Walking In L.A.

 

 

Sometimes when I’m out walking, I see things that make me giggle. 9 times out of 10 I just walk on by. I don’t know why it is, but I rarely stop to take a photo of what intrigues me. I think this may be because my brain expects (and probably wants) to use a camera for photos. As I don’t usually carry a camera along for walks, my brain-hole doesn’t process any other means of snapping a pic. But once in a while I remember I have a phone on me. And when I do, I click away.

 

Anyhoo – I spotted the above discarded chair on the side of a residential street. It was placed in the shade of a magnolia tree, and I thought that was probably nice for some passerby, what with the recent heat and all.

 

Lest it be too hot for a magnolia tree’s willowy shade, there was also a fan just down the road…

 

 

Unfortunately, its inner guts were missing, so I think its ability to stir and cool the air would be more figurative than literal. Of course, I did not see a very long extension cord nearby, so don’t even get me started on the whole electrification of things.

 

In the future, I hope to remember my phone’s camera when I’m out and about. I always carry a phone when walking or riding my bike, so it’s not as if I’m without technology. If I can just tweak my brain into accepting the phone’s camera as a real camera, I’ll be set.

Thursday Memories

 

 

Me in the ’80s. I do believe this was the humble beginning of my flipping off cameras. Go figure.

 

Someone I know in L.A. once saw this photo and said, “Oh! You were cool!”

 

Friends – to this day I have no idea what led him to say that, as I see nothing in this pic that yells cool. And how can a person tell if someone’s cool from looking at a picture anyway? What about personality? What about soul?

 

For the record, I was just a regular girl. A bit of a dork, to be sure. I had my good days and my bad. And while I recall a heavy use of hairspray, for the life of me, I do not recall feeling cool. Not at all.

To Everything – Turn, Turn, Turn

 

 

I look for them every year. Sometimes I miss them, short-lived as they are. But I never forget to look. And when my timing is just right…

 

Champagne Grapes are in. I don’t know the varietal’s true name, but that’s okay. If I say “Champagne Grapes,” everyone knows what I’m talking about anyway. And they are spectacular. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but they’re tiny little dudes. The largest is barely the size of my thumbnail, and y’all, I have girl hands. They come and go so fast, it’s easy to blink and never catch a sight. So when I scored some at the market this week, I was downright giddy. They’re such a treat, I fully expect to breeze through this bunch in only a couple of days. If I’m lucky, there will be another round waiting for me at the market. If I’m lucky.

 

Mister’s Mama told me she’s been eating Olathe Corn as much as possible. And now her markets are getting Colorado Peaches in, so she’ll be adding those to her line-up. Most of us food dorks have our calendars in mind when we shop. We know when strawberries are in season. We know when to search for favas. And speaking for myself, I don’t get too down about a fruit or vegetable moving through its growing cycle, as I know something else will soon be ready for harvest. That’s how it works. Turn, turn, turn. And it’s beautiful.

 

In the meantime, I am so happy to be snacking on the sweetest little grapes around. And I’m so grateful I spotted them this year. Lucky me.

Done

 

 

I finally finished going through all my receipts from my big filing project. The kept receipts have been filed and I am feeling pretty darned happy about it.

 

Sometimes a project is necessary, and that’s reason enough to tackle it. But I won’t lie – the sense of accomplishment is pretty danged sweet, too. It’s gratifying. And not only that, but I also know exactly where to look for a receipt, should I need it. That, friends, satisfies me beyond belief.

 

My inner dork is sated.

Monday, Monday

 

 

So we survived the hot weekend. We survived a gas leak. And we survived binge-watching “The Curse of Oak Island.” Basically, we survived.

 

But that isn’t fair, really, as we also had good food and laughs. There was a late-night swim with our buddy Feeny. There were naps and painting and filing and living. It was a weekend. And weekends, at their best, are lovely.

 

It was lovely. And now it’s on to Monday, Monday. I can trust that day. And today is a good day for a good day. Let’s live it, shall we?

 

Here we go…

And Then This Happened…

 

 

Last week a ‘possum saved our lives. True story.

 

The other night, Mister and I had just settled down for a medium summer’s rest, when outside our bedroom window, there arose such a cladder, we decided to ignore it and check it the next morning.

 

After my first cup of coffee, I remembered the din of the previous night and moseyed outside to see what the heck had gone down. There was nothing much to eye, other than the crawl-space cover on its side. I looked around and figured we’d heard a rambunctious opossum, out for his nocturnal adventures. (They do that around here.) I put the crawl-space cover back in place and chilled the hell out. At about that time, Mister came round the corner, just to see for himself what had caused the previous night’s ruckus. And that’s when he said it: “It smells like gas out here.” He was right. Our gas meter is on that side of the house, and there was a definite odor in the area.

 

Now y’all – I have been saying I’ve smelled gas on that side of the house for, well, probably since we moved here. But whenever others were there with me, no one seemed to notice it. I didn’t think I was crazy or anything. I just chalked it up to sensitive olfactory glands and let it go. But when Mister noticed it, too, I decided it was time to act.

 

I called the gas company’s hotline for leaks and such and my call was answered by either Beavis or Butt-Head, I’m not sure which. That guy was so pained to deal with me, it was all I could do to force him to register my call. The first thing he told me was that a general odor had been reported in my area and that no further action was necessary. I asked him to confirm the area and he gave me a place name about a hundred miles away. I said that couldn’t possibly be relevant to my home situation, and made him go through the processing of my complaint again. At some point he began arguing with me about the pinpoint source of the leak. Rather calmly (I must admit, I was impressed with my ability to not blow a gasket), I told the service person that “I am not a professional, I don’t claim to be a professional, and I have no intention of lying just to make your job easier.” I reiterated that the odor was localized and strong. He agreed to send out an inspector and that ridiculous phone call ended.

 

About a half hour later, there was a bit of noise on the side of the house and I walked out to find the gas company rep writing up his report. He told me he had definitely seen lesser leaks, but that this one was dangerous. He had to shut off the gas for the sake of safety. He then showed me the corroded gas pipe and said it was clearly a leak site. He walked me through the necessary steps I’d have to take in order for the gas to be turned back on. Basically – I would need to contract a plumber to remove the damaged pipe and replace it. Then a pressure test would need to be performed, to insure there were no other leaks. Then and only then would a gas company inspector be sent back out to confirm the repair and turn the gas back on. Easy, right?

 

I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in L.A. it takes a while to get a service person to your home. And once you achieve that step, an estimate must be obtained. If accepted, the actual work appointment can then be made. I was told we’d have to be without gas from 2 to 4 days. And yes – it’s summer and we don’t need to turn on the heat. But hot showers are nice, aren’t they? And cooked food is pretty slammin’, right?

 

Actually, I accepted the situation right away. It was a safety issue, after all. And then I admitted cold showers aren’t the worst thing in the world. And we do have a grill, so we wouldn’t have to go on a raw-food diet or anything. And I even accepted – reluctantly – that this whole she-bang would require a big, fat check. (I may need therapy for that one.) All in all, I knew it could have been worse. Like the house could have blown up.

 

So I set up a few estimates, but ultimately went with my go-to guy anyway, as that fellow shows up when I call. And that is pretty danged awesome. In fact, he had the repair wrapped up within 24 hours. We then had to wait for the gas rep to return and verify the repair, before turning the gas on. Once that was checked off, we were back in business. Two and a half days had passed, and we were still alive.

 

Hot water is now available at the turn of a knob. I can cook on the stove and in the oven. And – perhaps most important – we are safer than we were before.

 

If I can impart any wisdom from our experience, it is this: never underestimate the value of the opossum. Last week, an old ‘possum saved our lives. At least that’s the way I plan to tell it from now on.

Satan’s Butthole

 

 

Yep. We’ve had it good. For quite a while we’ve been waking to a lovely marine layer and its benefits. Our weather has been the thing for which we’re envied. And we’ve enjoyed it.

 

Now we wake to a fierce sun. Its force is so powerful, it scorches by day and then the air barely cools down at night. It’s been this way for a couple of days and looks to stay the same for several more. There are heat warnings in effect. Shelters have been set up. Iced tea has been made and is being consumed in copious amounts. At least that’s true in our house.

 

I remember a few decades ago, when Mister and I first moved to Los Angeles, we rented a little house with a single window-unit a/c. During one particular summer, Satan’s Butthole-temperatures were hit and remained for a week or so. One or two days were so bad, I headed to the beach for cooler weather. Once I got there, I found little relief, as the harsh heat was beating up the beaches, too. Anyhoo – one afternoon I returned home and began opening up the house in a vain attempt to cool it down. As I walked from room to room, I stopped before the dining room table and stared. The candlesticks that were left there had drooped to one side and melted. That’s how hot it had gotten. I seem to recall hearing we had peaked at around 111 degrees or so. Maybe it was more like 109. But really – it didn’t make much difference. Once you hit H-A-W-T, a couple of degrees just don’t seem to matter.

 

Today I plan to work out early (we’re nuts, I know), then be as still as possible for as long as possible. I have plenty of sunscreen, a big hat and pool floats. That water may just save our lives. That and the conditioned air and iced tea. I’m just sayin’.

Mentor-Mentee

 

 

There are experiences and situations I aspire to know in this life. Some make sense. I’d like to see Rome, Paris. I’d like to hike down the Grand Canyon. I’d like to learn to speak a foreign language (beyond menu comprehension). And then there are things I’d like to know that, well, don’t make much sense at all. Namely – I’d like to have a mentor.

 

I’ve felt this way for many, many years. And I’ve never been clear as to exactly what said mentor would teach. I’ve just known I wanted a mentor, that I wanted to be a mentee. It’s dorky, I know.

 

Anyhoo – I’ve begun work on a new painting. It’s a commission, so I care quite a bit about how it turns out. I very much want the recipient to like it, and because it’s of a personal nature, I want it to have meaning for the family receiving this work. And have I mentioned my painting instructor is on sabbatical? Well he is. And so I’m painting like I do, but I usually at least have the benefit of his telling me to keep going. You see – I don’t always trust myself or my eye. It is during those times that a respected voice can really comfort and inspire, simply by saying something like, “Good, Mikki. Good.” I don’t need crazy praise. And I don’t need someone to do my work for me, either. But I trust my painting teacher, and his opinion is, for me, beyond measure.

 

So as I’m working on this new piece, I occasionally step back and try to imagine what my teacher would say. I try to see the work through his eyes and hear his comments. This is impossible, of course, but not unhelpful. As it happens, this tactic has led me to make creative choices that are quite beneficial to the painting. And I’m starting to see that I have some capabilities here. There will always be more to learn, but I am learning. And that counts.

 

At one point while trying to channel my painting instructor, it occurred to me that he is my mentor. That he is teaching me more than I ever imagined, and he is doing it with grace, confidence and refinement. This man is a wonderful artist in his own right, but he is a magnificent teacher, and I truly believe his vein of gold lies in instruction. Not only do I benefit from his artistic knowledge and training, I also benefit from his humanity.

 

Sometimes we are aware of getting what we want in life. Sometimes we’re not. Finding out I have a mentor took me by surprise. And I am a better person for knowing him. Fingers crossed – I aim to be a worthy mentee…

Wrong Month

 

 

This is a June Bug that Mister saw and rescued from the pool. The little guy is actually a nice size – about an inch in length. His iridescence is lovely and I almost can’t stand how gorgeous he is.

 

When I was a kid, we would try to catch June Bugs. When we did, which wasn’t always, we’d tie a thread to one of the poor critter’s legs and hold the end of the thread while the tethered bug flew round and round. It never occurred to us that our pastime was cruel to the June Bugs, I admit. To our credit, once we’d bored of that activity (or the poor bug’s leg broke off), we would set the bug free. We simply weren’t kids who smushed bugs.

 

I don’t know why southern folks called these little guys June Bugs. And to be clear, the ones I grew up with were slightly less green than the variety shown above. If I’m being proper (why start now?), I have to tell you the specimen in the photo is actually a Fig Beetle, which is what we have here in California. But to me, he’s a June Bug. Even if it is August.

 

When I visited an equestrian event during the recent Special Olympics, I experienced a June Bug incident. I was sitting in the stands, watching the riders in the ring. Suddenly I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder. I turned to see a lady wearing a shirt that read “Argentina.” She said, “Be still. There’s a bug about to crawl on you.” She began swatting near my assular region, and I looked over my shoulder. I saw a beautiful, large June Bug by my bum. The woman was quite concerned as I said, “Oh! That’s just a June Bug. He’s harmless. They like me. See?” At that, the June Bug crawled up my arm, and made himself comfortable. The Argentinian lady was not calmed, however, so I stood up, climbed a few steps to the open air outside the Equidome and sent the June Bug flying. Finally – the lady from afar seemed content. We both settled in and watched the event. But I have to tell you – I don’t think that lady was actually afraid of the June Bug. As I remember it, even after that little beetle was happily crawling up my arm, that lady was still swiping at my derriere. Maybe that’s how ladies meet ladies in Argentina. I guess I’ll never know.

A Fit, I Tell Ya

 

 

The other night, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I was overcome by a sneezing fit. I wasn’t ill and there was no allergen trigger. It just sort of happened. After the 4th bed-shaking achoo, I knew I had to get up and wait for the spell to pass.

 

I’ve had these sorts of sneezing fits for years. They can come on any time, any place. And once a fit hits, I have to ride it out. Because of experience, I can usually tell when I’ve just had an ordinary sneeze, versus the first sneeze of a fit. That knowledge serves no useful purpose really, other than to inform me of what lies ahead. Mister can’t stand the fits. I know this because of his exasperated sighing and admonitions to blow my nose. As challenged as he seems by my sneezing fits, you’d think they were happening to him.

 

The problem is I do blow my nose. And I look up at the ceiling, chanting, “Banana, banana, banana” in hopes of calming whatever is dancing around in my sinus passages. And none of it seems to work. Once those nasal cilia start grooving, I am bound to sneeze. And sneeze. And sneeze…

 

Not too long ago I was driving when I felt the first sneeze of a fit coming on. I don’t know what possessed me, but I looked at the mileage on my old car and started counting. After covering one mile (at 35 miles per hour), I had sneezed a total of ten times. That’s ten blow-your-socks-off-because-you’re-alone-in-the-car sneezes, y’all. Seriously – I nearly pulled a muscle.

 

After my sneezing fit took hold the other night, I got up for a few minutes and waited. It didn’t take long, then I stumbled back to bed. I didn’t sneeze again all night. In the end, I had only racked up 5 sneezes. As I slipped into slumber, I smiled to myself and thought, “Amateur.”