I Said Yes

 

Max and Trust

 

So much has been going on, and nothing at all has been going on. That’s how life rolls sometimes. For me, it seems that’s how it rolls most of the time.

 

All the same, my intentions of sharing things with you have been patiently waiting for me to get my ass in gear. As it’s now officially Summer, I feel the day should be treated with a modicum of reverence. To serve those feelings, I give you a glimpse or two into my world…

 

Vidalias

 

I’m making my way through 20 pounds of Vidalia onions. And I’m enjoying every damned one.

 

Tomatoes

 

We’re also starting to get some tomatoes from our little plants. I call them little, but a couple of the plants are at least 8 feet high and still growing. I don’t understand it any more than you. But I’m not complaining, because all the gods know there’s nothing as good as homegrown tomatoes, y’all.

 

Props Only

 

I worked on a film set for the first time in ages. It was a one-day shoot and I ended up dealing mostly with props. I declared myself to be the day’s Ice Cream Wrangler. Someone had to do it. It reminded me of how much goes on behind the scenes, work that will never be shown or seen. I respect the hell out of the professionals who make cinematic art. Because I got to be a part of this particular shoot, with such lovely people, I enjoyed the day more than I can express.

 

View From LACMA - Deathstar

 

I attended a crazy-cool happening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Throughout the exhibit space of Robert Rauschenberg’s 1/4 Mile, various musicians roamed about, improvising and collaborating to create soundscapes based on the work and the moment. It was trippy and, in some instances, inspired. Once I’d absorbed as much of the evening as I could, I walked outside and spotted work on the adjacent Death Star. It’s not really the Death Star. It’s architect Renzo Piano’s ambitious new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. It’s sure to be astounding, once it’s finished. But I have no doubt it will always be called the Death Star. As it should be.

 

Drinking Cask Ale Makes Me...

 

I also went to the kick-off event for L.A. Beer Week. I was a fish, I was. And I was happy about it, too. (Baker Jen is responsible for the sticker I’m wearing in the above photo. She’s cool like dat.)

 

Baby Hummingbirds

 

Baby hummingbirds got hatched, grew and have already flown away. Little Mama had built the nest and was keeping it warm before we even realized what was going on. Once those babies made their debut, they were in high-gear. They were only there a couple of weeks and then they were gone. Nature. Who knew?

 

Michael Watkins, Director of JPL & Me

 

I got my geek on at JPL‘s open house. When I spotted the dude shown above, I didn’t hesitate to embarrass myself. That’s Dr. Michael Watkins, the director of JPL and a rock star of the science world. Yes – I am that person. I do indeed nerd out for brains.

 

The Liza Minnelli Room at Feinstein's at Vitello's

 

And then there was this week. I was getting some exercise and passed by a place I’ve been many times. It’s a restaurant with an upstairs club. (The restaurant played into Robert Blake’s wife’s infamous murder. Yeah.) I walked past and doubled back. The upstairs club had a new name: Feinstein’s at Vitello’s. As in Michael Feinstein. I wasn’t sure when that had happened, so when I got home I looked on the interwebz and saw that last weekend was the official grand opening of the supper club. I also saw that Michael Feinstein himself had provided the entertainment during the grand opening, with a little help from his friend, Miss Liza Minnelli. Da fuh? I missed that show, which was a shame. But I saw that Melissa Manchester was set to perform during the week, and tickets were still available. I grew up loving that gal. As I sat at my computer, thinking about whether or not I could justify laying out the dough for a ticket, I realized I was singing her songs. I remembered the lyrics, I remembered the tunes. I bit the bullet and bought myself a seat for the show.

 

As I was flying solo that night, I had no idea where I’d be seated or with whom. When I checked in with the hostess, she asked if I was meeting anyone and I told her no. She asked for my name, which I provided, and she said, “Well Mikki – you’re about to make some friends.” Then she led me to a table where 3 men were already seated and engaged in conversation. The hostess said, “Gentlemen – this is Mikki. Mikki – this is Troy, Steven and Max.” She walked away, I sat down, and the 4 of us commenced to talking.

 

I’m a friendly gal and I’m generally a pretty good gauge of people’s decency. But I don’t rush into getting to know people and I don’t give out my digits all willy-nilly. I’m a fairly private person and I’m okay with that. So it was rather surprising to find myself having a mature, honest and soulful conversation with those 3 guys. And it wasn’t just me. They seemed to recognize that something unique was happening as well. The 4 of us were engaging in the manner of old friends. It was lovely. It was refreshing. It was crazy.

 

And the show? I don’t know what to tell you. Melissa Manchester took the stage, began her first song of the evening, and I started crying. (Gentle, happy tears, mind you.) And I smiled and cried right through to the end of the show. Her voice is as resonant and sonorous as ever. She is a beautiful performer. She kind of blew my mind.

 

Miss Liza Minnelli

 

It turned out that Michael Feinstein was also in the audience. So was Miss Liza Minnelli. That’s her in the hat, barely visible in the center of the above photo. Though you can’t tell from this pic, she was as cute as a fucking button. For reals.

 

Melissa Manchester and Troy

 

After the show, my new pals and I stayed for a meet and greet. That’s Troy with Melissa Manchester.

 

Melissa Manchester and Me

 

And that’s me with her. When you meet an idol, your glee just about cracks your face.

 

So many things that pop up in life require an answer. A lot of the time I say No. And let’s be honest – No is often the correct answer. But not always. Sometimes life invites me to say Yes. And sometimes I do. When I decided to go to that Melissa Manchester show, I didn’t know what the night might hold. I only knew that the kid in me really wanted to see one of my vocal heroes. I didn’t know she would be amazing. I didn’t know I was going to experience a sincere connection with 3 strangers. I didn’t know the 4 of us would be texting one another and trying to plan a get-together in a few months time. I didn’t know I would come away from the night as a better version of myself. Someone whose skin fit a little more than it did the day before.

 

The Stalkers

 

But that’s exactly what I got. Magic. All because I said Yes.

Humdinger of a Hummingbird

 

 

For some reason, we have quite a few hummingbirds buzzing about the New Pad. (They’ve even flown inside the house.) Maybe it’s all the crack nectar we make and put out for them. Whatever the reason, it’s cool. I happen to like them and they’re sweet.

 

But recently a hummingbird has been thrumming around the back door. I spotted her a few times, landing atop a janky electrical socket. She didn’t seem bothered by our presence, and we weren’t bothered by hers, so all was well.

 

 

Until it wasn’t. It seems the old gal was building herself a nest in that socket, and once she’d finished, she was none too fond of our comings and goings by way of that back door. In fact, she has buzzed both my and Mister’s heads a few times, protecting the nest. We’re not too keen on that behavior, but I told Mister I’ve come up with a strategy: I keep my head down and tell her she’s the one who picked that spot, so chill the hell out! I’m thinking something is lost in translation, because she doesn’t seem to chill the hell out at all. Not even a little bit.

 

Oh well. We still don’t mind her being there. And I’m kind of excited to see itty-bitty baby hummingbird heads popping out of that itty-bitty nest. Nature is a hoot.

 

Who Knew?

 

 

Did y’all know that February is National Bird-Feeding Month in the U-S-of-A? I sure didn’t. At least not until my local hardware store sent me educational literature about the fact. I guess this means we’re supposed to throw a little love to our feathered friends.

 

Mister and I regularly feed hummingbirds. We don’t put out seed for other birds. It’s not for spite or anything. We just don’t.

 

A couple of days ago Mister asked if I remembered the Wild Parrots who flew to a former neighbor’s tree each afternoon. When we’d hear them coming (and you’d have to be deaf to miss them), one of us would say, “It’s Bird-Thirty!” We used to love those birds. Just after we moved away from there, we heard those neighbors chopped down the tree the Parrots always claimed as their own. I guess the mess and ruckus proved too much for the folks to handle.

 

 

If I had Wild Parrots visiting my yard every day and making that mess, I might feel similarly. I just don’t know. For now, our little group of hummingbirds will have to do. And honestly, they do quite well.

Could It Be?

 

 

Remember when I posted about a stray hummingbird that somehow managed to trap himself in our skylight? Well an odd little hummingbird has been hanging outside our back door lately, and he appears to want to venture inside.

 

I’ve joked that he wants to come in and hang with Mister. Either that, or he’s considering a switch from liquid crack to solid people food. But Mister thinks it may be the very same little guy who was trapped in the skylight. Mister said he believes the bird is thinking, “Hey! I’m older now. And bigger. And I think I can get myself out of that fake sky you’ve got in there. Give me a chance! I wanna try!”

 

I’m sure we’re both wrong, but we’ve yet to come up with a better explanation. Though I’m still leaning toward the wanting to hang with Mister. He’s pretty good company and all. I’m just sayin’.

The First Day of Spring

 

 

It occurred to me that perhaps I could have written a post about the last day of winter. But I was too late to catch that bus, so didn’t. And then I realized how the last day of winter is very much like the first day of spring. Here in Los Angeles, it’s felt like spring for a while now. I noticed it a couple of weeks ago, when the birds could no longer contain their seasonal joy. Their calendar varies from mine, to be sure, as those little dudes and dudettes have been yakking up a storm for half a month. And they don’t even wait for daylight to begin. Something about that makes me smile. But not when they wake me. I do not smile about that.

 

Anyhoo, spring has sprung here. It’s lovely, really. The light is beginning to change and it seems that all of nature knows it. Even the hummingbirds are taking a break to enjoy this new season.

 

 

As for me, I’m beat. I spent my last day of winter tearing out part of the lawn so that I can plant a tomato patch. The worst part is I only got a little over half of it done. That means that today will find me finishing the job, no matter how sore I may be.

 

 

 

The things I do for food.

Hummingbird Lost

 

 

Mister and I were in the kitchen. It was a beautiful day, so the windows and doors were thrown open wide. In L.A., this is common. We don’t have screen doors at our house, so when the doors are open they’re truly open. There aren’t too many bugs (excepting the damned flies), so we just go with it.

 

Anyhoo, back to the kitchen. Mister and I were working in there when we heard an odd sound. I walked into the rumpus room, trying to hear its source. I thought it must’ve been coming from the next door neighbors’ yard and merely reverberating off the walls and into the house. I went back into the kitchen.

 

 

 

A few minutes later (and only a few), Mister and I realized the sound wasn’t lessening and we both headed into the rumpus room to investigate. That’s when we saw it. A hummingbird had flown into the house and was trying to escape through a sky light.

 

 

The little guy seemed convinced that if he just tried harder, that if he beat his wings with more force, he’d be able to break through to that sky that was right in front of his face. I mean, c’mon! How can the sky be right there and yet not? That’s how I imagined his thought process. I’m sure it was something along those lines. Ahem…

 

We knew we had to help the little dude, and we also knew that in trying to do so, well, we knew he might not make it. Hummingbirds are delicate, tiny. So while I went for a ladder and protective eye-wear (those claws are tiny but they could still damage a retina, yo), Mister snapped some pics. He then grabbed a trash bag. With goggles firmly in place and bag in hand, Mister climbed the ladder and easily (and gently) took hold of the hummingbird. He quickly took the bagged fella outside and lay the bag on the ground and opened it. The humming bird was immobile. Our hearts sank.

 

 

 

And then the little guy inhaled, shook off the shock and flew away! He made it.

 

 

A few minutes later, we think we heard that same hummingbird gabbing about the experience to other little friends, just outside the kitchen door. That’s where the crack feeders hang, so we often hear hummingbirds out there. And though I don’t speak hummingbird (I only speak squirrel), I’m pretty sure I translated his squeaks accurately: You guys! You’re never gonna believe it! I went in there! Yes – in there! And they have a trick sky! Yes – a trick sky! They had me, I tell ya, they had me good! And then the big one – you know, the giant? It grabbed me! Swear to Zeus, it grabbed me! And then it let me go! I tell ya, as long as I live, I’ll never forget it!

 

Hummingbirds are funny.

Oddities Schmoddities

 

 

After posting about finding a dead hummingbird by my back door, I heard from someone who wondered if I kept any of the feathers. I did not.

 

Those feathers were indeed beautiful, but I am a bit of a germaphobe. As it was, after I moved the little guy out into the yard so that he could decompose (or serve some other purpose in life’s circle), I about needed a Silkwood shower. I know, I know. It’s my sickness.

 

But thinking about keeping things like feathers and frog skeletons – which my dear reader listed among her own collection of oddities – I got to thinking about a super cool place I once visited.

 

It’s called the Natural History Museum at Tring and it’s located in Tring Hertforshire in the UK. When Mister and I went, we were told by a dear friend and Tring resident that the main thing to look for was the flea wearing a sombrero. Our buddy assured us that was the most brilliant item in the museum. Once inside, we realized our friend was a bit whacked out.

 

The museum houses countless specimens, many now extinct. I don’t recall how far back the collection dates, but it is astounding. As Mister and I wandered around the museum, our mouths were agape in awe. There was so much to see, my brain nearly overloaded. By the time we found the flea wearing a sombrero, we had toured the entire facility and were absolutely gobsmacked.

 

I don’t mind when folks have their own private collections of oddities. I mean, there are limits, people. No shrunken human heads or anything. Please. But regular old stuff that occurs in our natural habitats? That’s okay. Shows a bit of character, if you ask me. Odd character, maybe. But character, just the same.

 

And by the way – if you ever, ever, ever find yourself near Tring, make a stop at the Museum of Natural History. It’s worth the trip. And yes, make sure you find the flea wearing a sombrero. You’re welcome.

The Circle of Life

 

 

Yesterday Mister and I awoke to find a dead hummingbird outside the kitchen door. The feeders are located nearby and we don’t know if he mistakenly flew into the glass or what. (Mister thought I should title this post “The Circle of Crack,” as those danged hummingbirds can’t seem to get enough of the syrup we make and place in the feeders.)

 

The little guy was just lying there. He was still beautiful, even in his death. (And though this specimen is all browns and is probably a female, I’ll keep referring to it as a male.)

 

I love hummingbirds. I love anything that fertilizes my plants and helps my food grow. I see dead honey bees all the time, and that’s heartbreaking, too. Seeing this little guy is just as sad for me.

 

Right or wrong, I placed the little guy in the yard. He’s part of the circle of life. And that’s okay. It really is.

More Crack, Please!

 

 

They’re addicted, I tell you. And Mister and I just keep pushing the goods. We can’t help ourselves.

 

Hummingbirds have found the feeder in our Magnolia tree. They’re going through the sugar water faster than I expected, and I’m now trying to make a double batch each time so that we can have some of the sweet nectar standing by in the fridge.

 

Yesterday morning Mister removed the empty feeder from the tree. We looked out at the vacant space by the tree’s branch and noticed a confused hummingbird, desperately searching for the good stuff. He kept flying around and around, looking in the place he expected to find his drug of choice. But there was only unsatisfying air. That little guy must’ve circled the area for a good 30 seconds or more. Finally, reluctantly, he flew away. But not before looking at us both with such a bewildered expression on his tiny face. It was as if he wanted to ask, “What the frick, guys? Who moved my cheese?”

 

I cooked up some more hooch for the birds, filled the feeder and placed it back in the tree. We’ll see how fast they manage to drain the bottle this time.

 

They’re addicted, I tell you.