The trashman cometh and he cometh way too early

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, April 2, 2014 12:44 AM

The morning comes in quietly. It begins with the hush of the sun as it peers over the eastern horizon, almost timid, checking to make sure it’s OK to come out. It always seems to think the coast is clear because up it comes. I’m awake sometimes and can see the night fade to gray and then begin to flood. Simultaneously the birds begin to chirp and as the light brightens more birds start singing. The whir of cars traveling down Campbell picks up speed, and suddenly the morning can no longer be denied.

I am not usually awake to see this. Sometimes it happens because I’m having an insomnia moment or two. Sometimes because I have to pee. And sometimes, like this morning, it’s because the trashman cometh.

We live in a fairly urban area, albeit inside a gated community. As such we’re safe from the world while being right in the middle of it. There are 18 houses with garages to the side, some with small yards amidst the desert landscaping in the back, all with courtyards leading to the front doors. There are only two small children; there are many dogs. No one leaves their cars in the driveway. It’s beautifully landscaped, with trees and flowering bushes but mostly cactus, some large prickly pear, some soaring ocotillos, all of them flowering. Everyone is friendly though no one is friends.

On Monday mornings, we have trash pick up. Sunday nights, everyone rolls their cans to the curb. Blue recycles, green trash. It’s all very orderly. The trash collecting trucks come roaring through, separated by about 30 minutes. They’re noisy; their mechanical arms clank and grind. The engine grinds, wheezes.

But that’s nothing compared to the cacophony that sounded this morning just after the sun rose. It was about 6:20 am. Official sunrise was at 6:12. It wasn’t yet bright, just light. The dog was snoring as he often is when he’s sleeping. Dreams were causing his four feet to run and clash against the side of his kennel. He’s not locked in at night but it’s where he sleeps, on the padded rug inside. It’s his house, his den. He goes in voluntarily and he’s free to come out at any time which is usually around 7.

Clang. Bang. Grind. Clank. SLAM.

Did I mention that behind us is an apartment complex? It’s a decent complex but like all complexes of the sort, including condos and townhouses, and most business establishments, trash is deposited into dumpsters. Dumpsters tend to be grouped together, sometimes only two, sometimes four or five. The complex behind us has four. We know this because when we walk we sometimes cut through the parking lot so we’ve had the pleasure of strolling past them a number of times.

Since the weather has been so lovely, even at night, we’ve been sleeping with the window open. This allows us to hear the sounds of the night as well as feel the rush of cool, fresh air. We hadn’t thought about the sound of the trash trucks emptying dumpsters.

The trashman starts early and the first places he visits are evidently the apartments behind where we live. The truck roars in through the dusty morning, slams on its brakes that squeal and screech, maneuvers its lifting arm under the metal dumpster, lifts it, dumps it and slams it back down onto the asphalt. Then speeds through to the next one to repeat the sequence all over. And again.

I rolled over and opened my eyes, sighing. Kevin followed suit. We both were looking up at the ceiling.

“You hear that?”

“How could I not?”

“Could they come any earlier?”

“At least Cooper’s not up yet.”

And with that, Cooper exited his kennel, shook his fur into place, rattling his tags, announcing that he was ready to go outside. Because if everyone else is up anyway, he can goeth out early. Way too early, and with that, we celebrated the beginning of Tuesday.  

Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

Leslie gets another package

by Lorin Michel Saturday, March 8, 2014 10:01 PM

We have a neighbor. I’ll call her Leslie, because that happens to be her name. We don’t know Leslie other than to say “hi, Leslie,” and “isn’t it just a gorgeous day?” She’s always friendly. Leslie is married to Jay who isn’t quite as friendly. He waves on the rare occasion that we see him, but I don’t believe we’ve ever exchanged a word with him, not even a “how are you?” We know his name because when we met Leslie she said her husband’s name was Jay. Leslie doesn’t seem to drive, nor have we ever seen her in the car. They have a white Volvo station wagon, a newer model, much like the navy blue one my mother drives. Jay drives it and parks it in their garage, somehow wedging it between the huge piles of boxes that go from cement floor to ceiling.

Leslie and Jay have a house that is similar to ours. We’re not sure if they have four bedrooms like we have but we assume they do. It is a split floor plan, so there is a master and bedroom/den on one side, two other bedrooms and baths on the other side. In between is a lot of open space consisting of a great room, dining area and kitchen. These houses have a tremendous amount of closet and storage space. Each bedroom has two closets. There is a hall closet. The laundry room has many cabinets. There is a pantry. The two car garages are oversized, with a lot of space in front of the cars for storage as well as a large enclosed storage area, complete with doors to block the sight of boxes and other riff raff. The houses are around 2200 square feet. The point is, there are a lot of places to put a lot of stuff.

When we saw Leslie and Jay’s garage door open the other day, with the poor car sandwiched inside, we were a little astounded but only a little. Many people have tons of boxes piled high in their garages. We are guilty of this as well. But we also fit the Porsche, a large Range Rover and a monster of a motorcycles inside ours in addition to a wine vault (temperature controlled) and all of Kevin’s tools, including a table saw. Also two bicycles.

The reason we were only a little astounded is because every day Leslie gets a delivery from somewhere. UPS roars into the neighborhood and makes a beeline for Leslie’s house, always leaving at least one box and sometimes three. FedEx Express comes in now and again, usually leaving a smaller package. FedEx Ground comes in daily, usually later than UPS. Again, they park in front of Leslie and Jay’s house and off-load several boxes. A white van from On-Trac is here almost daily, usually late in the afternoon. They pull right into the driveway to deliver whatever they have to deliver.

We watch this constant parade with bemusement and wonder. Kevin will come in from getting the mail and casually say “hey, saw that Leslie just got another package.” We’re amazed. How can someone get so many packages? Yes, rhetorical.

Now, it’s possible that they get all of these packages for some type of work they do. It’s possible that someone is a hoarder. It would certainly explain the horror of their oversized garage encroaching on their not oversized car.

We’ve always assumed it’s Leslie but maybe it’s Jay. Kevin was convinced several weeks ago that Jay was gone, that perhaps he had disappeared somewhere in the maze of boxes never to be found again. Someone call Stephen King. There’s a horror story in there somewhere.

Then I saw him coming back from the mailbox so we knew he’d somehow found his way out.

We never see anything get thrown away, and the neighborhood has trash pick up every Monday morning. When you live in a relatively small neighborhood with the houses in equally relative proximity, you see when people are throwing an inordinate amount of stuff away. Plus, we’re home all day long. We’d definitely notice. The other day there was a small pile of stuff in the driveway with a box-sign labeled Big Brothers. So some stuff went out that morning, but it was nothing compared to what comes in.

This morning, in the span of 45 minutes, USPS delivered a box as did FedEx Ground. Kevin, who was working on the Porsche in the garage today came in to report on FedEx. I had already seen USPS.

We’re fascinated. Of course we speculate. We fabricate stories based on absolutely no information other than the steady stream of delivery trucks. Maybe they had nothing in their house so they’re decorating it, one delivery at a time. Maybe they’re running an import business of some kind. We’ve dismissed the idea of an export business for the reasons stated above. We watch. We joke.

Maybe there’s nothing in the boxes at all. Maybe Leslie and Jay are cardboard box artists. If that’s the case, the inside of their house must be quite something. So keep ordering because that’s definitely worth celebrating. 

Tags: , ,

live out loud

And they smile because of life

by Lorin Michel Saturday, March 1, 2014 9:33 PM

Tinney Davidson is 84 years old and lives alone in the home she moved into in 2007. Her husband, Ken, passed away several years ago but she is carrying on a tradition they started together: waving.

The sitting room of the house, like so many modest homes, is in the front, with a big window looking out onto the world. A world not so far away from the house and one filled with the daily travels of kids going to and coming from the local school. It’s a world many of us inhabit, whether we live in a small town or a larger city. It’s different in big cities because of high rises and apartments, but wherever there are homes, there are picture windows with curtains or blinds and comfortably stuffed chairs on the other side.

Tinney’s world is in Comox, British Columbia not far from a high school, or what the Canadian’s call a secondary school. Tinney sits in the overchair in front of her window and watches the kids as they walk to school, to lunch and back home again. She does it with a huge smile on her face, her hand and arm moving with such enthusiasm even teenagers can’t help but smile. Granted they thought it was weird at first because teenagers think all people older than them are weird and someone of Tinney’s age must be downright senile.

But gradually the teens have grown to appreciate the waves throughout the day. They automatically look toward the little white house as they walk by and they wave back, not as enthusiastically of course because that wouldn’t be cool. But they wave. And they smile.

Even better, they appreciate the little old lady in the white house, so much so that this past Valentine’s Day, they invited Tinney to join them at the school for lunch. An unsuspecting Tinney was escorted into the cafeteria where she got a rock star welcome. Cheers, clapping, and the presentation of handmade Valentine’s from the student body. It was their way of thanking her for the smiles.

Tinney said: "I’m overwhelmed, happy and grateful. My happiness is having children wave at me."

I came across this story today, several weeks after the fact, and it brought tears to my eyes. I know I’ve become a bit of a softie as I get older but usually the tears are reserved for videos, pictures and stories involving dogs. This one reaffirmed my belief in basic human goodness, even in teenagers.

I also came across a story about another elderly woman, the oldest living survivor of the Holocaust, who recently passed away at 110 having long survived her husband who died in Dachau and her son Stephan who survived Theresienstadt with her. Her name was Alice Herz-Sommer and she was able to stay at what the Nazi’s called their “model” camp because she was a concert pianist and the SS liked to hear her play.

Liberated from the camp by the Soviet Army in May of 1945, she immigrated first to Jerusalem in 1949 where she taught at the Conservatory until 1986 when she moved to London with her son who took the name Raphael after the war. He became a concert cellist but died of a brain aneurysm in 2001 at the age of the 64.

Up until the time she died, she played the piano, Bach, Beethoven, and her wartime favorite, Chopin. Born in Prague in 1903, she started playing piano at age five. One of her mother’s friends was Franz Kafka who would tell Alice stories, which she forgot as she grew older. She married in 1931 and became a concert pianist. She was sent to Theresienstadt in 1943.

After the war, Alice could have chosen to live in bitterness. Instead, she chose to live in joy. A filmmaker, Malcolm Clarke, captured that joy in a film called The Lady in Number 6: Music saved my life. It’s a 38-minute documentary, nominated for an Oscar tomorrow night. It’s a surprisingly uplifting film about a woman who lived through a horrific experience and transcended it; who lived her life in happiness with music and smiles.

She says in the film: “Sometimes it happens that I am thankful to have been there,” of her time at the camp, “because this gave me a … I am richer than other people. When I hear them saying, oh, this is terrible—no, it is not so terrible.”

Two different women, both considered old, but possessing such a youthful and amazing spirit. Such joy. I am awed. I am chastened. I am celebrating Tinney and Alice, two women of different backgrounds, in two different parts of the world with the same attitude: Smile and the world smiles with you. 

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

The air feels alive

by Lorin Michel Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:45 PM

A storm approaches slowly. The air is crisp though warm, puffy clouds float amongst the blue of the sky. In the distance, darker, more ominous clouds are gathering. They say it’s Armageddon. I suspect they’re wrong. There will be weather but there is supposed to be weather this time of year. Since we haven’t had any of late, it’s much bigger news that it might otherwise be.

I love when the air feels alive. I actually heard somebody say that the other day and it rang so true. The wind blows. There is an electrical charge that pulsates throughout, like static electricity. Touch something and it snaps and sparks. The air flicks.

The wind swirls and gushes, teases the trees and the flowers, ruffles the hair. Birds flaps and fly, and soar, chasing each other up and down and around before coming to a screeching halt atop the building. You can hear the sound of their wings as the pulse through the air.

Butterflies hover and alight. Moths do the same. Small flying insects cruise about, looking for access to the light, the house. The wind helps them as well.

Sunlight streams through the upper windows of the house, the windows up near the ceiling some 16 feet up. Maybe even higher. They cut across the wall, horizontal glass that’s been UV coated so as to hopefully curb some of the fading that inevitably occurs because of the sun. Below, dust particles dance in each stream. I am forever amazed at how much is actually inside the air, things we can’t see until we can.

I am dust particles in sunlight, I am the round sun.
Say I am You, by the 13th century poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

I used to joke to those back east that I didn’t trust air I couldn’t see. They thought it was hysterical, given that I lived in Los Angeles and LA had long been known for its smog problem. When I was in college and visited California for the first time, I spent a day or two in Los Angeles. I remember driving up from San Diego thinking that the air must be so dense with emissions tat you couldn’t see anything. A really dirty fog bank.

It was nothing like that of course. The sky was blue. Yes, there was a bit of smog but it hardly affected the views or visibility. I saw an article today about China and their horrendous smog problem. There was a picture of a man walking his golden retriever. Both were wearing surgical masks to block out some of the bad air. All around them was smog, making visibility only about 16 feet or so. Scary stuff. The air in China is alive in a completely different way; not a good way.

Clouds are rolling in over the desert, filling the air. Those that were fluffy and white seem to have left for drier prairies. These clouds are heavy, a brownish gray, ready for rain. The air is getting thicker even as the winds pick up. A storm is coming and it will be glorious.

It will drench the earth, cleanse the soul. It will be difficult while it’s happening, but once it’s over the air will be clearer, cleaner; crisper. Reborn like tomorrow.

The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wrote: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Another metaphor for life, much like the air being alive. A living, breathing entity that surrounds us, keeps us true, it can spark with furry and dissipate in the wind. And then, it can dance in the shafts of the sun. That’s what life is all about.

The great twice-baked potato debacle of 2014

by Lorin Michel Sunday, February 23, 2014 9:22 PM

Kevin and I are both partially Irish. This heritage is what I blame for my ridiculous love affair with potatoes, and on which we blame our near obsession with twice baked potatoes. Twice baked are, of course, baked potatoes that have been scooped out of the skin, mixed with butter, and topped with cheese and chives. I make mine slightly different and if I may be so bold, they are the bomb.

I start with the aforementioned baked potato. For Kevin and I, I use just one potato that I cook at 375º for a little over an hour or until the knife I will use to slit it in half long ways goes into the meat of the potato as if it’s going into butter. Underdone potatoes don’t mash and mix as well. I then slit the spud length ways, and carefully scoop the potato out into a bowl and onto a waiting hunk of butter. Real butter; nothing fake in this house. The hot potato melts the butter and when all the potato is in the bowl and the butter is melted, it’s time to whip it into a frenzy. Then add at least a tablespoon and even a little bit more of sour cream and whip it some more. Cheese is next. I vary what I add depending on what I’m serving and what is in the fridge. Often times, I mix in cheddar. Sometimes I use blue cheese crumbles. Last night I used some Boursin Red Chile Pepper. The mixing done, I scoop the potatoes back into their shells, top them with shredded cheddar and a shake or two of smoked paprika.

I almost always finish the potatoes on the top shelf of the grill. They’re already cooked; they just need to get good and hot and the cheese on top needs to melt. I leave them up there just long enough for the edges of the potato to brown and said cheese to ever-so-slightly ooze into the potato.

Last night was no different. Kevin is in charge of the grill so he put our kabobs on, then took the potatoes out and arranged those delicately on the shelf. Cue the cooking, re-baking and browning. While this was happening we chose a lovely wine for the evening, a Zaca Mesa 2007 Z Cuvee. Lovely. We set the table and readied Netflix to begin watching season 2 of House of Cards. It was going to be a good night.

Kevin went out to retrieve the food. He easily pulled the kabobs and put them on a plate. Then this:

Kevin: Grab me a spatula.

Me: Uh oh.

Nothing good comes from him using a spatula on the grill. Still, I handed him the nice metal spatula from the drawer and watched as he expertly slid it under the first potato to lift it from the shelf and place it on the awaiting plate. A 9.8. Even the judges were cheering.

Once the crowd had hushed, he went for the second potato. Let me set the scene. The grill was still on and heat and sparks were drifting off into the desert night. In the distance, a coyote howled. Next door, I heard laughter. Cooper was sitting at Kevin’s feet, watching, hoping, urging anything to fall into his range.

There was the slide under and the scoop. A bit of a wobble, a twist, an unexpected flop. And it was down! Turned over. Totally blew the landing.

Suddenly the beautiful twice-baked potato was oozing down through the cracks of the grate onto the hot fake coals beneath.  Help me! he screamed. I grabbed the spatula and flipped the potato back over. Kevin immediately began assuring me that the potato would be his. I scooped up some residual potato on the grill. In the back, where the grill closes, more potato rested in a big gooey, melted mess. I scooped that up. I put it all back into the potato skin shell and brought it, along with its mate, inside. One looked good enough to eat, the other looked like it had fallen through the grill.

We stood, staring, saddened by its fate. And by the fact that part of dinner was still sizzling in the bottom of the grill. The smoky essence of potato with Boursin, butter and sour cream wafted through the house followed by the faintest essence of carbon and char. Kevin looked dejected.

I went to the fridge, pulled out the bag of shredded cheddar because I always have a bag of shredded sharp cheddar in the fridge, sprinkled some on top of the Frankenstein potato, stuck it in the microwave for 20 seconds, and voila. An almost edible twice baked potato emerged, only slightly worse for the wear.

Kevin likes things with a bit of a charred flavor. Last night, he got his wish, during the great twice-baked potato debacle of 2014.

In which Cooper gets a new guy

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 22, 2014 11:42 PM

Our Cooper suffers from major anxiety issues. We were told he was a bit hi-strung and that’s because he’s part Border Collie. I get that. My sister’s dog is part Border Collie and she’s a bit of a nut, especially when there is a thunder storm or fireworks. Interestingly, Cooper is not the least bit bothered by either. Thunder rolls through or claps loudly to a lightning strike and he barely acknowledges it. Fireworks and firecrackers seem to simply annoy him but don’t they everyone?

Sometimes an unexpected loud bang like me dropping something on the floor will elicit a reaction. It varies from raising his head in annoyance to jumping up to get out of the way because he’s certain a bear is headed for him.

In the house, as long as we’re both here which we usually are, he’s fine. He plays with his toys – his guys – dragging them first from the bedroom into my office, one by one, and then at night, from my office to the great room, again one by one. Surrounded by his guys he seems calm.

Except when the UPS man comes into the neighborhood and then there is chaos and mayhem. Wild barking ensues. Barking that is nearly uncontrollable. Barking that blows him off the floor because of the energy exerted. Barking that doesn’t stop until I grab his collar and pull him to face me saying in my calmest voice “quiet” over and over and over again. There is no quiet, His eyes strain to the side. He must keep a vigilant watch. Did you see who it is, mom? It’s that dastardly UPS man and I’m sure he’s coming to get me! Get us!

He is my constant shadow. If he could be surgically attached to me so as to know where I am at every given moment of the day and night, he would be. I can’t leave the room without him coming in search of me. When he’s eating his food, which is in the laundry room just off of the kitchen and I leave to go to the bedroom or my office, he panics. I can hear him coming, racing through the house. Once he sees me, he visibly relaxes and knowing where I am, he is free to return to his food.

Cooper, Wubba and Sunny

For a while when we would leave the house and leave him behind, we didn’t put him in his kennel. But after a few “incidents,” where he misbehaved while we were out, we decided that putting him in his kennel, his “house” was probably better. When we leave now, we tell him to get in his house, which he does voluntarily. We give him his Wubba, his best good friend, and we close the door. Lately though he’s been going nuts. We put him in his kennel and he begins to howl and bark and whine, like we’re torturing him. I went in one time to see what he was doing, and he was trying to dig his way out. He had pushed his padded rug up and back and he was concentrating on the digging at the corner of the kennel where the door latches, like he was digging to China. It’s metal; he had no chance. It broke my heart.

This is a relatively new development and we’re not sure what to do. When we were at the vet a week or so ago, we asked, and the vet gave us some ideas including using a Kong toy, stuffed with cookies. A toy Cooper only gets when we leave. We tried. There is still whining and howling and whimpering and digging. We are at a loss.

Cooper is a rescue. We have no idea what his history is other than the little bit the rescue organization gave us. He’s been with a number of families so he’s been given away a number of times. I suspect it’s because he has anxiety issues. Poor baby. We’re trying to get him to understand that we’re not leaving him, or if we do, it’s only on a very temporary basis. We give him lots of love and attention. We play with him; he gets two walks a day. We love him.

Today, I went to PetCo to get some Hip Action cookies (with glucosamine and chondroitin). I can’t go to PetCo and only get hip cookies. So I bought Sunny.

Tonight, Cooper is with his peeps. He’s happy and content, not at all nutty or anxious. We’re all in for the night. Kevin and I, and Cooper. And Wubba and Bull and Perp and Chip and Rudy and Yukon and Ball and Santa Butt and the new addition to the guys, Sunny.

Who knows? Maybe Sunny will help him know that life is good and bright, and that mom and dad love him. But I doubt it.

Nothing like the sun

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, February 19, 2014 10:37 PM

The east is buried.  For my readers on the east who are simply rolling their eyes because I’m “stating the obvious,” I apologize. And I know. It took Justin 18 hours of travel time yesterday to get from out here to out there; he was not happy. As someone who used to live in the east, I wish I could say I remember it all fondly. I do remember it well and I also remember not liking it at all.

My family lives in New Hampshire. I’m not a New Englander by birth, more by assimilation, as is all of my family. We moved there when I was 15. I finished high school there and went to college there. All of my immediately family still lives there, and based on the conversations I’ve had in the last few days, they are not happy about it. I believe my mother’s words tonight were: “I love New England but this is ridiculous.”

My brother said something similar yesterday, with a bit more color.

My sister sent me a text today that said: “In snow hell right now! Getting more now!” She also sent this photo:

Amherst, New Hampshire. February 19, 2014

I pointed out that we had a few clouds in the sky and she promptly told me that I suck before telling me that they’re at the point where they don’t know where to put what they shovel anymore. Roofs are collapsing; everything is buried. No one but the ski resorts are happy.

Mom said they got 13” just yesterday and even more today. According to the International Business Times, which charts Boston snowfall and temperatures, it’s a little colder than usual but the snow fall hasn’t broken records. While above average, the 1995-1996 season was worse, clocking in at a total of nearly 108 inches. Right now, they’re pushing around 68”. Tell that to my mother, my sister, my brother and the rest of those snow blowing, plowing, shoveling and cursing.

New York is snowier than usual as is Chicago as is Atlanta. Meanwhile, the west is racked by drought, already under water rationing. Grape vines are springing up early which means they’ll mature early which means middle of the summer which is bad. The citrus groves are going to dry up.

I know from my time in New England that even after the worst winters, the sun eventually comes out. And there’s nothing like the sun. In fact, one of our favorite singers, Sting, devoted a whole album to it.

Nothing Like the Sun, released in 1987, took its title from a line in Shakespeare’s Sonnet #130, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” The album was inspired by the death of Sting’s mother, in 1986 and by his Conspiracy of Hope Tour for Amnesty International. On one hand, despair while on the other, possibility. On one hand there is snow, on the other there is nothing like the sun.

Sending sunshine and warmth from the west tonight to all of my peeps in the east, while living it out loud under a beautiful desert sky. 

Tags: , ,

live out loud

White wall tyres

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 15, 2014 9:45 PM

I have always had a fascination with white wall tires. It might have something to do with the big fat tires on the big fat cars of the 1940s. The luxe Cadillacs and Packards and Lincolns come to mind. Several years ago we put white wall tires on the motorcycle and they look incredible.

Our bike is a 2004 Kawasaki Vulcan Nomad 1500 with a charged chip for more power and fancy Cobra pipes for a better sound. It’s not as raucous as a Harley but it definitely sounds like a beast. It was my idea to get this style of bike. It’s built for two people, comes out of the factory with sideboards for the passenger as well as a padded backrest. It also comes standard with hard, rounded saddlebags that match the metallic black of the bike itself. We bought it used. We found it at the Harley Davidson dealer in Simi Valley and they wanted to get rid of it. It only had about 3000 miles on it. We bought it for around $9000 and we love it.

It came with black tires, also standard equipment. Because the paint is black, even though it’s metallic, it cut quite a lethal silhouette. We dressed it up a bit with more chrome, bites on the ends of the fenders, but the black tires were still black tires. When we had to replace both tires a few years ago, I suggested we look at white walls. I knew it would change the look entirely. Kevin was skeptical. The white walls were more expensive. Plus he was unconvinced that the bike would look good with white walls. His reasoning was sound: if it was supposed to have white walls, it would have come with white walls.

My reasoning was equally sound: if it wasn’t supposed to have white walls, they wouldn’t make white walls that fit it. A nice pair of pants looks even nicer with a great belt. A great hair cut looks even better with a blast of equally fabulous color.

Fine, he said. We ordered white walls.

White wall tires were first made in 1914 by a small company in Chicago for horse and chauffer-drawn carriages. The natural rubber of these early car tires was mixed with several chemicals to make them wear better. One of those chemicals was zinc oxide, just like the white stuff lifeguards used to wear on their noses to block the sun. It’s still used in many natural-based sunscreens. In a tire, the zinc increased traction. It also made the entire rubber compound, and thus the tire, white. But white rubber didn’t last as long so carbon black was added to the rubber to increase tread life. The carbon black was originally only on the tread, leaving the rest of the tire white.

By the 1930s, black tires were all the rage and symbolized great status. The luxury cars of the time all sported completely black tires. On April 6, 1934, Ford reintroduced white walls as an option on all of its cars. The extra cost? $11.25 They quickly became popular again and by the 1950s, most cars sported white walls. The Corvette and the Thunderbird. All wore white walls proudly.

Modern cars don’t have white walls and would probably look kind of stupid. They’re just not designed for them. But motorcycles are, especially the big cruisers like ours.

Today, Kevin is scrubbing the white walls on our bike. They haven’t been done in a while and they’ve turned a rather dingy shade of dove gray. He has his bleach mixture and soap. He’s lying on the driveway with a scrub brush. It’s 88º; he’s hot. And he’s probably cursing me. She needed to have white walls. I don’t see her out here with the bleach and the brush. Black tires would have been just fine. I would have been done by now if we had black tires. But oh, no. We had to have white walls. Had. To. Have.

And I’m thinking: Oh, but they look so good.

Tags: , , ,

live out loud

8 o'clock

by Lorin Michel Saturday, February 8, 2014 10:09 PM

The other day the husband unit and I were in the local Safeway as we so often are. It’s close and has nearly everything we need save for fresh fish. We often stop on our way back from a walk, and one of the items that is perpetually on the list is coffee. Once upon a time, we went to Costco, and bought the big 5-pound bags of whole bean coffee. We’d grind it ourselves, which is a pain, but it’s fresh and smells great. Now Costco is too far away and it’s just easier to buy a small bag of ground coffee in the store.

We drink a lot of coffee in this house. We start with a small pot that we start before we leave to walk Cooper. Then around 10 o’clock or so, we make a bigger pot. We don’t always empty the carafe, but it’s there should we need it. On cold, rainy days – which have been few and far between this season – we tend to drink more just because it’s hot and it always tastes so good.

We’re not married to any particular brand though we usually like a heavier roast, like French. We like our coffee grounds to be nearly black. It’s also good for the teeth. Often we buy the Safeway brand. It’s good and it’s not terribly expensive. When we can get a bag for $5.99 we buy two because we always like to make sure we have coffee in the pantry. Running out of coffee in this house would be paramount to running out of water or air. It makes Kevin and Lorin function.

On Thursday, we were in Safeway and perusing the coffee aisle. I snagged a bag of French Roast. Then stopped. There on the top shelf was a little blast from my long ago past. 8 ‘o’clock coffee. Still in a red bag, only now available ground. Who knows? Maybe way back it was available ground, too. I just remember the bags of whole bean at the A & P.

When I was young, I didn’t drink coffee. Most kids don’t. I started in high school when I worked at a pharmacy in Milford. It was a part time job and I often opened on Sunday mornings. The owner, John Boulter, a pharmacist, usually worked on Sunday’s too. There were usually three of us. John in the back filling prescriptions, another working the counter in the back, and one working the counter in the front. The counter in the front was more for toiletry items, cigarettes and candy. We also had some gift items like cheap perfume that were in a case at the front of the store.

On those Sunday’s, John would take our “orders” then go next door to the River Café where he’d get coffees to go. He’d come back with a cardboard tray, with the coffees in big Styrofoam cups. I always got mine with cream and sugar, and I loved it. I don’t know if it was because the Café made exceptional coffee or because it was early on a Sunday morning. Maybe it was because it made me feel more adult. Maybe it was because it tasted like hot coffee ice cream. That’s when I developed my love of hot coffee in the morning.

But I developed my love of the smell years earlier, with 8 o’clock coffee, freshly ground at the grocery store. My mother must have bought this brand; why else would I remember it? Still, I only remember her buying Chock Full Of Nuts, but somewhere, sometime in my youth, there was 8 o’clock coffee.

The coffee was one of the signature products of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, nicknamed A & P, when the first stores opened in 1859. It got its name in 1919 when, after conducting a survey, A & P discovered that 8 am and 8 pm were the most popular times for drinking coffee. A legend was born that year, made from 100% Arabica beans.

I bought the bag at Safeway and today we had it for the first time. It was good. Nothing special. I don’t know what I expected, and I wasn’t at all disappointed. It was simply coffee. I think it was the nostalgia factor that meant more than the taste. Celebrating a cup of hot 8 o’clock coffee, with cream no sugar, on a beautiful Saturday morning in the desert. It’s what’s catapulting me into living it out loud today. 

Tags: , , , , , ,

live out loud

In today’s installment of things Lorin thinks about when she’s supposed to be sleeping

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, February 5, 2014 12:02 AM

I think a function of getting older is having too many things in my head at one time, all fighting for space and attention. I do as much as I can during the day as I flit from one thing to the next. I pay attention to my clients, to the work, to laundry. I talk to Cooper, I answer emails, I make coffee; I occasionally visit my husband in his office, usually just long enough to tell him that I’ve made coffee. I get done as much as I can get done. There are days where I probably surf a bit more than I should; there are other days where I crank through an extraordinary amount of work and feel very accomplished.

It’s never enough, though, so I take my list to bed with me, metaphorically speaking. Sometimes I only think about it and what didn’t get done for a few minutes before drifting off. Other nights, I think about the things I forgot to add and one thing leads to another and soon my list has grown by 10, at least in my head. As I’ve said before, I keep a lighted pen on my bedside table. I also usually have paper. I had the pen last night; I didn’t have any paper.

It has been quite cold the last few nights. I realize that our quite cold is nothing compared to some of the frigid temperatures that have been wreaking havoc in the Midwest and North East. Our 35º would be considered balmy in Boston or Baltimore. Still, it’s cold for the desert. Too cold to get out of bed in the middle of the night for something like a piece of paper.

Luckily, I also sleep with my iPhone on the nightstand. Since we no longer have land lines in the house, our cell phones go just about everywhere with us. You never know what client might be trying to reach us at 2 am, not that either of us would answer. But we always want to be available should Justin need anything or should any of our family or friends need anything.

After running the list in my head for the 20th or 37th time, I decided I needed to get the new items out of my head and out onto a piece of paper so that I could sleep without worry of forgetting. If I don’t get things out of my head, they keep me up while I try to remember, at least until I simply can’t stay awake any longer and finally fall asleep only to awake in the morning having forgotten everything I so carefully counted off in the dark.

I snaked my right arm out from under the covers and reached for my phone. I hit the button and Cooper’s smiling face greeted me (he’s my screen saver). I slid the unlock button with my right thumb, punched in my code and then all of my page one apps appeared, beautifully back lit. I tapped the notes app and hit the + sign to get a clean page. In order to type, I needed both thumbs so I held the phone close enough so that both of my hands were just out of the covers.

I typed my new list of things to make sure I did today and then, my brain now mercifully free of stuff, placed the phone back on the nightstand.

I snuggled back down under the covers. Warmth flooded through me. Cooper was snoring, my husband’s steady breathing melodically filled the air. I glanced at the clock. It was 2:07. I could feel sleep starting to fuzz my brain. It wouldn’t be long.

The last thing I remember as I drifted off was the glow of my phone, eerily lighting the water in my plastic green glass. No wonder I had such weird dreams. 

Tags: , ,

live out loud

christian louboutin online discount christian louboutin wholesale jerseys from china replica oakleys wholesale jerseys cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys oakley sunglasses sales cheap jerseys free shopping michael kors handbags nike nhl jerseys cheap nhl jerseys cheap replica oakleys oakleys sale cheap jerseys from china christian louboutin outlet 2016 cheap fake oakleys WHOLESALE AUTHENTIC JERSEYS fake ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin cheap christian louboutin online cheap jerseys cheap oakleys cheap jerseys from china cheap michael kors wholesale mlb jerseys replica oakleys store cheap jerseys china fake oakleys authentic nhl jerseys cheap wholesale nfl jerseys discount oakleys cheap oakleys fake oakley sunglasses replica christian louboutin cheap oakley sunglasses authentic jerseys cheap cheap oakleys outlet wholesale oakleys christian louboutin online wholesale cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys fake cheap oakleys discount jerseys sale cheap ray bans fake cheap oakleys michael kors outlet cheap wholesale jerseys replica ray bans wholesale jerseys outlet wholesale nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake cheap oakleys outlet ray bans sale christian louboutin outlet oakleys sunglasses wholesale authentic jerseys discount ray bans fake cheap oakleys cheap christian louboutin online nhl jerseys cheap nfl jerseys discount ray bans wholesale jerseys cheap ray bans michael kors handbags outlet replica michael kors wholesale oakley sunglasses ray bans outlet cheap jerseys china cheap nba jerseys fake cheap oakleys cheap oakleys cheap ray bans cheap christian louboutin discount oakleys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap michael kors handbags fake cheap oakleys discount christian louboutin wholesale nhl jerseys michael kors on sale discount ray bans cheap jerseys wholesale cheap michael kors cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors bags replica ray bans cheap sunglasses ray bans authentic jerseys authentic jerseys from china cheap oakleys outlet replica oakley sale red bottoms shoes on sale wholesale oakleys cheap nfl jerseys cheap replica oakleys wholesale oakleys cheap christian louboutin outlet cheap oakleys store cheap michael kors cheap ray bans cheap authentic nfl jerseys paypal cheap fake oakleys cheap oakleys cheap michael kors outlet fake ray bans fake ray bans cheap authentic nike jerseys cheap authentic jerseys fake cheap oakleys fake oakleys store replica oakleys cheap christian louboutin fake oakley cheap cheap jerseys wholesale cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys china cheap oakleys online replica michael kors cheap ray bans jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys discount ray bans cheap michael kors store cheap ray bans ray bans sunglasses jerseys wholesale wholesale china jerseys cheap mlb jerseys oakley sunglasses wholesale nba jerseys christian louboutin outlet wholesale oakleys wholesale authentic jerseys wholesale mlb jerseys cheap michael kors outlet cheap jerseys online shopping cheap ncaa jerseys michael kors bags cheap fake oakleys cheap jerseys wholesale cheap fake oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors cheap discount ray bans ray bans sunglasses cheap jerseys free shopping cheap nba wholesale jerseys fake oakleys replica oakleys cheap nhl jerseys cheap christian louboutin cheap oakleys official jerseys replica ray bans cheap michael kors outlet wholesale jerseys cheap cheap authentic ncaa jerseys michael kors on sale cheap fake oakleys cheap elite jerseys discount oakleys cheap replica oakleys cheap michael kors online wholesale and retail oakleys fake ray bans cheap wholesale jerseys
Filter by APML