The last supper

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 30, 2016 10:31 PM

The joke goes something like this: “Do you know why Jesus and all of the apostles are on one side of the table?” Silence. “So they could all be in the picture.” Ba dum bum. I have always chuckled at this joke, mostly because I’m a lapsed catholic and because it’s very sacrilegious. It’s one of those sarcastic jokes that’s not necessarily laugh-out-loud funny. More like smile-broadly-with-teeth funny. 

I bring this up because the last supper has gone from being a popular bible story to an exquisite painting by Leonardo Da Vinci to meals for the condemned. I suppose in some ways the bible story is also a meal for the condemned even though Jesus didn’t know he’d been betrayed or was about to be, and hadn’t yet been sentenced. I don’t really remember. The Leonardo Da Vinci connection is more about the renaissance painters and the bible than the bible. It was a very religious time in Rome. Witness the Sistine Chapel. 

The condemned man (or woman) in prison is allowed a last meal of their choice. It seems odd to me that you’re going to give someone a really great dinner and then put poison into their system. I don’t know if it’s the state’s way of seeming to be humane but it’s just another barbarism if you ask me. Which I realize you didn’t. 

The thing is, I’m writing about the last supper today because Justin leaves tomorrow. At approximately 7:45 am, his United flight lifts off from Tucson International Airport for a short trip to San Francisco in order to catch an All Nippon Airlines jumbo jet for Narita, Japan. He’ll be there for about three months, starting off in Sendai, spending time there, in Tokyo and other places in the country. 

When he’s done there, he goes to various places in Europe. The tour, Disney’s Frozen on Ice, which he’s been with for about a year and a half, is taking their act overseas until April. After Europe, they go to Australia/New Zealand. It’s the experience of a lifetime, and though he’ll be working, he’ll get to see the world without having to pay for it. Truly amazing.

He’s been home for six weeks. A long time. In some ways, it seems like forever; in others like he just got here. It happens every time, and we never really get used to it. I know he’s ready to get back to work and to being with his girlfriend, and his friends. I also know he loves being home. He genuinely likes us. Go figure. He also likes home cooking and good wine. 

I asked him what he wanted for his last meal, his “last supper.” He grinned at me. As if I actually needed to ask. 

Ribs. Ugly steaks. Twice baked potatoes. A cherry tomato salad with a balsamic glaze. Wine. 

I've been busy preparing and cooking while he’s packing. Tomorrow morning we’ll get up to see him off, and rubbing our eyes and clutching our robes, we’ll wave goodbye. We’ll cry and then we’ll go back into our quiet house. It will be light, the day will just be starting. Riley will need to be walked. Our day will start like usual. And he will be gone. 

But tonight we dine on his favorite foods. We’ll laugh and talk and eat and drink. We’ll have our last supper together for a while, and even though we won’t all be on the same side of the table, maybe we’ll all be in the picture anyway.

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live out loud

The international travelall

by Lorin Michel Sunday, June 19, 2016 10:19 PM

On Thursday night, after traveling through the desert all day, we arrived in Simi Valley. We had reserved a room in a Best Western, a brief respite in our journey up to Paso Robles. It’s a very long drive from Tucson and while we do it as Thanksgiving, we decided for this trip that it would be nice to break it up a bit. Even then, it was still 8 hours to the hotel.

I am a hotel snob as most who know me know well. I go away so seldom that when I do, and when it’s vacation, I want nice. If it’s just a place to lay my head, I don’t need five star. But I do want decent; I want clean. I don’t want to walk into a hotel room and feel like I can’t take my shoes off for fear of what lives in the carpet. The Best Western we stayed at was actually quite lovely. We arrived and they were serving wine and cheese in the lobby. We helped ourselves to a glass of wine each and walked to find our room. It was in the back, off of the main road and away from the pool so it was relatively quiet.

After we inspected the room and sipped a bit of wine, we went back to get the car. The spot we found near the room was right next to a very old, turquoise-colored station wagon, something from before station wagons were all the rage in the 1970s. This was probably from the 50s, maybe the 60s. 

It was very low to the ground, like it had been lowered no doubt for an enhanced cool factor. But the paint was dull, and there was rust along with wheel wells. A small visor jutted out over the the front windshield and another over the back window. It had four doors, bench seats in the front and the back, and white wall tires. It was fascinating. Not necessarily attractive but definitely distinct. I made brief mention of it. Something along the lines of “look at that car.” This usually leads to a bit of an education from my husband as to what it is. While I’m a car person, and know quite a bit about current cars, or at least cars from the 70s forward, I know little about anything preceding. I know what I like – the big gangster like cars from the 40s, with the big wheel covers and lots of chrome – but I don’t usually know what they are until I’m right on top of them and can see an emblem. Kevin knows what they are from a far. 

We took our stuff and went inside for the night. The next morning, the car was gone, and I didn’t give it a second thought. 

Today, we were on our way back down the 101 from Paso Robles, heading south and then east into the inferno. The traffic started to bunch up right outside of Santa Barbara and down into Ventura. There were sporadic pockets of not bad, but then it came to a screeching halt. We were close to the 126 east so we made a fast decision to jump on that to avoid the traffic that would no doubt get worse the closer we got to LA. Because LA. 

So there we were, cruising along the 126, through Santa Paula, heading toward Fillmore, and there it was, putting along. The same turquoise car, with the same white wall tires.

“Hey!” I said. “Isn’t that they same car from Thursday night?” 

“It is,” my husband concurred. “I think it’s an international travelall.”

There was a youngish couple inside, sitting very low to the ground. The windows were down – I’m sure they didn’t have air conditioning and if the car ever did, it ceased to work a long time ago. This was not not one of those old cars that’s been kept in pristine condition. This was a car that is all original, save the tires. It had character.

I laughed. What are the odds of seeing the exact same car again – because there can’t possibly be two – within days? In Los Angeles. There was something weirdly serendipitous about it. Perhaps it was us in a former life. Or us in a future life. Regardless, we waved as we went by and they waved back.  

I smiled as they faded to a speck in the side view mirror. It was, somehow, a perfect way to end the weekend, seeing the same old car we’d seen at the beginning of our trip. It was a sign, of what I don’t know, but it had to be something to celebrate.

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live out loud

Something about sitting in an Adirondack chair looking out over rolling hills and vineyards

by Lorin Michel Saturday, June 18, 2016 6:52 PM

We took our coffee, the first of the morning, and went to sit. The trees were rustling in the breeze, birds were arguing good-naturedly, somewhere a tractor did what tractors do. I heard a dog bark. From inside the house, music. It might have been Eva Cassidy. I found out later it was someone named Lisa Tingle. Roy has a great collection of music. He is our designated disc jockey.

A lizard squirted by, black and scaly, a miniature version of an alligator. 1:100 in scale. Probably more. Or less.

Kevin was walking in the field below though it wasn't much of a field anymore. It's been plowed and staked. New vines will be going in soon. Ever the would-be vintner, he was looking for tips, maybe for validation. He had a cup of coffee with him. A hawk soared above.

Roy was off somewhere taking pictures. Bobbi was still in bed. I was sitting in the back. I had turned one of the old, weathered and nearly broken Adirondack chairs toward the sun, feeling it warm my legs.

This is a different house for us. The past two trips, we've stayed in a two-bedroom guest house in the J & J Vineyards. We fell in love with the space, with sitting out on the porch in the morning, having coffee, overlooking the vineyards. Kevin and I often were up before Roy and Bobbi and we’d go for a walk. Last November, it was cold. We walked anyway, crunching through the vineyard, finding passed-over clusters of grapes. Cold.

But that house, for whatever reason, isn't available anymore. We had to find something new, equally interesting and obviously different. When you get used to a place and really like it, it's harder to change. Bobbi and I want back and forth, comparing places, locations, amenities, and finally decided on Homestead Hill off of Kiler Canyon. We arrived last night near 6 pm. It's definitely different, atop a hill rather than snuggled in and amongst vines. I didn't like it at first; I was disappointed. I don't know why. I think just because it’s new and different.

We made dinner; we relaxed. We went to bed. The windows were open in our rooms. We listened to the crickets and the quiet of the night. We felt the cool air drift over us. We woke up to the birds and the rustling leaves.

I sat with my coffee in my Adirondack chair, my feet on the edge of the dormant fire pit, peering out at the world through my Maui Jims. It had been cool when I came out but the sun started to warm the day. A heat wave starting. It will be all over the west. 

The house is growing on me.

The sun was comforting, comfortable, the day just beginning; beckoning. The vineyards glistened next to the dried brush. It was glorious. A perfect morning beginning a perfect day.

Sitting in an Adirondack chair.

Scattering

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 9, 2016 10:40 PM

Our lives here on the hill are somewhat reclusive which is not to say lonely. We work and have near constant interaction with others even if it’s only on the phone or via email. We do have constant interaction with each other and we’re just fine with that. We’re very simpatico, the husband-unit and I. Which is not to say that we don’t sometimes argue. We do. But that’s not the point. The point is that we live up here, far removed from those we love most, even from some of our new friends here in Tucson, and yet I rarely feel alone or even far away. 

Once upon a time when someone moved away, it was forever. Then, as the 20th century became more transportation oriented, moving away no longer meant people wouldn’t see each other again. It simply meant that they wouldn’t see each other as often. Kids began to go to college in other states; families moved because of jobs in other cities. We became separated, transient, and connected via telephone and letters. 

These days, in this time, we still stay connected via phone though not always as often. Mostly it’s via email and text. With the advent of video phones and now Apple’s Facetime, we can talk to each other, even see each other, share a glass of wine across the miles. It’s almost like being together.

When we decided to move, we never really thought that we’d be alone. We knew we’d miss our West coast family, our Roy and Bobbi, our Diane and Gene, our Maryann, and so many others but we weren’t chastened by it. When we actually did move, three years ago, we were more chastened especially as we had our farewell Fritini and then when Roy and Bobbi came the night we were packing, to help us, it became harder. The knowledge of what we were about to do became heavy, scary. We did it anyway. We scattered. 

Since our move, some of our other people have scattered, too. Maryann moved to Florida, to The Villages and she’s happy as she can be. Diane and Gene moved to Medford, Oregon and they are absolutely thrilled. We have other friends who either have moved or are thinking about moving. Roy and Bobbi would like to move out of LA; our friend Dave and his girlfriend are also going to move out of LA. They’re scattering, too. 

Even when you scatter, moving from place to place, state to state, away from friends and family, everyone remains near. They’re in our hearts and our minds, they’re within reach via phone or Facetime, email or text; even old-fashioned letters. It’s impossible to feel too far away even when you are. Even when I am.

I moved away from the East coast in 1984 when I was 22. I got into my 1979 Toyota Celica a week to the day after I graduated from college. I was ready. My mom went with me, softening the blow of leaving everything I had ever known behind. But I left my dad, my brother, my sister. Even my dog. I’ve written before about how, when my mother got on a plane, some three weeks to a month later, heading back to New England, I had never felt so alone in my life. I had scattered all by myself and I was alone in the wind. 

But I made friends, I grew as a person, I made new roots. I found Kevin and Justin and Maguire and Roy and Bobbi and Diane and Gene and everyone else who became so integral to our lives; to my life. So permanent. So real. 

Scattered doesn’t mean away, not anymore. Scattered is the new hi, how are you, what’s happening, let’s have a glass of wine. Facetime on Sunday? Perfect. Scattered is the new way to celebrate and I’m embracing it, always and every day, from up here on the hill.

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friendly celebrations | live out loud

The fine art of nose art

by Lorin Michel Sunday, June 5, 2016 8:13 PM

Kevin cleaned the windows yesterday. In any house, this is considered a big job. A time consuming endeavor. In this house, it’s herculean. We have huge windows in virtual every room save the guest bath and the ¾ bath on the west side of the house. Even the laundry room has nice windows. The garage has three smallish windows at the back of the extended middle stall where Kevin’s shop is located. 

When it rains, a phenomenon that is rarely polite, we get sheets of water that blast against the windows. Because of the dust, the rain makes for nice streaks and spots on the glass. We’re heading into monsoon season. The official start of the season is June 15 and it goes through September 30. The skies can swirl to life at any time, moisture collecting in dark green clouds that begin to rumble and spark, and then the deluge comes. Temperatures drop 30º in 20 minutes. The glass drips.

And the windows get dirty. 

Several weeks ago, I bought some supposedly amazing window washing stuff. But in order to use it, Kevin needed to have some special bucket type thing that we couldn’t find anywhere. He finally ordered one online. It came last week. So yesterday, since it was so blisteringly hot, and since Saturday’s tend to be do-stuff-around-the-house-day, he decided it was time to wash the windows. 

While he did that, I put the new bed together. I changed the sheets on Justin’s bed. I did laundry. I cleaned our bathroom, which normally would be considered just a regular job but with our shower it, too, is herculean. It takes me an hour to clean that monstrosity. Justin cleaned his bathroom, and then spent the afternoon researching Phoenix resorts for him and Kelsey to stay in for part of her visit. Riley napped. 

For hours, Kevin squeegeed the outside windows, all around the house, with the exception of the windows in the garage. They’re nearly impossible to reach. And, garage. Then he moved to the inside. 

Because there isn’t rain inside, and because we live fairly cleanly, you wouldn’t think there would be much on the interior windows. You would think that. You would also be wrong. Because Riley. 

We purposely didn’t put floor to ceiling windows in because they’re expensive and because when you have floor to ceiling windows and the storms happen there is more danger of water somehow leaking in. So our windows stop about two and half feet above the floor, and we have window sills. This is everywhere in the house, save for the guest bath, the ¾ bath, the laundry room, the kitchen, and the garage. But across the back of the house, in the dining room, in all four of the bedrooms and in the master bath, the windows stop and the sills take over. The sills make a great place for Riley to rest his head while he watches out the window. It’s the perfect height, he doesn’t have to stretch or lean. He simply rests his weary head so that he can watch the birds or the lizards or the toads or whatever else happens to come his way. And he makes nose art.


Riley, today, nosing.

Nose art is the fine art of a dog applying his wet nose to glass. It can take on various abstract shapes and when it dries, there are lovely reminders that Riley was once here. Or there. All of our windows with sills and the front door with glass to the floor all display nose art. The house is like a gallery devoted to Riley. This nose art appears from about six inches above the sill down to the sill and decorates the glass for all to see. When it’s just Kevin and I, we don’t clean it every day, but occasionally, we need to do something. 

The problem is, nose art, much like graffiti, doesn’t remove easily. Simple Windex won’t do it. So yesterday, with his super-duper window washing fluid, his new bucket, his squeegee and a little old-fashioned elbow grease, Kevin managed to dislodge the nose art and for a brief time, the windows were so clear it was as if they weren’t there at all.

Unfortunately, like graffiti, the tagger returned. And the fine art of nose art has once again begun to appear. We had less than 24 hours of clarity. But who are we to question the talent and perseverance and beauty shared by our illustrious puppy? You know. The one nosing it out loud all over the house.

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live out loud

The only difference between men and boys

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, May 31, 2016 10:13 PM

There is a saying that some say originated with Benjamin Franklin because it appeared in the Poor Richard Almanack, as a derivative of “Old boys have their playthings as well as young ones; the difference is only in the price.” The saying everyone knows actually has no known author and it’s a nice little ditty that goes like this: The only difference between men and boys is the size and the price of their toys.

I would like to amend that to say that the only difference between men and boys and their wives are the toys needed to make them both thrive(s). 

OK. It’s not as good and not as rhym-y, but you get the idea. 

Kevin and I love toys. We have a fun Porsche, a toy that is totally unpractical and fast as hell. We have a motorcycle, our fourth, and it’s big and bad and takes us to all kinds of fun places. We have great bicycles. We have a terrific sound system in the house. We have a Range Rover. When Tammy was here several weeks ago, she and Kevin went up to Mount Lemmon on the motorcycle with me following in the Porsche. We had breakfast and then we came back down the mountain in the same way. When we got to the house, and she stood shaking her hair out of the helmet, she had the biggest smile on her face. 

“You guys have the greatest toys,” she said.

We do. And we’ve talked about getting more. We’re not necessarily talking seriously about getting more, but we’ve talked about it. Or them. I’ve written here about my obsession with Airstream. Now there’s a toy. And the new Nest travel trailer that Airstream just purchased that is my newest obsession. Luckily those aren’t even available for at least another year so I don’t really have to think about that until then. 

But today, we started talking about acquiring another new toy that’s not so much a toy as something really almost practical. Kevin needs a vehicle that he can haul a bunch of stuff around in, go to Lowes or Home Depot to get wood and mortar and whatever else he happens to need for a weekend of working in the yard. Now with his vineyard, that he is threatening to grow, he’s going to need a truck. Or the equivalent of a truck. Yes, we have a Range Rover but it’s a really nice vehicle and we paid a lot of money for it. It’s not meant for trashing and hauling. 

So we started looking at what we might want to get and have zeroed in on a couple of different maybes. One is going back to an old Toyota Land Cruiser. Once upon a time we had an FJ60 from 1990 before they changed to the big body style. We loved it but the ride was very rough. So we sold it and got our first Land Rover. Now we’re looking at something from the 1970s, like a FJ55 or maybe even an FJ45, a two door type of Jeep. 

We’re also thinking about another Land Rover, maybe a Range Rover Classic also from the 1970s and also a two door. Again, something that he can haul stuff around in and not have to worry about damaging. We’d have his and hers. 

Which brings me back to my original premise. The only difference between men and their wives are the toys they need to make them both thrive(s). 

I know. It’s a stretch. But it’s my blog and I’ll bad-rhyme if I want to, celebrating the whole time.

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My generation doesn’t make good music

by Lorin Michel Monday, May 30, 2016 8:37 PM

These words were spoken by Justin last night as we were on the deck at sunset, listening to jazz flow from the speakers above. The song we were listening to was a jazz instrumental of Hotel California. The station is on Pandora and it’s something like Jazz Does Pop or something like that. I swore I wouldn’t do Pandora because I wanted to support the little guys but the little guys are getting harder and harder to find. They keep drifting away.

I used to pay a monthly fee to Live365 so that I could listen to everything I wanted, commercial free. But the government stepped in, something about licensing. The big players like Spotify and Pandora managed to get through it all relatively unscathed. Most of these stations, including Pandora, play commercials but that doesn’t really bother me, especially since it’s usually only one or two. It’s that I really want the small guys, the entrepreneurs to succeed.

Anyway, we were on the deck, listening to Hotel California done with saxophones and pianos. Justin said what a cool version of the song it was. He took a sip of his wine. And then he said: 

“My generation doesn’t make good music.” He said it with introspection, and insight. He was also right. This led to a discussion about some of the groups that he grew up with, most of whom aren’t really making music anymore and if they are, they’re not making memorable music and they’re touring in obscure locations throughout the world. Blink 182. Linkin Park. Nickelback. The boy bands that don’t even exist. 

We then went on to discuss the music he was raised with, which is the music he compares his generation’s lack-of-depth music to, people like Eric Clapton – he loves the Unplugged album specifically and Layla – and Sting – he’s a big fan of Fields of Gold. He likes U2, and he even had praise for the hair bands of the 80s like Bon Jovi. All before he was born. It was interesting to listen to him. 

He told us about a guy he works with who made a comment about Paul McCartney. Evidently the once-Beatle recently collaborated with Kanye West whom Justin affectionately calls a douche-canoe. It made both Kevin and I laugh. Justin’s friend heard the song they did together and made the following comment: “how cool is it that Kanye’s giving that old guy this opportunity. Must be the highlight of his life.” 

Justin nearly spit out whatever he was drinking at the time. 

My generation doesn’t make good music and then they make comments like that.

Justin is part of the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y. These are the people who were born between the early 1980s and the year 2000. Justin was born in 1991. They’re civic minded, they’re highly educated, upbeat and optimistic. They’re more open-minded than their parents on issues like same-sex marriage. They don’t tend to care about racial identity either, and they’re the least overtly religious generation. They were raised on the internet. They’re an interesting group. Smart, focused, non-judgmental. Opinionated. Fascinating. 

But lacking in the music of his parent’s generation. The Rolling Stones. Elton John. Bruce Springsteen. Eric Clapton. Rod Stewart. Sting and the Police. He listens to all of this music because we listened to all of this music. 

As jazz drifted from above, we all sipped wine, and enjoyed the fact that our generation, thankfully, did make that kind of music. Good. Classic. Lasting. And something to celebrate.                                                              

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In pizza, we must

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 27, 2016 10:39 PM

By the time Friday arrives, the amount of food in the house has dwindled. This is because I usually go shopping on Saturday and I stock up for the week. By the time Friday arrives, there is usually a blackening banana in the fruit bowl and one mushroom left in the vegetable drawer. There’s a swish of half and half left in the carton, a couple of sheets of paper towel on the roll. We’re usually down a jar of Raos pasta sauce and a box of pasta, the bags of cheese are nearly empty, as is the carton of eggs. Dwindled. This Friday is no exception. 

This is the situation I find myself in today. With nothing to eat and of what I do have, nothing I want to cook. 

I entertained going to the grocery store today instead of my usual Saturday morning but opted against it for no reason other than I simply wasn’t in the mood. I’m tired. And I’ve been working all day, and it’s the start of a long holiday weekend, the first of the summer, and like I said, I just wasn’t in the mood. It would be very busy out there, traffic wise, and the grocery store would be overflowing with people stocking up for the weekend, for camping trips and barbecues, parties and whatever else people do on three-day weekends. 

So I’ll go tomorrow. And I’ll stock up on mushrooms and bananas and eggs and orange juice and toilet paper and whatever else I need to keep the house running for the next week. With Justin here, I have to get more than usual and I have to remember to do that. I’ve been so used to shopping for just two; it’s been a long time since I shopped for three.

I’ll go to Petco, too, to stock up on Riley’s food. I buy a 30-pound bag of dog food, Natural Balance, each month. Our boy eats a lot. Three and a half cups a day. 

He’ll also get a bath tomorrow, our boy. I gave him a bath last week, but I think he might be allergic to the shampoo I used. He’s been itchy and he has a bit of a rash under his fur, near his tail. He keeps trying to bite it, to make the itch stop. It’ll be warm tomorrow, too, so he’ll be dry in no time, fur flying, shedding like a big dog, happy as he can be, clean and sparkly. With fresh dog food.

It’s Friday. No one has any food. And that means pizza for dinner. 

We have a great place not too far from here. I’ll order it and then drive in to pick it up. I haven’t been out of the house all week. I’ll climb into the Range Rover and drive down Catalina Highway. I’ll open the sunroof and crank the music. I love to drive at night when the air is cool and there’s little traffic. I’ll pull up to Rosati’s and get our pizza, or maybe our two pizzas, perhaps a Caesar salad. I’ll get back into the car, fire up the lights and take off, flying toward home. The smell of pizza will flood the car. And I will be free … 

… of groceries, of dog food, of chores at least until tomorrow. As an added bonus, I’ll be able to feed my family. Or, in the immortal words of George W. Bush, I’ll be able to “put food on my family.” 

Because I don’t have any food in the house, or at least no food I want to make, and I’m tired, and wasn’t in the mood for the grocery store. And so, in pizza, I must trust.

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Never gonna give it up

by Lorin Michel Sunday, May 22, 2016 10:46 PM

There are some days that give meaning to life, that make you glad to be alive in this time, in this moment. They don’t occur often. Sometimes these moments involve a changing event, like the birth of a child, the acquiring of a puppy, a marriage. More often, these moments are attached to nothing but the universe. It’s a feeling, and it happens without warning. You’re driving along with the top out and the windows down, the music blasting. The road is a series of curves, long and winding, easy. You downshift and then you upshift, moving up toward the sky. The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the trees impossibly green. 

And it hits you. This is joy. Unencumbered, unemotional. It simply is life defined. At its most pure. There is no one that’s responsible. Your joy isn’t contingent on another person being involved. There isn’t a situation that needs to develop. There isn’t a relationship that needs to start. It is already there. You are the person that’s involved; you are the situation. You are the relationship. And you’re here. 

I know. I’m being cryptic. I don’t mean to be. Our friend Tammy was here this weekend. She came in yesterday morning and we did nothing but hang out and enjoy. We went to this fabulous Mexican restaurant yesterday afternoon and had table-made fresh salsa and appetizers. We had dinner on the deck last night with a fire in the fireplace. It was cool, not cold, and the fire was more for ambiance than heat. It was lovely. We had wine, we talked; we laughed.

This morning, we decided to head up to Mount Lemmon for breakfast. Kevin asked Tammy if she’d like to go on the motorcycle. She grinned. I said I’d follow in the Porsche. I showed Tammy how to get up on the bike (it takes a bit of a contortionist move to do so); I helped her hook up the strap on her helmet. Off they went. I pulled the Porsche out of the garage and followed. 

It was a beautiful morning, just after 9. The sky was clear, the temperature was hovering in the upper 70s. I put both windows down; the roof still out. I grabbed my Patriots baseball hat, popped a CD into the stereo since I don’t have satellite in this car.

We climbed and climbed and climbed. I watched the bike in front of me, carrying my husband and my good friend. To either side, the green of the desert. The cactus gave way to trees which gave way to pine. Up we went, until it seemed we had entered into a forest. The temperature had dropped at least 20 degrees. The air coming in through the open windows was cool. The pine trees were dense. The greenery was heavy. The rock formations glowed. I felt complete, whole. Overjoyed. I rounded a corner and the green completely obscured any other view. Through my Maui Jim’s, the colors came alive. Deeper blues, richer greens, clearer air. I breathed it all in, I watched it all.

And it occurred to me, this is what life is all about. The clarify of beauty. The reality of nothing special and yet everything … special. 

Several weeks ago, I wrote about listening to Al Jarreau in the Porsche. I thought of his music today, of the purity of it, of how it has always made me feel. Happy and in the moment. I thought about one song: Never gonna give it up.

I'll never give it up, never gonna give it up, even when this life is over
Never give it up, never gonna give it up, even when this life is over
Never give it up, never gonna give it up, even when this life is over
I'll be content in time

I’ll never give up this feeling, this moment, this complete purity. Not now, not ever. It’s what living it out loud is all about.

Daisies before tulips

by Lorin Michel Sunday, May 8, 2016 8:15 PM

Years ago, we would often turn on the television on a Sunday morning and surf a bit until we found something mindless we wanted to watch. Often times it involved a Law & Order episode. It’s also the way we discovered Longmire. Every once in a while it was a movie. 

This morning, I was feeling lazy. Kevin had gone to take Riley out and to make coffee. There were clouds outside, so a cool breeze was drifting through the open windows. It won’t be long before those windows will be closed for months as the air conditioning goes on full-time, so we’re taking advantage while we can. The remote, which is usually tucked under the TV that is tucked into the tile above the fireplace, was on the night stand. I had done some surfing last night before going to sleep. I reached for it and turned the TV on. As I was running through the usual channels, Kevin came back with coffee, Riley following. The dog immediately curly up on his bed. Kevin climbed back in next to me. 

I stopped on Turner Classic Movies. I often watch TCM because I’m a big fan of old movies. Sometimes they’re playing something I have no interest in; other times they’re playing something I’ve seen too many times. But they never fail to play history. Today, they were running several station promos and they were really good. We found ourselves intrigued. We had never seen TCM do such elaborate promotions for themselves. Then Ben Mankiewicz came on, and was talking about their Mother’s Day lineup featuring some good mothers, some bad, some crazy busy. First up: Doris Day. 

Now I don’t like Doris Day. Not personally; I don’t know the woman, who is still alive and kicking at 92. I just never particularly cared for her brand of film and definitely not her singing. I remember seeing films with Doris Day and Rock Hudson, stupid comedies, when I was a kid. I remember seeing one with Doris Day and James Garner. I didn’t like that either. 

Doris Day was always too sugary for me. The one thing I remember sort of liking her in was the Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much, where she played James Stewart’s wife. It was a supporting role. In many of her films, she sang. I’m not big of musicals in general, as I’ve mentioned before. She’s also too vanilla; too saccharine. I know that she’s a big animal-rights advocate so I appreciate that. I know, too, that the home her son lived in became the site of the infamous Manson murders in 1969. 

The film this morning was Please Don’t Eat The Daisies. We left it on; I have no idea why. Within minutes we were sort of enjoying it. The dialogue was surprisingly snappy and sophisticated. It wasn’t sappy and slapstick. It was more real life, for the time. It also stars David Niven and I’ve always loved David Niven. He brought gravitas to any role he played, certainly more so than Rock Hudson who was overrated in my opinion, and James Garner, who I actually liked as he got older. 

The film was released in 1960, before I was even born, and takes place predominantly in New York with a brief sojourn to a place called Hooton. Day and Niven play Kate and Larry MacKay. They have four boys, three of whom seem to be the same age. They’re a handful and horribly misbehaved. They also have a younger boy that they keep in a kennel type contraption that is never fully explained. Obviously this was before child services would investigate such things. They also have a dog named Hobo – cue the politically correct police – who is afraid of everything and has a habit of needing to be carried. He’s a sheep dog though, not a purse dog. The vet puts him on tranquilizers. So many things that are considered so wrong today. 

The cast is smart and while it’s predictable, the story is also mostly fun. The ending was a bit of a disappointment. It seemed to end too easily and even too quickly. We watched the whole thing and couldn’t believe we stayed in bed on a Sunday morning to watch a Doris Day movie. 

The title is never fully explained save for one of the horrible boys, who is old enough to know better, eating an entire bouquet of daisies, for no reason whatsoever. I guess a certain suspension of belief was required when it was made, and to watch it now. We happily suspended, for the 112 minutes that was needed. 

When I finally got up and made my way to the kitchen, I found a beautiful vase of double hybrid tulips, a gift from my husband on this mother’s day. Riley gave me a card; I got a sweet text from Justin who was working several shows today before loading out to move to the next city. It was a day for daisies and then tulips and, evidently, Doris Day. It was a day worth celebrating.

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