Having a song

by Lorin Michel Thursday, January 28, 2016 6:28 PM

In 1988, Brenda Russell wrote a song while staying in Stockholm, Sweden. Russell was mainly a dance artist at the time, but she recorded the song anyway and it was fairly successful. Oleta Adams heard it as well, and also decided to record it. She put it on her 1990 album Circle of One and when it was issued as a single in 1991, it reached into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Many attributed its success to these lyrics: “You can reach me by caravan/Cross the desert like an Arab man.” This was during our first Gulf War and those lyrics resonated. The song was Get Here.

I don’t remember hearing the song much before the mid to later 1990s. Kevin and I fell in love with it. Every time it came on the radio – 94.7 KTWV, The Wave, the then smooth jazz station in LA which has since devolved into another contemporary pop station – we would crank the volume. There was something haunting and loving about it; something impossible made possible. We never particularly liked the Brenda Russell version. It didn’t have the depth. We bought the Oleta Adams CD and it quickly became a favorite. We liked the song so much we somehow decided it was “our song.” Naturally we played it at our wedding in 1998. 

The song eventually made it to both of our iPods. Again, every time it came on, we’d crank the volume, whether it was the car or the house. We still do.

Last night, as I was making dinner, we had internet radio on, one of the jazz stations we’ll be losing shorty because Live365 is going off the air, and the song came up. Kevin went to the receiver and cranked the volume. We have six speakers in the wall and ceiling in the great room, including a subwoofer, and two in the ceiling in the kitchen. We mouthed the words and danced around the room. When it was over and we turned the volume back down, it suddenly occurred to me that I really didn’t know how it got to be our song. It just was and still is. 

“How did this get to be our song?” I asked. 

Kevin poured himself a glass of wine and thought about it as he took a sip. He furrowed his brow and finally said: “We used to listen to the Wave. We heard it all the time and we liked it so it became our song.” 

“That’s a terrible reason to make something our song,” I said. “We could have chosen Highway to Hell. We like that, too.” 

“Yeah, but they didn’t play that on the Wave,” he said with a smile. 

I nodded. That was true enough. On no planet does AC/DC get played on a smooth jazz station.

“We need a better story,” I offered. 

He nodded. “It’s too bad we don’t know a writer.”

He had to play the writer card. I pointed out that making up a story about how a song became our song didn’t sound like the way it was supposed to happen. I don’t know if there is a set way and I’m sure there isn’t. Still, deciding it’s our song seemed like a copout.

As the next song came on, I started to think about it. It’s a great song, Get Here. I looked at my husband, slicing the pizza, and decided that I think it’s our song because in 1995 we were both in search. We didn’t necessarily know what we were in search of until we found it, until we found us. Not to get overly sappy, but I think it’s our song because when we heard it we realized we needed to get to each other to finally find happiness. 

That’s the story I’m sticking with, the story we wrote. Together.

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Powering up the sun

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, January 19, 2016 9:28 PM

Tucson has an average of 350 days of sun every year. That doesn’t mean that the sun is shining each of those days for 24 hours; rather that each of those days, some sun appears to keep us warm, or in the case of the summer, hot. We can have a sunny day that turns black within hours. The skies open and the deluge begins, lasting for 30 minutes or so before retreating. The skies then clear and the sun shines once again. A sunny day. Only rarely do we have completely overcast days. Most of those result in some sort of weather. Even more rarely, it’s just cloudy. 

This type of sun drenching makes Southern Arizona the perfect place for solar power, something that the utility companies fight. For a while, they discontinued working relationships with some of the bigger solar companies, like Solar City. The rebates that were once offered if you went solar have been rescinded. The utility companies don’t like that anything taking money from their little coal-producing pockets so they lobby to have rates increased for using their grid. Some have been swatted down but as this is a “red” state, most have been approved. We wouldn’t want to do anything that might be good for the planet but not necessarily good for the utility company. 

Unless you’re ordinary civilians like us. We want to do things that are good for the planet. We use only canvas bags when we go grocery shopping. We don’t let water run unnecessarily. We even turn off the hose when washing the cars. Lately, we actually use the rain to wash the cars and it has worked well. We keep the air conditioning temperature set at 78º so it’s not running constantly; we keep the heat set at 62º which means it runs rarely. We pick up after the dog. And we don’t drive very much. Yes, when we do drive it tends to be our big 5500 pound SUV, which isn’t good because it doesn’t get good gas mileage. But we only put 7500 miles on it over the course of a year and a half, so we sort of negate that issue. 

When we moved here we immediately started thinking about solar. When we finally got into the house, we started calling solar companies. We went with Solar City. There was zero upfront cost and a flat fee every month regardless of whether it’s a high production month like July or a lower one like January. We signed a 20-year lease at the end of which we can re-up. It has a full-warranty. Our 39 panels were installed on our roof in early December. We can’t see them from the ground, but we can when we climb up the hill. That suits us just fine.

In order for the system to begin generating solar power that can then be turned into electricity to power the house, the electric company had to come out and approve the installation. After they approved the installation, they then had to come back and install a solar meter. The panels feed into two inverters that then convert the energy into electricity and feed that back to Tucson Electric Power, otherwise known as TEP. TEP gets to use our energy and supply us back what we produced. If we don’t produce enough, we have to buy more from them. If we produce more than we use, they get to buy it from us. Win sort of win.

TEP was here on Friday to install the new meter. Yesterday we got official notification that we were go for power up.

We started outside at the meter where we flipped the two fuses to on, and then pushed the lever up, also to on. We went to the garage, where the inverters are located, opened the control box, turned both of those fuses on and then dialed the boxes to go. A hum started. Lights began to flash. The LED panel began charting numbers. Power in, power out. 

Last night, as the sun went down, the inverters powered down. When there’s no sun, there’s no work. Makes sense. It’s how most of us use our days as well, working while the sun shines, retiring once the sun sets. 

We’re officially on solar power now, we’re officially saving money and the environment. Win really win. That’s living it out loud.

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Comfort clothes

by Lorin Michel Monday, January 18, 2016 8:10 PM

We had one of those days where we got up before 7 and didn’t actually get to take a shower and clean up until after 8. PM. 

I’m not complaining except I sort of am. I’m used to rolling out of bed and into sweats (in the winter) or shorts (in the summer), slipping on a pair of sneakers, walking the dog and then settling into a long day’s work. Some days, the work is infinitely long; other’s it’s not too bad. Some days I get a lot accomplished; other days, not so much. Today was sort of a mish mash of all. Long, but not horrible; some stuff accomplished but not nearly enough.

Our days are familiar. We walk the dog, we work; we have coffee intermittently. We have lunch, we work some more; we sunset. We either shower right before sunset or right after, depending on the time of year. Lately it’s been right after because the sun sets between 5 and 5:30. Then we emerge, clean and sparkly, in fresh jeans and a sweater, or fresh shorts and tee, again depending on the time of year. Kevin often puts shoes back on. I’m a slippers kind of guy. I almost always put some sort of slipper on to roam the house for the evening hours. In the summer, I eschew my slippers for flip flops, sort of slippers-light. 

We dinner after we shower. 

Today, after a sort of productive but not enough day, I had a phone meeting. It started at 6:30. It ended just after 8. We had not yet showered and we were both feeling a little grimy, a lot out of sorts. We finally got into our big, beautiful shower about 8:06. The shower is a masterpiece as far as we’re concerned. You step down into and round the corner. There are two shower heads. The entire shower is wrapped with a bench. It’s one of our favorite rooms in the house and it is very much like a small room. The only downside is cleaning it. It takes over an hour.

We emerged clean and sparkly. And both immediately reached for sweatpants and sweat shirts – both clean, as the stuff we wore during the day got dumped into the hamper. We also grabbed slippers, even Kevin. It was too late to put anything else on. It was like slipping into jammies. 

It was late, it was cold-ish, it was dark. We were both tired. Our eyes hurt, our brains ached. Sweats seemed the perfect way to end an otherwise imperfect Monday. Comfort clothes, much like comfort food, just make you feel better. You wouldn’t wear them out in public anymore than you’d order comfort food in a restaurant, but they’re easy, they’re clean; they’re comfortable. 

It was our way of living it out loud casually, comfortably. And as an added bonus, we can simply place these sweats next to the bed so that we can slip into them in the morning as we prepare to take Riley for a walk. And start another day anew.

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Bed hair

by Lorin Michel Sunday, January 17, 2016 7:53 PM

Neither Kevin or I slept well last night. I’m still fighting my sore throat – it seems to come and go depending on how much sleep I get and how run-down I am. Interestingly there seems to be a direct correlation between the two. If I don’t sleep well, I’m more run-down. Cue the flaming throat. Like most people who don’t sleep, not sleeping leads to much tossing and turning. When one tosses and turns, the head gets spun from side to side on the pillow, and the hair gets mussed.

I sleep on my sides. Sometimes almost on my stomach. So does Kevin. I like the cuddle factor that’s present with sleeping on my side. I feel like I can pull the covers up closer when I’m on my side. I can wrap them around me and burrow in. I like to burrow. 

I was up several times last night for absolutely no reason. When I wake up, I get hot, then I have to spend some time cooling down. After flinging the covers mostly off, I gradually add them back on so I can get back to burrowing. This can take some time. Ever since we moved and I tweaked my knee, I’ve had trouble with it. Sometimes at night, it really bothers me. I suspect because I’ve bent it too much in the curling up and burrowing process. That also keeps and kept me up. I had a headache because of the pressure system of an incoming weather pattern. That always gives me a headache. I knew it was coming. I could feel it before I went to bed. I keep a supply of ibuprofen on my side table along with a full glass of water. At least twice in the night I popped three. Between my knee and my sore throat, I was feeling exhausted and yet unable to get into a deep, restful recovery sleep. I tossed and turned; I wreaked havoc on my hair.

Kevin drove back from LA yesterday in record time, about seven and a half hours from Oak Park where he had to stop to deliver something to someone. Labels, I think. It’s at least 540 miles. He was hauling. But when you drive that fast, you have to be completely alert not that you’re not alert when you drive in general. He was tag-teaming with an orange pickup truck; both going nearly 90. Hyper alert. He was exhausted but sometimes when you’re exhausted, you don’t sleep as well as you’d think. At least that was the case with Kevin.

He also sleeps on his sides. He doesn’t tend to toss and turn as much as I do. He pretty much gets into a position and sticks with it unless he wakes up. And he did last night, a lot. Like me, he also wakes up and his body temperature immediately rises. He’s hot. He kicks off the covers. Then he spends time re-layering covers. He tries to get comfortable. 

The only one in the house who doesn’t seem to have trouble sleep or getting comfortable is Riley. Maybe because he doesn’t have covers.

Eventually we both fell into a final, albeit restless sleep. We woke up for the final time somewhere around 7:40. Sunday mornings we don’t walk Riley – it’s our day of rest – so we knew we could relax a bit. We got up, put our customary sweats on, looked at each other, pointed and laughed. Major bed hair. Kevin’s was sticking up and forward on the right side. Mine was sticking up on both sides and in the back, curls curling in all the wrong ways.

I took a brush to mine and did my best to get it to a place where I could at least tuck it behind my ears. Kevin pulled out a baseball hat.  Sunday morning began with bad hair, bed head and all. So what’s worth celebrating? Well, at least we both still have hair to get tangled and pushed and look bad in the morning.

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Anatomy of a butt rub

by Lorin Michel Friday, January 15, 2016 9:07 PM

Kevin has created a monster and it goes by the name of Riley Boo. He’s a cute monster as monsters go, not at all gooey and nasty. His head is not square and flat, he doesn’t have bolts protruding from his neck. He is not green. He does not resemble any kind of imagined alien. He does have pointed canine teeth, much like Dracula, but I have yet to see him using them to draw blood. He does not hunt innocent prey unless you count bugs which I don’t.

This monster wears his reddish-blonde fur easily. His ears flop even in non-existent breezes. He had perfected the puppy prance and spin. In the mornings, when he rises he yawns and stretches at least six times, front paws extended almost flat, butt in the air. He elicits a high-pitched squeal that threatens to shatter glass. While Kevin and I get ready to walk him, donning sweat pants and sweatshirts, he rolls around on his back for a few minutes, enjoying that it’s morning. We do not share this joy; rather we simply deal with the fact that it is. Once shoes come out of the closet, he rolls back to his four feet and merrily trots to Kevin who is almost always sitting on the white hamper stool. As he put his socks on, the monster beings to move into position. Once the shoes are slipped on and the tying of the laces begins, the monster will. Not. Be. Ignored. 

When we had Cooper, he was a leaner meaning he liked to lean into whoever he was near. He wasn’t a hugger and definitely not a kisser. He would position himself so that he was parallel to Kevin’s legs. Then he’d lean and Kevin would rub his butt. Cooper had some hip issues and the butt rub seemed to make his hips feel better. Cooper didn’t abuse the butt rub though. He wasn’t insistent. He was, nearly, polite. Please, dad, if it’s not too much trouble, would you mind giving me just a little bit of a rub?

Kevin has continued this practice with Riley, who doesn’t really have hip issues but rather pretends. Or at least he pretended at first. Now he has jettisoned any pretense and instead goes for the blatant. Oh, I see you’re putting your shoes on. Rub. My. Butt. Now. 

Riley does not stand parallel and lean; he stands perpendicular and pushes his butt up against Kevin, making it impossible for Kevin to tie his shoes. As he rubs the dog, laughing, Riley twists and contorts a bit. You missed a spot. Could you get that spot right. There? 

He is insistent. He doesn’t let up. He will not be pushed away. He will, instead, get a butt rub for as long as he wants it, and if he truly had a choice, that would probably be most of the morning, walk be damned. Kevin obliges and fur literally flies through the air. It’s quite funny to watch the monster in action and to watch the monster-creator laugh, and then try, usually unsuccessfully, to extricate himself. Riley will have none of this and so it continues. 

The butt rub is not actually the butt, of course. It’s the top of the tail and then down the back legs. The butt is not really involved. But we call it a butt nevertheless as it’s the rear end of the dog. And Riley doesn’t seem to care what it’s called as long as it continues, indefinitely, into perpetuity, forever. I love you, dad. You’re the best dad, ever. Oh? You’re stopping? Don’t stop. Oh. OK.

Let’s go for a walk instead!

Mornings at the Michel’s. Rubbing it out loud.

Words to sip by

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, January 13, 2016 9:06 PM

Years ago, Kevin’s sisters gave me a coffee cup. I think Kevin and I both got similar cups though his had a different saying on it. They were probably part of a Christmas present. Kevin’s has long been broken. I don’t remember it well though I suspect it had something to do with building. Like his father, Kevin loves to build things. I’ve always thought that if he could do just about anything, he would make furniture. When Mike was designing the house, we had several requests, one of which was that Kevin wanted a shop. In the past, when he would build things, we’d have to move both vehicles out of the garage, take out all of the equipment. He’d build, then we’d have to clean everything up in order to put the cars back in the garage.

We now have a three car garage, a wide, sweeping arc of a garage that is one big room, large enough for three cars with lots of space between. The back of bay two extends out into the desert. It can’t be seen from the front of the house, from the front of the garages. But step inside, and there it is. This is his shop, with his table saw and other saws and equipment permanently out and always ready to use. He would happily spend all of his time in there if he could. He can’t and I think it brings him down a bit. 

Everyone dreams of something. They want to live somewhere they’re not living, do something they’re not doing. I wrote just a few days ago about my desire to simply write stories and books, and be lucky enough to make some sort of living at it. It’s difficult to follow your dream; scary. There are bills to pay, after all. It makes dreaming frivolous.

Still, we do it. If you lose sight of your dreams, you die. In the horridly successful movie Flashdance, the boyfriend character, Nick, played by Michael Nouri in all of his dark curled glory, said one profound thing: “When you give up your dream, you die.” It has stuck with me. To dream is to hope, and hope is a powerful force.

Kevin would also make wine. I ordered six vines for him for Christmas. They’ll be here on March 21. The first vines for Michel Cellars. He would make wine and build furniture. He likes to work with his hands and use his smarts to figure out what needs to be figured out. It’s probably why he’s so meticulous. Meticulous is a good thing, though not a guarantee that things will always be the way he wants them. The way any of us want them. 

My mug contains a quote that works for both of us. It’s simple, elegant, and unknown. 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

This is the mug that Susan and Julie sent to me so many years ago. It was and remains perfect for both Kevin and I. We stopped looking for ourselves a long time ago, I think around the time we found each other. But we have not stopped trying to create ourselves, both together and as individuals.

Creating is a process. It takes brain power and concentration; it takes perseverance. It takes optimism and possibility. It takes … believing in a mug.

This mug was sitting on my desk today. Steam curled up and out, toward the ceiling, dissipating into the day. Hot apple cider, our drink of choice after lunch. I sat and stared, and dreamed. Then I reached over, picked it up, and sipped.

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Foxy

by Lorin Michel Monday, January 11, 2016 9:08 PM

We have a fox. I suspect we've had our fox for quite sometime. I further suspect that we may have more than one. But we've only seen one so I'm going singular. Our fox was first noticed several months ago when Kevin was down on the main road meeting with Dan the weed man. Foxy sauntered out from the brush at the bottom of our property and across the road. 

"Is that a cat?" Dan asked. Kevin shrugged his shoulders. He didn't think so but he couldn't be sure.

"Seems like the tail is too fluffy to be a cat."

This morning, Riley was on the deck as he so often is in the morning after we return from our walk. He likes to take one of his toys - one of his "guys" - and survey his kingdom, watch the desert go by. This includes barking at the neighbors who deign to leave their houses and whining at any perceived injustice such as a bird flying too low or the whiff of some creature that can only be seen by him. We heard a whine followed by a shrill yip followed by more whining. Naturally we opened the door to tell him to settle down. 

He was fixated on something down below and just to the east. Kevin recognized it immediately. The cat that is actually a fox. Cute, small, lithe. It moved easily up from the road, at an angle, under the lower cacti, along the rock out-croppings. The rocks are mostly an icy gray and near black but are also sprinkled with corral and terra cotta. The fox continued along the rocks, up the hill, finally disappearing into the desert. Riley, of course, was not convinced and continued to huff and puff, whine and squeal, and stare. He was sure that it was still there, not that he knew what it was. He just knew THAT it was. And that it was sure to come back and when it did, he would be ready. To squeal and huff and whine and puff and let that pesky fox know it was on his land, his territory. By dog.

I didn’t know that foxes were indigenous to this area but I shouldn’t have been surprised. With all of the other creatures we have haunting the premises, a fox is relatively minor. We’ve been told we shouldn’t be surprised to see a bear. A bear. We’ve already seen herds of javelinas, a number of deer, coyotes, snakes, tortoises, gila monsters, tarantulas, falcons, ravens, skunks, desert squirrels and all manner of insects and lizards. We haven’t yet seen the famed ring-tailed cats, nor bob cats. So a fox or two really isn’t out of the ordinary. 

The Arizona Gray Fox has a silver-gray coat with reddish fur on its legs and chest, and white on its throat, belly and inside of its legs. It has a long bushy tail with a black tip and black strip. It’s actually a member of the dog family but is known to use its hooked claws to climb trees. It likes to live in the rocky canyons and ridges. A fox can weigh up to 5 pounds, stand about 15 inches tall, and live their 7 – 10 years in a den.

They’re also fairly adorable. Cuddly. Though I’ve no doubt they’d scratch and claw to get away from a hug. 

We’ve named our fox Foxy. Clever, I know. He or she is gray and black and orange and white. Small. It’s what I’m celebrating today.

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This is only a test

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, January 5, 2016 7:21 PM

One of the joys of getting a new computer is that nothing works the way you’re used to it working. Exhibit A: the printer.

I have been working to get my new MacBook Pro up and running proficiently since New Year’s Eve. I actually bought the computer the week before the week before Christmas. I’ve been looking for a long time, knowing I needed to upgrade. I had decided to pull the proverbial trigger (an analogy I hate since I support gun control laws and abhor gun violence) before the end of the year because I could use it as a tax write-off. 

I didn’t have time to set it up before Christmas and the week after Christmas, before New Year’s, I was busy trying to catch up on some work. I knew the computer would require my undivided attention and I simply didn’t have it to give. Still, I wanted to have it up and functioning before the beginning of the year. 

I started by turning it on. It was easy and went exceedingly well. It’s a Mac after all. I established accounts, passwords, opened a browser and connected to all of my emails. Then I downloaded and installed Microsoft Office. I opened a document and stared. It seemed like a foreign program. There are templates now, and the top menu bar across the top of each document disguises what I need in order to do what I often do. The ruler to set document margins, tabs. How to insert symbols. How to set defaults.

I figured it out quickly enough.

Next came the transfer of files. My entire professional life lives on my computer. I make a backup of it every week, but I have access daily to anything I might need at any time. My client folder is enormous. When I started transferring the files, I believe there were close to 50,000. That’s a lot of client work over the years. It transferred easily and relatively quickly considering. 

I successfully transferred my iTunes music library and my iPhoto library.

I started researching upgrading my Adobe Acrobat and Photoshop, since I use both all the time, and need both for work. I don’t just read PDFs; I need to be able to edit and comment. I don’t just view photos; I need to resize. I was feeling pretty good about everything.

Then came last night and the prescription drug debacle. 

Kevin takes cholesterol medication. Since we had to change our insurance plan (yet again) at the end of the year, I suggested having his prescription refilled at the end of December in order to give us another month or so for him to get in to see a new doctor. It was good plan, except for one minor problem: his doctor never OK’d the prescription with Walgreens. Now we’re into January. His doctor is no longer his doctor and Walgreens no longer takes the insurance we have. Our new insurance company, Humana, gladly took my premium payment on December 31 but has not yet issued my insurance cards. Kevin called this morning, got our membership and group numbers so that I could create an online account, and print our insurance cards.

Commence to exhibit A.

Kevin has an appointment with a new doctor who will be able to give him a new prescription which he will fill at our new pharmacy, CVS. He will need proof of insurance to make any of it happen. 

I needed to add a printer to my Printers & Scanners. Of course, there is no Printers & Scanners anywhere on my computer (I found it later, in system preferences). Help sent me to something called AirPrint, which conveniently doesn’t exist either. A little bit more research, and I figured out that it was even easier than I imagined. I opened a document, hit command P, and when the print screen appeared, dropped the menu down for adding a printer. The computer found the wireless printer in Kevin’s office, added the necessary software. I hit “print” and voila. A page with the title and first line of this blog printed quickly and perfectly. 

Still to come. Exhibits B, C, D, E and on into infinity. Eventually I’ll get everything hooked up just like I want and need. Of course by then, it will be time for a new computer again and the process will begin a new. It’s all part of living it out loud in a technology driven world.

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We are officially old people

by Lorin Michel Sunday, January 3, 2016 7:10 PM

I don’t have a deep memory of things that happened in the past. Sometimes when my mother brings something up, it will cause a memory to come skirting out of the far corner of the memory closet but otherwise, I don’t remember a lot. When I used to talk with my Aunt Beryl, who was almost savant-like in her ability to remember what everyone had for dinner one Tuesday night 27 years ago, and she would start talking about something in the past, I would feel my eyes glaze over and my mind recede into hiding. When I’d have the audacity to tell her that I didn’t remember, she was always aghast. “Really!” 

I do remember little things. The time my mother tried to drive around a box turtle crossing the road and … missed. Exploring in the woods behind the house across the street in Staatsburg. The deer hanging from a sturdy branch in the back of another house. The first time I swore, in fourth grade, at recess, when I called a girl named Patricia a bitch. I remember feeling very grown up. 

I remember going to my grandmother’s house, my dad’s mother, for Christmas and coming downstairs from the attic to use the bathroom. My dad was sleeping in the living room on the couch because there just wasn’t enough room in the small house for my grandmother and a family of five. I think my mother slept with my grandmother. I think my sister slept in the same room with them. Scott and I slept up in the attic. My dad ushered me quickly to the bathroom so I wouldn’t see anything under the tree but I saw the Baby Tenderlove doll I had asked for.

In the summers, I used to visit my grandmother for a week or so. I loved the independence of it, just me and her, and sometimes my Aunt Trene, her sister. And sometimes my mean cousin Kim, who was four years older and the daughter of my dad’s late sister. In the mornings, I would sit in front of the television and watch cartoons or whatever was on. I always had a TV tray with my oatmeal and my blueberry poptart; I’m sure there was orange juice. 

For years, Kevin and I have eaten dinner in front of the television. This is something that most people do. Long gone are the days of the family sitting down around the table or at the eat-at bar. We only do that for company, special occasions and holidays. We used to put whatever on our plates and then sit on the floor, legs straight out, leaning against the couches, using the coffee table as our de facto dinner table. It was very Japanese.

Then came the Thanksgiving he and his ladder fell two stories, from the ceiling in the great room, and he hurt his ankle. Then came the trip to Mexico when he and Justin were on a Jet Ski. Justin was driving and as he wasn’t yet 16, Kevin was on the back, holding onto the handles. Justin hit the wake of a boat, the Ski went up and came crashing back down. The entire shock of it went into Kevin’s back. He was crippled for weeks. Our time of sitting on the floor came to an end, or at least his did.

One year, Justin made a serving tray for us in his high school wood working class. I’ve used it to serve at holidays; I love it. But Kevin has commandeered it. It is now his TV tray so he can put his dinner on it and sit on the couch. For a while, I continued to sit on the floor and use the coffee table but when we moved into this house, the floor was simply too hard. We don’t have any carpet and tile on an old butt is not comfortable. I started sitting on the couch and just holding my plate. It worked fine until a couple of weeks ago when I had made spaghetti with marinara sauce. I sat down with my plate but it wasn’t level and the spaghetti and all of its staining tomato sauce landed in my lap. 

For Christmas, I got my own serving cum TV tray. Now we sit in front of the TV, Kevin on the long couch, me on the love seat, with our trays and our dinner and watch whatever we can find. It won’t be long now until we take our teeth out and swirl them in a glass of water, all while watching a Law & Order episode we’ve seen 19 times but watch anyway.

We are officially old people. But we’re comfortable old people, and that’s worth celebrating.

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Things that happened

by Lorin Michel Thursday, December 31, 2015 3:09 PM

It seems like just a year ago it was snowing. I ran to the window every 15 minutes or so, like a kid, watching and waiting for the flakes to begin. When they did, I squealed with delight. Yes, squealed. It set the tone for 2015 and I was ready. 

We started the snowy year filled with anxiety and anticipation. Our house was nearing completion and Roy’s gallery opening was looming. We had hoped to be in by the end of January but we were still finishing, still tiling, still shopping for lights and mirrors and accoutrements. Cooper started to get sick and the vet kept insisting it was Valley Fever when it wasn’t. He put him on prednisone and it seemed to perk him right up. But it would be short lived. 

February came and went and we began to worry. We booked movers. We had Roy’s show coming up and we needed a house for the party we were throwing. We pressured Mike and he gave a date that was soon moved back. We simply weren’t finished. We paid a point and a half on our loan because we hadn’t converted from construction to residential. Tick tock went the clock.

Finally March, a move in, a show, a party and the loss of our beloved Cooper. I’ll never forget how sick he was just a week before the move. How he seemed to get better and then how he went completely down hill. I remember being frustrated with him and hating myself for it. There was so much going on and I needed him to be better because I didn’t have time to worry. But I did worry. And then he died on March 29, the day after Roy’s opening. 

We were in the house. Now came the task of putting it all together, and then the realization that a new house didn’t actually mean there was nothing to do. Quite the contrary. Project after project materialized. Some were completed; most were not. Works in progress. Projects in progress. 

Riley arrived on April 27 because I simply could not fathom living here without a dog. It was always supposed to be for the three of us. Our beautiful boy, whose name is still attached to the area on the side of the house where Riley pees and poops. The Cooper area. He never got to use it but Riley makes up for that every day. 

We experienced our first monsoon up here, watching the sky turn green and fly toward us at breakneck speed. Torrential rain, fierce winds. One day, a microburst that hurled our furniture across the deck, breaking one of our Adirondack chairs. 

Visitors came, two by two. Kevin’s brother and sister-in-law, people I’d never spent any time with in the 20 years he and I have been together. What fun we had. Roy and Bobbi. Diane and Gene. Justin, who walked in and stood in the foyer. “Holy shit.” My sister came in July; my mother and aunt in November. We made new friends and missed our old ones. Wished they could always be here with us.

There was travel to Los Angeles, a road trip to Paso Robles. Wine tasting, cooking. Volunteer work and work work.

Birthdays, anniversaries, phone calls and Face Time, face time and emails, text messages. New iPhones, new iPads, a new computer for me.

Tick tock goes the clock. Ever forward.

Older, wiser. Some days happier, some days curious. Other days wondering did we do the right thing? So much change, so much. 

We end the year with high clouds and cold temperatures. No snow, not even rain in the forecast. We’ll light a fire and sit near the glow of the Christmas tree on this last night of the year. We’ll remember all we’ve accomplished, all we’ve celebrated, and what we’ve lost, what we’ve had to give up, the people we always miss, and we’ll toast to each. Happy 2015. And welcome a brand spankin’ new 2016. Let’s take it out for a ride and see what it can do.

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