Elevensies

 

4th Day_Highgate Cemetery West_Entrance_Phone Photo

 

New month.

 

It is entirely possible I have loads to say about that. It is likely I won’t share my thoughts – here – on the subject. That I’ll just ride it out like everyone else. Those in my immediate vicinity will surely have to endure my opinions, but I’m not new to them and they knew I was a cross-dressing pirate when they met me. Ahem…

 

I’m finally getting through the photos of Mister’s and my summer trip to the UK. We saw art in public places, which sometimes tickled and sometimes intrigued. Sometimes both…

 

1st Night_Elephant Statue during taxi ride_SB Phone Photo

 

We attended a Gin class. I’m okay with gin, but Mister is keen on it. My notes from the class mean nothing to anyone but me. I’m sure the notes of others were far more informed and detailed. I’m good with that…

 

2nd Night_Gin Master Class_Phone Photo_Notes

 

We saw both of the Harry Potter plays. In one day. I’m still processing. The stage craft was amazing and I can only tell you that magic is real…

 

3rd Day_Harry Potter and the Cursed Child_Outside_After_Phone Photo

 

We went on a cemetery tour. Lord knows I love a good cemetery and Highgate West is a doozy. (Many thanks to Drunken Bunny for hipping me to the place.) I would very much like to live there. Now. While I’m still kicking…

 

4th Day_Highgate Cemetery West_Egyptian Gateway_Phone Photo

 

We saw the Christo installation in Hyde Park. I’ve missed a few other Christo installations in the past, in various places. I was so happy to make this one in person…

 

4th Day_Hyde Park_Christo and a Queens Swan

 

We traipsed about the British Museum. The hours we spent there weren’t nearly enough to see all that’s available. I guess we’ll just have to go back…

 

5th Day_British Museum 2C

 

And then we took our asses to Scotland. Still working on those pics, and I won’t lie – the task is wearing on me. Who knew photographic evidence of travels could be so overwhelming? In case you’re thinking, “But Mikki – you’ve only shown a few photos here. What’s the hubbub, Bub?” Well, I’ll tell ya. You’re seeing only a few of the thousands of photos being processed. So cut me some slack, Jack. Dag.

 

But don’t misconstrue. I’m not feeling pitiful. I have great music in the headphones and cooler weather surrounding me while I work. I’m feeling creatively inspired and downright hopeful. Next week’s elections may put a tremendous damper on that, but not today. Today I welcome Elevensies, a whole new month. Right this way, folks…

 

5th Day_British Museum_Ancient Hand

Summer in the Rear View

 

Mikki in a Mirror

 

Another summer has passed and I’m not sure I’ve anything to show for it. It wasn’t wasted, mind you, but I can’t claim to have bettered myself. Honestly – if I weren’t writing this post, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. But when you take an assessment, details – or the lack thereof – become apparent.

 

Happy Birthday, Gwendlyn!

 

On one fine summer day, my friend Gwendelyn persuaded me to go register voters with her, south of L.A. She does this on a regular basis, because she’s a giver. But me? Not so much. It takes a lot of energy for me to interact with strangers and as I’ve been dealing with a fair level of anxiety for the past few years, I’m reluctant to engage with people I don’t know. But Gwendelyn is persistent. And she’s one of my very favorite souls, so I agreed to accompany her. In a very red part of the state. (I’m a proud liberal, don’t you know.) So there we were, trying to get people to give a damn, and Gwendelyn was dealing with more than her share of push-back from people who didn’t seem too thrilled with her Obama t-shirt. I was wearing one, too, but for some reason, the flack seemed reserved for my friend. And then it was my turn. I asked some passersby if they were registered to vote and a lady looked my way and said, “You’re on the wrong team!” I don’t know what possessed me, but without skipping a beat I responded, “Oh – as Americans, I thought we were all on the same team.” The lady stopped walking, looked at me, stammered a bit, and when she was unable to come up with a reply, she turned and walked away. That was the worst of it. Otherwise, it was a fine way to spend a Wednesday. And you’ll never catch me complaining about being with my friend. She really is that awesome.

 

Gwendelyn Cake Topper

 

Speaking of Gwendelyn, that girl went and got hitched to a swell guy this summer. As she’s an amazingly creative person, she wanted something a little different for her wedding cake. So she and her fella got themselves duplicated and then she and I built a mighty fine cake topper. I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to make. And I think she and her Mister really liked it.

 

Pool Rules

 

There were more pool days than I can remember. A lot of them ran together, though, as Mister and I took it upon ourselves to scrape the tiles surrounding the top of the pool. All 1500+ of them. I don’t know how many years of mineral build-up there was, but we addressed all of it – by hand. We finished the task just as the summer was ending and the water temperature was dropping to an unsavory level, making it too cold to swim. It was a lot of work, but I’m glad it’s done.

 

You're Never Too Old...

 

Physical Therapy was a constant for me all summer, due to some tearing in my shoulder. My range of motion has definitely improved, and that’s a very good thing. The cringe-worthy pain has finally gone – thank all the gods. A little remains, however, and I still can’t move my shoulder as fully as I’d like, but I’m working on it. This particular injury has forced me to acknowledge my age in a way I hadn’t previously. Healing is so much slower now. And that sucks, friends. No doubt about it. But I’ll tell ya – I’ve seen some folks in PT that aren’t doing so well, so I’ll take what I can get. Really.

 

London Concert Day - Happy Anniversary - Photo by Mister

 

Mister and I had a big, fat anniversary along the way and we celebrated in London and Edinburgh. I’ll work on sharing some of that in a later post, as some of the sights, sounds and experiences seem worthy. But for now, you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you it was an awesome trip.

 

Mikki Dancing

 

This is definitely an abridged version of my summer. Some of that’s because I don’t keep a damn calendar for all of damned time, like a damned freak (ahem, dammit). Some of it’s due to my knowing that most of my summer was of interest to exactly one person – me. And even then, sometimes, not so much. But you know what? I still had fun here and there. I can honestly say that there were a few times I laughed so much, I cried. It’s been a while, y’all. Joy has been a bit of a stranger in my little world. To have her visit, and to assert herself, well, it was a gift. I’m hoping for more of that. Always hoping, at least…

 

Dancers Hearts

Behind the Curtain – Session 2

 

 

This painting, while based on a photo I took in London, will not be photo-real. I sometimes aim for that with architectural paintings, but I’m going for something looser this time. Something a bit more suggestive. And that’s a struggle for me, as I definitely have control issues when it comes to painting. Maybe elsewhere, too, but that’s a subject for another day.

 

Anyhoo – session 2 found me working on mere suggestions of architectural details. I didn’t want to try and paint the actual building, but I did want to fool the eye into filling in the blanks. There’s a long way to go, but I’m digging the experience.

 

Here’s your peek behind the curtain for session 2:

 

 

Sorry – still not a toilet behind the upside-down man’s butt.

One Year Ago…

 

 

On this date, one year ago, Mister and I were in London, settling in for a Kate Bush show. When I think about it, I still can’t believe we did it. In my mind it is just as awesome as it was in that moment.

 

On this date, 27 friggin’ years ago, Mister and I legally bound ourselves to one another. When I think about that, I can’t believe we did it. We were so very young, and so very clueless. How we knew to cling to each other is a mystery.

 

I feel very fortunate to be married to my best friend. I enjoy his company. I respect his mind. I adore his body. And that guy makes me laugh like no one else on the planet. Not only do I love him deeply, I also happen to really like the guy. That, friends, is none too shabby.

 

I am still in awe of being in a relationship this long. I don’t quite know what to make of it. But I guess I don’t have to make anything of it. I get to live it.

 

Loving that guy now is just as awesome as it was when I first fell for him. And somehow, I keep falling. Wow.

Here, Kitty Kitty

 

 

I’m not a cat person. I don’t despise cats or anything, I just don’t lean that way.

 

But for some reason, cats keep popping up in my life and in my photos. There’s the above pic, which Mister snapped in L.A. one night. There’s this photo, too, of my friend’s new 3-legged kitten, Trinity…

 

 

Mister also took this photo at a Tube stop in London…

 

 

 

And this one of a cat at Highgate Cemetery…

 

 

Since my friend adopted Trinity, I’ve had occasion to go back to the cat rescue. There I saw a brand-new litter of adorable little kitten-kittens. And I will not deny – I was smitten.

 

Mister and I won’t be getting a cat any time soon. Maybe never. And that’s okay. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes open for more feline friends. They really are pretty danged cute.

The Rearview

 

 

This year has been a doozy. There have certainly been some ugly times and occurrences. I don’t deny that. But as I look in the rearview at the last 12 months, I’m choosing to focus on some positives. I thank you in advance for indulging me…

 

Slippers – Yes, after decades of wearing socks for warmth, I finally broke down and got myself some damned slippers. I’m wearing them as I type and I wear them all the time! I love them truly. I love them madly. I love them deeply. I had no idea slippers could change my little world.

 

Saying Yes – This year saw me taking a different tack when faced with situations/opportunities that frighten me. For example, in the past, I never would have said yes when asked to participate in a public reading. But I did it, so there you go. Other experiences have been added to my life as well, and a few more are already on the calendar. When I was recently asked to do something very cool and very scary, I told the organizer the truth: This idea is amazing and yet the very thought makes me terribly uncomfortable. Because I’m afraid, I think I’d better say Yes. I’ll participate.

 

London – I about blogged that trip to death. And I’m still talking about how great it was! No doubt, Mister had a lot to do with that as he was such a great fellow traveler. But there was also something magical about the vacation. Sure – Kate Bush was a dream. But so was the Harry Potter Tour. And so was Dinner By Heston Blumenthal. And so was our beautiful Navy-colored hotel room. And so was every other fabulous thing. Again, I’m still talking about it.

 

Painting – I finished a painting a couple of weeks ago and I can’t tell you how happy I am. I’m a slow painter, y’all. I own that. So when I decided I wanted to finish this particular piece by year’s end, my painting buddy Nicole laughed and laughed. (Sadly – she didn’t just meet me.) Betting her I would finish spurred me to actually do it. And I did. Good for me.

 

Books – I read some top-notch books this year and reading is one my greatest pleasures, so I’m quite happy with this one. And I’m reading a couple of grand books now. As I’m known to say, no matter how long I live I’ll never get to read all the books I want. So I’ll take what I can.

 

Letting Go – This one is partly due to having read The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I certainly don’t claim to be a Master or anything, but I’m learning people. And that counts. It feels good to not have to try and make sure every friggin’ thing is just so. We all know how well that turns out, right? The work on this one continues.

 

My Kate Bush Mug – This may seem like an odd thing to love, love, love, but I do, do, do. Love, love, love it I mean. I keep it on the back of the shelf, so when the dishwasher is holding a few to-be-cleaned cups I reach in and find the Kate mug. I can’t tell you how big I smile when that happens. The cup reads “It’s coming! It’s in the trees!” It makes me very happy, y’all.

 

D2T2 – This little creative idea was born at the end of last year during a beautiful, drunken afternoon. And though it’s been challenging to undertake an artistic endeavor each week of the year (yes – I know we dropped the ball a few times), it’s been inspiring. And I have to say – the creative wheels seem to be turning more than before we undertook the task. What’s more – these projects netted art! How cool is that?

 

Mister – Nothing I write here could ever come close to conveying my truth where this guy is concerned. I can’t properly describe my feelings, my respect, my love. To say I’d open a vein for the man is just scratching the surface. I love him more than butter. It’s crazy. It’s surreal. It must be love.

 

I could keep going, but this is a pretty nice list. And to end it on the love of my life seems appropriate.

 

So here’s to the New Year. To New Adventures. To New Opportunities. To New Life. Cheers!

According to Chemistry…

 

 

I saw this sign outside a pub in London. It made me giggle.

 

After an extended bout of the London Croup, I am now (mostly) recovered and off the wagon! During the worst of it, I abstained from drinking as I didn’t think it would do a dang thang to help. But now that I’m better… Wow! Oh! Alcohol! How I’ve missed thee!

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 40

 

 

I’ve shared a couple of these photos already, but as they’re part of the “good” shots I got in London, I’m sharing again.

 

 

I love photography. I love the work of people who are adeptly skilled at its finer nuances and I love the lucky snaps that any random person may snag. It really is a numbers game for most of us. Personally, I have to take about a jillion photos to end up with a handful of pics I actually like.

 

 

All I can say is, thank goodness for digital cameras. Makes life a lot easier. And by easier, I mean cheaper than film.

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 39

 

 

Mister and I worked on various art photography ideas while in London, and we’ll process those and share soon (as if I haven’t shared enough pics in my various London blog posts). Since we were both armed with our own cameras, we only have to weed through about 2000 photos. You know, to find the handful that are actually good.

 

In the meantime, I’m going to claim our Week 39 artistic endeavor as all the museum-ing we did in London. (I get to make that call because I’m the boss of me.) Seriously – there were times when my brain overloaded on so much art. In a good way, granted, but still. That overwhelmed feeling we experienced is called Stendhal Syndrome and I succumbed more than once. Being the dork that I am, whenever I felt myself getting googly-eyed over so much art/beauty/Harry Potter/Kate Bush magic/history, I would say, “I think I’ve got Seinfeld Syndrome.” Makes no sense, I know. But that is what I said and I’m just being honest.

 

Don’t get me wrong. Stendhal Syndrome isn’t a bad thing. Feeling so deeply is wonderful. Art is wonderful. Mister and I saw some amazing things and we were emotionally and physically affected. Let’s hope one of the effects is more creative endeavors. Fingers crossed.

London – Heaven and Earth – A Wrap-Up

 

 

“Some moments that I’ve had,

Some moments of pleasure…”

Kate Bush

Moments of Pleasure“ from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

I’ve been writing about London all week now. And today’s post shall serve as a wrap-up. But first, our final day in London…

 

 

Just because we’d managed to eat breakfast the day before, we saw no reason to break from the path of deprivation on our final day. So we got up and readied for a trip to Highgate Cemetery. This was another of those places we’d likely never have gone on our own. But thanks to the dude who blogs at The Endless British Pub Crawl, we had traveled to London with this recommendation on our to-tourist list. And boy were we glad we had.

 

 

As one needs a reservation to tour Highgate Cemetery West, and as all reservations (at that time) were booked until October, Mister and I only toured Highgate Cemetery East.

 

 

It is truly beautiful, and I felt so at ease. (Honestly – if they offered a camping / sleepover sort of deal for the living, I’d sign up.) If all we’d done was simply walk through with no knowledge of anyone buried there, we would have enjoyed the morning. But we were given a handy-dandy guide upon entrance, so we were well aware of some of Highgate East’s residents. For instance, I fairly dorked out over Douglas Adams’ gravesite.

 

 

George Eliot is buried here also. For those who don’t know, George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans. She wrote Middlemarch and Silas Marner, among other works. Some think she’s buried in Westminster Abbey, but the plaque there is merely a memorial stone in “Poets’ Corner.”

 

 

I was also moved by Malcolm McLaren’s grave. His hands stirred the punk movement soup to a great degree (New York Dolls, Sex Pistols), and he also played a big role in ’80′s music (Adam Ant, Bow Wow Wow).

 

 

There were beautiful graves of folks I’ve never heard of, too…

 

 

And then there’s Karl Marx. I don’t know why this one surprised me, but it did. Hey – socialists gotta be buried, too.

 

 

After a few hours in the peaceful cemetery, we decided to head back into London proper. We definitely needed lunch and we had a destination in mind: Newman Arms.

 

 

We’d had this one on our to-eat-at list and were so grateful we fit it in. We each had pie and it was sublime. I would definitely go back to this joint.

 

 

After lunch, we figured we could get one more item ticked off our list: Westminster Abbey.

 

 

We have no photos of the interior, as photography is prohibited. But trust me when I tell you it is an amazing experience, simply to enter this structure. The history! Construction of the present church began in 1245, for cry-eye. And some mighty historical folks are interred here, friends: Elizabeth I, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton, Henry VII, Charles Dickens, George Frederic Handel, Laurence Olivier, Henry Purcell, Alfred-Lord Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Queen of Scots – big breath – and about a jillion others.  Coronations have taken place here since the 11th century and include Henry I (my distant relative), Henry VIII and the reigning Queen Elizabeth II. And if you caught any of that there Royal wedding in 2011, you got an eyeful of The Abbey.

 

 

Anyhoo, we walked around and saw as much as we could, then headed back to the hotel to pack up before the next morning’s flight. Once that task was handled, we went out for dinner (yep – 2 meals that day).

 

 

 

We were mostly quiet during dinner. I think we were processing the adventure of London. As vacations go, we’d done quite a lot. It was the first trip in ages where Mister wasn’t working or stressed about work. That made a huge difference in the experience – for both of us. Yes – I fell ill, but it could have been worse. The London Croup wasn’t a cakewalk but it wasn’t debilitating, either. Could we have done more while in London? Sure. (We certainly could have eaten more than one meal per most days, but I’m trying to forget that.) The truth is we had checked off a lot on our to-tourist list, and if we’d managed to slot in a few more activities, I’m afraid certain experiences would have suffered. Besides, now we have the beginnings of a new To-Tourist List – for the next time.

 

 

The next morning, we woke early, dressed and checked out of the hotel. We took the Tube one last time, then boarded Heathrow Express. Within minutes we were at the airport, bags checked and ready. We found ourselves one final Bacon Butty and we proceeded to the designated gate.

 

When I think about it, it would have been far easier if this trip never happened. Let’s face it – it was a big commitment. Time, money, energy – all those things were required in spades. Preserving those precious commodities would have been so much simpler. But that’s not what we chose. No, we opted to check an item off a Bucket List. To be perfectly honest here, I didn’t know I had a Bucket List until I made that middle-of-the-night Kate Bush-concert-ticket purchase. And once I realized the magnitude of what that meant, I was a bit thrown. Bucket Lists are for old folks, right? I mean, am I of the age where I need to start ticking things off lists, as I may not get another chance?

 

The short answer is yes. I am of an age. And thinking about this could attract a rain cloud above my head so fast as to make me dizzy. But as I’ve contemplated my Bucket List and what it means to own that, I’ve realized I’ve always had a Bucket List. I just never called it that. When I was 16 and wanted to skydive – that was a Bucket List item (checked off). When I was 20-something and wanted to experience Italy in all its wonder – that was a Bucket List item (checked off). I could go on and on with items both large and small. Some are checked off, others not. The younger me would simply think ticking off Bucket List entries is cool. Present me – the of an age me – is a bit more grateful. A bit more emotional about the gravity of life’s passing. I suppose that’s why Mister and I chose to take this big trip to London. We knew we may not get another opportunity for such an adventure.

 

 

This trip was amazing and there were multiple moments of pleasure. We got to see Kate Bush. Kate friggin’ Bush! We got to eat at one of the best restaurants in the world. We got to spend 4 1/2 hours touring all things Harry Potter. We walked in and out of history. We had exactly 1 argument (and only 1). For the first time, we felt like we understood The Underground. (We must have appeared confident, as we were constantly being stopped by other tourists with their direction requests.) In short, we loved London. And we loved each other. And while I will take many, many memories from this trip along life’s journey, I hope the memory topping that list is standing side-by-side with Mister, singing the final notes of “Cloudbusting” while Kate Bush directed us from the stage, just before she herself sang “The sun’s coming out. Your son’s coming out.”