Just wondering

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 9, 2015 7:57 PM

I was standing on my deck this morning. It was cold, just 45º and the air had just the ripple of movement. After yesterday’s wind fest, it was welcome. The desert below was bathed in sunlight that would eventually warm everything up including me. It was quiet. In the distance I heard a car but couldn’t find it. There was a single dog bark. Riley, who was next to me, quickly turned his head but didn’t get up. Nothing to be concerned about, not really.

In the house behind me, Kevin was making coffee. I wondered how I got so lucky at the same time I wondered, as I always do, if we did the right thing. And every time I wonder that I feel like I’m being ungrateful. This house, our new and forever home, is amazing. It’s a huge accomplishment. The fact that it exists is a true testament to perseverance and sheer guts. I have had many people who marvel, who think that we’re incredibly brave, courageous, for leaving our lives and our friends to start something new.

I wonder sometimes if we’re simply stupid.

I suppose it does take some guts. I also think it takes the ability to not think about it. It’s a practice I call active denial and during the entire process of packing and moving and packing and moving again I excelled in it. It can also be described as the Scarlett O’Hara way of doing things. Don’t think about it today, think about it tomorrow. And since tomorrow can’t ever really come in that scenario, you never really have to think about it.

Still, I wonder and I worry. We’re alone here. We’re not far from the people we love most in the world, never far when one has an airport nearby, but we’re far enough. We’re slowly starting to meet people; slowly starting to make some friends. I’ve never had a lot of friends. It’s not in my character to allow too many people in. I suppose I’m always a little worried that they won’t like what they see and then I’ll truly be alone. As I’ve grown older, I’ve also realized that I don’t particularly enjoy spending time with people who don’t bring me some measure of joy. I simply don’t have the bandwidth for it. Still, it’s nice to be able to have people over every once in a while, to meet someone for a glass of wine, lunch.

To have someone worry if they haven’t heard from you in a while.

It’s more important to me than to Kevin but I suppose that’s a bit of a man thing. Most of the men I know and have known don’t have a lot of friends. They have friends with their wives, couple friends. But they rarely call up a buddy and say, let’s go have a beer, let’s go shoot nine-holes. Kevin has reconnected with a good friend, finally, after years of neglect. I urged him when we were still in California to call or email. He never did. Finally, he got tired of me nagging and so he did call and now he and his friend talk every couple of weeks. They don’t get together of course, and not just because we no longer live close by. It just doesn’t occur to him, or them.

Morning sun at the house. Photo: Roy Guzman

I wonder. I worry. I convince myself that it all can’t really be this perfect and wonderful. Something has to go wrong. I will slowly start to lose all of my clients. My work and income will dry up. We will have this incredible home and we won’t be able to pay for it. Our dream will turn into a nightmare. I don’t know why I allow myself to wonder and worry about these things. I suppose it’s a remnant of something I’ve dubbed being cursed with self-awareness. I wish I was someone who could live blissfully unaware of all that is happening and could happen. But I’ve never been that person; I never will be.

As I stood on my deck this morning though, as my husband brought me a cup of coffee and I watched the steam drift up into the cool air, I wondered. And I marveled. Look at what we’ve done; look at where we are. My brother always says, sarcastically, that he’s living the dream. This is usually when he’s at the Laundromat or shoveling snow for the hundredth time. In many ways, I am living the dream. Kevin and I and now Riley are living our dream, high above the desert with the sun warming the day. I wonder why I wonder why.

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An art gallery in a living environment

by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 2, 2015 8:54 PM

This weekend marks the end of Roy’s first solo gallery show. It’s hard to believe that a month has gone by already. It seems like it was just the end of March, the 24th to be exact, when we were moving in and when Roy and Bobbi arrived for the install to take place on that Friday, with the opening on Saturday, March 28. Over the course of the next month, they were back and forth, driving each time. Roy would spend time at the gallery. He sold at least six pieces if not more.

Over the course of this past month, he also had occasion to create some additional small abstract pieces. Some with metallic copper paint and splashes of other color, others a mosaic of colors. Pieces that never made it to the gallery. They’re all framed in black 12 X 12 frames, with double white mattes.

I remarked that I loved them, and started talking about where I could use them. For instance, in our powder room, which is a funky, artistic, eclectic little room. I wanted to hang three. He left me three and they’re all in place.

Then I thought how cool it would be to have them in other places, with other pieces of art. To balance some of our bigger pieces. He was more than kind enough to oblige. I now have three hanging in the breakfast nook, in a vertical row. I have one on the south side of the fireplace in the great room, two others, hung together horizontally on the north side.

When they first arrived, one of the paintings they brought was one called Mind’s Eye. It’s a fairly good size piece, in modern cubist Roy style. It’s very existential, contemplative. They weren’t sure they were going to hang it in the gallery because they worried it was too dark in terms of subject matter, of its feel. I didn’t know any of this when I first saw it and exclaimed “I love this one!” It was probably my favorite in the show. It’s now hanging in the great room. We had the house photographed last Wednesday night and Roy thought it would look good as the house got ready for its close-up. He was right. I attempted to give it back today; he wouldn’t take it.

In the dining room, outside the wine room, we have a painting he did for me for my 50th birthday. It’s a montage of faces, with books and glasses of red wine. It’s an abstract me. We also have the pen and ink he did of our precious Maguire after he died. It hangs in the corner, between the great room and the breakfast nook, above the antique music cabinet.

The great room. Mind's Eye is on the left, along with a small abstract.
On the right, two other small abstracts. All with metallic copper paint.

In total, we currently have 12 Roy Guzman originals hanging in our house. It occurred to me today that what we have is an art gallery in a living environment. I said as much as Roy and Bobbi were packing their car and preparing to leave, having had the tear down on Thursday. Everyone laughed. Kevin immediately thought about how cool it would be to put small cards next to each painting, like you’d see in a gallery, with the painting name and the cost. Make it literally a gallery in a house where people live and work and love, where a new puppy runs through, from one end to the other, where people visit and congregate and have wine and good food.

I can imagine it now. The invitations go out. There is a reception where people nosh on a lovely assortment of cheese, crackers and French bread. There are mini quiches and crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms. The wine pours freely. And all through the house, people walk and gaze and stare and contemplate. Hmmm. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that hanging in our home?

We have “that” hanging in ours and it’s a wonderful thing. I think this art gallery in a living environment has potential. It’s a chance to see how art actually looks in a home, on a wall, with couches and lamps and flat screen TVs and plants and windows and antiques. How art looks at home. We could be on to something.

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Fritini minus one

by Lorin Michel Friday, April 10, 2015 10:25 PM

Roy is here this weekend. He arrived just a bit ago, right after sunset. He’s going to work the gallery, plus the reception for his permanent music piece at the Tucson Music Museum at the Tucson Convention Center is Sunday night. We’re gathered around the bar in the kitchen, drinking martinis (I’m having wine) and missing Bobbi.

Fritini was always a wonderful cap to the week. We would meet around 7, in the kitchen in Oak Park. Starting around 6:45 Maguire would stand in the window and wait for Roy. He knew the sound of the car, Roy’s Explorer. As soon as he heard it coming up Pesaro, he’d start to breathe heavy. As soon as he saw the truck turn from Pesaro onto Wiggin, he would turn and begin his dance. In seconds he was at the front door. Let me out. Now. Don’t you know Roy is here?

Fritini was always a way to unwind, to unpack the week, to bitch and moan and share and laugh and drink. We loved Fritini. We had martinis (I always had a Manhattan), and then wine and a good dinner. Something we threw on the grill or pasta or a plethora of appetizers. We would start in the kitchen and gradually move to the patio, or, when it was too cold, to the dining room. We would eat, drink and be very merry.

After Maguire passed, Cooper took over the master of ceremony’s role.

Tonight, when Roy arrived and we asked him what we could get him, wine or a martini, he opted for a martini. First martinis in the new house, and how appropriate that it was Roy requesting it. Kevin and I quickly found some glasses and a shaker – neither of which had been unpacked previously – and he shook up some of Kevin’s world famous ‘tinis.

What’s missing is actually a who’s missing. Bobbi. Roy has his gallery showing all month. They were here at the end of March to set up the galley. Last weekend, Kevin and I took gallery duty. This weekend Roy’s here without Bobbi because she has other things going on in LA. A class this weekend, a business dinner tomorrow night.

Still. It’s weird that it’s the three of us instead of the four of us. It’s also weird that there’s no Cooper, or Maguire. It’s like the fritini wasn’t real.

It’s lovely, of course. Roy is here which is always wonderful, but Roy without Bobbi is like Fred without Ginger, Nick without Nora, Dorothy without Toto. It’s Fritini without Bobbi. It’s weird. We miss her. I miss her. I’m sure Roy misses her terribly.

If she was here, it would be better. We’d be celebrating the view and living it out loud.

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The weekend in the mirror

by Lorin Michel Monday, March 30, 2015 10:22 PM

What a wild few days. The move on Tuesday, the arrival of Roy and Bobbi on Tuesday night, the arrangement of paintings in the house, Tony the tile guy finishing the inside grout on Thursday, Cooper getting very sick, the arrival of Diane and Gene, the install on Friday, Roy's trip to Phoenix on Friday night for an artist's reception, the gallery opening on Saturday, the party at the house on Saturday night, Cooper leaving us forever on Sunday, and all of our friends leaving us today, hopefully just for a short while.

We are exhausted physically and emotionally we’re drained. I’d like to say it’s a good exhaustion and a good batch of emotions but it’s decidedly mixed. Roy had a post on Facebook the other day that referred to it all as a smoothie, a blend of just about everything. Good, bad, and in between. That’s an apt description.

Our friends, celebrating on Sunday with new friend Gracie

I’ve been fighting this feeling of dread. I suspect it’s the exhaustion. Perhaps it was related to Cooper. I think it’s just everything closing down around us. For so long, the house has been under construction. We would visit on Saturdays to see what had happened during the week. We would shop for things we needed, and then we would go back to our rental. We would relax. We would walk Cooper. We’d cook and eat. It was comfortable. We were settled. Now we’re unsettled again. Bobbi suggested this morning that maybe the reason I was feeling this way was because this is the last place, the final resting place. It made sense; it made me both thrilled and sad.

Another smoothie.

Because there was so much going on this weekend, with the move, with trying to get the house into some sort of order for the party on Saturday night, with Cooper being sick, I don’t think either Kevin or I were are usual selves. Understandable. These weren’t usual circumstances. And I knew it. I knew I was off my game. I’m reserved by nature, but when I’m with my friends, I like to think that I’m more engaged, personable, maybe even funny.

Bobbi, cataloging paintings

I wasn’t this past week and I feel very badly about that. I wanted this week to be fun and relaxed and it was, but in some ways, it was anything but. We were stressed with the move and with Cooper. We wanted it to be a celebration. It was and it wasn’t.

To my friends who I know understand, I still apologize for it not being what I imagined it would be. In my mind, the house would be perfectly put together, before everyone else arrived. The days would be spent site seeing, the nights engaging in conversation, food, wine and especially laughter. The mood would be light, frivolous. And Cooper would be right there in the middle of it all, begging, cajoling, putting on the cute face that said “look at me. Don’t I deserve some of that cheese?”

I wanted us all to simply be together, for it to be easy. It wasn’t what I wanted, and for that, I apologize. But I also applaud these wonderful friends of mine who made the long journey across the desert to be with us, but more importantly to celebrate Roy. And what a celebration it was. Deservedly so.

Roy, the artist in residence, and his door 

I love these people, some of the best people I know. As I look at the weekend in the rear view mirror, I see how lucky I am, even in my sadness and our loneliness. And it brings me much content.  


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Hair today, art tomorrow

by Lorin Michel Thursday, March 12, 2015 10:43 PM

This month, our friend Roy gets his first full gallery show. The install is on March 27, the opening is on the 28. It goes through April 29. During that time, he will exhibit approximately 30 or so acrylic paintings and pen and ink drawings. The paintings, on canvas and cardboard, are always vibrant in color. The various series’ he paints, like music or architecture, often consist of a modern, 21st century take on his own style of cubism. His landscapes are highly abstract, large swaths of color slashing across the canvas in such a way as to become multi-dimensional. Amazing.

I am also amazed at the process of creating art, of how each artist thinks and wonders, how the ideas manifest; how mediums are chosen. Some artists, like Roy, work primarily with acrylic paint. Others prefer watercolor or oil. Some work in fabric, others work with charcoal, chalk or colored pencils. Some choose clay and other elements of the environment. There have been artists who take pieces of garbage and make it interesting and pretty. Architects use wood and steel; musicians use guitars, sitars, pianos and oboes.

Today I discovered a Texas artist who uses her hair. My first thought was, ooh. Creepy. My second thought was “won’t she eventually run out?” Then I started looking at the art and my third thought was still a little odd but very interesting.

The artist is a woman named Rosemary Meza, who in addition to hair drawings also works in more traditional mediums like watercolor and pen and ink, started experimenting with sewing human hair into paper. It was a different way of creating a line, a drawing. She uses Thai rice paper and Mylar. Some are encased in resin. When she first started working in this medium in 2000, she was using her own hair for only about half of the drawing. The other half was done with a more traditional graphite. Now, the “drawings” are done entirely with hair.

Each morning she runs her fingers through her hair and holds onto the strands that fall out. She even collects the hair she loses in the shower, keeping it all until they’re needed. The shorter hairs are separated from the longer hair. She has also started collecting a growing number of gray hairs that she dyes in shades of reds and browns in order to bring a bit more depth and color to the drawings.

According to Meza, she likes using hair because it’s sexy and engages people. It’s an adornment and one of the first things people notice about another. And yet, it can also be a bit repulsive. No one wants to find a hair in their soup or on a pillow in a hotel room.

After looking at the art, I have to admit, all of my initial three thoughts still apply. It’s kind of creepy, but won’t she eventually run out? And it’s intriguing.

I love that she’s doing something different. I applaud the idea aspect of it. I find it refreshing in a just washed my hair kind of way. Tonight when I take a shower, I’ll think about the hair that’s washing down the drain. And when I comb it out and blow it dry, I’ll look at the hairs left behind and think, briefly, Hey I made art today. Roy would be so proud.

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Happy Christmas Eve

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, December 24, 2014 8:38 PM

It’s a beautiful day in the desert as I write this, 55º with a slight breeze. It seems both impossible and completely plausible that today is Christmas Eve and tomorrow is Christmas. Such is life in the desert southwest. I have become used to it and yet I always hope that there will at least be clouds. Perhaps it’s my upbringing, but Christmas always seems more Christmasy when there is weather.

Today is filled with a lot of nothingness. Luckily all of the shopping has been done, the presents are wrapped. Even the shopping for food has been done. I will make a big pan of manicotti, Kevin’s favorite, then put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow. It’s always better if it has a day to sit. Tomorrow I’ll simply put it in the oven; I’ll make garlic bread and a salad.

Tonight at the Arizona Inn

This afternoon we’ll go for a walk, then do a bit of wine tasting. Tonight we’ll go to the Arizona Inn and sit in the library. It’s so terribly civilized, cultured. Each year they do a gorgeous Christmas tree with thousands of lights and ornaments. We’ll sit in front of the fire and sip a glass of fine red wine as music plays softly in the background. Afterward, maybe we’ll stop at Pastiche, one of our favorite restaurants. There isn’t much open tonight, but they are… until 9.

When we return to the house, we’ll have more wine. Some stuffed mushrooms, some additional munchies. We’ll listen to music; put a movie in with no sound. We’ll enjoy the season.

It’s Christmas Eve. Tomorrow is Christmas. We’ll be leisurely and open presents. We may have mimosas. It’s the only time of year we do that, and it makes the day that much more special. It’s supposed to be cloudy and perhaps rain. Rain and cold makes it, somehow, more festive though not more joyous. The joy comes regardless. It’s the joy of giving, of sharing, of laughter and the season. I’m a sucker for this season and all that it brings. The music, the gifts, the decorations, the movies. This year it also brings our good friends Roy and Bobbi. It’s the first year we haven’t had Justin, but we’re making a new tradition and spending it with friends instead. Next year, we’ll be in the new house. It will be another special year.

This Christmas Eve, we’re celebrating a beautiful day, and a fun evening to follow. We’re going wine tasting. We’re cooking. We’re enjoying. We’re watching and listening.

And we’re wishing everyone a Happy Christmas Eve.

25 days

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 1, 2014 8:45 PM

Once upon a time, the countdown to how many shopping days until Christmas started around the first part of December and progressed at a frenetic level until it became like a countdown for a rocket launch: Uh oh, 5. No, 4. OMG, 3. You are so screwed 2. And fuggedaboutit 1. Now along comes Overstock, a website that I’ve been frequenting lately because I’ve been able to find some amazing things for the house at equally amazing prices. They have a Countdown to Black Friday 2014 clock. As of right now it says:

26 days : 14 hours : 33 minutes

I love this time of year and can I just pause right now to be among the first to wish you, dear readers, happy holidays. I’ve written before about my love of the season, how I adore the music (as long as it’s more along the jazzy side) and the movies. I love the weather; I even love shopping, something I don’t love at any other time during the year.

But a countdown clock to Black Friday? Come. On.

This is why many get disgusted. The commercialization of Christmas and the holidays in general gets more and more out of control every year. The build up becomes such that you almost can’t help but be let down when Christmas day rolls around and everything is over by 2 pm.

Years ago, my mother used to get very into Christmas. She would spend so much time preparing for the holidays. Shopping, baking cookies. She even used to do her own Christmas cards. She loved to decorate the house, and especially loved to decorate once we moved to New England where more traditional exterior lights are not just the norm, but dictated by town ordnance. In New England, and especially in Amherst where my mother lives, everyone puts white candle lights in their windows. Rarely do you see lights strung along the rafters, but if you do, it’s done in good taste. Those lights are often white as well. Wreaths made from the fallen bows of pines and wired with pine cones that have also fallen adorn the doors. It’s very Normal Rockwell. You half expect to see a horse drawn sleigh going through downtown.

What you actually see are Volvos and Range Rovers, with lots of horses under the hood.

By the time Christmas afternoon appeared, she would start to get down. By evening, she’d be depressed. The Christmas’ never quite lived up to Rockwell’s imagination. She finally came to the realization that no one lives like a Rockwell painting, and from then on, she’s been fine.

We have long set our own traditions. Living out west, we’re rarely with family so we’ve made our own west coast family and it’s populated with our closest friends. Justin has always been home, and we always have a lovely Christmas morning, and then usually go to Roy and Bobbi’s for dinner. The next day we go wine tasting. It’s a way to extend the holiday.

This year, Roy and Bobbi are coming to spend it with us. We’re so excited. It will be a new tradition; one we hope to continue.

And at Thanksgiving, all of us are going to Paso Robles to go wine tasting. This is a new adventure, too. For years, we always had Thanksgiving at our house, where all the “stray dogs” – people who didn’t have family, or who had family they didn’t care to be with – would come. This year, we leave on Thanksgiving morning to drive to the Central Coast of California. Have a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner, and start wine tasting on Friday and Saturday. It will be Kevin and I (and Cooper), Roy and Bobbi, and Diane and Gene. The perfect holiday.

So we won’t even be around for Black Friday. Overstock’s clock will continue to tick down (26 days: 14 hours : 16 minutes) and rather than frantically shopping, we’ll be enjoying good friends. In 25 days. And on Black Friday, we’ll make it Red Wine Day. That’s living it out loud in holiday style.

Get back

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, July 22, 2014 10:15 PM

We’re now on day three of the Great Back Break of 2014. Last night, it seemed like things were getting better. After he took a shower, Kevin started moving more easily. He ate dinner on the couch; he even had a little bit of wine. He was laughing and close to comfortable. When we went to bed, he felt pretty good, had no trouble getting to sleep. He was almost back to normal.

This morning, he was back to square one. The spasms were back. The achiness was back. The misery was back.

For three days now we’ve been talking about the back in general and his back particularly. We all know how important it is in the general structure of the body. It’s our main source of support. Everything seems to come off the back, and the spine. If you break it, depending on where, you can become paralyzed. If you strain it, it can simply feel as if you’ll never move again.

My mother had terrible problems with her back several years ago. She had long suffered from sciatica, though that’s a nerve issue, albeit a debilitating one when it’s acting up. When she and I drove across the country after I graduated from college, I remember her having trouble getting comfortable in the car. I can’t imagine driving 3,000 miles and being uncomfortable for the entire time.

One of my mom’s legs is slightly shorter than the other. It’s not something that’s noticeable, but it was never corrected. This affected the way her spine moved as she walked which ultimately contributed to her back problems. Eventually other issues developed, all of which led to severe spinal stenosis. Stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, narrowing the openings where spinal nerves leave the spinal column. It causes excruciating pain, the kind of pain where she couldn’t walk through the grocery store. My mother is constantly on the go. Running the roads, my Aunt Beryl used to call it. Not being able to be out and around was one of the things that drove her to finally have surgery.

Back surgery is a scary proposition. There are 31 pairs of nerves, 23 discs and 32 bones in the back. There are joints and ligaments, deep muscles and superficial muscles. It’s delicate; anything could go wrong. It doesn’t often. It didn’t when my mother had surgery. It took a while for her to heal but now that she is healed, she’s back to running the roads.

Kevin’s issue isn’t spinal. It’s muscular. But it doesn’t make the pain any less severe. The biggest difference, at least until we’re told otherwise, is that his problem can be fixed with rest, pain killers and muscle relaxants. Muscles heal with time. Spinal stenosis gets worse with time.

You can’t do much of anything when your back is out of whack. Getting out of bed can reduce a grown man to tears. Walking through the house can elicit a wince with each step. You can’t reach for a glass of water, can’t transfer the clothes from the washer into the dryer, can’t empty the dishwasher. You can’t put your own clothes on, can’t tie you shoes. Can’t go for a walk, can’t get in the car. Can’t turn to look, can’t bend to pick up, can’t function normally.

The back, like all of the body, is a work of art. It allows for grace of movement, strength and flexibility. We walk, run, stand because of our backs. We stand up straight and hunch, stretch and lunge. We dance.

We’re ready to take back our lives, to get back in the saddle again. This being cast into the outback with no weapons to back you up is difficult.

Roy called Kevin today and they were talking about how no matter what you do, no matter how much exercise you engage in, how well you eat, this stuff still happens. The exercise etc only prolongs the inevitable. Still, taking care also helps you to get back to normal more quickly. At least that’s what we choose to believe. That’s what we’re hoping. And that’s worth celebrating.

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Hence the donut

by Lorin Michel Saturday, July 19, 2014 9:09 PM

I love donuts. There. I’ve admitted it. Not all donuts, of course. I’m partial to certain types and especially anything with cinnamon and glaze, and particularly to cinnamon swirls and twists. I have them about once a year, as a treat. I would have them more often but they’re so bad for me. Even after I’ve finished my one indulgence for the year, I feel like I need a shower. It’s similar to how I feel on the exceedingly rare occasion that I have a Big Mac. Actually, the Big Mac is worse.

The last time I had one of those, about six years ago, I felt like I should shower for a week, inside and out.

Yesterday, I went to the mailbox and asked Kevin if he needed anything while I was out. He didn’t hesitate. A donut. He didn’t get one. Later, I was on Facebook and Roy had posted a picture of a donut. Evidently, they had splurged and I was jealous.

They had also indulged in a very heavy conversation about life. The kind of conversation we all often engage in. About money, about what we’re doing with our lives, where we’re going, what we can still accomplish with the time we have left. Like I said, heavy. When we were younger, the heavy conversations were different. What kind of career would we have, would we get married, would it last? Would we have children, did we want to? How soon could we change the world.

She told me a bit about what they had discussed, details of which I won’t share here. I paused and then said “hence the donut.”

This, I’ve decided, is a new rallying cry. When things aren’t going my way, when I’m down, or tired. When I’m mad at the world and can find nothing worth celebrating, I’ll just think “hence the donut.” Because a donut, like all comfort food, brings just that, comfort, an escape from the irritants of the day. Donuts, those marvelously nasty pieces of fried dough, can change the trajectory of any day simply by being. It can bring joy and resilience. It makes you feel better.

“Hence the donut” becomes a metaphor for good things are just around the corner; they’re coming. We just have to take a bite and let the sweetness of change and of life, run through us. I try to do it every day. I’m not always successful, but I do err on the side of positivity, trying to find the good and the reason for any situation no matter how dire, no matter how frustrating.

I was stuck in the airport the other night for hours, so long in fact that by the time our flight actually boarded for departure, the terminal was nearly empty save for my fellow journeymen and women. I was frustrated, and then irritated. I just wanted to go home. We got on the plane, finally and proceeded to sit at the gate for another 10 minutes or so, long after everyone had sat down and buckled in. My frustration and irritation grew. It had been a long day; I was tired. I had bought a sweatshirt and slippers in the terminal and changed so I was a bit more comfortable.  Still.

When Kevin picked me up and Cooper was in the car with him, I smiled, frustration and irritation gone instantly. It was the donut. Something good appearing out of the bad, something to make me feel better. My donut was in the guise of my husband and my dog. What’s yours?

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On Sundays alone

by Lorin Michel Sunday, May 25, 2014 10:24 PM

For the past four days, we’ve had company. Our dearest friends Roy and Bobbi have been with us and oh, what a time we’ve had. They drove on Wednesday, leaving around 9:30 am. The plan was to take I-10 across California, into Arizona, down through Phoenix and finally exit in Tucson. That was the plan but plans change. As the old saying goes, life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Also really bad accidents. One did, on the 10 at Blythe, closing the freeway in both directions. There is no other way to get through Blythe and into Arizona when on the 10.

Luckily they found out early enough; Bobbi sent me a message from the car. We started researching in order to plan an alternate. South on 86 out of Indio, past the Salton Sea, to the 111 and on down to the I-8. The I-8 runs from San Diego straight across the lower part of the Sonoran Desert, dangerously close to the Mexico border, so close that you could see the fence. It’s not significantly longer, maybe 20 miles. They stopped in Yuma for lunch, one of the biggest armpits in the country (apologies to people who live in Yuma), then zoomed along, finally arriving around 6.

We were waiting. We had some cheese, some wine. I made pasta with two kinds of sauce, or as Roy calls it “gravy.” We laughed and talked through the night. Over the next couple of days, we just enjoyed ourselves. We visited some wonderful places, places we had discovered and wanted to share. The Lost Barrio downtown, the famous Hotel Congress where John Dillinger was staying and where he was finally caught way back when as he was exiting the Rialto Theater across the street. We went to the Arizona Inn, a landmark that first opened in 1930. It’s a throw back place, full of history and possibility. It looks like old Hollywood glamour. I know that stars like Clark Gable and Carol Lombard, Katherine Hepburn and more used to vacation in Tucson during the 1930s and 1940s. I think the AZ Inn catered to the elite. It still caters to an older clientele simply because of the décor, the style. It’s old world and gorgeous.

We went to The Dish, an eclectic and impossibly small bistro that serves things like a bowl of mussels, swimming in a garlic-saffron broth, with a glass of wine for just $12.50 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Kevin and I had the mussels, Bobbi had smoked salon flatbread. Roy had a salad and squash soup. We all shared a Spanish wine.

Roy is an artist. Kevin has been pitching him as his artist representative and several weeks ago, booked a one-man month show at a gallery on the east side. We went to check out the space, take some pictures. We went to the house, took a picnic, went south to Elgin to do some southern Arizona wine tasting. We tasted our own wines, our Syrah and our Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our three full days of fun came to an end this morning. They loaded up their rental car, and drove off into the desert as Kevin, Cooper and I stood in the driveway watching them go.

It’s been a strange day. We’ve been trying to get some work done, and Kevin has been making more progress on that front than I. Cooper has been napping. He doesn’t seem to be feeling well today. Or maybe he’s just missing Roy and Bobbi. I know we are.

They’re our closest friends. We get along terrifically. We’ve always traveled well together; we stayed together well, too. There was no stress. It was just easy and fun. On this Sunday, as the warmth wrapped around us, we were missing our friends but celebrating our time together and the good times yet to come, when once again we’ll be living it out loud together.

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