One Crazy Summer

 

Do Something Every Day

 

Usually when I close my eyes at the end of a day I can think back on my waking hours and come up with a few things I accomplished, things that help me to feel like I didn’t waste my time. I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I do. And honestly, it’s rare that I lie there feeling like a complete schlub who didn’t do a damn thing worth noting. Big things, small things – I count them. And that nightly ritual really helps me to like myself. It might not be how you roll, and that’s okay. But I am definitely habituated to this behavior and it generally serves me well.

 

When I come to the start of a new season, like today, I find myself trying to figure out what I did for the closing period. How did  I spend it? Did my choices make a difference for me or for others? Was it enough? Was I enough?

 

It isn’t always a kind process. Sometimes I’m really down on myself, or grasping for anything to count as time well spent. Those times are hard, and usually point to a period of self-doubt or low self-esteem. Sometimes I’m elated to recount three months of accomplishments and experiences. Most of the time, however, I hover somewhere in the middle. I recall a few fun things, a few moments of service, a few standout happenings. Middle of the road ain’t too shabby, y’all.

 

This summer? Well, it was odd. There was a lot of uncertainty in my little world. A big move seemed possible and because of that, I spent more time than you can imagine in Atlanta, Georgia. Because I’m a goer, I made the best of it. (It wasn’t difficult.)

 

Lorinda and Mikki in 1980-something

 

Mister and I spent a weekend in Athens, GA, with my sister from another mister, Lorinda. I have loved this gal since I was 13 years old. She’s even more fabulous than ever and I still love her.

 

Creature Comforts - Athens, GA

 

I drank beer – gasp! At Creature Comforts in Athens, they know what they’re doing, y’all. For reals. While there, I took a photo with these two gals. I have no idea who they are. But I liked that they were willing to snap a pic with a complete stranger. And they smiled! Yeah – I dig that.

 

HIGH Museum of Art

 

I went to the HIGH Museum of Art. I’m a museum junkie, so this was really a no-brainer.

 

I got to spend time with cousins. People I not only love, but actually like.

 

Bugs - Kindred Spirits

 

I found a kindred spirit in my cousin Kathy. She collects and displays beautiful dead things. I like that. A lot.

 

Brunswick Stew

 

I made a quest to find delicious Brunswick Stew. People outside the South may not be familiar with this BBQ joint staple, but I’m not only familiar with it, but also obsessed. There are rules, y’all. When a bowl of Brunswick Stew is placed before me and I spy with my little eye a lima bean in the mix… Oh, lordy. That ain’t right. And that happened to me at a very popular place run by some Texans. Nope. I searched and searched and probably ate more little bowls of stew than most people consume in a year. On my last day of tooling around town, nearly defeated, I spotted this joint…

 

Daddy D'z BBQ Joynt - Atlanta, GA

 

Daddy D’z. I went in, took a seat and a chance. When the food was placed before me, I appreciated the beauty, but I’d fallen for that before. I slowly took a bite… And then I started crying sweet tears of joy. That stew was mighty close to what I loved as a child. And I was grateful.

 

Carter Presidential Library - Atlanta, GA

 

I went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Not only is the facility beautiful, it is fabulously inspiring.

 

Jimmy Carter Quote at Carter Presidential Library - Atlanta, GA

 

I thought I knew about President Carter, but I knew nothing. He is a beautiful human being and was a fabulous President. Not only that, but he’s done more for the citizens of this country – in his post-Presidency years – than most living Presidents combined. I took my time going through the Carter Library. I shed a lot of tears there. I loved it so much. I would happily go again.

 

Maurine - Oakland Cemetery - Atlanta, GA

 

Because I love cemeteries, I tooled around Oakland Cemetery one afternoon. When I stopped in the visitors center, the gentleman there couldn’t have been nicer. He was also a bit misinformed, as he said that he’d been told Oakland Cemetery was more loved and better than the cemeteries of Europe. Had he gone to any of those, I asked. No. I told him that at first glance, Oakland looked to be a fine cemetery, but he might want to visit a few more before making such statements.

 

Margaret Mitchell Headstone

 

But it is a fine cemetery. Margaret Mitchell is buried there, if you’re into that.

 

Mayor Maynard Jackson Headstone

 

So is Mayor Maynard Jackson. His marker is beautiful. And here’s an interesting note about Mayor Jackson’s grave. In the South, the dead are buried with their headstones facing East, because that’s the direction from which Jesus will rise again, don’t you know. But Mayor Jackson’s marker is askew. It faces downtown Atlanta’s skyline, which can be seen from his burial site. He loved that city.

 

Sometimes I Drink Water to Surprise My Liver

 

I rode MARTA all over the danged place and walked more miles than a sane person should have during the heat of a Georgia summer. I also drank a ton of local brews and talked with people from all walks of life.

 

Georgia Green

 

It was lovely to be there. Folks were great. The city was green and beautiful. I soaked up about as much of Atlanta as I could.

 

Malibu

 

Closer to home, I spent a few days with friends in Malibu, which feels like another world. The booming ocean provided a beautiful backdrop for time with these adored souls.

 

M*A*S*H Filming Location

 

While in the ‘Bu, we hiked to the old M*A*S*H filming site in the Santa Monica Mountains. The hike itself wasn’t difficult, but the heat just about took me out. I will again do this hike, but will definitely bring more water. Dag.

 

Back at the homestead, I swam and swam and swam. Because we don’t have a pool heater, I try to get in the water as much as I can before the night temperatures drop so much as to cool the water beyond comfort for swimming. We made it until 14 September. That was the last day I could bear it. Once the water drops into the 70s, I get freaking cold. It bums me out once that privilege is done for the year. But that’s the way it goes.

 

And now, the light is changing. The daytime temps are still h-a-w-t, but the nights are quite comfortable. I’ve started studying different recipes, in anticipation of cooler weather. I’m ready to switch out my clothes for pieces not worn since winter. Social gatherings are increasing, as friends are back in town after their summer travels. Work on various projects has kicked into high gear. Autumn is here.

 

It isn’t lost on me that as I age I become more aware of the seasons. More appreciative, too. As odd as this Summer was, I found joy in its days. I rode out the unknowns and the difficulties and came out on the other side. And I loved it.

 

Pool Shark

 

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to remember the way it felt to tread water for an hour, the water lifting my body and bettering my health, but I remember now. Maybe tonight, when I close my eyes at the close of this first day of Fall, I’ll list the moments that occupied my time, checking off what served me well. And then, if I’m lucky, I’ll remember what it feels like to float. To trust the water. To be in the world and of the world. In my own skin.

 

Love

 

My Just Reward

 

 

Earlier this week I had some errands to run over in another part of town. You know – away from home. So I started mentally planning my trip and realized I could turn it into a bike ride. I mean – I have baskets for cry-eye – why not? So on the appointed day, I kicked the tires and took off.

 

The round trip was only about 15 miles, but that was a nice bit of exercise and I checked something off my to-do list. Right smack dab in the middle of the ride, I started getting hungry. So I began looking around for a little restaurant and a bike rack.

 

I found plenty of places to eat, but bike racks? Not so much. I couldn’t understand that, but hey – this is L.A. We love our cars, people. So I kept riding. I passed place after place, good food after good food, but no bike racks. Finally, I remembered a craft beer joint nearby. I also remembered how the owner is a biker and had bike racks installed out front for his customers. I rode to the bar, secured my wheels, went in and found a spot at the jam-packed counter and placed my order. The ‘tender asked if I wanted to run a tab or close out my order. I looked and him and said, “Dude! I can’t ride drunk! Close that bitch!” He laughed and brought me my check.

 

Now you’d think I was most looking forward to my food – a smoked duck and bacon sausage lunch special. And I was hungry and the food was good. But my just reward for all that biking? A beautiful wild ale.

 

 

I figured that beer would last me through my food and then some, but I started talking with the chick seated beside me and my food took a little longer than expected and before you knew it, I signaled the ‘tender and said, “Dude! Open that bitch! I need another drink!” We all had a good laugh and easy conversation continued. Before long, it was time to go. The ‘tender high-fived me on my way out and the counter chick and I exchanged our good-byes. I walked outside, unlocked my bike and headed home.

 

It was a good day. It really was.

Bus Stop Brew

 

 

I don’t know about you, but when I’m taking transport of the public variety, I tend to stick to the schedule and hang close to the pick-up points. I suppose I opt for this behavior because I have some fear of missing the next bus or train, and being stuck for lord-knows-how-long.

 

But since I started following the dude over at the Drunken Bunny blog, I’ve envied his masterful use of public transport transfer breaks, and how he manages to fit in drinking and dining during said breaks. Seriously. He’s inspiring!

 

So the other day I found myself with about 24 minutes betwixt buses. And I thought – why not go and have a damned beer already? So I did. And it was awesome.

 

I hope I can learn to have a little more faith and relax a bit. Choosing that path certainly paid off for me the other night. And I daresay it made the bus ride across town all the more pleasurable. Bonus!

Walking in L.A.

 

 

While out walking the other day, I spotted some photo-worthy sidewalk graffiti and it made me laugh. Especially since it was Election Day in the U.S., and Ohio was – at that very moment – voting against legalizing marijuana.

 

And my reward for being only a nobody and walking in L.A.? A lovely Funky Pumpkin sour beer from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, MO and a local paper about beer. Pretty danged nice.

 

Ready For The Weekend!

 

 

Beer and gummy vitamins. Looks like I’m ready for the weekend!

Insert Sad Face Emoticon Here

 

 

 

Today I’m missing a Beer Clug meeting – the first of the New Year. Why am I missing said meeting? Because I’m still off hooch and will be until my bizarre malady is diagnosed.

 

I don’t want to make a bigger deal of it than it actually is, because not drinking isn’t the worst thing in the world. But I also don’t want to minimize the facts, either. I like hooch. I like drinking. Pairing a lovely wine with a delicious meal is a treat. Savoring a beautiful brew with friends is a blessing. Sipping a Porn-Star-Dirty Martini at a sleek bar is too cool for school.

 

But hey – I can bend an elbow with apple juice, and toast my friends at their meeting…

 

You don’t even have to say it. I know it’s nowhere near the same.

Oktoberfest

 

 

Mister and I have a previous commitment and will be missing the Beer Clug’s Oktoberfest outing today.

 

I remember my first underage beer. I didn’t like it and thought all beer must be terrible. (I think it was probably a Bud or something along those lines.) As I grew older, I drank beer here and there, but not until I had my first Guinness did I know how truly good beer could be.

 

Now that I’m more adventurous, I try all kinds of beer. I’m not crazy about hops, but I do at least try things. Sometimes.

 

To my friends who will be enjoying Oktoberfest today – prost! I’ll catch you the next time around.

For Friends

 

 

Today I’m having a bash for my friends. My Rock Camp friends, to be precise.

 

All week I’ve been cleaning and prepping. I started marinating certain foods on Wednesday, and I’ve been collecting beer for over a week. Is this crazy? Maybe. But when you’re doing something for your friends, you don’t mind. In fact, you’re happy to prepare. I mean, we’re talking friends here, people! Friends! I’m so grateful for the ones I’ve got that I gladly put in effort toward their enjoyment. After all, why not?

 

All that being said, it’s Party Day. And I’m hoping the planning pays off and that I get to enjoy the company of my friends. They are truly a fabulous lot.

Fireworks

 

 

Big goings-on here in America. Independence. Fireworks. Beer.

 

However you celebrate today, let’s all try to end up with the same number of fingers as we woke with, shall we? Safety, y’all. Safety.

 

And Independence. Fireworks. Beer.

LA Kings Parade!

 

 

On Monday I decided to take myself downtown for the L.A. Kings’ Stanley Cup Victory Parade. Simply deciding to do this was a feat, as it would have been much easier to blow it off and take care of some bidness. But I didn’t blow it off. Instead, I – along with around 250,000 others – called in well and headed downtown. (250,000 is the most repeated estimate of parade attendance. I didn’t see that many people, but what do I know?)

 

My big plan was to take the train. I drove to the nearest station, but there wasn’t any parking. As in, I drove ever-expanding concentric circles around the place and there just wasn’t any parking. Now, the fact that the parking lot looked a lot like a tail-gating party was a good indicator that just about everybody and their brothers also decided to take the train downtown. Was I deterred? Nope. I simply drove my ass home, parked the car then walked to the nearest bus stop. The bus arrived on time, delivered me to a different train station and that was that.

 

 

When I arrived downtown, I was a little later than I’d originally planned. I sussed the sitch and spotted a great little space behind the barriers. I squeezed myself in and I was set. The parade was due to start in 10 minutes. I settled in and relaxed.

 

At the appointed time, the cheering began and our first glimpse was of…

 

 

Skin. Okay. Not my thing, but what-evs. If I’m being honest, no one around me was much into the skin factor either, and the real cheering didn’t begin until the very next bus appeared…

 

 

Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik and Mike Richards!

 

 

And then we yelled for Kyle Clifford, Jake Muzzin and Jordan Nolan.

 

 

And then Bailey the mascot rolled past.

 

 

When Coach Sutter appeared, I was laughing at the fact that he was actually smiling! That’s a rare sight, friends.

 

 

Then I beheld it. The. Stanley. Cup. Oh, and there’s also that L.A. mayor dude. What-evs.

 

 

Alec Martinez (who scored the series-winning goal), Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis were next.

 

 

They were followed by Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams.

 

 

Bringing up the rear were Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Martin Jones, Jeff Schultz and Dwight King. I admit – I missed a few shots of players. Couldn’t help it, though, as I was jumping up and down and cheering. Yes, I’m a dork.

 

And that was the parade!  Short and sweet, I know. In fact, the entire route was barely a mile. The crowd began to follow the buses toward Staples Center, but I didn’t join them. I had a different plan: a seat at the bar of City Tavern, a new-ish downtown gastropub.

 

 

I looked up and saw the live parade coverage on the the bar’s telly. As I didn’t need to watch it, because I’d lived it, Dotty, I turned my attention to the Iran-Ghana World Cup game. I also focused on the menu, but that should come as no surprise.

 

 

In fact, leave it to a Southern gal to order oysters and cheese grits for lunch. And beer. Can’t forget the beer.

 

After someone treated me to a second brew, I moseyed back to the train. Kings jerseys were still visible just about everywhere I looked, and I spent most of the trip home smiling. I was thinking about the friendliness of the crowd. I was thinking about seeing the Kings players, day-drinking atop the double-decker buses. Most of them weren’t wearing their pretty teeth. They were just flashing hockey-given, gap-toothed grins.

 

I won’t lie – I put off some work to have that sort of day. And I’ll be catching up the rest of the week. But it was such a fun choice! There was so much joy along that itty-bitty parade route. So much smiling. So much cheering.

 

I have to say, I highly recommend calling in well.