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

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.

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.

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.

 

A Good Day

 

 

Sometimes a good day happens. Maybe we know it’s coming. There may be an event on a calendar, some predicted fanfare. Maybe a celebration is due. On those occasions, the foreknowledge does nothing to lessen the day’s being special. Perhaps, instead, it amplifies the joy or appreciation. Those times are lovely. Just grand, really.

 

But we don’t always know a good day is coming. In fact, we may think anything but good is slated. Maybe we’ve got work commitments. Maybe family or friends need our time and attention. We may not look forward to a particular day, as foreknowledge of responsibilities can often be a drag. And if one’s expectations are for a bad time, it is entirely possible for a day to live down to one’s brain-hole’s lowly vision. That’s not just a mouthful of words; it’s a bummer.

 

The other day, I had a meeting to get to and while I had committed myself to the time and energy, when it rolled around on the calendar, I wanted to work on some paintings instead. But given my word, I had, and so I went. The meeting was just fine (which it was always bound to be, given the attendees), and my time there was well-spent. After the meeting, one of my very favorite people asked if I was open to going out for lunch. I was. Then she suggested we invite another fab-o person. We did, and she said yes. So off we went. We talked and laughed and got deep and agreed that, given enough time, the three of us could solve the world’s problems. Not once did we look at our phones. Not once did our attention leave what was going on at that table. It was honest-to-goodness human connection, and it was swell.

 

After leaving my friends, I went to a new seafood shop and got some fish for supper. The place is super-cool and the guy who helped me was not only nice, but also knowledgeable. (I kind of want that from a monger, as I don’t know squat about the world of fish.) When he asked what I was making, I told him: ceviche. He told me a little about his recipe, and as he listed ingredients, I realized I had completely forgotten to add a hint of sugar to my own mental recipe. I thanked him kindly and headed home.

 

Once there, I set about making the ceviche and put it in the fridge to “cook.” Mister had been working from home that day, and when he gave me the signal that he was knocking off for the day, I mixed us a couple of drinks and we toasted. What did we toast? Nothing really. Everything. We were happy we got to spend the evening together and that we had some good food to share. I brought out the ceviche and some tortilla chips and we dug in. Best I’ve ever made.

 

Then we watched a movie, Maudie. I loved it so much and was so glad I saw it. I was so glad Mister had selected it. It reminded me of my great-grandmother and an old “Soap Sally” mask she had sewn – a superb piece of folk art. I told Mister that if I could have anything from Granny Vera, it would be that mask. As I only have memories, I cried a little, then wondered if I was crying for Granny or Maudie. I decided it didn’t really matter. We got ready for bed and turned out the lights.

 

As I was falling asleep, my slightly drunk mind looked back over the day. It had come without fanfare. Without celebration. There had been some work and some fun. Some socializing and some responsibility. I hadn’t foreseen its value, but it was indeed worthy. It had been a good day, and I knew it. I drifted off, thinking of how lovely life can be. Truly.

Michael

 

 

When we lived in Boston, Mister regularly gave money to a sweetheart of a guy who “worked” The Common. His name was Michael. Mister made sure he always kept a roll of coins on hand, so that he could give a quarter to Michael each time their paths crossed. Whenever I saw Michael, I stopped to chat with him. If I was coming from work, I was wearing my flight attendant uniform. Michael always asked where I’d been and what that place was like. It was during one of those conversations that I learned Michael stayed at a local shelter. He also told me how it wasn’t consistent, and that it was all too easy to lose one’s spot. When winter rolled around, we found a blanket and warm clothing to give to Michael. And we weren’t the only ones. Many folks appreciated Michael’s presence in the park and gave him what they could. He was friendly, kind and like I said – he was a sweetheart.

 

After we moved away, we sort of forgot about Michael. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose. Five years later, we were visiting and walking through The Common. Before we knew it, Michael was standing before us and said, “Hey, Buddy! Where you been? It’s been a long time!” This was all directed at Mister and we spent a few minutes catching up. Mister told Michael we’d moved to L.A. and Michael immediately asked if we’d brought him a postcard. (We had not.) He told us to bring one the next time we were in town and we said we would.

 

Cut to this past summer. Mister and I made sure we brought a postcard with us when we visited Boston. But somehow, we never once found ourselves walking around The Common. And we never saw Michael. The postcard came home with us, back to L.A.

 

Yesterday I was tidying up and came across the postcard, in a pile on a table. I did a quick search online to see if I could find anything about Michael and I did! I found an old piece, from a few years after we moved from Boston. And I found a German piece, too (with a photo), from a mere couple of years ago. Both pieces made me happy. But there was nothing more recent.

 

So I’m hoping someone out there has some news. I’m not sure when I’ll make it back to Boston, so I must rely on others for an update on Michael. If you’re in that area, even for a visit, please head over to The Boston Common and take a gander. I don’t know why this is so important to me right now, but it is. I thank you in advance.

 

For now, I’m gonna just send the postcard we got during the summer. No – I don’t have an address. But sometimes you’ve got to follow an impulse. I think this is one of those times.

 

 

Rats

 

 

A while back, Mister and I noticed a considerable number of dead honey bees in the pool. There are usually a few in there, but not gobs, for cry-eye. What we were seeing was not good.

 

Our next door neighbor has a gi-normous tree in the backyard, and in the top of that tree there’s a big hole. Since moving here, we’ve watched honey bees fly in and out of that hole and we’ve rightly assumed that’s the location of their hive. As a lover of food and flowers (pretty much in that order), I appreciate the heck out of honey bees. Their presence next door has been somehow comforting.

 

 

But, sadly, hives are dying all over the place. We thought the bees we were finding in the pool were coming from the neighbor’s hive. And then the dead bees’ numbers increased. Each day, we woke to find hundreds of dead bees on the pool deck. It was shocking. And heartbreaking. One day we knew we needed to sweep up the bees. We said we would, then promptly put off the task until the next day. But when we went outside that next morning, we found zero-point-zero bees on the deck. Not so much as a wing. I thought there must’ve been a wind in the night or some such. I mean – the simplest explanation and all. I moved on to the business of the day and forgot about the bees. By early evening, the deck was once again littered with the lifeless bodies of those sweet honey bees. And that’s when I saw them…

 

 

The mice. They were coming out of the cypress trees by the back wall and they were eating the hell out of those dead bees. I wasn’t even a little bit happy about it, but they were mice. I figured I could take care of them and not have to worry. (And yes, people – by take care I do indeed mean killing the shit out of them.) After some strategic rat poison-placement, there were no more mice. Granted, there were no more dead bees, either, and the mice may have simply moved on to another food source. No matter the reason, I forgot all about those little mice.

 

This past weekend, I was doing something or other in the house and a movement by the pool caught my eye. Let me be clear here. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, which I use for distance vision, and still – whatever was out there was big enough to grab my attention. I got the binoculars out and aimed toward the back of the pool. That’s when I saw the biggest, fattest R-A-T I’ve ever seen. (And I’m including the Boston rats I used to mistake for cats.) This asshole was so big, he made me think he’d eaten all the other little mice that had been snarfing up the dead bees. Right then, Mister walked in and I handed the bi-nos to him. He was shocked. That rat’s tail alone was about a foot long, so you can imagine how big the fucker was.

 

I put out more poison and it’s disappearing, so hopefully that giant rat will soon be dead. I certainly hope so at least. That mutha could chew my face off in seconds flat. I do not like rats, y’all.

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

 

 

For years now, Mister has been telling me each time he eats a hard-cooked egg with double yolks. He eats only the whites, but they’re part of his breakfast most every day, so he’s going through a lot of eggs. And each time he tells me, I remind him that I’ve never – not once – even seen a double-yolk egg. And I’m always a little jealous. True.

 

Several weeks ago, we were visiting dear friends and sweet Susan offered to make breakfast. We were standing around, talking, and Susan cracked the first egg into a bowl. It was a double yolk! And I was there to see it! Sweet Susan cracked the next egg, and the next, and the next… A whole dozen eggs were floating in that bowl and each one had two yolks. It was a Christmas miracle! In July! Beautiful, I tell ya.

 

Today I have a bit of surgery on the schedule. I don’t want to go into it, but it’s for the best and if all goes as planned, my health will be top-notch after today (and subsequent recovery). I’m thinking of this bowl of lucky eggs in hopes of smooth proceedings. I’ll take all the luck I can get. Good thoughts are appreciated, too.

Irrational, But Well-Rounded

 

 

I don’t get hit on. (Yes, peanut gallery – that may very well have something to do with my appearance in the above photo, but so the hell what?) Mister, on the other hand, occasionally receives attention from female admirers. That guy never knows it’s happening, mind you, but it does happen just the same.

 

Anyhoo, we were in Boston earlier this summer, walking around a street fair. Mister was wearing the t-shirt shown above. He was buying something from a vendor at the fair, where a couple of gorgeous, college-age gals were working. One of them looked into Mister’s face and said, “I really like your shirt.” I was about a foot-and-a-half away, witnessing the scene, and noticed Mister was so engrossed in getting the doughnut he’d just selected and purchased that he didn’t hear a word that cutie-pie said. So I leaned over and said, “Thank you.” Without taking her eyes off Mister, that too-cute-for-her-britches babe said, “I wasn’t talking to you.”

 

Let me be clear about something. I’m not the jealous type. I just don’t tend to that direction and I don’t have any reason to go there. The only reason I bothered to thank that young chippie for complimenting Mister’s shirt was because I didn’t want her kindness to be ignored. That would be rude and I didn’t think Mister would want to come across that way.

 

But I don’t give a rat’s ass if I’m rude, so after that brazen broad said she wasn’t talking to me, I leaned a bit closer to her and said, “Yes – I know, dear. But my husband is wearing my shirt, so thank you.”

 

Mister, thoroughly enjoying his dessert, never heard a word. We walked away together and shared that doughnut. It was fabulous. And well-rounded.