Ms. Leachman



A few weeks ago I attended an event that featured a living legend: Cloris Leachman. There was a short documentary, followed by a Q & A with Ms. Leachman, led by Sharon Lawrence. It was kind of amazing.


Living in Los Angeles for a few decades now, I don’t always notice the stars and celebrities in my midst. You kind of get used to standing in line at the ATM with so-and-so from that show, or waiting for coffee behind that guy. Honestly, I take note, but that’s usually about it. Once in a great while, there will be a reason to share a laugh with someone or to comment on the day, but most of the time we all just go about our business, be it celebrity or otherwise.


But I do still become starstruck. It happens. Not with just anyone mind you, but with someone of such stature as to cause me to catch my breath and laugh nervously. That’s how I felt at the event with Cloris Leachman. I adored the documentary and the Q & A was terribly fun. Ms. Leachman was humorous, smart and lovely. At 90 years old, she’s working more than ever and sharp as a tack. She made me laugh out loud and it was awesome. My giddiness lasted all the way through the event, and by the end, I was so glad I’d attended.


After the presentation, loads of people walked to the stage and took selfies with Ms. Leachman, who obliged each and every one. I decided to just get a snap of the great lady, from afar. Then I walked around and talked with friends who were also there, checked my watch and decided it was time to leave. On my way out, I saw Ms. Leachman, apparently waiting for her car to arrive. As I walked by, I said, “Excuse me, Ms. Leachman. I just wanted to thank you for sharing your talent with the world. We are all better for it.” She reached out, took my hand, and thanked me for being a fan. With nothing left to be said, I smiled and wished her a pleasant night. I walked to the parking lot, got in my old car and drove home.


Some days are seemingly ordinary. And on some of those ordinary days, you cross paths with an extraordinary soul. In L.A., you never know who that might be. I’m keeping my eyes open.

Wary of Heat – Partly Melty



Okay. After very little sleep Monday night, and waking too early yesterday morning, I found myself dragging. Sleeping in a broken a/c, hot box of a house will do that. When I did get up yesterday, I immediately opened doors and windows in an attempt to let some cool morning air in. The inside temperature had gotten down to 84 degrees overnight, and after a few hours of morning air, the house dropped to 82 degrees yesterday.


And then I drove myself to an appointment and while everyone around me wrapped themselves in sweaters and light jackets (due to the office’s meat-locker temperatures), I sat there in my tank top and relished every second. It was as if I was trying to store the cold for later. I knew it wouldn’t work, but when you’ve got the vapors, you’re willing to try just about anything.


In the afternoon, I went home and found the needed part for the A/C repair waiting for me on the doorstep. I chug-a-lugged some water, put on a big hat, gathered all my tools in a bag and up the ladder I went. It was about 92 degrees outside, but it felt like 112 on the roof. Not wanting to dawdle, I got to work.


Did I also mention I was not wanting to electrocute myself? Because I wasn’t. Wanting that, I mean. In fact, I was so careful and taking such good care, that I hardly noticed the pool of sweat that was forming all around me as I worked. And when I hit a roadblock and needed to go to the hardware store, I didn’t think. I just went. Once there, I started to realize that folks were staring at me. And not in a good way. I can guaran-damn-tee I was the sweatiest white girl at the ghetto Home Depot and it wasn’t pretty. But I didn’t care. I was on a mission. And as soon as I’d acquired what I’d come for, I headed home. There, I chug-a-lugged more water then again climbed the ladder to the roof. This time I finished the job. And when I threw the breaker for the conditioned air machine, it didn’t trip. It didn’t sound like it was on, either. So I climbed the ladder a final time, to see if I could hear the running of the unit. I could, but barely. That’s when I realized that as of late, when I overheat, my ears clog. It’s been happening, but I hadn’t put it together. But I digress. Back inside, the a/c was on and the air output was cool. It worked. I had done it.


As of this writing, I am back in the land of cool, controlled air. (Dear lord – let’s keep it that way, um-kay?) Because I’m a wuss, it will probably take me a full day to recover from the last 30 hours of heat. Which is fine. My ears haven’t yet popped, but they will. Eventually. And I hope to get some solid sleep over the next couple of days. And to not melt. To paraphrase The Hulk, don’t make me melty. You wouldn’t like me when I’m melty. I know I don’t like me much during those times, even if I make for strange, sweaty entertainment at the Home Depot.


Wherever you are, I hope you’re reasonably comfortable and well. And I hope you’re able to maintain that. I super hope that for myself, too.

Wary of Heat



When I was a kid, living with my great-grandparents, conditioned air was nowhere to be found. There wasn’t so much as a window unit in the bedroom where 6 of us slept (no lie). In the heat of summer, Papa would place a fan in the front window of that room, but that was it. If we went to bed on a hot summer night, where the temperature was 98 degrees in the shade, you better believe it was 98 or more in that room.


And yet we survived. Never once did I like those particular nights, but they didn’t kill me. And before anyone in the peanut gallery pipes up, let me tell you – they did not make me stronger. Those nights served only to make me more wary of heat. And wary I am. Living where I live now, in Los Angeles, I roll with it. Because honestly – what else is a gal gonna do?


I like L.A. I like California. But it’s no secret that I’d prefer to live some place cooler. I’ve just never been a fan of heat. The desert is beautiful, but I don’t want to live there. And forget hot, humid places. I can hardly breathe in those climates. No – if it were up to me, we’d live above the 40th parallel north. Maybe way above it. But I digress…


Usually, my well-known frugality is ignored when it comes to paying the DWP for conditioned air. If I need to cut back on other things just to pay that A/C bill, I will. And I don’t even blink when writing that check. But sometimes, like now, I don’t get to write that check. For this is one of those times when the conditioned air machine is on the fritz, friends. Hopefully it will be repaired later tonight. But that’s tonight. Today we’re forecast to hit 95 degrees, which we also hit yesterday. Got sweat?


It isn’t the worst thing, the heat. But it sure ain’t good. Factor in the suck-the-life-out-of-me effect it has and, well…


I do have the pool. And I can always leave and go some place where the conditioned air is working. So there are options. Keeping those thoughts in my back pocket may very well serve to save my sanity.


In the meantime, I plan to shift my intentions around and tackle some very sedentary tasks. Things I can do while sitting on the cool, tile floor. Things like art projects or filing papers. I also plan to work on my attitude about the whole danged scene. It’s far too tempting to melt into depression over stuff like this. And I don’t want my mental state to be determined by the temperature of the air around me. I want to face the situation like a danged grown-up and get on with it.


All that being said, there is a very real chance I’ll curl up on the cool, tile floor and feel sorry for myself. I’m just being honest here. Fingers crossed, I’ll do better.

Hello, Sticky!



Now that Los Angeles is becoming more and more desert-like, I’m starting to see more and more lizards. To that I say, Hello, Sticky!


This not-so-little guy was hanging outside the back door, waiting for someone to open up and give him a primo opportunity to come inside. I don’t blame him. It’s been hot. But if I can work outside and manage to walk all over the danged place in the heat, Sticky can manage, too. At least that’s what I told him. I don’t think he cared much for my bossiness, as he gave me the finger, then walked away.


I’m only  half-kidding about that finger business. I’m fairly certain I saw this little guy flip me off. For reals.

Butt in Pool



Too – hot. Must – get – butt – in – pool…

So Okay



So okay. Summer is starting off, and that’s about the best thing I can say about it. The sky isn’t falling or anything. I don’t have fires in my neighborhood. Mister and I have our health.


Sometimes life just hands you a heaping helping of the blahs. And that’s how I feel right now. At least I think it’s due to life. It may just be the heat.


So okay. Life is going on and doing its thing and it’s fine. Better than fine, really. Just grand. At least that’s how I’m trying to see it. And this is one of those times when it really is a choice. So I’m gonna choose sunshine and unicorns. You got a problem with that? Don’t make me send my unicorn over there to kick your ass…

Doorbell Cover



This is one of my favorite creative projects at the New Pad. What you’re seeing above is in a hallway. Why the builders of this place decided to cut out a nook, I cannot say. It was a long, long time ago and I am not the boss of the past. But cut out that nook, they did. And that’s where the doorbell apparatus was installed. I have no idea how old the doorbell is, but I do know it’s danged unattractive. Ideally, something more appealing could have gone in. But I am a big fan of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra, and so the old, ugly doorbell was kept. Still – I sure didn’t like the yellowed plastic casing of the thing. So I devised a plan.


I took an old photo frame (that we already had) and made sure it was wider than the nook. Then I went to the hardware store to find some sort of patterned, cut-out sheeting. Honestly, I hoped to find plastic. But I didn’t. Instead, I found a sheet of cut-out metal. It would have to do. Because the metal’s gauge was of a certain thickness, I knew I had to also get myself some cutters that could handle the job. Once I’d purchased those items, I went home and marked out the size I needed for the metal to fit into the frame’s insert. Then I cut it – carefully – and used small glazing points to hold the metal in place. Once I felt that was solid, I took out the exact same paint I’d used on the walls and painted the entire frame/metal insert.


At that point, I considered installing a “shelf” just beneath the doorbell, to isolate and enclose the casing. But I got lazy. It happens. Instead, I attached super-sticky velcro to the wall and to the frame and hung the cover in place, with the bottom left open. I then hung 3 little paintings beneath the doorbell cover and bam! No more ugly doorbell guts. Not only that, the doorbell isn’t muffled or anything, so hearing it hasn’t been affected. And if I ever do need to work on or replace the doorbell, I only have to pull the cover from its velcro attachment for full access.


Like I said, this is one of my fave projects. It sort of disappears into the wall, which is exactly what I’d hoped would happen. I don’t see the doorbell or the velcro that holds the frame to the wall. All I see is a blended cover.


I absolutely love when an idea works out!




Yesterday, as I was treading water for exercise, I was also listening to some classic rock. You know – to pass the time. At some point, a familiar song wobbled through the Los Angeles heat, across the pool’s water and into my memory stores. I started smiling.


Years and years ago, when we used to buy vinyl (that’s right), I would regularly save my money until I had enough to go to the record store. And I remember going to the Jamestown Mall in North County St. Louis, in full quest mode. I had heard an amazing song on a local college radio station, by a band out of Athens, GA. And I wanted that record for myself. I walked through the store, flipping through a few stacks of vinyl and seeing what was new. After a while, I was ready to make my purchase and go home. So I moseyed to the “R” section and quickly found what I was looking for: Murmur by REM. The funny thing was, there were about 3 dudes close behind me. Apparently, they had the same idea as I and wanted to buy that very album for themselves. But there was only one copy. And I got there first. Being teenage boys, and feeling safety in numbers, they weren’t shy about speaking loud enough to be heard. They said things like, “That girl got the only one!” And, “She won’t buy it. She’s just looking. Girls don’t know anything about music.” They were just over my shoulder, and I could sense them waiting for me to put the record back in its allotted slot. I thought about how those St. Louis dudes probably didn’t even know where Athens, GA was. Hell – they probably didn’t know where the state of Georgia was. I turned to face them, smiling, and walked to the register. They actually followed me to the front of the store, as if I might change my mind. I didn’t. I paid my money, took my record home, listened to it about a jillion times and fell in love with the songs that would never be heard on the radio, college or otherwise.


It occurred to me, in that long ago moment, that I could have said something snarky to those boys. I remember thinking I could have made some snide remark about their mothers waiting outside to drive them home, while twirling my car keys on my middle finger. But I didn’t. I didn’t need to. I had gotten what I’d come for. And in that moment, those boys couldn’t believe a girl had bested them, though she truly had. All the way around.

L.A. Beer Week



We are smack dab in the middle of L.A. Beer Week and boy are my arms tired. Not that I just flew in or anything. Just kidding. That’s the kind of joke I tell when I’m all happy and hopped up on beer. Which I’m not, though I was on Saturday during the Kick-off Event in Downtown L.A.



There were well over 100 brewers in attendance and Mister and I intended to do our hospitable best to visit almost if not all of them. It was a hot day, and we were feeling it. We took the train downtown, so that neither of us would have to stay sober and drive. And by neither of us, I mean me. Because y’all, 99.9% of the time, I am the designated driver. So hallelujah! I got to imbibe.



And imbibe I did. I made a beeline for the Almanac Beer Company tent, as they’re one of my favorite producers of sour beer. I was not disappointed, and may have gone back for another taste. Or two.



Mister had read about Ladyface Ale and that was another of our first stops. It was also another tent we hit more than once. Their Flamberge was amazing and I absolutely adored it. Truth be told, there were loads of excellent local brewers in attendance and we did our best to try them all. Even though Mister took photos of the beer taps we enjoyed the most, I only managed to mentally hang on to a few examples. I should blame the beer, but I don’t. Instead, I blame the heat.



Let me say again that it was hot. H.A.W.T. Both of us had slathered on the sun screen and we felt fairly prepared. I was drinking water and snacking here and there…



…so the beer wasn’t knocking me out or anything. But by the time our friends Cher and The Professor arrived at the event, I was fairly sated. But sometimes you’ve got to dig deep and show up for your mates. That’s how I felt anyway, so I kept on tasting. And watering. And snacking.



Another thing I did was treat the event as a true tasting, as in when I’d had enough of a particular sample (or simply didn’t care for it), I dumped my portion into one of the many swill buckets stationed around the scene. Honestly, I didn’t think much of that action until The Professor saw me doing it and nearly had a conniption fit. I’m fairly certain he suffered a small stroke when he witnessed perfectly good beer being thrown away.



After four hours of fabulous beer, it was time to go home. Cher and The Professor gave us a lift to the train station, then started their drive south. Mister and I boarded the train and talked about the day. Mister was working on figuring out how much we’d actually had to drink over the course of the event. For me, he guesstimated about a half-gallon. For himself, he doubled that. I told him he was crazy, because if I drank a half-gallon of beer I’d be so many sheets to the wind, I could be Martha Stewart’s linen closet.



Once we reached home, I started to think a bit differently. It was barely 5 o’clock and we were both struggling to stay awake. Even though we’d used sunscreen, the sun had broken through that barrier and had toasted various parts of our non-SPF-ed bodies. Too tired to cook, we ordered a pizza and put our feet up.



I was pretty pleased with L.A. Beer Week’s kick-off event. We had some amazing beers. The crowd was friendly and happy. All in all, it was a fabulous day. I can’t hardly wait for next year’s tasting.


Be Still, My Bleating Heart



So. By the time the temperature had risen to 107 degrees yesterday (and still hadn’t topped out for the day), I had entered a sort of lull. It happened without fanfare and I didn’t know I was in it until I was – that’s right – in it.


Somehow, by the grace of every known god, the conditioned air kept pumping. Neighborhoods near and far were experiencing outages, and for the life of me, I don’t know what those folks did to keep it together. I had all sorts of plans, just in case we lost power, but I didn’t have to turn to any of them. Instead, I told myself to be still. To work in as sedentary a mode as possible. And so I did.


And then the lull happened. I was drinking water like a fish and doing my very best to stay mindful of any and all exertion. But that’s the power of heat. You can be as still as all get-out and heat can still lull you. By the time it hit me, mid-afternoon, I pretty much just tuckered out and fell asleep. Like I said, the air kept flowing, so I stayed alive, no matter what occurred. I imagine folks without options just fall asleep and that’s it. As in the Big It. Sounds ghastly and it breaks my heart to read about folks who die from excessive heat. On my end, I checked in on a few folks and made sure we were being smart about everything. As far as I know, all of us rode out the day.


Today’s supposed to bring a bit of relief. High in the 90s. That may sound bad to some, but it won’t be Satan’s-Butthole-hot, so I’ll take it. Lordy, lordy.