What crops up in certain circles

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, August 3, 2011 10:04 PM

I had some strange things happen today regarding family, and I was ranting a bit because I believe that ranting is something that everyone should do every once in a while if for no other reason than to get it out of your head and into the ether where it can be more easily managed. Bobbi asked me, in the midst of my angst overload meltdown, what I would be blogging about today since I didn’t seem to be very celebratory. She asked with love, affection and concern. I retorted: crop circles.

So without further ado, allow me to commence with a celebration of the patterned flattening of wheat, barley, rye, corn or rapeseed. These incredible occurrences have been happening for perhaps as long as hundreds of years, but mostly they’ve been capturing the attention the world – and not always in a healthy way – since the 1970s. According to the venerable Wikipedia, some 26 countries have reported cases of approximately ten thousand crop circles since the disco days with 90 percent of those in Southern England, appearing near such ancient monuments as Stonehenge and Avebury, a Neolithic henge monument, the largest stone circle in Europe. Circular coincidence?

Supposedly the crop circle phenomenon was started in 1978 by Doug Bower and Dave Chorley. To prove their point, they even demonstrated their prowess in the tall grass by making a circle in an hour. Until their revelation, made in 1991, all sorts of theories grabbed onto the minds of the common and uncommon man. Some suggested that the circles were the result of extraordinary meteorological phenomena based largely on a hypothesis posed by amateur scientist John Rand Capron in the 1880 publication of Nature. In it he stated that he had “found a field of standing wheat considerably knocked about” and “as viewed from a distance, circular spots… suggestive of some cyclonic wind action.”

That’s some wind.

There is also the paranormal belief that the circles were messages from extraterrestrial beings. ET evidently phoning home. This theory was largely proven false in the hugely disappointing M. Night Shyamalan film “Signs.” Some new agers also related the circles to Gaia, or Mother Earth, stating quite factually that the circles came from global warming and human pollution. Even animals were suspect. In 2009, the attorney general of Tasmania stated that Australian wallabies had been found creating crop circles in fields of opium poppies. No confirmation of whether they were just stopping to smell the flowers.

Historically, the Mowing-Devil made the Hartford-shire news in 1678 when Satan himself evidently mowed down someone’s crops following a dispute over harvesting. No evidence of anyone sporting horns and a tail, other than the family bull, was ever found.

The Mowing-Devil

Crop circles have been the subject of documentaries (Discovery’s Crop Circles: Mysteries of the Fields) and competitions in Berkshire, England. And artists like Rod Dickinson and John Lundberg have been creating crop circle art in the UK and around the world since the early 1990s.

I think crop circles are metaphors for the circle of life, the beauty of the earth and a celebration of the imagination. They are the personification of artists taking the world into their hands, literally, and creating visual wonders for all to see. And that’s worth a good rant any day.

A crop circle from Rod Dickinson’s Circlemakers. Can you see the face?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

live out loud

In search of happiness

by Lorin Michel Monday, August 1, 2011 10:16 PM

My friend Bobbi and I have this discussion quite often: what is happy and how is it qualified? I don’t mean happy during every minute of every day; that’s simply not normal. But overall. What does it mean to be happy, and if you’re not happy, is it possible to become happy?

It’s such an odd word, happy. It has a flat sound for what it means, unlike joyous which has a lovely, melodic note to it. Happy is to be delighted, pleased or glad. It’s characterized by pleasure and comfort; it can feel fortunate and lucky. It actually came to us from Middle English – not Middle Earth, which was decidedly unhappy – around the mid-14 century and was derived from haphazard, chance and fortune. The Greeks and Irish used it to mean luck, the Welsh to mean wise. I like it to mean contentedness.

Happiness is feeling good about work or a job. It’s about enjoying life, about embracing possibilities. Happiness can be found in spending time with friends and family. It’s a feeling that washes over a situation and a person, leaving behind a feeling that’s calm, sustained, joyous.

Everyone in the world wants to be happy, but if you’re unclear about what you’re looking for, it can be impossible to find. It’s not a particular thing, it’s a feeling, a state of being. It can be exhilarating and peaceful, short term gained from external things and inner happiness that comes from acceptance of self, of living with purpose. Inner happiness is the hardest to find and the one Bobbi and I have spent our conversations discussing because it’s not about what so many think it’s about. It doesn’t matter if one has the newest electronics or car, or all the money in the world. There’s a reason why the saying “money can’t buy happiness” exists. It’s not even about having no worries at all, or lazing around all day in front of the television, or the computer. It’s deeper than that.

What I’ve found is that happiness means waking up every morning to enjoy the day, being grateful for the opportunity to explore that day. I love loving what I do and I like to think that maybe some of it makes a difference. I find happiness in having direction, and purpose, a goal. I find happiness in the way Kevin and I live our lives, together, with laughter and yes, joy. The smallest butterfly alighting a flower can make me happy because it fills me with peace, two squirrels fighting in the trees makes me laugh because it’s real; it’s an honest existence.

I find that the truest form of happiness comes from the soul, not the mind, and it is both a constant search and the exquisite feeling of not needing to search. It comes from choice and change, of finding strength in the positive. It’s satisfaction of self rather than material goods. It is at its core about being happy. It’s not something that can be described; it’s more nebulous. It simply is and when you have it, you know it.

I have great joy in my life, not every minute, but most often. And I choose to live it out loud by celebrating the little happiness-wrapped presents that arrive every day. A cool breeze at night, a great glass of wine, a talk with a friend, a phenomenal book, a tear-stained laugh; the sound of my husband’s voice, his laugh, Justin’s ‘Hi, mom!;” the smell of my dog’s fur. A good conversation with a client, a strong paragraph of writing; Saturdays. If you look and listen and open yourself up, you can find happiness where you left it. Deep inside. That’s where I found mine and where it continues to reside.

In praise of the olive

by Lorin Michel Friday, July 29, 2011 6:50 PM

It begins life as a seed that grows into a tiny green fruit with another seed in the middle. They don’t come hollow or stuffed with pimento, nor are they pickled, sliced or diced, not at first. They’re olea europaea, olives, whose trees are native to the Mediterranean, first appearing more than 7000 years ago and becoming a tremendous source of wealth. Legend states that when the Persians set fire to Athens, the original olive tree was burnt down, but on the very day it burned, it grew again to twice its height. Perhaps because the tree had been a gift from the gods.

There is definitely mythology in these little green footballs. Olives are mentioned more than 30 times in the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testament. They’re mentioned seven times in the Quran, praised as a precious fruit. In The Odyssey, Odysseus crawls beneath two shoots of olives growing from a single stock while in the Iliad, the olive tree is used as metaphor. It appears in the mountains by a spring, notable because olives rarely thrive too far away from the sea and definitely not up a mountain slope. This gave the Greeks power, and proved that the gods were watching out for them. The Roman poet Horace described his diet as filled with olives, endives and smooth mallows. Lord Monboddo, an 18th century Scottish judge and philosopher, commented that olives were one of the preferred foods of the gods because of their perfection. After the 16th century, the olive traveled to and began to grow in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina, and in the 18th century, in California. I thank the Lord, as in Monboddo.

We’re big on olives in this house, especially on Friday nights, affectionately known as Fritini. We prefer the manzanilla variety, a Spanish green cured lightly with lye then packed in salt and lactic acid brine, stuffed with pimento. When run through with a martini pick, and soaked in vodka for the appropriate amount of time, they’re quite tasty.

Of course, there is also the French variety known as picholine, also salt-brine cured with a subtle lightly salty flavor and packed with citric acid. And I’m a personal fan of the kalamata, especially on a Greek salad. The niçoise is great on pizza. There are also the Italian Liguria, ponentine, gaeta, lugano, the sevillano from California, and about 12 other types growing on about 800 million trees throughout the world.

But let’s return for a moment to the lovely green manzanilla and a number of its friends marinating in an ice cold Grey Goose martini, its pimentos smiling up from the liquid, just begging to be nibbled, chewed and swallowed.

On this last Friday in July, I give thanks to the Greeks and especially the Goddess Athena who brought olives to the tiny people below. This gift, useful for light, heat, food, medicine and perfume was chosen by Zeus as the world’s most useful invention, an invention that has also come to symbolize peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and purity. Athena’s original olive tree was said to be planted on the rocky hill of what is today the high city, the Acropolis.

The original olive tree on the Acropolis, Athens, Greece

In praise of Athena, and her incredibly inventive fruit, I raise a glass. Cheers!

The joy of meeting a friend

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 27, 2011 10:55 PM

Here’s what I believe: Friendship isn’t a big thing. It’s a million little things.

Like the majority of the world, I’m on Facebook. You may even be reading this on Facebook. I started out with a regular page, and then when I started my blog, I eventually created a liveitoutloud.celebratesomething Facebook page. It’s a great way to connect with people. It’s also a great way to reconnect with people. I’ve found some people I went to high school with, people I haven’t had any contact with in 30 years. I found my long lost friend, Pam, who I missed so much for so long, and it’s like we’ve been together all of this time. There’s no awkwardness, only joy. We talk easily though not often enough.

I also found my friend Connie.

Connie and I met when I first moved to LA and worked at McCann-Erickson advertising. Somehow we became friends; I don’t remember how. We were friends for a long time and then we drifted apart. Part of it I know was because I started spending much of my free time with Kevin. I think it’s hard sometimes for friends when suddenly one is in a relationship.  Suddenly someone who once had all kinds of time is suddenly focusing that time elsewhere. So we drifted.

But then along came Facebook. I searched, and there she was. Tonight we met for a drink and it was great. Fun. No awkwardness. Like friendship should be.

There’s something special about old friends, and that’s not a reference to age. There’s comfort in knowing each other from another time and then reconnecting. It’s like you’re part of a secret club. The secret friends-who-used-to-be-friends club, people that knew each other during times of good and strife, who have memories from years past and who have a history allowing them to reconnect quickly, to re-establish the incredible comfort that comes with friendship.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the great Scottish writer, once said, prophetically: “A friend is a gift you gift yourself.” It’s the gift of conversation, laughter, tears, joy, memories, disagreements, and more, often shared over a glass of wine. It’s a million things that add up to one big thing: Friendship. I am blessed to have incredible friends, women who have been in my life for a long time, women who will continue to be in my life for a long, long time. Pam, Connie, Bobbi, Diane. Of course my sister Khris, and my oldest friend, my mom. Again, no reference to age but rather to longevity, time served together.

Having friends is the glue that holds life together. I believe my life is sticking very well. And I'm living it out loud with each one of them.

Tags: , , , , ,

friendly celebrations

What dreams are made of

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:40 PM

The question comes up quite a bit between my friends and I. What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question as old as time, I suspect; one we’ve all heard since we were children. It started with adults asking how old we were and what were our names, and the minute those same adults suspected we had grown enough to answer a more thought-provoking question, they asked it: What do you want to be when you grow up?

We were conditioned to think we could be anything and most especially President, boys and girls alike. And as we grew older we decided we knew exactly what we would be. A teacher, an astronaut, a meter maid. I wrote a paper in 8th grade about becoming a photographer. I don’t believe I had ever taken a picture before in my life but it seemed like a very cool thing to be, a photographer. I would travel the world, go on safari, photograph giraffes and lions on the Serengeti; I would photograph the Eiffel tower and the Coliseum and Half Dome, only mine would be better than Ansel Adams. I outgrew that fairly quickly and then decided that I was born to be on stage before transitioning, effortlessly, to film. Or maybe I’d be a rock star. Never mind that I couldn’t sing. It was the dream of it all that mattered, the possibility.

In college, I temporarily lost focus and my dreams clouded. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I started out as an art major and I was, at best, mediocre. I also didn’t have the passion for it. I had always excelled in English and in writing and I found myself leaning in the direction of Shakespeare and Faulkner, of Eudora Welty and Maya Angelou and Mark Twain, of DH Lawrence and Henry James. My major shifted to English, with a concentration in Creative Writing. I had no idea what I would do with such a degree when I graduated from college but like the great heroine of the quintessential Civil War-era, Southern novel Gone with the Wind famously posed: I would simply think about that tomorrow.

But what happens when tomorrow comes and then the next day?

Each one of us has dreams, some we’ve acted on, some we haven’t. I know I still do. I dream of writing a beautiful novel, of spending my days creating a reality that exists only in my head and transferring it perfectly, exquisitely to paper (metaphorically and literally). I dream and I refuse to stop.

I know so many people who are doing things to change their lives, to change the world. I’m writing several books for the man who started an important and non-profit health organization. His name is Bob Knutzen and he started the Pituitary Network Association to help spread the word about the incredible prevalence of pituitary disease. He’s passionate about it.

A woman I worked with years ago at Sebastian, Adrianna Reo, was laid off after 19 years and took a good portion of her severance to start The Reo Bakpak Company to provide homeless kids with good, strong, and even cool backpacks so that they feel more empowered when they go to school.

There’s a dog rescue in Washington State called Second Chance Dogs, a group of women who have dedicated their time and energy to rescuing, rehabilitating and re-homing abandoned, abused, and neglected dogs.

My friend Bobbi is a perfect example of someone who understands the importance of dreams and not just because she’s a therapist. She never went to college, but in her 30s, decided that she was going to become a psychologist. She went through an undergrad program, and then got her master’s degree, and then had to complete 3000 hours of interning in order to take the test to become licensed. She did all of this while also working full time as a graphic designer. She’s also started, with other therapists, a group called The Conversation Group. I don’t think she realizes how inspirational she is.

Or her husband Roy, a fine artist who made a living for years as a creative director and an art director. Now in his 60s, he’s returning to his first love: art. And creating with a passion I’ve rarely witnessed.

There’s a man named Charlie Annenberg, a vet (I believe) who founded a non-profit organization, with his golden retriever Lucky, to provide therapy dogs to soldiers suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s called Dog Bless You.

And my buddy Tucker, a therapy dog who, along with his mom Dr. Wendi Hirsch, works to help kids fighting the debilitating effects of cancer and its treatment to feel a little bit better because of a snuggle and a kiss from a beautiful blonde, furry boy.

I have a client who is committed to raising funds for cancer research through one of her products, Cure. Her mother died of breast cancer; her sister has successfully beaten it back twice.  And my friend Pam in Maryland, whose salon, Mason and Friends, participates in Cuts for Cancer each year, a local fund-raising event. She’s a cancer survivor, too, and a former dancer. One day, perhaps, she’ll dance again if for no other reason than because she can, and because she dreams.

My husband ditched his corporate career some ten or so years ago to go into web development, web design and Internet marketing. He also builds furniture and dreams of making wine.

Even while doing all of these things, each of these people – and so many, many more – myself included, continues to dream of what we’ll accomplish, what we can do, how we can change the world, what we will be when we grow up. That’s why today, I’m celebrating all the dreamers, because they are the biggest believers in the possible.

As the great writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez once wrote: “It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old; they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

What is your dream? What is it made of?  I would be willing to bet that it’s made of hope.



The moon, paella and a dog named Coco

by Lorin Michel Friday, July 15, 2011 11:03 PM

It’s Friday night, which is normally reserved for Fritini. But all of our Fritini friends are out of town, or just returned late today so the martinis are on ice until next weekend. We did, however, have another offer we couldn’t refuse: A pick-up party at one of our wine clubs, Magnavino Cellars in Oxnard.

As anyone who reads this blog even occasionally knows, Kevin and I are certified winos. We love the entire process of knowing, talking, swirling, uncorking, drinking and even collecting wine. Because of that, we belong to several wine clubs. The California Wine Club that sends us several bottles of only red each month, The Wineyard for two bottles of exotic reds each month, Zaca Mesa which delivers several bottles of – you guessed it – red every once in a while, and Magnavino, a boutique winery on the Ventura Wine Trail. We joined early on and in fact are one of their first 100 club members. Their club is three times a year, and rather than shipping the wine to our front door, they have pick-up parties. They invite all club members to join them on various nights to taste wine, enjoy great music and terrific food, and then, at the end of the night, to pick up the wine we’ve ordered through the club (we get to choose the bottles we want) and go home.

Tonight was such a night. We drove to Magnavino, into the setting sun, arriving just after 6:30. We checked in, picked up our glasses and went to the tasting stations. Getting a little wine, we then moved on to the hors ‘d oeuvres table, then back to get the next little tasting and so on. We had one white, but since we’re not white wine drinkers, we quickly switched to red. Their new releases of red total seven: Grenache, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petite Syrah. They were all good, but the Sangiovese, light but tangy, the Zinfandel, thick and jammy, good enough to spread on toast, and Tempranillo, sassy and mysterious, were the ones that stood out. We took one of each. But it was the Petite Syrah that was simply astonishing. Deep and inky in color, with a rich nose of spice and dirt and pepper, it had a taste that was smooth like chocolate with notes of rose, blackberry and coffee. Sounds bad on paper, but felt like satin in our mouths. We bought three bottles.

They had an acoustic guitar player, a local guy named Alberto Dal Pino, who was hypnotic. I have a soft spot for acoustic guitar. It is sensual and strong and romantic and otherworldly; transportive and transformative. This guy was really great. We bought his CD. It’s called “Growin’ Up.”

Dinner was supposed to be tapas but it’s hard to do tapas for a big crowd. We had salad, bread and paella, and it was … edible. Not the best paella I’ve ever had. In fact, it was a little dry and dull. I like things hot, hot enough to make my hair rise. But Kevin, who doesn’t even like paella, had two helpings. He thought it was great. Then the owners, Rob and Barb, came around with their new winery dog, a rescue named Coco. She’s a small mutt of a dog, a gentle and easy soul, who greeted everyone with a kiss and a sigh. She’s new to the mix; the last time we were there, there was no Coco. Now there’s a dog bed in the tasting room and a sign announcing Coco as the official Magnavino greeter. She’s adorable, and her winery owners are obviously smitten. We said our hello, Coco kissed Kevin’s hand.

We collected our wine, we walked to the car and secured ourselves, and the wine, for the relatively short journey back to Oak Park.

On the drive home, we drove up the Camarillo grade, into the moon.

It was a good night.



Tags: , , , , ,

live out loud

In the summertime

by Lorin Michel Friday, July 8, 2011 7:09 PM

Summer has officially arrived here in Southern California. For the past few days, the temperature has been flirting with 100º with only the slightest of breezes. Even the wind is hot, like a gush pushed through a furnace or a heated oven. The palm trees sway lazily, and the flowers bloom boldly in the morning before closing back into themselves in the afternoon. In the evening, they peak back out, hesitantly at first as if trying to make sure the sun and its unrelenting rays have gone away. Then they breathe a sigh of relief. All is well; let’s have a drink. As if on cue, the sprinklers come on.

The dog lays in the entrance-way on the tile where it’s coolest. Actually it’s coolest in the bathroom but evidently he only likes the bathroom at 3 am. We put a fan on low just in front of him, and it seems to keep him comfortable. We’re very strange people and don’t particularly like air conditioning, not in the house, and not unless the heat is absolutely unbearable. Most days, it remains OK. Warm to be sure, but a nice ceiling fan does wonders. And once the sun dips behind the foothills and darkness descends, the air cools, and the house cools as well. We get a lovely cross breeze between the back of the house and front bay window in the kitchen. When we sleep, a top sheet is perfect. By the middle of the night, I’ve often pulled up the comforter.

As long as the dog isn’t in distress, we leave the AC in the off position. So far, with his tile and his fan, he sleeps through the worst heat of the day with nary a pant. All is well; he rises occasionally and saunters into the kitchen for a drink. We put ice in his water bowl.

According to meteorologists, summer extends from June, through July and the whole of August in the northern hemisphere where the country resides. The southern hemisphere is the polar opposite with their summer taking place in December, January and February. From an astronomical perspective, the summer days lengthen from the equinox to the solstice with the days beginning to shorten after the solstice. The solstice happened on June 21 but the days don’t seem any shorter to me. I doubt I’ll notice any changes until fall.

Much of the country experiences severe storms and even hurricanes in the summertime. In the desert southwest, we swelter in the dry heat. Though frankly, when it’s over 100º, it doesn’t matter what kind of heat it is. It’s just hot. We have fires and earthquakes. That’s part of our summer season. The ground needs a drink; it rarely gets one.

In the summer, people vacation, the kids go to camp, the studios release their summer blockbusters. There is much splashing in pools and the beaches over flow; sunscreen gets slathered on and the world smells like coconut and bananas. Bicycles make an appearance again after the drenching spring, and motorcycles roar along the roads. Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops abound. Barbecues are the norm. Iced coffee temporarily takes over for hot coffee, at least after the morning’s first pot, and iced drinks from soda to frozen margaritas and daiquiris to good old-fashioned ice water refresh us. It’s a glorious time, one of my favorites. Maybe that’s why I live in the desert, where it’s summer most of the year, where the heat evaporates at night to leave us comfortable, joyous and celebrating the reprieve.

The day has begun to cool now, and the sun is drifting lazily toward the sea some 10 miles or so away. I’m sitting on the patio waiting on my husband. It’s just us tonight. Our friends cancelled and that’s OK. I’m still recovering from my whirlwind trip last weekend, still nursing a bit of a sore throat.

We’ll sit here and listen to the birds, to the music playing softly in the background, to the dog stirring from his position on the floor inside. It will be time for a walk soon. It’s July 8. Summertime. All is well.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

live out loud

What happens on date night ends up as a blog post

by Lorin Michel Friday, June 24, 2011 11:42 PM

My husband and I go out on a date on Thursday nights. It’s our way of reconnecting at the end of the week, of spending time together doing something we both really enjoy. We get to talk, and laugh, tell stories, sometimes complain. Most importantly, we’re not working.

Last night was date night and we have both had just a horrendous week of work. Too much to do with much of it not going right and thus not getting done. I’ve also been in several meetings and any time I’m not in my office, I’m not really working. While I’m getting more work to do – always a good thing – having to fight traffic to get somewhere, meet, and fight traffic to get back is not productive.

Kevin had a number of deadlines that weren’t being met because his programmers were late on site development and that meant clients were going to be unhappy. Maguire has been a little under the weather. We were both a little down. We thought about not going. But ultimately decided to go anyway just to get out of our space.

I’m so glad we did. We went to The Wineyard, a little wine tasting place in Thousand Oaks where they have vineyard specific tastings on Thursday night. Often the winemaker is there so we can ask questions and learn about a particular vintner’s thoughts as to how he or she makes wine. Last night, the tasting was Boeger, a little winery northeast of Sacramento on the way to Lake Tahoe. They tasted four reds ranging from a Barbera to a Primitivo to a Zinfandel to a Syrah. Interestingly the Primitivo is actually a zinfandel vine from Italy but it’s processed differently and tastes nothing like a California zin.

As we were sitting at a pub table near one of the windows I happened to notice a black BMW with a vanity plate. I said to Kevin I thought I recognized the plate but I couldn’t place it. There weren’t a lot of people there last night; usually it’s packed. Kevin ventured over to the counter to get some bread and cheese and when he came back to the table he informed me that there was a lady selling jewelry and that I should go see if anything struck my fancy. It was mostly silver and some pieces were very cool. I decided I really liked a bracelet and my husband promptly bought it for me, along with a pair of earrings. I was feeling special.

The people at the table beside us got up to leave and must have heard us talking. They stopped by and we struck up a conversation about wineries and how fabulous it is when you can go to new places and drop someone’s name to get specialized treatment. Often when you do this, especially if you know about wine, suddenly the person who’s pouring the tastings will reach under the counter and pull something out they reserve for true wine lovers and connoisseurs. The man we were talking to introduced himself, gave us his card and told us to use his name at several local places we hadn’t yet been to, particularly a place up in Lompoc, north of Santa Barbara, called the Wine Ghetto. We love it already because of the name. This man and his wife looked so familiar to me. They said their goodbyes and soon we saw them get into the black BMW with the familiar license plate. We finally realized that we knew them from the ‘hood here in Oak Park, and that we had first “met” them when they stopped at one of our garage sales several years ago. The guy at one point was even interested in hiring Kevin to build his website.

Small world.

The lady from the jewelry table stopped by with a business card and we talked to her a bit. Turns out she’s friends with one of our neighbors across the street. It was like OP-neighbor night at The Wineyard.

Came home and Kevin’s developer who had been horrifically late on a project called just before 11 to announce that he had made tremendous progress and was close to being finished. Crisis averted.

Mark Twain once said: “Do something everyday that you don’t want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain.” Last night we went out even when we didn’t want to and it ended up being one of our best date nights ever sharing stories with new people and just enjoying each other’s company.

Tonight friends will be arriving shortly and we’ll celebrate the end of a long and stressful week with good food and yes, more wine. Next Friday, I’ll be in Maryland, celebrating with a friend I haven’t seen in 20 years. Kevin asked me today if we’d recognize each other. I have no doubts whatsoever. True friendships transcend time and space, and I am blessed to have several friends – including my husband – who do just that.

Welcome to the weekend. Make it a good one.

Feeling rapturous

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 20, 2011 6:47 PM

To experience ecstatic joy and delight, complete abandon, and generally so happy you can hardly stand yourself. That’s what it means to be rapturous. It’s positive, influential, wondrous; a true celebration. I don’t feel completely rapturous often. I don’t think it’s normal, but it does happen, and mostly on Friday afternoons like today.

The reason for my rapturous feeling is easy to define. It means I’ll have a couple days of playtime, finishing up some projects, doing some writing, cooking and enjoying some very fine wine.

Rapturous is the adjective form of rapture, which means extreme pleasure, happiness or excitement. It’s from the Latin word rapere, meaning to take away or snatch out. Which leads me to the end of the world, scheduled for tomorrow. Actually, the rapture is scheduled for tomorrow; the end of the world, or as my friends have been referring to it “EOTW,” isn’t until sometime in October. I don’t think I’ve seen an actual date though October 2 comes to mind.

As anyone who has read past blog entries knows, I don’t subscribe to organized religion. I was raised catholic but consider myself recovering. I prefer to think of myself as spiritual, though have both friends and family who are churchgoers and somewhat religious.

Jan Luyken’s etching illustrating The Rapture in Matthew 24:40

The Rapture is an event where hundreds of thousands if not millions of true believers will suddenly be taken up to Heaven. It will precede the Second Coming of Christ and the EOTW. This isn’t the first time the Rapture has been predicted, and it will not be the last. We already have one to look forward to in 2012, as predicted by the Mayans. Biblical scholars initially discovered the concept sometime in the 18th century. It’s in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, and references appear in the 1395 Wycliffe Bible, the 1525 Tyndale New Testament, the 1568 Bishop’s Bible, 1587 Geneva Bible, 1611 King James bible and the New English Bible, translated from its original Greek text. The first rapture, to occur on October 22, 1844, was predicted by William Miller. There’s also one predicted for 2060, by Sir Isaac Newton, in case the one for tomorrow, or the one in 2012, doesn’t happen.

There have been countless books and films devoted to this concept, including the highly disturbing The Rapture starring Mimi Rogers. Episode 354 of The Simpsons, entitled Thank God, It’s Doomsday, has Homer miscalculating his rapture prediction and ending up being the only one taken. When he vandalizes Heaven, he is immediately returned.

I don’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen tomorrow, largely because I don’t understand why God is so mad at everyone. I can understand wrath being directed at really bad people and politicians, but am I really that awful just because I’m not a rapt believer? I work hard, love my husband, son and family, consider myself a fairly decent friend, adore my dog. I love good food, good wine, good times, none of which are considered illegal, harmful to anyone or bad. In general I’m feeling rapturous about life. I hope to be celebrating that feeling for quite some time.

Of course, if I’m wrong, I want to thank you all for reading and commenting. And God bless. 


Tags: , , , ,

live out loud

Which brings us to Fritini

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 6, 2011 5:00 PM

On the 11th of May, 1614, a man named Franz de le Boë was born in Hanau, Germany and quickly grew, changing his name to Franciscus Sylvius when he moved to the Netherlands. He was a large man, a physician and scientist by profession, studying chemistry, physiology and anatomy, as physicians and scientists are wont to do. He got his degree at the Academy of Sedan in France and eventually had a very lucrative medical practice in Amsterdam.

Dr. Sylvius helped many patients find relief from kidney disorders. He also helped to purify their blood with a handmade remedy. He then discovered that his intoxicating mixture of grain alcohol and juniper berry oil also helped treat stomach aches, gout and gallstones. As an added benefit it tasted quite nice and was fairly inexpensive and easy to produce. It was called Genever.

We call it gin. And through the centuries it has become a constant companion to those seeking remedy for any number or ails, real and imagined. It has also made for good company with another ancient liquid from the 1700s, the originally very sweet vermouth. Made in Italy from a blend of juniper, workwood flowers, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, mace, marjoram, brandy, white wine and tree bark, vermouth owes its name to a German derivative of the English word for wormwood, welmut, which as the name suggests is a remedy for intestinal worms. It also helped jaundice and rheumatism. When it made it to the US, it was sold in apothecary shops.

No wonder gin and vermouth play so nicely together, even if vermouth has changed fairly drastically and is now more or less a white wine. Either way, it is essential in the martini, a lovely drink created long ago, though its exact heritage is a bit dirtied. Many attribute it to a drink known as the Martinez, first crafted in 1862, and created in Martinez, California. Some say the name came from the Martini and Henry rifle used by the British army in 1871 because both the drink and the gun shared a strong kick. In 1888, the martini made it into the New and Improved Illustrated Bartending Manual.

It was supposedly a bartender at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel, Signor Martini di Arma di Taggia, who first chilled the drink on ice and strained it into an equally iced glass. That was in 1912. And who knows how much the martini owes to Martini & Rossi the company known for its tall, emerald green bottles of vermouth. No one seems to know who added the olive.

Using vodka instead of gin to make a martini is frowned upon by martini purists. They say the abomination should actually be called a kangaroo or vodkatini. My friend Diane would agree. She likes her martinis made with Bombay Saffire. But try convincing the man who made the vodka martini a house-hold name if not drink. That would be Bond, James Bond.


To counteract the shaken drink argument, writer W. Somerset Maugham declared: “martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.”

Which brings us to Fritini, our ritual of combining the celebration of it being (finally) Friday, with Grey Goose vodka martinis, olives, and good, good friends.

Shaken. Stirred. When good friends are involved it makes no matter.

Let the sensuous chilling begin. 

Tags: , , ,

friendly celebrations

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