart-breaker. I know my heart is broken.


I suppose the on-line version will be readily available, and just as informative and entertaining as the printed version. But I’m not content with that. I’m old enough (and therefore “coot” enough) to feel disdain for a multitude of changes brought about by technology. Losing the printed page is one such change. I don’t like it. I may have to roll with it, but I do not have to like it.


And while I’m being my true coot self, I’ll tell you this: I don’t think it’s very good for us. There are roots and nobility in the printed page. There is magic in holding an aged book. There is possibility in flipping through a magazine’s pages, hoping something will catch the eye. And yes, I simply like the feel of a book (or a magazine or a newspaper) in my hand. More and more, I find myself missing these things terribly. (And yes, I express these feelings here – in an on-line forum. Being part of what I complain about is my cross to bear.)


It is with a heavy heart that I bid arrivederci to La Cucina Italiana. I will miss it terribly. I am a very lucky gal to have saved all those previous issues. Very lucky indeed.

Driving Into The Desert – Food



“If’n you’re starving there is a place I like…

food’s what you’d expect and generally served by tweakers –”




At some point, Mister and I had hit the straight-road-dippity-do traveling wall and decided we needed to get back to the main highway. That, and we were hungry. So we took Brian’s advice and stopped.


He didn’t lie. The food was indeed served by tweakers. The food wasn’t extraordinary either. But I did get in some primo people watching.


There was one dude who kept going outside. I assume he was a smoker. Each time he came back in and headed to the table where his 2 lady friends were waiting, I imagined a bit of his personality. I ended up picturing him going into a clothing store and saying, “I’ll take this shirt. You can keep the sleeves. Don’t need ‘em.” He certainly wasn’t wearing them.


Once the tweaker brought the check, Mister and I zipped back to the 10 and headed into Scottsdale. By the time we were near our friends’ place, the sun was setting.


It was a long day of driving. We’d seen more than we’d expected and had laughed a lot along the way. Mister’s good company. Roadtripping with him is fun. We don’t do it very often, so these rare trips count for a lot.


Remember being a kid? Didn’t all our family trips involve the car? What happened to that mode of travel? I don’t know. But this particular trip was lovely. I super-enjoyed the desert contemplation and the open space. I even enjoyed the straight, dippy road.



I wouldn’t want to drive it all the time though. A gal needs curves every now and then…

Driving Into The Desert – Continued



“On 62 is the MESSAGE FENCE we were telling you about –

it’s on the south side of road with the railroad tracks to the north –

it’s easy to see and worth stopping because it’s total Americana –”




The road was crazy-straight. The day was clear so we could see as far as our eyes would allow. There were no bends, no turns. Just straight, desert, 2-lane road.


There were dips, however. Big dips. Roller-coaster dips. Mister and I were cruising along, losing our stomachs to our throats, only to settle down for a mile or so before the dips started up again. And here was the funny thing: about every 10 miles there was a sign reading “Dip.” And that particular dip would be so minuscule as to make us wonder why a sign was posted at all. The other dips, however, were mondo. And around those puppies? Nope, nary a sign in sight.



Anyhoo, as we drove along in search of the Message Fence, we spotted something else: a desert totem pole with Iron Mountain in the background. Filled with notes and mementos, it is a cool piece of art. My favorite bit of eye candy on this one is the mailbox at the top of the pole. The flag is up, waiting for attention.




After a short couple of minutes admiring the totem pole, Mister and I continued our drive. At some point we realized we were paralleling the train tracks to the north of us, and started looking for the Message Fence on the other side of the road. When we caught sight of – something, we pulled over to get a closer look.



I don’t know what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. The “messages” are mostly comprised of shoes. Yes, there are a lot of single shoes, but there are also a ton of fully mated pairs. Some of the shoes appear old or torn. Others look to be almost new. The collection is beyond odd, with the only uniformity being footwear.



There are a few other odd items thrown in for good measure, and those were just as interesting (or not) as the shoes. Some folks wrote on the items. Others didn’t. Erosion isn’t taking too quick a toll on the shoes, so I suppose this “art” will last a long while.



What I wondered was this: how the heck did that first person decide to attach shoes to a barbed wire fence? Was there a message? Is there a message now? I mean, I tried to glean some meaning from the spectacle. I tried to understand how so many soles might relate to our souls.



I was still trying to understand as Mister and I steered our way back onto the straight desert highway. And much like I’d felt after leaving that homeless kid outside our first desert stop, cluelessness abounded. It seemed the desert wasn’t giving anything away.



But I didn’t dwell on it too long, for I was getting hungry. And if I recalled correctly, Brian had some recommendations on that front…

Driving Into The Desert



“Following is a way to go to Scottsdale — it’ll probably add 45 minutes to an hour to the journey…”





So Mister and I headed off to the desert, to spend the New Year with our buddies. About a week before our trip, we’d run into a dude we know, Brian, and he’d told us about some of his favorite spots along the way. It seems Brian’s traveled off the beaten desert path quite a bit, and his suggestions were much appreciated.


When road-tripping, tips and ideas are godsends. To have the counsel of others who’ve gone before can be more valuable than a map. Or certainly more gratifying than a run-of-the-mill GPS. So we took Brian’s notes and drove into the desert.


But here’s the thing about travel: no one can tell you what your experience will be. They can only share their own experience. Your perception is up to you. And that’s a beautiful thing.



When Mister and I pulled over for a biology break, there was a homeless guy sitting on the ground outside the fast-food joint we exploited. He looked to be a kid, no more than 30. His red hair was matted and bushy. His red, sun-burned skin should have been pale. His dirty cheeks should have been clean. His darkened eyes should have been gleaming. I, like so many others, passed by him as I entered the building. When I exited, I gave him a sandwich and some bottled water. He thanked me then heartily tore into the food. It was Mister’s turn to drive, so I got into the passenger seat of the car and we aimed ourselves toward the desert, away from the main highway (per Brian’s suggestion).


As we drove away from the urban experience, I wondered about that homeless kid. How did he get there? He was wearing a gold wedding band, so where was his spouse? Would he survive the cold desert night?


I couldn’t answer any of those questions. Still can’t. All I could do was send him prayers and brace myself for the impossibly straight road ahead. Surely a turn was coming…


Penny For Your Thoughts




The other morning, I woke to find Mister looking up at the ceiling. Actually, he was dreamily gazing toward the ceiling, with a slight smile on his sleepy face. He looked so happily hazy. I wondered if he was thinking of a sandy beach, or a divine meal. I tried to climb inside his head, to understand what thoughts were producing that peaceful, smiley face. I finally gave up trying to read his mind and just asked.


He said he was wondering what the highest possible Qwirkle score could be on a single play, and whether or not one could achieve that amazing score more than once per game.


What. A. Dork.