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.

 

My Tribe

 

 

So.

 

I haven’t so much as looked at this blog since the morning after the U.S. election. Which sucked, by the way, as my country decided to pursue hate, fear and ignorance. Officially. (Couldn’t you have kept that shit tamped down in your own home, for cry-eye? Did you have to display it right out in the open?) Since that awful election, I’ve been hiding. But I can’t hide from me, or my life. And though I am still mostly refraining from hanging around people, as the depression I carry will likely be with me a while, I do need to be around me. And my tribe.

 

My tribe is comprised of legitimately hopeful souls. They don’t live their lives in fear and they absolutely do not judge anyone for bullshit reasons (think religion, sexuality, skin color). My tribe definitely consists of educated people. But not all of us hold advanced degrees. For example, one outstanding member of my tribe only made it through sixth grade, and I defy anyone who would call her “elite.” My tribe of like-hearted souls do things for others on a regular basis, but you’d never know it, as they aren’t seeking a tax write-off or a plaque for their walls. No – these folks are just decent for the sake of decency. I thank God for them and I love them.

 

The rest of the mo-fos, on the other hand, are most certainly not in my tribe. They are terrified of the world and for some incomprehensible reason, falsehoods are their bread and butter. If it isn’t spewed on Fox news, they don’t believe it. (And when it is spewed by disreputable sources, they believe the bullshit blindly.) They claim to be disciples of Christ, even as their actions surely lead God to weep. They wear hypocrisy like a comfortable, old sweater. And I’ve gotta tell you – that style isn’t doing anybody any favors. Their snide, racist comments are unwelcome and ugly. Their holier-than-thou judgment of anyone different is just plain ignorant. And frankly, to put all this in terms they can understand, ugly is as ugly does. Their ugly behavior is aging them, and not in an attractive way.

 

Because I haven’t been able to snap out of the dark abyss I’ve fallen into (since the election), I’ve been turning to trusted writers and sages, trying to glean some wisdom or a bit of guidance. A few have mentioned drinking more (which I’m doing, thank-you-very-much) and some have mentioned the wisdom of those who’ve gone before. Which brings me to back to Jesus. I don’t give a rat’s ass about political party affiliations, but I’m pretty damned sure that if Jesus hitched a ride to America, he would not be hanging with conservatives. Because let’s be honest, there isn’t a damned Republican who’d invite him in, as he would probably look like an umkempt hippy. Let’s also not forget that Jesus was a Jew, and probably had olive skin and dark eyes, you judgmental crackers. And if Jesus had the audacity to speak of helping others and giving for Christ-sake, he’d be beaten up by a Drumpf supporter before he could show his ID. I bet that if Jesus had the gift of hind-sight, he’d ask for a holy do-over. I mean it. I can see it – Jesus saying, “I know I said all that stuff about turning the other cheek and loving thy neighbor as thyself, blah-blah-blah, but I’m pretty sure that if I don’t keep an eye on you, you motherfuckers are gonna crucify me. So I’m gonna head on out with my posse, turn some water into sweet-ass wine and call it a day. Take it sleazy. Christ out.” I am, as you might imagine, not an authority on all things Jesus. But he was supposed to be a pretty cool dude, so I stand by this idea. And even though I’m not on team Christian, I’m also pretty sure Jesus is down with my views on this. Or at the very least, entertained.

 

I don’t know what to tell ya. As grateful as I am for my tribe, I still have to live with the rest of the country. Hell – I’m related to a lot of the rest. And the truth is – I just don’t have a lot in common with the rest. I don’t believe in rounding up immigrants. I know who harvests and processes my food, and as I like to eat, I appreciate the immigrants who do the shit jobs in America. The ones who wash dishes. The ones working in awful conditions at the meat-packing plants. I don’t believe in some bullshit about certain rights being reserved for only some. I have gay relatives and friends. Of course they should be able to marry, or rent an apartment, or get a damned job. I don’t believe racism is an option. I have relatives and friends of every skin color. Judging people based on ethnicity doesn’t make them any less human. But it does make the ones doing the judging look like ignorant assholes. Because they are. And don’t even get me started on sexual assault and women’s rights, because I am seriously on the verge of breaking my foot off up in someone’s ass the next time some old white dude tries to tell me anything about my body. You motherfuckers.

 

Which brings me to this: it may be time for us to part ways. You may be terribly offended by some or all of what I’ve written here. That is your right and I respect that. (It’s America, remember? You get to choose.) So please – unsubscribe. Forget you ever knew me. We simply may not be members of the same tribe. Go hang with cohorts who share your views. Live your life. Over there.

 

I’ll be over here, with my tribe. We’re a busy group. We’ve got homeless to feed and shelter. We’re taking care of women who’ve escaped abusive relationships. We’re trying to make sure poor children get basic medical care. We’re teaching English to eager newcomers. We’re building houses for folks whose best hasn’t quite afforded them the opportunity of their own homes. We’re trying to stop bullying in schools, even though it has been stationed in the highest office of the land. My tribe is a good group. Just thinking about them brings me calmness and strength. And gratitude, as they are truly the best this country has to offer.

 

So yes – please unsubscribe if you’d like. Please. Tell yourself you’re not a racist, even as you forward ugly, obnoxious memes. Tell yourself you’re a good, loving parent, even as you stand up for a sexual predator. Tell yourself you’re a good person who supports folks with disabilities, even as you stand up for a bully who openly mocks the disabled. Tell yourself you’re a worthy, humane being, even as you shelve your basic morals and ethics to stand up for and support a terribly indecent person. Tell yourself whatever you need to so that you can sleep at night. And unsubscribe.

 

For the rest of you choosing to stay? My tribe? I’m back, y’all. And the gloves are off.

How the Sausage is Made

 

 

I was talking to Mister about this and that and he pointed out that sometimes it’s best to not know how the sausage is made.

 

If this sounds all willy-nilly, allow me to sort of explain. I am involved in various endeavors and groups, and work with folks to make things happen within those groups. For example, let’s say there’s a benefit being planned. I may work behind the scenes to help pull off the event. Hopefully it will be successful. Hopefully those attending said event will experience a smooth, entertaining and maybe even enlightening gathering. You know what I mean. When we go to things, we want to be there and have a good time. Nothing more and certainly nothing less.

 

But when you’re working to put on such an event, you see the gears and the work and the energy, turning behind the curtain. No one else is supposed to see all that, and when an event is successful, no one does. Those times are great! And as a worker bee, you don’t mind what goes into such events, as long as the outcome is positive. Mostly.

 

But! What if you’re doing your part behind the scenes, and you find out the goings-on are less than kosher. What do you do then? It happens. A lot. And I guess each individual is tasked with determining her or his feelings and limitations in those moments. I remember working a benefit to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina. I witnessed – with my own 2 eyes – the parking attendants skimming funds earmarked for the charity. I was livid and very nearly blew a gasket. (I found someone in charge, lost my shit while telling them what was going on and the matter was swiftly dealt with.) I’ve encountered other ugliness on the charity front, too. And each time, I’ve spoken up. That was what I had to do in the moment, in order to be able to sleep at night. You don’t steal from charity, y’all. Period.

 

So back to the sausage at hand… I’ve now glimpsed behind a new-to-me curtain, and I have to say – it was cooler to just be an attendee where that curtain hangs. Because even though a great number of decent souls work toward a common good, one asshole can really cast a pall on a scene. And that is, for the moment, the case with this particular sausage factory. But I’m holding out faith. So far. The good folks are the ones I associate with and they’re the ones I like and respect. Ugliness will always exist, and as far as I’m concerned, it can do a damn jig on a chair in the middle of the room. I don’t have to pay it any heed. I certainly don’t respect it. At my very best, I can muster up some pity for the perpetrators of ugliness. Those folks must surely be miserable and lonely. They certainly seem unhappy. It’s a vicious cycle, really. You feel unworthy, so you act unworthy. You feel unloved, so you don’t love. Yes – at my very best, I feel sympathy for the people who just don’t understand that you don’t have to be ugly to accomplish things in this world.

 

But that’s my very best. And that side of me seems to be taking a nap right now, because I am thinking those ugly ding-dongs could use a swift kick in the lady balls. But you know what? They’re not worth my time. Sadly, they probably don’t feel like they’re worth much even to themselves. It’s a vicious cycle.

Thursday Memories

 

 

My desire to pare down possessions continues. (It’s been actively going on for several months, mentally going on for decades.) And as the fine people at a local charity are picking up quite a haul today, I’ve had occasion to go through some things to add to the donation. One item that ended up in the give-away box was a gardening book about Eudora Welty. Tucked in its pages, I found the pieces of paper shown above. That means I had that book with me when Mister and I traveled to Japan in the 1990s. The map is from Kyoto. The beer label, well, I don’t remember. I’m guessing I got that in Tokyo, but I’m not sure. The only things I remember for certain are taking a bullet train to Kyoto, hanging with dear friends, “The Caboose” in Tokyo (which may or may not be gone now), Mister’s odd ability to spot and understand Kanji at twenty paces and Typhoon Tom. Yep. Mister and I were stuck in the airport during a typhoon. But I digress…

 

I have a thing about books. I want to hold on to them, to keep them. I want them on shelves and stacked on tables. Art books, coffee table books, fiction, non-fiction – I take all comers and I love them. I’ve read most of the books in our house. (I do have several in my to-be-read pile, and that’s cool.) And some books I’ve read are adored more than others. And then there are the books that don’t really hold any significant meaning for me. For the most part, I got something out of them, but do I need to see them on a shelf? Do I continue to derive pleasure from their presence? No. Not really. Those are the books I’m letting go. Those are the books I hope will find their way into the hands of some eager reader, at a discounted price. And maybe those books will be loved by another. Maybe even prized enough to warrant a place of honor on a shelf.

 

In the meantime, I go through each give-away book, just in case I’ve left something important tucked in the pages. I haven’t found any money yet, but I have found memories. That counts.

Running on Empty

 

 

Last week I came upon this empty fridge and it was funny. And sad. And stark. And clean. And then funny again, as the bubbles were left open to the elements (no cork) and the small plate on the top shelf held a single, shriveled jalapeno pepper.

 

I can’t remember the last time our fridge was this empty. And for that, I’m grateful. Truth is, we have plenty to eat. And when I think about that in a larger context, it breaks my heart. That’s why I offer to buy food for beggars. And why I often cook food for a monthly charity dinner. On those occasions, while my actions may actually be the most I can do, I feel as if I’m doing the least I can. It’s tricky.

 

But back to the empty fridge shown above. It wasn’t as sad as it may appear, as it was in a seldom-used kitchen in a large building. Only a couple of employees have access to this particular fridge. And a swell guy there told me the old jalapeno was his. He even planned to eat it. Absolutely no one stepped forward to claim the flat bubbles, however. And I don’t blame them.

Watertown III

 

 

Last night was the Secret Art Show I was asked to join. This little painting – “Watertown III” – was one of my donations.

 

It’s a mere 4 X 6 inches and it’s sweet. I am happy to report it was sold at the art show and is somewhere out there in the world. That was the whole idea.

 

If asked, I would again participate in this charity show. It was a nice change of pace for me. And painting on such a small scale was surely different. And hey – it’s good to give to the world. Truly.

Ladies Who Lunch

 

 

Yesterday I attended a luncheon for various Southern California charitable organizations. While driving there, I kept singing “Here’s to the ladies who lunch. Everybody laugh.” Naturally, I was doing my best Elaine Stritch imitation, and only managed to stop singing aloud once I’d parked my car, walked inside and spotted another living soul.

 

Anyhoo, the charities represented serve women and children in need. Some are homeless. Others are victims of domestic abuse. Some were recently incarcerated. And some just need a little help. Some of the people who’ve decided to devote themselves to lives of service with these groups were in attendance, and a few of them spoke. I won’t lie. I teared up a couple of times and found the whole scene terribly touching. When all was said and done, I was glad to have been there. And I was grateful my life is so very filled with blessings and love.

 

After bidding adieu to various ladies, I made my way out to the car and headed home. I was singing aloud again, this time doing my best Ronnie Van Zant impression while belting out “Gimme back, gimme back my bullets” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I have no idea what that was about.

 

Grinch-mas

 

 

 

We spotted this lass with The Grinch at a local holiday celebration and chuckled. The kids were all smiles, but the actor playing The Grinch was in character big-time. That dude grimaced the entire evening and stuck out his tongue here and there.

 

A couple of days after that outing, I received notice of a local charity’s holiday wish-list. I looked through the items, to see what was needed and to figure out if I could afford to sponsor anything. Y’all – those folks had asked Secret Santa for the simplest items imaginable. Even for the kids, the requests were basic and humble. Before I knew it, I was balling like a baby. There I sat, fully aware of my being in budget mode, yet not needing a damned thing.

 

Thanksgiving may be over, but I am still feeling mighty grateful. I guess on some level I did need something: that charity’s list to remind me of just how blessed I am.

Ladies Arm Wrestling

 

 

Late notice, I know…

 

For those of you in Los Angeles with no plans this evening, I encourage you to get your butts to the Bootleg Theater for some Ladies Arm Wrestling.

 

That’s right! Ladies Arm Wrestling is returning to The Bootleg for a night of pageantry, entertainment and brute strength. Seriously – I attended the last go-round and it was one of my favorite outings ever! If entertainment isn’t quite enough to motivate you, how about this: all proceeds go to Cooking With Gabby – a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and creating better lives for children from birth on.

 

For me, the charity angle is icing. Ladies Arm Wrestling is a magnificent attraction on its own. Give it a shot! And if you go, be sure to tell “Sister Patricia Pistolwhip” I sent you. Then watch her smack down her rivals! Woo-hoo!

 

Rock Camp 2014 Showcase!

 

 

So I can officially tell you about it, as it’s officially official: 2014′s Rock Camp for Girls L.A. showcase will be at the House of Blues! And KCRW’s Anne Litt will be DJing before the show!

 

Those of you who’ve attended an RCGLA showcase know exactly how amazing these live concerts are. Those of you who’ve resisted, well, too bad for you. Because not only would you be supporting the current campers when they take the stage, you’d also be getting a heck of a smile-inducing outing!

 

I am already excited about this year’s camp and showcase. I super hope you’ll make it to the showcase. Trust me – you will not be disappointed.

 

What: Rock ‘n Roll Camp For Girls Los Angeles

When: Saturday, 12 July 2014 / Doors at 12 pm / Showcase at 1 pm

Where: House of Blues / 8430 Sunset Boulevard / West Hollywood, CA 90069

Tickets: $10 at camp and at The Door / Also available Online for $16.50