Once Upon a Time in a New York Elevator…

 

Mikki in the Nineties at an MIT Party

 

A couple of days ago I read that the lead singer of Roxette, Marie Fredriksson, had died. I wasn’t much of a Roxette fan, truth be told. But I knew of them. Reading about Fredriksson’s death didn’t tug at my heartstrings, but it did trigger a memory. And it’s a doozy…

 

About a jillion years ago – in the 90s – I was a flight attendant on a layover in New York. Our crew arrived at a Manhattan hotel late on a Saturday night. While checking in, I looked across the lobby and spotted another arriving flight crew. One of their flight attendants had gone through training with me and I was tickled pink to see her. Anne and I hadn’t seen one another for a few years and after our happy hugs and greetings, we agreed to get our asses to our rooms, change and meet in the lobby in a few minutes.

 

It was summer so the New York night was warm and electric. Anne and I walked to a bar and had a drink while catching up. Then we had another drink and caught up some more. Before we knew what was happening, the bar was closing. We weren’t yet ready to part, so when we encountered a hansom cab outside the bar we gave a listen to the driver’s pitch. He was really pushing for a sale and when he offered to drive us around for an hour for $25 and a stop for beer, we took him up on it.

 

His name was Eli and he was as amused by us as we were of him. Now would be a good time for me to tell you an important detail about that night. I was speaking in a Cockney accent. At least I think that’s what it sounded like. Why? I have no idea. From the moment we encountered Eli on the street outside the bar, my voice went Cockney and that was that. Once I’d gotten going with the ruse, I kind of felt like I had to keep at it. So for the entirety of that carriage ride, I was a Cockney. Go figure.

 

Eli was a man of his word, so he stopped right away for a couple of tall boys at a liquor store while Anne and I waited in the hansom cab. He dashed out and our tour commenced. He led us through Central Park and pointed out various sights along the way. The few times we passed other carriages, Eli addressed each driver by name. He was darling. At one point, we were passing a dark and busy street corner in the city. There were several ladies of the evening standing about and Eli pointed them out to us, saying they were “working girls.” In my most pitiful and astonished Cockney accent I asked, “Eli, do you mean to say they’re prostitutes?” He laughed and said, “Yeah. That’s right. Man! I just love that accent of yours!” Anne and I nearly cracked our ribs from laughter. The entire carriage ride was a hoot. It lasted two hours and at its end Eli dropped us off at our hotel. We thanked him for the awesome tour and fine company and went inside. It was pretty late in the night (or early in the morning, depending on your perspective), so Anne and I hugged and said our farewells before going to our respective rooms and crashing. Hard.

 

The next morning, Sunday, I wasn’t able to sleep in as much as I would have liked after such a boisterous evening, as I had an appointment in the city. As it happened, my mother-in-law was also in Manhattan that weekend and she had invited me to join her and a friend for brunch. I was hungover and dragging, but I was also a poor flight attendant. So a free meal wasn’t going to be denied. (And come on – I didn’t get to see the MIL very often. Of course I was gonna go.) I put on the nicest clothes I had with me: short black boots, a black vest and a denim mini-skirt with a tattered hem. Oh – and sunglasses, because, you know, the night before. I went downstairs and asked a doorman how to get where I was going and I took off.

 

When I arrived at the friggin’ Waldorf Astoria, I walked into the dining room to meet the MIL and her buddy. The “captain” of the facilities came over to me right away and said, “We do not allow denim in the Waldorf dining area!” Before I could even blink, I looked across the way and saw my MIL. She was dressed to the nines, I tell ya. She looked fabulous. With a lowered, bedraggled voice, I said to the captain, “Actually – I’m here to meet these ladies” and I gestured in my MIL’s direction. The captain looked over, then said, “But of course.” I went over, greeted my MIL and sat with her and her friend at their table. They were drinking champagne and I would have liked to have joined them. But as I was due to work that day and not allowed to drink within 12 hours of reporting for duty, I abstained. Plus – the hangover and all. I mean, I never once took off my sunglasses.

 

After a few minutes of catching up at the table, the three of us got up and went to the buffet. Can I just tell you something? The Waldorf Astoria buffet was the most extraordinary I have ever seen. It was beautiful, decadent and delicious. Of all the free meals I’ve been privileged to consume, that one may be at the top of my list. But I digress… With my full plate in hand, I began walking back to our table. After only a few steps, the captain appeared at my side. He reached for my plate, took it from my hands and leaned close to me and whispered, “I am so sorry I did not recognize you earlier. Please forgive me.” I whispered back, “No problem.” He carried my plate to the table, asked if we needed anything else, and left us to our brunching. I never knew who I was thought to be.

 

The fantastic brunch ended, I thanked my MIL for the eats and said my goodbyes. As it was a nice day and I felt I needed to walk off some of the hang, I didn’t take the subway. I pushed myself to stay in the sun and took my time moseying back to the hotel. When I got there, I went straight to the elevator and entered a vacant lift. Just as the doors were about to slide closed, a woman and her daughter stepped in. The girl appeared to be about 10 or so. She looked up at me, with my very Mikki-attire, sunglasses and spiky blonde hair (Did I forget to tell you I had spiky platinum hair? I did.), and she nearly lost it. She was visibly excited and pulling on her mother’s hand. Her mom leaned down and I heard the little girl whisper “Roxette!” I fought back a smile. The elevator stopped at my floor, I stepped off, turned to look at the girl and flashed her a peace sign. She actually squealed with delight. The elevator doors closed and I went to my room to ready for my work shift. My hangover lingered, but I swear – it was lessened by the encounter with that little girl.

 

No – I wasn’t a Roxette fan, nor am I now. But on that day, in that elevator in New York, I was. It must have been love, but it’s over now. Godspeed Marie Fredriksson. Thank you for one of the fondest memories in my satchel.

One Crazy Summer

 

Do Something Every Day

 

Usually when I close my eyes at the end of a day I can think back on my waking hours and come up with a few things I accomplished, things that help me to feel like I didn’t waste my time. I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I do. And honestly, it’s rare that I lie there feeling like a complete schlub who didn’t do a damn thing worth noting. Big things, small things – I count them. And that nightly ritual really helps me to like myself. It might not be how you roll, and that’s okay. But I am definitely habituated to this behavior and it generally serves me well.

 

When I come to the start of a new season, like today, I find myself trying to figure out what I did for the closing period. How did  I spend it? Did my choices make a difference for me or for others? Was it enough? Was I enough?

 

It isn’t always a kind process. Sometimes I’m really down on myself, or grasping for anything to count as time well spent. Those times are hard, and usually point to a period of self-doubt or low self-esteem. Sometimes I’m elated to recount three months of accomplishments and experiences. Most of the time, however, I hover somewhere in the middle. I recall a few fun things, a few moments of service, a few standout happenings. Middle of the road ain’t too shabby, y’all.

 

This summer? Well, it was odd. There was a lot of uncertainty in my little world. A big move seemed possible and because of that, I spent more time than you can imagine in Atlanta, Georgia. Because I’m a goer, I made the best of it. (It wasn’t difficult.)

 

Lorinda and Mikki in 1980-something

 

Mister and I spent a weekend in Athens, GA, with my sister from another mister, Lorinda. I have loved this gal since I was 13 years old. She’s even more fabulous than ever and I still love her.

 

Creature Comforts - Athens, GA

 

I drank beer – gasp! At Creature Comforts in Athens, they know what they’re doing, y’all. For reals. While there, I took a photo with these two gals. I have no idea who they are. But I liked that they were willing to snap a pic with a complete stranger. And they smiled! Yeah – I dig that.

 

HIGH Museum of Art

 

I went to the HIGH Museum of Art. I’m a museum junkie, so this was really a no-brainer.

 

I got to spend time with cousins. People I not only love, but actually like.

 

Bugs - Kindred Spirits

 

I found a kindred spirit in my cousin Kathy. She collects and displays beautiful dead things. I like that. A lot.

 

Brunswick Stew

 

I made a quest to find delicious Brunswick Stew. People outside the South may not be familiar with this BBQ joint staple, but I’m not only familiar with it, but also obsessed. There are rules, y’all. When a bowl of Brunswick Stew is placed before me and I spy with my little eye a lima bean in the mix… Oh, lordy. That ain’t right. And that happened to me at a very popular place run by some Texans. Nope. I searched and searched and probably ate more little bowls of stew than most people consume in a year. On my last day of tooling around town, nearly defeated, I spotted this joint…

 

Daddy D'z BBQ Joynt - Atlanta, GA

 

Daddy D’z. I went in, took a seat and a chance. When the food was placed before me, I appreciated the beauty, but I’d fallen for that before. I slowly took a bite… And then I started crying sweet tears of joy. That stew was mighty close to what I loved as a child. And I was grateful.

 

Carter Presidential Library - Atlanta, GA

 

I went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Not only is the facility beautiful, it is fabulously inspiring.

 

Jimmy Carter Quote at Carter Presidential Library - Atlanta, GA

 

I thought I knew about President Carter, but I knew nothing. He is a beautiful human being and was a fabulous President. Not only that, but he’s done more for the citizens of this country – in his post-Presidency years – than most living Presidents combined. I took my time going through the Carter Library. I shed a lot of tears there. I loved it so much. I would happily go again.

 

Maurine - Oakland Cemetery - Atlanta, GA

 

Because I love cemeteries, I tooled around Oakland Cemetery one afternoon. When I stopped in the visitors center, the gentleman there couldn’t have been nicer. He was also a bit misinformed, as he said that he’d been told Oakland Cemetery was more loved and better than the cemeteries of Europe. Had he gone to any of those, I asked. No. I told him that at first glance, Oakland looked to be a fine cemetery, but he might want to visit a few more before making such statements.

 

Margaret Mitchell Headstone

 

But it is a fine cemetery. Margaret Mitchell is buried there, if you’re into that.

 

Mayor Maynard Jackson Headstone

 

So is Mayor Maynard Jackson. His marker is beautiful. And here’s an interesting note about Mayor Jackson’s grave. In the South, the dead are buried with their headstones facing East, because that’s the direction from which Jesus will rise again, don’t you know. But Mayor Jackson’s marker is askew. It faces downtown Atlanta’s skyline, which can be seen from his burial site. He loved that city.

 

Sometimes I Drink Water to Surprise My Liver

 

I rode MARTA all over the danged place and walked more miles than a sane person should have during the heat of a Georgia summer. I also drank a ton of local brews and talked with people from all walks of life.

 

Georgia Green

 

It was lovely to be there. Folks were great. The city was green and beautiful. I soaked up about as much of Atlanta as I could.

 

Malibu

 

Closer to home, I spent a few days with friends in Malibu, which feels like another world. The booming ocean provided a beautiful backdrop for time with these adored souls.

 

M*A*S*H Filming Location

 

While in the ‘Bu, we hiked to the old M*A*S*H filming site in the Santa Monica Mountains. The hike itself wasn’t difficult, but the heat just about took me out. I will again do this hike, but will definitely bring more water. Dag.

 

Back at the homestead, I swam and swam and swam. Because we don’t have a pool heater, I try to get in the water as much as I can before the night temperatures drop so much as to cool the water beyond comfort for swimming. We made it until 14 September. That was the last day I could bear it. Once the water drops into the 70s, I get freaking cold. It bums me out once that privilege is done for the year. But that’s the way it goes.

 

And now, the light is changing. The daytime temps are still h-a-w-t, but the nights are quite comfortable. I’ve started studying different recipes, in anticipation of cooler weather. I’m ready to switch out my clothes for pieces not worn since winter. Social gatherings are increasing, as friends are back in town after their summer travels. Work on various projects has kicked into high gear. Autumn is here.

 

It isn’t lost on me that as I age I become more aware of the seasons. More appreciative, too. As odd as this Summer was, I found joy in its days. I rode out the unknowns and the difficulties and came out on the other side. And I loved it.

 

Pool Shark

 

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to remember the way it felt to tread water for an hour, the water lifting my body and bettering my health, but I remember now. Maybe tonight, when I close my eyes at the close of this first day of Fall, I’ll list the moments that occupied my time, checking off what served me well. And then, if I’m lucky, I’ll remember what it feels like to float. To trust the water. To be in the world and of the world. In my own skin.

 

Love

 

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.