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

31 December 2015

An end has a start - 2015 : New Year's Beach

Newport Beach, California
31 December 2015

It's been our tradition for a few years now to go to Newport late afternoon on New Year's Eve, walk around and see what is what, and then have an early dinner, getting home before the real crazy starts. It's nice and we've taken friends with us (they got an orca show last year), something festive without too much stress.

This year was better than last year, qualitatively and quantitatively, though it was still terrible in many, many ways. On the good side, the movie that was filming this time last year has found audiences at festivals, so that was good beyond my wildest dreams, certainly, and the daughter's too.

(It'll be showing at the Irvine International Film Festival in a couple of weeks....)

The daughter finished high school and started college which meant I was officially done FOR ALL TIME with the business of volunteering at schools. I get little come-ons from both universities, and I politely tell them to go away. I've hung up my cupcake pans.

But, of course, no sooner did I prepare to savor the novelty of not having to drive anyone anywhere, than the daughter dislocated her right knee (again), and I was back to driving her to school. Because that's the way we roll. Literally.

I read books, saw movies, and went to concerts (an entire week in Texas with D., New Orleans for my birthday, Salt Lake City with the daughter, a total of seven, count them, SEVEN shows).

And I felt my heart implode (ah-huuuuh, ah-huuuuh...though easier to sing it than write it).

I find it important to reflect on endings. What went right. What went so very wrong. What I can improve (everything?). Somehow it makes the start so much sweeter, so much more exciting, so filled with potential if I take the time to consider what I need to take forward while I clear the chaff.

So much I need to do. So much I want to do.

I've never been one for the biological clock. I never felt a sense of urgency to marry or have children. But in the last several years, I've started to feel the press of time. Not quite urgency, but a sense that there are things I need to complete, things I need to shed. What and who I love stays with me always, but there are things, real physical things, that take up too much space, need too much maintenance, need to go. I like the sense of lightness, the freedom of less. Keep what works; let go of what doesn't.

But you, you, were there at the start and you'll be there at the end, carried along in my heart, my head, my songs and my stories.

Because I am, at heart, an eternal optimist, here is to new adventures, new travels, new stuff to do and to love for us all. My wish for everyone continues to be that we come out shining on the other side. Thank you, as always, for spending time with me.

Be safe, be good, and remember to eat your black-eyed peas.

...with hope in your hands
and air to breathe

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Also, go listen to some good music: "An End Has a Start" from the album An End Has a Start by Editors.

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28 December 2015

Look up


Dumbarton Oaks
Washington, D.C.
8 November 2015

At lunch on Christmas Eve, after talking about her nephew going through his first round of chemo and telling us of another relative with cancer, my sister-in-law said, "It's been a rough year."

Then she smiled ruefully and added, "But I said that last year."

And I added, "I think we've all been living it since October 2013."

The family gathered around the table agreed.

Later that night, as I put my mother-in-law to bed, my heart sank at the spectacle before me: how old she looked, how frail. I never expected her to just give up.

But it's been a rough year. And in many ways, next year doesn't look like it will be much of an improvement.

However, I did get a gift today and gifts like these tend to change one's way of thinking about the good, the bad and the ugly. I've not felt well for the last six months, so there has been much to-ing and fro-ing  to various doctors (just what I need: more doctors), consultations and tests and fussing. Most of this has revealed that I'm generally strong as a horse (albeit a horse with a heart condition who is partially paralyzed, but otherwise, everything is as it should be) but the unwellness remained, and there were still things to be examined. So I spent this morning at the hospital being poked at (with much ill grace, I'll admit) and in the end, we got an answer and the answer is that it's pretty easily treatable.

Of course, the underlying answer was that it was not cancer.

Later, as I staggered out to the car still under the effect of sedation, I looked up at the sky and leaves and the trees, and I thought about a story another woman had told. Her massage therapist was working on the woman's neck and told her that if she would only "look up more," her neck wouldn't hurt so much. And to the other woman, this was a revelation, as it was at the time to me. We spend time looking down at our gadgets, looking down in despair, looking down at the ailing person in the bed, looking down for whatever reason.

And I decided this morning as I climbed clumsily into the car, that in 2016, I will spend a lot more time looking up.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

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25 December 2015

24 December 2015

A fairly silent night

 
Somewhere in L.A.
24 December 2015

18 December 2015

Longing for a cone of silence

 
Furnace Creek Inn
Death Valley National Park, California
21 November 2015

I managed, up until last week, to have absolutely no idea when the latest flick in the Star Wars franchise was going to be released. Obviously, I knew it existed--no one will freaking shut up about it.

I do not hate Star Wars. By that I mean, I do not hate Star Wars, the actual film, the one that started it all, the film that now has another name that I can't be bothered to remember. I did, in fact, see it in the movie theater (back when they were theaters, not shoe boxes) in 1977.

(The El Dorado, where I saw it, and years later, The Empire Strikes Back at what was probably one of the first midnight movie showings that are now completely commonplace, no longer exists. It was an awesome theater.)

By the time the Ewoks rolled around, I think I'd sort of grown out of the franchise, and I don't think I ever actually saw the whole movie, though I have seen some of it, courtesy of cable.

And those were the three promised films, though back in the late '70s, George Lucas said he would like to produce a total of nine.

Sadly, in the early 1990s or thereabouts, he started to make good on that. I've never seen the 4th film (which became the first film, but will always be referred to by me as the 4th film because actual chronology is more important to me than the franchise's chronology), and I don't know what it's called and I don't care. My children DID watch it and I was wildly offended by what I still refer to as "that giant orange frog."

Honestly.

SomeHOW, they (being the spouse and children) talked me into going to the theater for the fifth film (don't know what it's called; don't care), where I sat in stultifying boredom, wondering why some woman was being called a region of the brain that she didn't evidently resemble. Then I just got really bored and started thinking about something else and waited for the film to be over. I could not tell you what happened.

The sixth film came out and I refused to go the theater with the spouse and children, and went shopping instead. If you know how much I dislike shopping malls, then it's pretty clear how much I didn't want to see this film (don't know what it's called; don't care). They returned disconsolate and said it was a terrible movie.

And I think a lot of people were happy it was done.

Until today. And JJ "now able to ruin TWO franchises at once" (that's the daughter) Abrams has gotten hold of this juggernaut.

(About that comment: my family likes Star Trek, but hated the Abrams' reboot. The daughter expects she will hate the new Star Wars (don't remember what it's called; don't care). The spouse wishes to see both. I wish JJ Abrams would make another Cloverfield. I could not care less about Star Trek, but am mildly curious about Star Wars, though not enough to actually go to a theater any time in the next six months. Just sayin', JJ.)

In any event, I do not wish to hear any more about it. I do not wish to see any more dancing Storm Troopers. I wish everyone standing in lines and in theaters the very best. But please, please, no more.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Full disclosure: As I've frequently told the daughter, watching the opening titles and the first sequence of the original Star Wars was heady and mind-blowing. No one had ever seen anything like it. And when that spaceship passed by overhead...magic. I was captivated. It was the very first movie I went to see more than once.

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14 December 2015

Getting from here to there


Leadfield
Death Valley National Park, California
22 November 2015

Leadfield was a swindle, a con for investors, and it's hell to get to with washed out roads, but rather fun once we got there (I probably also got whiplash  and I thought about writing a long post about joys of acrophobia, but I'll spare you). We'll just say 4WD and nerves of steel are required, especially if you don't like switchbacks with drop offs.

*****************

Production on "Starlight" was starting this time last year, and it was set during the protagonist's semester final exams. Not unexpectedly, the daughter spent the better part of the last 4 days filming a final class project. The house is decorated for the holidays, and I joked with one of the actors (she was a principal in "Starlight") that she only seems to visit me in December.

And we found out last night that "Starlight" is an official selection of the Irvine International Film Festival, laurels and everything. So, yay.

(She went to IIFF last year, too. She'd written the screenplay for an official selection.)

*****************

Speaking of film festivals, I received an email today that started by addressing me as "a film creative such as yourself." Which made me frown, and then think, "well, yeah, I guess..."

And then immediately return to "no."

I just do what I do. Which is what I have always done.

Though it was fun.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000.

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11 December 2015

"MOM! I need fake blood..."

 
A day in my life
11 December 2015
 
Looks arterial.
 
(gel food color, cornstarch, water)
 
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

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09 December 2015

Life in the valley of death


Hole in the Wall
Death Valley National Park, California
24 November 2015

Even the desert blooms when there is rain, and in mid-October, two flash floods wiped out roads and buildings in Death Valley. By all reports, it wasn't a lot of rain (about an inch, I heard, but have not verified), but it came all at once, and in a place unaccustomed to that kind of moisture, havoc ensues. If you look closely at the photograph, you can see that the rocks are buried in mud that has dried.

And plants have broken through.

***************

"...and rarely, there is a woman who drags a man to the show..."

Which made me smile.

Because, yeah!

***************

Are you getting tired of the asterisks? Because, yeah. But everything is scattered at the moment, not least of all my brain. My house is the set for not one, but two student productions that are filming starting tomorrow, and as the son tends to say: lolno. No really, NO. Except that, yes. I thought that I was done with this stuff, except that everyone figured out that the daughter has access to a house, and she's close to school.

(Where everyone is currently has norovirus, I might add. So really, NO.)

It makes it kind of hard to get that roof and painting done.

***************

I am listening to Carmina Burana, and if you haven't seen this, drop everything and go watch it. It never fails to make me laugh. Usually insanely. As in rolling on the ground, crying. But there's sort of a back story, maybe two.

My father-in-law was a huge fan of opera and classical music, and he got it in his head that he wanted to know the words in English (he really wanted me to translate the Latin, but my Latin is church Latin, and rusty to the point of disintegration). Anyway, knowing I can find pretty much anything, I got the commission. And I did, indeed, find the translation of the poetry. I think it was a bit less risqué than he was hoping, but there it was.

(That makes the video even funnier, frankly).

The video was brought to our attention by one of the daughter's friends who was studying classical voice in high school, and is a terrific contralto. And because I love C., and the video is SO C., it was all the more perfect.

**************

We buried CHS a year ago today, and the story above, while still funny, makes me realize how much I miss him. But there is life in the valley of death, if you know where to look and are willing to do so.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000. I didn't drag him to too many shows. Red Rocks didn't count because he wanted to go, so that leaves...six?

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05 December 2015

Racetrack


Racetrack Playa
Death Valley National Park, California
23 November 2015

The week didn't start well. We were awakened at 5 am last Saturday by a security service alerting us that an elderly relative had pushed a panic button and that paramedics were en route. Of course, it turned out to be a false alarm, but one that involved firefighters breaking into the house and generally serving to scare the entire family out of its collective mind.

*********************

It was also jury duty week. I've had the unmitigated joy of serving jury duty more than once, but this time I was on call rather that in the room for five days. It still was difficult to plan anything, not knowing if I'd be free the following day, but I was thrilled when last night, I went to the web page, and was told I was done.

Of course, I know two judges and an infinite number of lawyers so I'd have likely been dismissed anyway.

*********************

I've been threatening to buy an artificial Christmas tree for years. Not because I actually want one--the idea of a plastic tree is obscene--but because I am violently allergic to pine pollen and no matter how much I wash the tree from the farm, I still end up with contact dermatitis and am sneezing for a month. And with the drought, I'm already dealing with the latter issue. Also, the cat is very determined to eat said tree with detrimental effects on both his health and my bank account, so we have put a literal fence around the tree in the living room. Which is ridiculous. And wrestling with an 8-ft. tree is really getting beyond me physically.

So Tuesday, the fake tree arrived. No sooner did the daughter and I have the three sections out of the box than the cat began chewing on it.

And who knew that plastic could cause contact dermatitis?

The bottom half of the tree has been bagged up in old flannel sheets. I am referring to it as "the tree diaper."

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000. You can read more about the mysterious moving rocks of Racetrack Playa here. In the wake of all the recent violence, including Wednesday's horror, I am trying to keep this light hearted. That's an uphill battle.

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01 December 2015

And it feels


Rhyolite, Nevada
22 November 2015

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000.

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