pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: August 2015

31 August 2015


Orange County, California
30 August 2015

I was up early yesterday to see the son off at the airport, so watched the super moon set.

I was up early this morning to drive the daughter to school. Yeah, I know. Actually, she drove, but I'm still legally mandated to be in the passenger seat. She does fine, but the traffic and bicyclists running stop signs were giving me a heart attack. I had to drop her off anyway (that's special!), so I took over a couple of blocks from the university.

It will all shake itself out. She takes her license test in about 3 weeks.

Still, first day of college.

I drove myself home, popped on a ball cap, plugged in my earbuds and went for a walk.

I giggled the whole way.

It feels like years ago. It feels brand new.

I'm learning to walk again (no, no, not metaphorically. For real. Again.)

Doesn't matter. For the moment, it's awesome.

Come hell or full circle
Our arms filled with miracles

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000 and telephoto. Go listen to some good music: "Go Places" from the album Challengers by The New Pornographers. Yes, a heart should always go one step too far.

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30 August 2015

Pool party

Backyard party
Orange County, California
30 August 2015

We're in one of the areas that is currently under all sorts of water restrictions, among them, no freshwater fountains. Mine has a recirculating pump (of course!), but even if it didn't, this is one restriction I'd ignore. The birds are clearly suffering this summer, and my fountain has been extremely popular all season long, especially with this last hot spell and the one a couple of weeks ago. Birds that can't bathe aren't healthy birds. Birds that don't have water sources are dead birds. And it's not just birds. Lizards, bees, butterflies, the bloody squirrel, and probably a bunch of creatures I don't want to think about also avail themselves of the water.

El Nino can't show up soon enough.

(Though I welcome the birds. And the lizards, bees and butterflies. Squirrely-o not so much. The other stuff, not so much. Though I don't begrudge them a drink.)


End of summer. Regrets, things that didn't get done. Things that did get done. This was a wonderful article about just that: The Summer That Never Was. Most of my summer went to teaching the daughter to drive. I didn't get back to Iceland or Europe (I will, though). It was college prep, the parent end. But there were concerts (!!!). There was laughter.

Now, there must be household maintenance. And, of course, at least for awhile, taking the daughter to school. Picking up the daughter from school. At least it's a better drive than Santa Ana.

And I've promised myself a trip east in the autumn.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000 and telephoto.

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29 August 2015

Where is the wave that will carry me...?

Super moon Saturday
Orange County, California
29 August 2015

I was on a bit of a tear today. Mostly irrational high spirits.

Tempered by heat.

I haven't done this in awhile. A full moon! Big waves at the beach...

I could have gotten a better photo, but I am still not well versed in using the better camera. After wrestling with it for 1/2 an hour in the 80+ degree heat (yes, that was after dark), I finally got this. And I was covered in spider webs, and some kind of sticky goo from the new tripod.

(And a good deal of nervous--or enraged--perspiration.)

Perhaps it's time to take the time to study the manual. Now that maybe I'll have some time?

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000 and telephoto. Click on the photo to enlarge.

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26 August 2015

So tired my teeth hurt

Orange County, California
25 August 2015

So my part in the orientation proceedings has ended. I dropped off the daughter this morning, stuck around long enough to take her to lunch and then bailed (because I am a terrible parent, I did not go to any of their talks). Went back for the dinner held by her college tonight, and no, we didn't go for the food.

She has said each evening, "I'm so glad that I get to go home."

She is anxious to start her classes.

The son takes off for his senior year this weekend.

Love my family, but looking forward to some quiet.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

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25 August 2015

Orientation (last time!)

Orange County, California
25 August 2015
Balloons. Water. Bad food. Droning speakers. Excessive heat. Upperclass students acting as cheerleaders. More bad food. Searching for the place to pick up textbooks. Trying not to run over wandering people moving into dorms.
Another university orientation.
The son was determined to move as far from California as possible. The daughter managed to stay as close to home as possible. All of her friends have been moving into dorms. She reorganized her bedroom and moved all her bedroom furniture.
(This was her choice. I told her she could live in a dorm if she wanted to. She declined, determinedly, and enumerated all the reasons that staying home was the best choice: good food, not paying for laundry service, no roommate, a private bathroom, a quiet place to study. Oh, and it was cheaper.)
Just another freshman orientation day.
Last. One. Ever.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6 and a mystery Hipstamatic combination.

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24 August 2015

What lies at the edge of perception

Japanese American National Museum
Los Angeles, California
14 August 2015

It looked like there had been a festival or a celebration. Colorful figures hung from the museum and further down the plaza, there were ranks of similar, smaller figures. There were inscriptions on some of the streamers that made up the lower third of each one. I wondered what they meant, what they were intended to represent. The heads looked like they were made from paper chrysanthemums. They waved and drifted in the breeze, bright.

I took photos from multiple angles with multiple exposures, using different filters. Later that night, I downloaded all my photos and perused them. The color photos looked bright and cheerful, childlike dolls, fluttering in the air. Two that were black and white made the figures look horrifyingly like hanging bodies.

How can something so simple as exposure and color completely change the complexion of a photograph?

I know that I've looked at photographs, and when I feel happy, I see happiness in the subjects' faces, too, almost a reflection of my own. And when I feel anxious or unhappy, I see censure in those same faces in that same photo. Rationally, it makes no sense that I can project my own pleasure or my own uncertainty on a static image.

I've spoken (often!) of the fact that I have no sense of my own presence in the world. And I've said (truthfully!) that I'm fairly sure that I only exist in my own head. When I discover other people can and do see me, the idea is novel (and periodically terrifying). But it never, at base, changes my own perception that I am invisible. And I'm not especially interesting, so I am always surprised that people actually read what I write here. I have no wish to be famous on the Internet, even if I have quietly claimed my own little corner, but I have come around to the idea that I don't only write for myself.

Colorful fluttering doll or a black and white nightmare?

Both, I suspect, especially since I know they reconcile themselves into the same image. It's all a matter of perception.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6 and a mystery Hipstamatic combination. "What lies at the edge of perception" as a phrase and a concept is borrowed from Eleanor Cameron's Court of the Stone Children, which was one of the most awesome books I read as a child.

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23 August 2015

Having none of it

11 June 2015

The rigors of domesticity.

The new washer and dryer were delivered Friday. It's rather appalling to think that I lived with the last set as long as I did.

Milton did not approve of the morning's doings. And of course, there were problems (next week, I get to call the plumber. Of course. And the electrician. Landscaping, roof, insulation, AIR CONDITIONING...I could write a song about this).

In any event, the cat is keeping a very close eye on the new monsters in his laundry room. He sneaks quietly to the doorway to eye them as they rumble and hum to themselves.

He does not approve.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000.

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22 August 2015

The spaces between

Giants Causeway
Bushmills, Moyle, United Kingdom
16 July 2012

Much of my life is spent careering from one thing to another. Whether it's plane-concert-plane, grocery-daughter's school-whatever board I'm serving on, plane-kid on the east coast-plane, work-deadline-bike ride home, whatever, there's forward motion, banquet tables, ear plugs, green pens, and usually a heaping helping of stress, even if it's good stress.

Then there are the interstitial moments, the spaces between, the breath, the silence, the deliberate smile between verses.

A kiss on the wind and we'll make the land.

When I was dancing, we learned in choreography to stop. That was the breath, the pause, the cessation that, if used properly, was as important as motion. As a dancer, sometimes it was really a moment designed by a smart choreographer to allow us to catch our collective breath (after you've grand jeté'd the length of a large stage four times in under a minute, breathing is welcome), but it's also a way to engage the audience: what happens next?

A decade ago, I was traveling to Toronto, and it was a frenetic day with the joy of long flights and passport control. Finally, I was in a taxi en route to the hotel, checked in, and ready to roam. I was supposed to meet D. later in the evening, but my phone was dropping calls and I kept missing her. I finally just took off, in the general direction of where I was supposed to go, and started walking.

I don't know how many miles I went, but it was a distance. The aggravations of the day fell away as I breathed real, not airplane, air, looked at the neighborhoods through which I passed and wonder replaced frustration. New city, new adventure. As the sun started to sink in the west, I suddenly realized in the lengthening shadows that summer was ending, autumn was en route again, and I was incredibly tired. I found a shop and bought a coffee, and as I sank down on a seat outdoors to drink it, there suddenly was D. walking up the street toward me. The serendipity delighted me.

The breath. The pause. What happens next?

We along with some others went to a club to listen to a live band, and made a plan to meet up the next day. D., who is a mover and a shaker and an instigator (this woman could run the world if she had a mind to), had a plan to make some signs for the show that night, and she talked me into helping. Making signs and actually holding up signs are two different things, so I entered happily into making signs. The rest is history.

(Yes, she talked me into holding up signs, too. We could talk about her gift for persuasion, and my equal but opposite gift for stubbornness, and I can tell you that she usually wins. Which is how I ended up in the pit at Irvine Meadows in July, but that's another story altogether.)

For years, I walked and chauffeured my children between home and school. An interstitial moment, the place between point A and point B. So much laughter, so much singing, so much discussion (and when I was driving through Santa Ana, so much profanity). But we all remember those times through all those years (the daughter, apparently, mostly remembers profanity, though trust me, there was a lot of singing).

Work gets done in those interstitial moments. A heart beats. A muscle contracts. An idea forms. A wave gathers. Something grows in the space between structures: a friendship, a gust of wind, a birthday cake, a sapling. Love takes hold.

The breath. The pause. What happens next?

Life, as a construct, can be dense and filled with so much: responsibility and family, work and school, grocery shopping and laundry, baseball and bicycling. So much good, so much bad, so much boredom and so much fun. But it is in the moment that I stop when I am most able to appreciate the friendship, the breeze, the lengthening shadows of the end of summer, the terror of holding a sign, the smile between verses, and love takes hold.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D40. I have developed a fine tendency to start with one idea and then wander off on a detour, though this mostly kept to what I intended. I get interrupted a lot. I am looking forward to everyone going back to school. Empty nest FTW! And that concert was 11 years ago tonight.

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19 August 2015

Part 2: A semi-coherent account from the passenger seat

Somewhere between Austin and Dallas, Texas
17 May 2015

I know. At this point, you're saying Part 2 of what?

(Hint: Part 1 is here. And just read May, too. Some of it, anyway.)

So, there was Austin, and there were (ahem) things, and there was a concert, and there was getting lost after the concert (this is a post-concert tradition), and there was eventually breakfast at the Magnolia Café, and a hotel, possibly some sleep, and then the trek to Dallas.

And this is where I get hung up.

Because between Austin and Dallas is Waco. And May 17 is the day a bunch of people got shot in a Waco strip mall, and D. and I drove right past it, there is the helicopter, there are the bazillion police cars and there is law enforcement personnel staring down the berm. We'd seen all the motorcycle clubs riding up the road, but we didn't put the two together until we got to Dallas and found out what happened. It took a bit of the wind out of my sails.

There, done.

So, there was Dallas, and there was a concert. And three songs in, I was dancing and in my happy place when my right elbow made contact with the middle of the band photographer I didn't know was standing next to me. And it wasn't like he was just a photographer. He was a former MLB pitcher who was just inducted into the Hall of Fame. So I was a little embarrassed.

(As in, American-Airlines-Center-floor-please-open-and-swallow-me-now embarrassed.)

But I got over it (mostly), and I didn't learn my lesson (eg, didn't miraculously discover the virtues of standing still), but the photographer did and stayed away from me. Then right about "Natural Science," when I was very happy, I moved and felt my spine unzip. And I waited to drop to the floor. But I didn't. So I went back to being enthusiastic.

We go out in the world and take our chances.

When the show ended, D. and I zipped back to the hotel, grabbed our stuff, and hopped in the car. Well, we had to wait for the car, and there were crazy people and there was chaos and stuff in the hotel got broken, and this was all rather much after Waco. Finally, the car arrived, it was midnight-ish, and we started the drive back to San Antonio.

We got lost.

Because that is how we roll.

And D. reminded me of something I'd promised in an email:

I was planning to drive back to San Antonio with you on Monday so I can bake you a cake on Tuesday. I can keep you awake by singing loudly for two hours. Unless, of course, you don't want me. That's okay too.

Of course, that was before I realized how big Texas is. Holy shit, is Texas big!

So, I sang for about 5 hours. It rained. I sang. The Waco strip mall still had crime tape and cop cars surrounding it. I sang. D., bless her, drove. I sang. We stopped at Buc-ees. Holy shit, is Buc-ees big! And awesomely empty at 3 am!

D. drove. I sang.

Because that is how we roll.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6 . Poor D. She is the most awesome friend. And she did listen to me caterwaul for hours. Hell, she's been listening to me caterwaul for years. But I kept my part of the bargain: she stayed awake. And wouldn't you know: still two shows to go in this story.

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18 August 2015

I hear you singing in the wires

Near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Utah
26 August 2005

Insomnia was my close companion last night. I woke suddenly at 2:30 am from some weird, jumbled dream that I couldn't remember. From there, it became anxiety (do you even have to ask?), sadness (missed connections, missed opportunities, missing what is not mine and I can't have, the end of things), at which point, my psyche was off to the races, and I was beating myself up for everything that I have ever done wrong in my life. Which is not a short list.

Ah, double agent.

After an hour of staring at the wall, I got up. The cat chirruped a question, leapt off his pillow and danced down the hall in front of me. He was so sure it was a 3:30 breakfast call. Poor disappointed beast.

I read for a bit, which usually hits the mental reset button, and then watched my string of solar lights sparkle on the hedge that rims my currently non-existent vegetable garden (why are you broken? why did you let pain and shame stop you for so long? why can't you do anything right? why can't you at least hire a gardener?).

A little after 4, I went back to bed and resumed the mental wrestling match, until finally I fell back to sleep for a couple of hours.

Upon waking, I got down to the work that was awaiting me (mostly of the paper variety, but also laundry), and suddenly found myself thinking of Glen Campbell. Then "Wichita Lineman" started playing through my head.

I've never been a country music fan, not ever. But when I was a small child, I frequently visited another girl down the street, and her father always had the country station on. Which was generally pretty horrifying, but occasionally, they did play something interesting like Johnny Cash, and that was where I first heard Glen Campbell. Most of the songs bounced right off me, but something about "Wichita Lineman" was so lonely, so sad.

(And of course, at 5 or 6 years old, I didn't really have words like "yearning" and "haunting" to put to it, and it would be years before I actually knew what the lyrics were. In those days, it was the music that pierced me with the sense of desolation that the words evoke).

And even now, if you listen to the first, old recording, his voice aches with sorrow.

I could see that family's living room, all dark blues and shag carpet, the stratification of cigarette smoke in the air that we as children were so familiar with, and I could hear, just for a moment, Glen Campbell.

I want you for all time

At about which time, I heard a different sound: the whine of the end of my washing machine. With an accompanying odor of burning metal and smoke. With bonus water on the laundry room floor.

While the family went off to eat lunch, I did a quick search on washers and dryers, and by the time they returned home, I had a pair ready for purchase, shuddering at the cost.

But D., as always, put the iniquities of my day in perspective as I mourned, "Buying expensive things like new washers and dryers kind of makes me want to puke."

"Right," she replied. "A concert becomes part of your soul. Laundry, on the other hand, sucks the soul right out of you.  Especially when you have to pay to do it."

Because she knows I'd have spent the same amount on a concert in a heartbeat.

And as I bake a cake for later, and start to prep dinner, the vision of a lone person on a utility pole, silhouetted by the setting sun flashes through my mind. Inexplicably, I think of the glass insulators that we used to find discarded in the dirt, that we washed and treated as treasures, and a sadness that isn't quite nostalgia fills my heart.

Tech stuff: Taken with a Canon PowerShot S110 .
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16 August 2015


My odometer
10 June 2015

So, here's a curiosity. My car turned over 65,000 miles on the daughter's last day of school, June 10.

Last week, I hit 66,000 miles.

I've driven 1,000 miles in two months? It must be all those circles the daughter and I are doing in service of driver training. But ONE THOUSAND MILES?

(Yeah, yeah, yeah, everyone else in California puts a thousand miles on their car in three days, but I make a sport out of not driving.)

For today's purposes, I was trying to remember when I started posting photos from my daily parking place picking up the daughter. The first one I found dated back to November 2012, but I'd already been driving to Santa Ana for a year by then. And I think I really started 6 months or so later, and not because of the parking place, but because the jacaranda trees were so pretty.

I've had some cause to think about the daughter's high school the last few days because I still get the weekly bulletins (no, I don't know why either), and they were talking about registration and the first day of school. This year, I don't have to spend a day working registration, and I don't have to worry about their first day of school.

Which feels weird (no more pencils, no more books), but not even remotely sad. I can't even muster nostalgia.

But the other thing that made me think of the daughter's high school was that today was the ribbon cutting for the new building that they spent all of last year building (and creating untoward chaos in a place that is already all about the chaos).

We took the time to go and tour the building (but skipped the actual ribbon cutting because...reasons), and it was nice but I did have to go and stand in the place where I used to park my car when I was at the school to work (because reasons). Strange shift of time and a nod to an old part of my life. It also felt foreign and new.

"I realized that I'm really going to miss this place!" the daughter said as we were leaving.

And I realized that I'm not. But I didn't say that.

The daughter's high school gave her an unparalleled education in many ways, and she had many incredible mentors and teachers. I am enormously grateful for all of that, which is why I gave the school extra money every year she attended, and two years of my time. But the utter weirdness of the current K-12 public school model that involves the parents way beyond what makes sense sends me up a tree. So I won't miss that though I can't fault the school for needing to adhere to state standards.

But I won't miss it.

I've already gotten a nice little letter from the daughter's university, with a lovely invitation to a meeting where I can meet with like-minded parents who wish to volunteer their time....

Straight into the circular file where a similar letter from the son's university went three years ago.

I. Am. Done.

We love and support our children, but they are grown ups now. Which isn't to say that we are throwing them to the wolves. I'm still actively kicking the son into action on the subject of internships, CVs and yes, a real job. I am helping the daughter with driving and resumes and finding a job. We raised them thoughtfully and with tremendous care, but we also raised them to be independent individuals. No, I'm not thrilled with every choice they make, but pushing them out of the nest and watching them take off is pretty incredible. And scary for all of us. But awesome.

And terrifying.

And so very freeing.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
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15 August 2015


Cabin Fire from the train
14 August 2015

It was a mere 500 acres or so when I took the photo, but has escalated to nearly 3000, last I heard.

Our high today is supposed to be 97F--and that's with an ocean breeze. Further inland, it's expected to be 105. I am carefully nursing the air conditioning along.

(It's an old unit that broke in a heatwave last year. I want to replace it but if we're taking the roof off and replacing the insulation, I might as well also have the whole system overhauled, replace the ductwork and and and and...story of my life.)

After spending years of my childhood in Arizona, I'm not unaccustomed to scorching temperatures. It's the threat of fires that is frightening with all the dead and dying vegetation around. Bears coming down from the mountains (not just the swimming bear! Up the road where the fire is located, one broke into an occupied house Thursday night and helped itself to some tortillas and bread). We've seen an influx of squirrels in the last year, and we'd NEVER had squirrels down here. With their friends, opossum and raccoon, they bring fleas. And fleas bring plague.

So now, I have to have the yard sprayed for fleas.

I guess that everyone has grown accustomed to the idea of drought, so now the media is threatening us with a monster El Nino starting next month. They even named it Godzilla.

(WHAT is with the obsession with naming everything?)

Roof needs to be done now. We need to have the in-laws' roof inspected, gutters cleaned, outdoor drains cleaned.




Story of my life.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. You definitely need a sense of humor to live in this place. Oh, what I wouldn't give to get on a plane and see a concert right about now. Somewhere cool.

14 August 2015

LA on a Friday morning

Union Station
Los Angeles, California
14 August 2015

Ah, my love/hate relationship with downtown Los Angeles.

When I was 17, my cousin let me stay with him at his apartment in downtown LA for a weekend while I went to look at a college. It was an interesting stay: I visited the college, I drank my first beer (sort of...I gagged down half and quietly disposed of the rest), I learned about architecture, and I got lost in LA for the first time.

Of course, I didn't know then that there would be many, many more times.

It started innocently enough: I went for a walk...and kept walking. I walked under freeways and around buildings. One way or another, I ended up at Grand Central Market--which was not the hipster destination it is now--and wound up in a face off with a sheep's head at the butcher's counter. Memorable, that.

Years later, I spent 6 months commuting from Pasadena to Westwood by bus. Every morning and every night, I had to change buses at 7th and Olive, a truly awesome place to be at 6:30 am and 6:30 pm. Especially in the winter, when it is dark at 6:30 am and 6:30 pm.

(I can't remember if I ever told the pipe wrench story, but that's where it took place. If I haven't told it, maybe someday. And if I never do: I didn't use the pipe wrench for its intended purpose, but it worked great on the guy trying to steal my bag.)

Through the years, there have been epic traffic battles through downtown. Oh the stories of trying to figure out which lane one needed to be in on the formerly 11, now 110 freeway, and how I usually wasn't in the correct one, and ended up on 4th street. Or somewhere.

I turned 21 in the Bonaventure's revolving bar (not so cool now as it was then). We used to buy our Christmas tree at the train yard each year. Concerts and shows at Dorothy Chandler. Many trips to Chinatown for dim sum. The utterly crazy night we took the kids to see Video Games Live at Nokia only to run head on into the 7th game of the NBA championship, and I ran head on into a 7-ft tall cop dressed in riot gear. Chaperoning high school trips to Olvera Street.

Today, the daughter wanted to go to downtown to meet one of her best friends who is leaving early tomorrow for university in the Midwest. Since I already had to drive her to the train station, I decided to just get on the train, too (and I'm not as sanguine about letting her run around downtown alone as I was about running around there alone 30 years ago). So we rode up together, and then the daughter met up with CH, and I took off in another direction.

It was epically hot today, and even at 10 am, the sun was glaring off the Roybal building, throwing heat into the street. There was shade in the plaza, so I sat there while I made a plan to occupy myself. Eventually, I decided it was far too warm to wander much, so I found a nice museum and happily basked in the air conditioning. After lunch, I made a quick trip to Olvera Street to pick up candy for the spouse, and then went back to Union Station to wait for the daughter.

On the train back to Orange County, she regaled me with stories of running to Chinatown, and then the Ahmanson, and then Starbucks, and then Olvera Street with CH. I guess I could have pointed them in direction of the Grand Central Market. Turns out that as recently as 2012, you could still buy a whole sheep's head.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

13 August 2015

A bear goes for a swim...

"Meanwhile, a deputy in a sheriff’s helicopter warned residents by loudspeaker to stay in their homes."

So that solves yesterday's mystery. It was hot, the bear went for a swim in someone's pool, ate a few pomegranates and wandered away.

(I lived up there for almost a decade and I saw a lot of things, but I never saw a bear.)

12 August 2015

3:56 pm

Stuck in my car
Somewhere in Los Angeles County, California
12 August 2015
And the 18-year-old Camry turned over 66,000.
Had to go up to check on family today. An hour twenty minutes up, an hour forty minutes back, which is long, but not the worst drive ever (there have been 5-hour round trips, all in the service of what used to be a 35-minute drive). It's about to get very hot here, and we all do our best to make sure that that needs are filled. Went to lunch, went to the grocery for coffee, creamer and Tic Tacs.
Departure time was nearing, and suddenly a sheriff's helicopter was circling the house. Most frequently, this is an indication that there is a fire nearby. With the temperature heading toward the 90s and California in tinderbox condition, it wouldn't have been a surprise. The spouse and son stepped out onto the upper terrace to see what was going on when a voice issued from the helicopter over a loudspeaker, telling them,  "Go inside your house. Go inside your house."
Creepy as can be.
And naturally, that command did nothing to deter me from immediately heading outside. I looked down the hill and could see a sheriff's car sitting in front of a house down below.
But for all the commotion and flying around, we never did determine what was happening, and why we were supposed to "go inside your house."
Once the coast was clear, it was on to the next thing.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

07 August 2015

Busy bee

Temple Square
Salt Lake City, UT
13 July 2015

While I find myself yearning for airplanes, missing the hunt for hotels, and all the chaos attendant to those things that I am not doing (anymore?), I am, of course, swamped.

One of the big projects of the summer has been to get the daughter driving. We missed the window of opportunity around her 16th birthday because she helpfully blew out her right knee (her mother's daughter) which required a surgical fix, and then she just had too much going on with school (School: 8 am to 5 pm and filming all day on the weekends). As it turned out, waiting until she turned 18 made the process a lot easier (O CALIFORNIA), but there is still the small matter of actually teaching her how to drive. Because the 6 hours of behind the wheel we paid for is hardly going to do it.

So every day since she got her permit a month or so ago, I take her out on the road. First we drove in circles around the neighborhood, then we added the cul-de-sac next door, and then the big streets. Miles and miles in ever widening circles.

It turns out--and this has astonished everyone, including me--that I am an incredibly patient driving teacher. I rarely raise my voice (except the occasional "slow down slow down SLOW DOWN!"), and I tend to think out routes with some care (when we started lane changes, I didn't ask to change lanes on a blind curve).

Today, the daughter drove the 16 miles required to pick up the DVDs we had made for the cast and crew of her senior project. With quiet instruction and only one bellowed, "SLOW DOWN!," she competently passed a gravel truck, parked correctly, and didn't give me a heart attack. Her license test is 5 weeks off, so the next challenge is parallel parking, something I cheat wildly at (I find a place where I can pull in head first, even if I have to walk an extra block, and I have four years of excellent practice at it, thank you, Santa Ana). Then, we start doing the drive to her university (only 5.5 miles away, thankyouthankyouthankyou).

But I'm not only driving instructor. I am the woman who had to find new doctors for everyone (not going into that one), who hauled the daughter off for a TB test (because we had the temerity to visit Poland, Russia and Estonia 7 years ago), who is trying to cope with the closure of her grocery store and who is presently trying to come to grips with the fact that last year's 257 lb beef order was probably 50 lbs too much--and who has another 225 lbs arriving Sunday. And she doesn't know where she's going to put it.

(We all know I'm picky about where my food comes from. So I buy an organic beef quarter--yes, a quarter of a steer--from a woman in Wyoming who raises beef humanely. It gets delivered in August. I'm not quite sure why we have so much left over this year, but I do. In July and August, I do freezer cleanout, so anything that's been sitting around since last year gets eaten. We end up with some pretty interesting dinners. Mahi mahi tacos tonight with mixed berry cobbler for dessert. Evidently I haven't been sufficiently on top of that this summer. I have yet to defrost my garage freezer, which has about 20 lbs. of chuck roast in it. I'm already defrosting an enormous pork loin roast and 6 lbs of short ribs for weekend meals. Thank god my human vacuum cleaner comes home this weekend. I may be having a party...)

Have I so much as called a contractor yet?

(She laughs quietly in despair).

And we're supposed to get an epic El Nino this year. No doubt it will start the moment they rip the old roof off.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000. Have I learned how to use it? NO. I'm too busy baking pies.

03 August 2015

Shining stars on summer nights

A cassette! That I bought around 1990!
1 August 2015

We were en route to the Forum on Saturday afternoon, in my car, an 18-year-old Toyota Camry. There are many reasons that I drive that car. First, it runs beautifully, it still looks very nice, I am comfortable driving it, it only has 65,000 miles on it, and it was paid off 18 years ago. Ergo, I can afford to go to 41 Rush concerts over years and decades.

(I'm not kidding. People say, "Planes! Hotels! Tickets!" And I say, "I don't buy pricey clothes or jewelry! I drive an 18-year-old car! I cook dinner nearly every night! And I save that money for planes, hotels and tickets!")

Anyway, my car has a cassette deck. A few years ago, I bought an adapter that would allow me to play first my portable CD player, then my iPod, and more recently, my iPhone through the speakers. For whatever reason, it decided not to behave on Saturday, so I dug around in the center console until I located the four cassette tapes I still have, one of which is Presto.

(I couldn't resist the photo, which I posted to Twitter, where it garnered quite a bit of comment.)

Yes, it still plays. Generally. And we listened to it on the way to the Forum.

I'd waffled wildly on going to the Forum. I knew everyone was saying "last show of the last tour of this magnitude," which is pretty waffley in itself. While I hate to think that this might be the end, I do understand. Life calls. They've got a decade on me, and I'm sufficiently broken that it hurts to get up in the morning. I can't even imagine what getting up in the morning looks like when you've played like they do on stage. So I get it. But I hate it. Selfish, I know, but it's hard to give up what you love.

I have years of memories, though, and not just memories tied to the concerts. Memories of screaming the lyrics to "Distant Early Warning" in my empty house, trying to find some solace or just wear myself out enough to sleep while my brother flew above Iraq in the Persian Gulf War. The pleasing subversion of "Tom Sawyer." How astonishingly "Subdivisions" captured aspects of my high school and college years and then astonishment again years later when I realized I was losing the race to rats. "Available Light" helped me to make some sense of my father's death, and "Working Them Angels" helped me to finally put his memory to rest almost 20 years later. "Natural Science," which I can, in fact, dance to. The spouse so wearied of hearing Counterparts that he hid it from me.

There are the years I missed, confined to quarters with a precarious second pregnancy (the daughter may be a Rush fan because she listened to Test for Echo for six months in utero), confined to quarters with a decimated spine (of note, to me anyway: the Houston R40 show was the first I traveled to completely by myself in almost 5 years. So to hell with paralysis and assistive devices anyway).

And there are memories that are just mine, moments that I hold close to my heart, and always will.

The show at the Forum was the fastest three hours of my life. My seats were definitely not the best but not the worst. We were in the dud "we're sitting through the concert" section, though that didn't stop me from getting up during my favorite songs. I didn't even know that I was crying during "Losing It," until I went to swipe a finger under my eyes and realized I was going to need a napkin to undo the damage.

And the end there did look like "good-bye."

But that doesn't stop me from hoping that we do meet again somewhere down the road.


2015: Austin, Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Irvine (I feel a certain favoritism toward this one because "Natural Science," among other reasons), and Los Angeles.

More than once: Irvine; Los Angeles;  Manchester, N.H.; Red Rocks; Toronto; Austin; Houston; Phoenix.

St. Louis, St. Paul, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Chicago (in the annals of all-time favorites), Albuquerque, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Baltimore, Moline, Las Vegas. And so on.

How many times have I sat down to write and just sent out a list of cities?

Back in 2002, when I realized that life is short, and bad things happen, I announced my intention to the spouse to get on a plane, and fly across the country to see a concert. A lot of us realized that year that we had gotten a gift, and I intended not to squander it. My husband just looked at me, said that I never stopped surprising him, and that I must really want to see them again if I was willing to get on an airplane.

People talk about the soundtrack of their lives, and I understand the idea, but this band has been more like a companion on the journey, their music a sort of active participant in my life, whether I was trying to learn how to walk again ("Mission!" "Marathon!"), battling through 19 years of the room parenting gig in one form or another ("The Trees!" "The Twilight Zone!" "Tom Sawyer" because my mind has never been for rent and that was the line that captured my soul 30+ years ago), or just needed to soothe my own savage soul (too numerous to list). So a journey sounded just fine.

And anyway, I've always traveled.

So I got on the airplane and I never looked back.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

01 August 2015

Perfect circle

The Forum (rather more fabulous than it used to be)
Inglewood, California
1 August 2015