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

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…