Merry Christmas, Y’all!

 

Wanted to send out sweet wishes for a Merry Christmas. So-Cal style…

 

Palm Tree Rudolph - Made by Gwendlyn

Family Heirloom

 

Have you ever had a thing in your life that you just assumed would always be there? For instance, sitting where I am right now, I can see a couple of paintings I anticipate keeping until I die. I see a book I don’t plan to part with. I even see a very old (and very fragile) tapestry pillow that’s dear to me and that I will fight for. (I’m pretty sure it’s not Mister’s favorite, so a fight could theoretically come to pass.) Yes – I’m talking about stuff here, but it’s stuff I like. Stuff I love.

 

It happens. We fall for things. Sometimes we encounter something and know – all the way down to our toes – that we are smitten. Those moments don’t have to make sense. Those items don’t have to make sense. We feel what we feel and that’s that. Other times, however, with other things, the bonds are slow to develop. We don’t realize it’s happening, but those items are endearing themselves to us, day by day, year by year.

 

Broken Egg Plate

 

That’s what happened to Mister and me with our old deviled egg plate. We got it soon after we were married, as I thought Mister’s famous (and secret-recipe) deviled eggs deserved to be presented on a worthy tray. So I found a simple but lovely Indiana Glass tray and that was that. It survived multiple cross-country moves and multiple raucous parties. It has held all varieties of egg and then some. (We are big deviled egg fans, y’all.) And we loved it.

 

Alas – nothing is forever. The old egg plate made one last appearance at one last party and her number came up. My heart winced, at her loss, but Mister seemed to take it a bit harder. I guess I was surprised by that. But I also understood. I’m a sentimental gal. I can’t help but empathize with the sentimentality of others.

 

Because it weighed on him so, Mister took it upon himself to find a suitable replacement for the old egg plate. Without really knowing it, he tracked down another Indiana Glass tray. This time it’s blue. It hasn’t been christened yet, but will be soon. I’m sure the eggs will be delicious. And I’m sure that in no time our new family heirloom will endear itself to us and our table. Even if we don’t realize it’s happening.

Thursday Memories – Christmas

 

 

This photo was taken some 20-odd years ago at a Christmas Pajama-Jammie-Jam Party. Mister and I threw the bash and darned near every single guest showed up in their jammers. (A few wore next to nothing, so be careful what you wish for when throwing a themed party. I’m just sayin’.)

 

As you can see, I am asleep. And not fake asleep, either. I am full-on, smile-on-my-face, dead-to-the-world asleep. Here’s what I remember: I did a walk-through to pick up stray cups and trash. By the time I went into our room, I thought how appealing and comfy the bed looked. I thought I’d just have a lie down, to confirm how appealing and comfy the bed was. My intention was to simply enjoy the moment, then return to the party. There was a party, remember? And it was going full-swing. There was music and drinking and other stuff, noise and revelry and laughter. It was a good time and I was enjoying the heck out of myself. But then that danged bed caught my eye. Within seconds of lying down, I was out and that was it. Later, I was told that Mister and a whole bunch of people had come in, found me asleep, taken various photos, laughed and made fun of me. Then they all went back out and resumed the party. I didn’t wake until the next morning.

 

Here’s hoping the parties of this Christmas will leave us all filled with joy and good spirits. And, when the time is right, may we all find appealing and comfy beds for our winter slumber.

Flower Power

A while back I told y’all I was crocheting squares for blankets, blankets that would be donated to women going through critical treatment at a local hospital. I said something or other about the beauty of doing something for others, knowing there would never be any acknowledgement from said others. That the giving was the reward. I was content with those thoughts and figured I’d pass on the squares and the rest would be out of my line of sight.

 

Turns out, it was going to be a bit of a hurdle to get those squares to someone who might turn them into the needed blankets. Instead of fretting or waiting, I decided to just take care of it myself. I hadn’t imagined my squares being used together, for if I had, I wouldn’t have embellished so many of them. (I’m a girl. I embellish and bedazzle.) But embellished they were, and I worked with what I had on hand.

 

As I connected the crocheted squares, I did see flaws and janky stitches. I saw mistakes and even added a few more. And through it all, I prayed that the piece be imbued with love. Just love. And an interesting thing happened. I was filled with love. While I worked on the piece, I was calm and content. And when it was finished, I knew it would appeal to some quirky, spirited individual. And that she would love it. I call it Flower Power…

 

Flower Power Blanket

So. Alabama. (This is a Rant and a half, y’all.)

 

The South

 

When I think about all that’s going on in the world, there’s too much ugliness for focus. Sadly, I could rattle off about a jillion topics, but the standouts at the moment – in my mind – are these: the swirl of activity around hate is seemingly endless; sexual harassers and predators, who have existed for all time, are clueless regarding just about every little thing under the sun; and the racists of the world are too stupid to recognize their rightful place – beneath rocks.

 

On the hate front, religious hate definitely pops up. It seems that a lot of hate stems from anything different from ourselves. For some reason, we are particularly unhappy when others don’t bow to our own deities. Honestly – I don’t know why we give a rat’s ass why someone aligns with religions different from our own. As long as folks are good and decent, why should their worship matter? I won’t lie – I do know a couple of judgey Christians and they’re no picnic. In a single breath, they will gladly tell you what they believe Jesus would do, then proceed to say something vile and decidedly un-Christian-like without so much as the batting of a holy eyelash. I occasionally have to deal with these folks, so deal I do. In direct contrast to them, when I’m around good decent Christians, it’s a friggin’ delight. Recently my sweet friend Gwendlyn said she was feeling overwhelmed by the way so-called Christians are perverting her faith. I suggested that if Jesus does ever decide to come back to this planet and chooses to land in the U-S-of-A, he’d best make his appearance in California, as it might be the only safe place for him. If Jesus popped up in some parts of the country, while wearing his half-dress/half-robe and sandals, I’m pretty sure some gun-totin’, Republican, self-proclaimed holier-than-thou Christian would bust a cap in Jesus’ ass. I’m also pretty sure the shooter would fire in the name of – you guessed it – Jesus. The dead guy in the street.

 

Hate isn’t limited to religious differences, though, so a plethora of others receive a ton of disdain on a regular basis, too. I find I’m at a loss on this front also. I mean, how is homosexuality a threat to my marriage? The answer is – it isn’t! Never has been, never will be. I see you, wide-stance politicians who protest the loudest in public, while getting a little too close to young same-sex colleagues in private. And please remember, most of us have eyes. We all see you.

 

When it comes to the subject of sexual harassment and assault, I am completely biased. Not only because of my own experience as a female, but also because of the experiences of every single female I know (and of course – the ugliness isn’t limited to female victims). I could write a book of #MeToo horrors, and that’s just one gal’s experiences. The ridiculousness of what we live through every single day is appalling. Truth is, I don’t know how some of my friends and acquaintances have managed to live through all of it. I really don’t. And I say that as a victim of assault. So yes – I’m outraged. But I’m also incredibly proud of all the women (and men) who are coming forward with their life stories. I admire them and I support them. And if I hear one more asshole say something about getting past all this, because he’s sick of hearing about it, I may have a conniption. Newsflash, motherfuckers – there is no getting past it. Predators are too stupid to evolve into decent people, and we seem to have a steady stream of idiots in our midst. Hell – we in America have installed a predator-in-chief! I can hardly believe it, but we did. And I will never understand how parents bring themselves to support a predator in office, or anywhere, and still have the audacity to consider themselves decent to their children. I don’t get it. (And please don’t try to defend yourself to me if you’re one of these lost souls. Just unsubscribe. Um-kay?)

 

No, I don’t worry about how long the calling-out of sexual harassers and predators will go on. I’m more concerned about it stopping too soon. It needs to continue, to keep going. Sadly, it will take more years than I have left to live, in order to see real change. That breaks my heart, and yet I still support every victim who finds her (or his) voice. One final thought on this. If you’re the type of male who believes females are the weaker sex, you may want to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Women put up with more shit in a single day than most of you could handle in a decade. Weaker sex, my ass.

 

I also have a few thoughts about racists and they’re not good thoughts. But before I share them, I want to remind some of you that my exposure to racism is vast. My Georgia childhood was a master class in how to be a dumb-fuck racist. Here’s another newsflash: I failed. Despite being raised in a house where I was regularly told my skin color made me better than others, the outside world told a different and wonderful story. I was ten years old when I fully realized, all by myself, that I wasn’t any better than people of color. I was an observant little kid – and a straight-A student – and I decided to share my newfound knowledge with my family. For I was a giver, don’t you know. That big moment found me at the table for supper, announcing, “I don’t think there’s any difference between white people and black people. My friend Leslie, who’s in my same grade, is just as smart as me and she’s nice and pretty, too.” I was immediately slapped across the face by my father. He told me I better not ever say things like that again, and that I was wrong and if I knew what was good for me, I’d shut up. Well I did have some idea what was good for me, so I did indeed shut up.

 

But I knew more. I don’t know how, but I did. I knew I had been right in thinking Leslie was my equal. Hell – she may have been smarter. She was certainly prettier. To this day, I don’t know why I knew my father was wrong. I just did. I had found truth. And if I had to keep my mouth shut about it, in order to protect myself from physical harm in my own home, then that’s what I would do. But that demanded silence didn’t change anything. For I knew – in my heart – that I was right.

 

Here’s the thing, and this is mainly for you closet racists. If you stand on a corner and announce that you don’t believe a suppressed and persecuted group of people has any damned reason to complain about the state of their lives, you simply cannot feign surprise when other people, who consistently make the same announcement, decide to support you for your speechifying. In other words - if you stand with white supremacists, you don’t get to be upset when they stand with you. In announcing your racism (whether it be overt or closeted), you basically gave yourself a debutante ball and invited your fellow racists to attend. And that’s on you, every single time. It doesn’t matter how you all got to your privileged perches. You’re there now and the view is the same. And it ain’t good.

 

And that’s the problem, y’all. I and about a jillion others know nothing but white privilege. That’s not our fault, per se, as our skin color is just our skin color. It shouldn’t mean anything, because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just part of how we look. But, and I’m being honest here, it’s all I know. Being white is my only experience. I can do my best to empathize and I can do my best to understand, but I will never ever know what it’s like to go through this world as a person of color. I have no idea what it’s like to be judged adversely for my skin. No one had to teach me how to behave if I ever found myself face-to-face with a law officer aiming a gun at me. Do you know how many parents are mortified that their children will be lost forever just because of their skin color? I didn’t have that hanging over my head when I was a kid. Still don’t. I can’t imagine what that must be like for the kids, any more than I can imagine what it’s like for their parents. It’s terrifying. And ridiculous. And utterly stupid. But that’s what racism is, folks. Utterly stupid.

 

And for my white peers who still think Black Lives Matter is a crock, I feel sorry for you. You’re so ignorant you can’t even see how ignorant you are. Or maybe you’re too superior to admit you’re wrong. Or maybe you’re both of those things, along with a slurry of other ugly isms. That’s all pretty pitiful.

 

I was reading an article about a new book by John Hodgman. In the piece, this excerpt from the interview with the author is quoted: ”Why did it take me till my 40s to understand that the biggest privilege of white privilege is the ability to turn off race and pretend that it is not an issue?” At least Hodgman got there, even if it was in his 40s. Too many of us haven’t gotten there yet. And god help us, too many of us never will.

 

All of this brings me to now. So. Alabama. The big news of yesterday was the turnout of good, decent people in the 22nd state of this country. The majority of voters declared their kith and kin as being off-limits to known predators (and unknown, too, I pray). The good folks told their daughters (and sons) that they will believe them, should they ever need help. They told their kids that they won’t look away from their young souls, and that their kids can count on them. Those voters made it clear that a modicum of decency is required to occupy their highest offices. And that hopeful businesses are welcome to set up shop in the state. Yesterday, Alabama was dangerously close to extinguishing its light, but it didn’t. Goodness prevailed. Thank all the gods for that, y’all. And heaven help us, may goodness continue to rise up and prevail, everywhere. Amen.

Christmas Wrapping Idea

 

 

 

A couple of years ago I wrapped a box of shirts in a cute style (shown above). I can’t claim to have come up with the idea, but I also don’t remember where I first saw it. I think it was something to do with wrapping Father’s Day gifts, but don’t quote me on that.

 

Anyhoo – the idea itself got lodged in my brain hole and when Christmas rolled around, I unstuck it and used it! I’m not gonna lie. It turned out pretty good and gave Mister a big chuckle. That, friends, is a double win in my book.

The Mercy of Nature

 

Super Moon

 

On Sunday night, Mister and I pulled out the binos to have a look-see at the Super Moon, and it did not disappoint. Even with regular old binoculars, we could see craters galore and what I refer to as the moon’s belly-button. Later that night, I had a little trouble sleeping. I blamed it on the moon.

 

Monday brought warnings of Santa Anas. Such an innocent-sounding name for such potentially deadly winds. Many of us watched and listened, but the day proceeded with little worry. On Monday night, I again took out the binos and looked in the direction of the moon. Still fantastic, still clear. But the winds were picking up and I could see a haze nearing the moon’s glow. It wasn’t clouds, really. It felt wrong. It was wrong. During the night, I woke to the sounds of the wind and struggled to get even a little sleep. I felt mad at myself, for not being able to rest. The whole of the night limped along that way. When I woke Tuesday morning, I logged on to the interwebz, read a post from The Bloggess, and realized that she had written about her own sleep struggles where nature is concerned, and in a far more eloquent manner than I might ever accomplish. I’m giving you the link to that post here, so that you might read the work of a beautiful writer, as well as get a glimpse of what some (maybe many) of us encounter while being a part of this world, even though our triggers can be quite different.

 

Tuesday also found me cleaning soot, dirt, limbs and leaves from the pool. The Santa Anas had wreaked havoc up the coast, sending fires blazing at an astounding clip. Back here at the homestead, after an hour of cleaning, I had removed most of the leaves and solid sizable debris from the pool’s water. The bottom of the pool was black, however, so I left the poor filter running for a bit, hoping a dent might be made in the sediment.

 

Fire North of Los Angeles

 

I had a few pressing engagements beyond the house, so I ventured out into the devil winds. At one intersection, I saw three separate leaf-filled funnels swirling in the street. The air was dirty and each time I left the relative calm of the car, my eyes burned and itched. News from Ventura, just up the coast, was dire. Before I could get my head around that fire’s continuing damage, news of another fire hit. This time it was just outside Los Angeles proper. I wondered about friends living in those areas. As I drove into North Hollywood, I looked up and saw smoke plumes. The winds continued. No relief.

 

Tuesday night, I went to bed and hoped for the best. The winds were still whipping, still angry, still dangerous. At just after 2am, I woke to strong smells of smoke. I listened intently, in case I could hear the whispers of flames. I heard only wind, and got up to check the area. None of my neighbors’ homes were burning, so it must have been the shifting winds – bringing the heavy smell of destruction to our street. When morning came, there was an added layer of soot on every surface. The pool cleaning began anew, this time with Mister handling the duties. More fires were reported and more damage had been done. Schools were closed. Businesses, too. Folks required to work outside were wearing breathing masks and goggles. The smoke smell was everywhere. There was no keeping it out. Morning news devoted itself solely to fire coverage.

 

I had a lunch meeting slated and while driving there, a sickening haze of smoke hung in Laurel Canyon. If it had been fog, the air would have been cooler. But that wasn’t the case. It was hot out. And this air hurt when breathed in. At the restaurant, a couple sitting nearby were intently following news updates on their phone. After a brief word with them, my table-mates and I came to understand the couple lived only a few streets over from the blazes of the Skirball Fire. They showed us video taken from their backyard, video of too-close flames and low-flying planes, doing the lord’s work by dropping fire repellent where they could. The couple could do nothing but wait. My friends and I offered prayers. Otherwise, there was nothing at all we could do.

 

As I write this, it’s Wednesday, early evening. Properties have been destroyed or are burning. Evacuations are being enforced. Freeways are closed, as fire danger is too near to risk allowing vehicles in certain areas. The Santa Anas are expected to blow through Saturday.  To say we here in Los Angeles are on edge is terribly inadequate. We are heart-broken and we are terrified. California has been scarred by fires this year (as well as years past). The damage is far from over. I don’t know how some folks will recover from this. Sadly, many will not. No matter where we live, we tend to think we control our home life. In suburban settings, we cultivate gardens and mold our outdoors into something pleasing to ourselves. In city settings, we trade home greenery for local parks. And yet, no matter where we reside, we control nothing really. Fires can spark. Tornadoes can twist. Floods can surge. The world, for all its beauty and wonder, is a tricky place. And no matter how much we love it, we will never truly control it.

 

I don’t expect to sleep well tonight. I am at the mercy of Nature.

 

London - The Last Day - Highgate Cemetery - Photo by Mister

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas in Hollywood

 

I have never understood why “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is considered a holiday song. The mere mention of snowflakes hardly seems reason enough to qualify, but the song is about to be all over the danged place, now that it’s December, so I am obviously wrong in my thinking.

 

Anyhoo – I thought I’d share a few of my own favorite things to kick off the last month of the year. Bear in mind that if you ask me next week, my list will probably change. But this is today. And these are some of the things I’m digging on…

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Squares

 

Squares. I’ve been crocheting all kinds of 9-inch squares to be made into blankets for women undergoing serious treatments at a local hospital. I don’t know how to knit, so I crochet. I don’t really know how to properly crochet either, so the squares turn out a little janky sometimes. That’s okay. It’s all done with good intentions and love, and I like to think those sentiments outweigh my lack of skill. I will likely never meet any of the recipients of the assembled blankets, and that’s okay, too. Doing something for others without accolades is ridiculously fulfilling. I highly recommend it.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Pearls

 

Pearls. I don’t own real pearls, but I do have a few strands of fake beauties. I wear them all the time and someone always comments about how they wish they’d thought to wear their own pearls. The large plastic baubles seen here are especially dear to me. I got them when I was 15 years old. I was at a thrift store in Griffin, GA, and when I spotted these, I knew they were destined to be mine. I can’t remember the price, but they were either fifteen or thirty-five cents. Either way, it was a bargain and I’m still smitten.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Sunsets

 

Sunsets. We’ve been having some real doozies lately and I’m loving them. I take as many photos as I can, for painting references. The thing about sunsets is they’re so spectacular, if I were to paint them, no one would believe it. They’re beyond anything I could come up with on a canvas, and yet I desperately wish I could capture some of what I see in the sky. I try, anyway. And I fail. And then I try again.

 

Mister! Mister!

 

Mister. He pretty much makes the list, no matter when. But it’s still nice to actually like the guy. And for some strange reason, he continues to come home every day. To me. I’m no picnic, y’all, and I know that he could change his mind about this whole till-death-do-us-part business and decide to mosey elsewhere in life. (It could happen.) So I appreciate whatever time I get with the fella. It counts. A lot.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - First Christmas Card of the Season

 

The first Christmas Card of the Year. I always marvel that we continue to receive cards each December! Some of that awe comes from the fact that we occasionally don’t send squat, and reciprocity would dictate not receiving anything in return. But come December, that first card arrives and I start grinning. This year’s first-of-the-season greeting was from our mail carrier. She wanted to let us know that she was retiring.  I’ve liked that gal and she’ll be missed. But life keeps going (if we’re lucky and a cheet-o in a slumpy suit doesn’t get us all killed). So I wish our now former mail carrier the best as she embarks on the next part of her journey.

 

Happy Birthday, Gwendlyn!

 

Friends. The Social Season is in full-swing and I’m already tired. Grateful, but tired. Maybe it’s age, but I am in the throes of deep appreciation for my friends. I, like a lot of folks, know scads of people. But friends, well, that’s another matter. Having friends in one’s life – people we can call on in emergencies or times of need – is a blessing. I don’t get to see these friends nearly enough. But when I do, I catch myself smiling more than usual. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign of how much I care for them there folk. What a gift.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things - Christmas CDs

 

Christmas Music. Even though I don’t get the song referenced in this post’s title being a Christmas song, I still really like when all that great music rolls around. Mister and I have drawers full of Christmas CDs, and will likely add another to the mix this year. It takes a near Herculean effort just to get through them during the month of December. And that is why, Mister, we’ll start listening to them today. I really can’t believe I have to explain my reasons for this year after year, but since you seem to forget from one December to the next, Mister, consider this a written explanation. But I digress… Some songs are loved more than others, naturally, and I’m pretty excited to hear them. Yeah, sure – I may still be wearing flip-flops throughout the month, but a gal can dream. And my dreams are currently taking place in a winter wonderland. Where the soundtrack rules.

 

We’ve got 31 days left in this year, friends. Let’s make it count. I intend to live those days with some of my favorite things keeping me company. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to put on my fake pearls, load the car with a few good Christmas CDs, drop off some crocheting to be donated, visit with friends and pick up a Christmas tree with Mister and get home before sunset to start decorating the tree and stringing up the holiday card display. I may throw some Barb’s Boozy Eggnog into the mix. Why not? I’ve got to shake a tail feather though, as those flip-flops don’t do much in the way of keeping my feet warm after the sun goes down.