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.

 

 

Butthole. For Reals.

 

 

When it’s 95 degrees at 7pm, a gal is justified in being less-than-herself. That’s where I find myself as I write this.

 

I had wanted to tell you about some of my summer experiences. I’m hoping heat prostration doesn’t keep me from my task. First up, I visited Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa…

 

 

It was pretty fabulous. That hour wait to get in wasn’t anything to write home about, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re the shit, and they surely are.

 

 

I also saw Miss Angie Dickinson at an event. To say I never knew how fabulous she was/is, well, that’s an understatement. The woman rules, y’all. Seriously.

 

 

And then there was The. French. Laundry. I can’t even begin to write about this meal, as it was the most mind-blowing dinner I’ve ever had. I know I’m speaking in absolutes here, but it’s true. I’ve had amazing food in my life, and I expect to have more. This was incomparable. Truly. I’m not sure it will be matched.  I haven’t fully processed that, either. For the record, Mister and I have tried for a few years to get a rezzie to this joint. It finally worked out.

 

 

Did it cost us? Oh, yeah. Big time. Was it worth it? Yes. Bigger time. (Were we our usual dorky selves? Do I really need to answer that? ) Let me tell you this – I would not hesitate to do it again. It was that magnificent.

 

 

There was also the yard project, which needs some T-L-C, as the goddamn sun is baking the hell out of it. Mister and I will work on that this weekend, though, and we’ll hope for the best. Well, I’ll hope for the best. I think Mister just believes. My inner cynic doesn’t always allow that.

 

Oh! And I had surgery. I’m still under doctor’s orders, but feeling pretty much like myself. So I’m grateful for that. The no-getting-in-the-pool part sucks, as, you know, a hundred and eleven-ty and all. But I know that this, too, shall pass. And I’ll be healthier for it. (See – Mister’s belief is catching.)

 

 

And while I was recovering from my surgery (and dealing with the heat), I watched some telly. What I finished was the third season of “Grace and Frankie.” (Loved the last episode so much. And – you have to be really good to take a photo of the screen and get both characters with their eyes closed. I’m just sayin’.) Then I started “Luther.” I had wanted to watch this for some time, so it was overdue. The first episode hooked me, so now I’m in it. Good living, don’t you know.

 

 

My summer has also taken me to Napa for the first time (not the last, I hope), Park City, Utah, where I was eaten alive by bugs – no lie, Boston, my old stomping ground, and home. I’ve been lucky to get around a bit. And even luckier to have a place to return. Not everyone has that, you know – a home. Mine is filled with love. And a ghost. I embrace it all.

 

Speaking of Miss Harmon, she asserted herself a couple of months ago. Mister said something or other about how her ghost had not been around for a while. I told him she’d popped up a few weeks prior and relayed the following tale. I was entering the front parlor, and the glass door that closes off that room was open, but not fully (it was away from the wall). I found that odd, and proceeded to close it. Or at least I tried. The door stopped about a foot and a half from the wall. As it’s clear glass, I could see there was nothing blocking the path. I leaned into it, putting my full weight behind it, and still nothing happened. That’s when I said, “Damn it, Miss Harmon! If you want to hide some place, pick a better spot than behind a glass door!” Immediately, the door opened fully and that was that. I think she just needed some acknowledgement. She got it and we all moved on.

 

There’s a few weeks of summer left, folks. Sure – school for the kids has resumed (mostly), and vacations have primarily come and gone. Personally, I’ve got some projects coming up, as well as ongoing commitments and responsibilities. That’s life. For most of us. We’re doing alright, really. Remembering that kind of helps to trigger a smile here and there. Compassion is activated, too. For me, I know that I got to live another summer. Not even one is guaranteed, so I’ll take it. Even if the next few weeks are as hot as Satan’s Butthole, I’ll take it. I may not like it, but I’ll take it.

Art In (Sort Of) Public Spaces

 

 

A while back, Mister and I were in Salt Lake City to visit his sister and her husband. For those who don’t know, Salt Lake City, Utah is sort of like Austin, Texas, in that it’s “an island of blue in a sea of red.” Meaning the city itself is progressive, open-minded and full of folks who are into that. I can’t speak to the state of the state of U-tar, but Salt Lake City is pretty cool.

 

 

Anyhoo – one day we went for a stroll and Mister’s Sister pointed out a private yard full of art. It’s more of an estate, really, and everywhere you look there’s something to see.

 

 

As someone who tries to take in as much art as possible, I found some pieces interesting, and some not so much. I mean – some of the works are a bit more pedestrian than others. And I’m fairly certain I’ve seen similar pieces at my local grocery store’s parking lot.

 

 

And that’s okay. We all get to choose what we like and absolutely no one on the planet is beholden to my tastes. Other than me, I mean. And even then, sometimes it’s like I just met me or something and I don’t have an iota of a clue as to what I like or do not like. But I digress.

 

 

I super-enjoyed peering through the gate of the Salt Lake City property and seeing their art. And I love that folks display art for passersby to appreciate. For us, it didn’t even require a special outing. All it took was a stroll. Just a stretching of the old legs. And it was grand.

 

Towel Day

 

 

If you’re out and about today and you spot someone carrying a towel around with them, please don’t fret. It’s Towel Day! In honor of Mr. Douglas Adams, fans around the world carry towels on this day. (If you’d like to know more about Towel Day, click here.)

 

When Mister and I saw Douglas Adams’ grave a few years ago, it was a powerful moment. When I’ve carried a towel around with me on previous Towel Days, it’s been lovely. I think all that adds up to my definitely being a fan, then and now.

 

So yes – today I’ll be carrying a towel around as I go about my bidness. And I will probably be smiling – a lot. Out of joy. Out of appreciation. Out of preparedness. And if you’ve never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, don’t panic! And – what are you waiting for? It’s a brilliant piece of creative writing. I’m so glad Douglas Adams gave it to the world.

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.

Howlin’ Ray’s

 

 

For quite a while now, Nashville Hot Chicken has been taking the country by storm. Though it’s been a staple in Nashville for decades, it’s only recently that the rest of us have come to worship at the spicy chicken table. And let me be clear here – this chicken isn’t merely spicy. It. Is. H-A-W-T.

 

Mister and I first crossed paths with Nashville Hot Chicken in our own kitchen. (You can read about that here.) Because the recipe we used provided our taste buds with such delicious heat, we were hooked. We’ve made the chicken since and we still love it.

 

Cut to last year and enter “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck. The press on this was huge and social media was exploding with some of the greatest food porn around. I kept trying to hit up the joint, but schedules never meshed. They were only rolling around L.A. a few days each week and in case you’ve forgotten, L.A. is big, y’all. So if my bid-ness had me on the east side and the crack chicken truck was on the west side, it just wasn’t gonna happen. And it didn’t.

 

In the meantime, I had a nice email relationship going with them and knew that eventually our paths would cross. And then the “Howlin’ Ray’s” food truck stopped rolling. At first, I was devastated. (And remember – I hadn’t even had their chicken yet.) Then I came to understand a brick-and-mortar was in the works. Hooray! And so I, along with the rest of town, waited. The last week of April saw the shop finally opening.

 

Last weekend Mister and I headed to Chinatown for an introduction to “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken. As the joint had only been open a few days, we planned for a wait. Which we got. And were fine with. Anyhoo – we and a diverse group of Los Angeles food dorks waited patiently for our lunch. And we were rewarded with some fairly magnificent food, I tell ya. All in, our wait was about an hour. And when our number was called and we beheld that gorgeous chicken, we didn’t even pause long enough to take a danged photo. We just dug in. And it was fabulous.

 

For anyone planning a trip to Chinatown for some “Howlin’ Ray’s” love, I offer this: medium is good. Mister and I both thought that level of heat was flavorful and bearable. We got some hot chicken to take home (1 step up from medium) and it was a bit too much for us. We felt that at that level, the heat overpowered the flavor. So medium it is. But do go. If you’ve never been to Chinatown, give yourself some time to stroll around and enjoy yourself. And take some tissue. “Howlin’ Ray’s” Nashville Hot Chicken will, in all likelihood, give you a bit of a runny nose. And you’ll be so glad for it.

Franklin Canyon Reservoir

 

 

I’ve wanted to go for ages. I’d heard about it and read about it, but for some reason I just wasn’t making it happen. Then friends invited us to join them for a nature walk at Franklin Canyon Park and we knew we would finally see it.

 

It did not disappoint. There was actual nature there! In L.A.! We were part of a large group and we all hung out, picnic-ed, took in the sights and communed with all the beauty around us. For me, it was nostalgic, as the opening credits of “The Andy Griffith Show” were filmed there. You know – the part where Andy and Opie are skipping rocks? That’s the Franklin Canyon Lake, friends. And it’s lovely. (By the way, “Creature From the Black Lagoon” was also shot there. So was “On Golden Pond.” Heck – there’s a whole list of things filmed there, listed on the wiki page.)

 

Now that I’ve gone once, I know how easy it is and will definitely go again. For a little while, that outing made me forget I was in a crowded, concrete city. And it was just gorgeous. Truly.

 

 

I Knew It All Along, Philippe’s

 

 

A couple of days ago I read a piece about the true origins of The French Dip sandwich. For those of you not familiar with L.A. lore, The French Dip was invented here (for reals). But there has been a long-running dispute about the sandwich’s creator. Many thanks to Thrillist for its piece and clarification. (It’s worth the read, if you’re a food dork.)

 

As for me – someone who’s had both contenders – the truth comes as no surprise. I knew it all along. And now that the guessing game is over, I may have to make my way downtown to Philippe’s for a treat…

 

The Broad Museum – Downtown Los Angeles

 

 

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to visit downtown L.A.’s The Broad museum (pronounced Brode – with a long o). I say I was fortunate because I was. For while entrance to the museum is free, it can be crowded and require a wait. The night before my visit, my friend Gwendlyn told me she was going and had reserved 2 extra passes and offered them to me. Yippee! I snapped them up and asked my painting buddy Nicole if she was game. She was (she’s a go-er – part of why I like her) and so we did. Go that is. We boarded the subway and headed downtown.

 

 

When you’re on an art outing, everything becomes art. That’s how my brain works anyway. Hence the subway escalator photo.

 

 

The Broad is located by the Disney Concert Hall, which is pretty danged arty in and of itself.

 

 

As for The Broad, its design – by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler – is quite different from that of Frank Gehry’s smooth Disney Concert Hall. The Broad’s facade has all these little “windows” that allow natural light into the gallery space. It’s merely a shell, and it’s massive. I found it to be stunning and the perfect face for the collection it houses.

 

 

And what a collection it is! This trippy lamp is located in the lobby. I couldn’t help but think how much I’d love to have that lamp outside my home. By the way, the dude’s head is not part of the exhibit, and I would not like to have it outside my home. But I do like it in the photo.

 

 

The rooms are gorgeous.

 

 

And some are gi-normous.

 

 

Some of the art is fairly gi-normous, too.

 

 

It’s amazing to see pieces in person, pieces I’ve only seen in photos.

 

 

The Koons works fit this category and were definitely fun.

 

 

The majority of the works I saw were new to me. Seriously – da fuh?

 

 

Nicole and I took a self-portrait, because you know, that’s how you do.

 

 

This work by Takashi Murakami, “In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow,” is 82 feet long! Inspired (at least partially) by the devastating tsumani that wrecked Japan in 2011, the piece is so amazing and large – one could spend an entire afternoon studying nothing else in the museum.

 

 

The vault is visible and stores much of the collection on-site. It’s hard to see in this photo, but there are multiple pieces in the racks shown. It was cool to see how they store their art. I’ve never known much about that part of a collection.

 

 

After a few hours, Nicole and I had to head back to the train. It was getting dark and the fountain lights of Grand Park had switched on. We were tired, but we were so alive from all we’d seen! The thing about modern and contemporary art – for me – is that it’s pure entertainment. I don’t have to put any of it in my living room. I don’t even have to get it. I just enjoy the viewing. It’s pretty danged fun. And honestly, it’s tremendously inspirational. All those artists create in their own way. That pushes me to want to create more, in my own way. That alone is enough of a reason to appreciate The Broad. I’m so glad that when I was asked to go, I said yes.

Jiggity Jig

 

 

Mister has been away on business. It was quiet while he was gone. There were fewer dirty dishes. Less picking up to do.

 

It was also a little on the dull side, as that guy is a hoot to have around. I didn’t cook, as I wasn’t inspired enough to do so just for myself, which meant my meals were a bit boring. I also didn’t sleep so well while he was gone. That was mostly due to being cold all night, as that hoot of a guy is also a little heater. And that’s mighty nice to have around during the winter.

 

But now Mister is home. And I am as happy as a denuded lark in a thistle patch. I don’t ever want to be the sort of person who would deny him the chance to travel or have his own fun, and I’m not that person. But I am a gal who likes having her dude around. So yes – happy I am. Jiggity jig!