Things I'm celebrating right now

by Lorin Michel Friday, May 13, 2011 11:54 PM

Every day I find something to celebrate, something that’s good and joyful. Sometimes those things are fun, sometimes they’re introspective, sometimes they’re playful, and sometimes they’re serious. Sometimes they’re about a person, somedays about a place, often about a dog. 

Right now I’m celebrating the return of Justin who’s on his way home, driving across the desert into the setting sun. He should be home around 10. We haven’t seen him since January and he’s only home for three days before he jets off to New York for the summer. We’re celebrating his NY internship, too.

I’m celebrating Friday and the end of a fairly successful week; a haircut and color; pasta sauce simmering on the stove; wine swirling in a glass. The air is clear, hedging toward crisp after a warm and humid day. Saturday is only hours away, my favorite day, a day that always brings a smile to my face and a sigh of contentment.

I’m celebrating my vintage puppy, here next to me chewing on one of his toys. Kevin and I were looking at pictures earlier, laughing. Every inside picture we have of Maguire has at least one if not three toys on the floor around him.

I’m celebrating the quiet neighborhood and the flag dancing lazily across the street. I’m loving my husband, who’s in the kitchen chilling glasses and readying for martinis. Friends will be arriving soon. So I’m celebrating friendships, near and far, past and present. The smell of fresh cut lemon is wafting my way.

I’m celebrating a hot shower, and my favorite cargo pants, fresh out of the dryer, a black sleeveless mock turtleneck and black flip-flops.

I’m celebrating my book projects, two of which are simmering as we await publisher instructions, one that is moving forward even as we wait to hear from an interested publisher. And I'm celebrating the start of a new project with someone I worked with a while ago. She found me on the internet. She wants to write a book about her family and specifically her grandparents, and she’s hired me to do it. It’s going to be a special project, one that allows for both historical fact and fiction as we create scenarios about what the train from Chicago to Los Angeles might have been like in 1944; about the route across the country and the sights; about her grandmother seeing her grandfather, before they were even married, after he had sent a telegraph, proposing. She took the train to meet him, and their lives and the lives of their children and their children’s children would never, could never be the same.

The song that the grandmother loved so dearly, Live till I die, is a celebration unto itself. It was originally sung by Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra, as well as Eileen Barton, a 1950s singer best known for the song If I knew you were comin’ I’d’ve Baked a Cake.

Live till I die begins: “I’m gonna live till I die, I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry,/I’m gonna take the town and turn it upside down,/I’m gonna live, live, live until I die."

Shout it out. Celebrate it right now. Live it out loud. I’m gonna. Everyday.



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live out loud

A totally un-PC love affair

by Lorin Michel Thursday, May 12, 2011 11:13 PM

I’m in love. I have been for about eight years or so, ever since we met one warm July evening. I remember it well. It was the Vons parking lot in Calabasas. Kevin and I had decided to make a change, and so he had done some research. Among all the things he’s good at, research is one of the best, especially when it involves something that is near and dear to our hearts. Like a new used car.

We don’t buy brand new vehicles anymore. The prices are ridiculous, and since both of us essentially work out of the house, we don’t drive much. A new car with its shiny new car payment makes no sense. There are weeks that we don’t drive at all. So we have our classic Porsche, and it’s fun, but not a great commuter or traveling car. We wanted something bigger.

Correction: I wanted something bigger. With lots of bells and whistles. Gadgets. A bitchin’ sound system. 4-wheel drive. A smooth ride. A great look. A classic. Or at least, a variation on a classic.

The classic Range Rover. That’s not us.

The Range Rover was introduced by British car company Land Rover in 1970. The Brits had been making the quintessential touring vehicle for the desert for decades, since its 4 X 4 introduction in 1948. It was built for tough terrain and was ideal for safari in Africa with its canvas roof and fancy extras like passenger seats and doors. For the next twenty plus years, it was the go-to vehicle for off-road travel. And then came the more luxurious touring car, the original sport utility vehicle, the Range Rover Classic, with a smoother ride, disc breaks, power steering and a hefty weight. When it was redesigned in 1995 as the P38, it became even heavier. A 4.6 liter engine, four-wheel drive, a 25-gallon gas tank and more made it quite the gas-guzzler. It also has air shocks so it can get real high to go through water, or real low for loading. It has independent suspension, so it can almost literally walk down a mountain, slowly, carefully, intricately. I read a review recently that categorized the Range Rover as a “limousine that can climb a tree.”

On that day in July, we saw our new baby. Deep red metallic exterior with a tan interior. Comfortable, gorgeous, and able to leap tall mountains in a single bound. We bought it. Our sport utility vehicle is very sporty, does some utility hauling when necessary, and is our go-to vehicle for travel. We’ve had it in 4-wheel drive a grand total of once. But we’ve taken it up to Napa Valley several times. We load up the CD changer, and stock it with bottled water and healthy snacks for the 8-hour drive north. We always come back heavier than when we left, usually because we’re carrying several cases of wine.

We’ve also driven across the Sonora desert several times, through blazing heat, air conditioning making us comfortable, on our way to Tucson. It gets a whopping 13 – 15 mph city, 17 – 18 mph highway. It’s a terrible guzzler, totally un-PC these days, especially with gas prices around $4.50. And I love it anyway.

Our baby. That’s us in the front seat.

Tonight we put its new headliner in place, secured all of the lights, grab-bars, alarm sensors and more. And everything works! Tomorrow we’ll go for a ride.

Maybe we’ll even climb a tree.

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live out loud

God bless the child

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, May 11, 2011 11:13 PM

It’s been in my head all day and I have no idea why. I suspect I heard it somewhere, a version of it at least, though not the original. The original, I would remember hearing. It was recorded on May 9, 1941 by Eleanora Fagan during session #44 for Okeh (pronounced okay) Records, a division of Columbia. Sitting in a studio on Seventh Avenue in New York City, and backed up by Eddie Heywood and his orchestra, the song was two minutes, 57 seconds long. It was released on 78 rpm vinyl in July of that same year, with a B-side titled Solitude. She had written the song with her writing partner Arthur Herzog, Jr in 1939.

By then, of course, Eleanora Fagan had become Billie Holiday, one of my favorite jazz singers of all time, who penned and sang one of my favorite songs, God Bless the Child. It’s truly a masterpiece of soul, passion, anger, want and sultry desire. Billie Holiday had a voice like no other. Smoky, warm, guttural and raw, yet completely soothing, much like jazz itself. I can imagine the clubs where she would have sang. Dark, mysterious and moody, with a slight danger lurking in the cigarette haze. Ice clinking into glasses, whiskey splashing inside and burning the throat.

“Them that’s got shall get; Them that’s not shall lose; So the bible said and it still is news; Mama may have, Papa may have; But God bless the child that’s got his own; That’s got his own.”

Many have wondered the meaning of the lyrics she penned. She herself said that they came to her after an argument with her mother over money. I always thought it was about counting on yourself even if you have successful parents; it’s about understanding that if you have good character, you’ll be fine.  But it’s also about how people can use you if you’re successful, and then abandon you when you fall.

“Money, you’ve got lots of friends; Crowding round the door; When you’re gone, spending ends; They don’t come no more.”

It’s a fabulous song, an introspective one, sung by a woman who had numerous problems, including drug and alcohol addiction. She was a prostitute at the age of 14, but she found strength in music, especially the music of Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong. In 1929, she began to sing. She took her stage name from her favorite actress, Billie Dove, and her father, Clarence Holiday, a guitarist. Born in April 1915, she died on July 17, 1959 from alcohol and drug-related complications. She was 44.

Billie Holiday recorded a number of popular songs but God Bless the Child remains the one for which she is most known. It was even inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1976. It’s been recorded by over 40 artists including Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1968, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson in 1990 on The Simpsons Sing the Blues, and Moby in 2007. It inspired a television movie, and several books including an award-winning children’s book all by the same name.

It’s a melancholy song but so hauntingly beautiful. Maybe that’s why it’s in my head. Maybe it’s in my head because I love it, just as I love the music of Billie Holiday.


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live out loud

These are the hops

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, May 10, 2011 11:04 PM

The walk today wound up through several neighborhoods. The streets were narrow and dotted with pick-up trucks, workers doing everything from landscaping to remodeling. Several garage doors were open; an older man was on his stationary bike. Two beautiful Australian shepherds sat behind their wrought iron fence, backed by chicken wire, quietly, watching. The one with the brown, black and white fur raised a paw and hooked it into the fence. Hello.

On the road, chalked onto the blacktop, was a hopscotch board. I can’t remember the last time I saw one; I can’t remember the last time I played. I also couldn’t quite remember how it worked. I seemed to recall something dropped that you had to hop toward, without touching something, pick up whatever had been dropped, then turning around to do it all again, in reverse.

Hopscotch began in England centuries ago, in 1677, during the Roman Empire, when a hopscotch course was over 100 feet long. It was supposedly marked out on the Great North Road, a 400-mile stretch from Glasgow to London. Foot-soldiers played in full armor to improve their footwork, endurance and general fitness. It was a military training exercise.

Its name is derived from the word hop and eschocher, an old French word meaning to cut or scratch. To play, a series of linear squares interspersed with blocks of two lateral squares is sketched out on the ground. It consists of single squares and double squares, all leading to the safe or home domed square. A stone or coin or something similar is tossed into the first square and the player must hop through without touching the square containing the coin or whatever. Once they get to the safe or home square, they can rest before turning around, hopping back through and retrieving the marker before getting out safely. Then it begins again. No lines can be touched.

The French have a version called escargot, played on a round course. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, it’s called Himmel and Hölle (heaven and hell), and in India it’s called kith-kith, Stapu or Ekhat-Dukhat. Brazil calls it Amarelinha; the kids in New York refer to it as Potsy.

Whatever it’s called, it made me want to play. I didn’t, but it looked fun. It looked like a memory, like something to celebrate.

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live out loud

A vintage pod-puppy story

by Lorin Michel Monday, May 9, 2011 6:53 PM

A couple of weeks ago, we trimmed the palm trees on the side of the house, cutting down the dead fronds. There was a tree-trimming crew in the neighborhood and we had hoped to pay them to either feed everything through their wood chipper or to throw the branches on top of the load they were taking to the dump. But because the limbs were dead they were no longer “green,” which means they can't be "dumped" in the environmental section.

Who knew?

So we stacked everything on the back patio, right outside of our bedroom slider, and we’re slowly making use of our trash pickup every Friday morning. Last week, we managed to get all of the dead fronds into one can. But the hard pods are taking longer. They’re inflexible so we can only stuff a few into each barrel at a time. We still have quite the little pile on the patio.

Maguire didn’t seem to care much about the pile when it was bigger but now that it’s smaller and more manageable, he has decided that he must don his Super Dog cape and protect us from whatever it is that is obviously hell-bent on invading the house. These pods could lead to our destruction. Worse, they could lead to us being replaced by pod-people and pod-dog. I suspect his biggest concern is that should these pod-people materialize, his access to cookies and treats might be restricted. And what if they’re here, what if they’re already here! Mom! Dad!


Each evening he decides to venture out around the time we’re sitting down to dinner, which is usually around 9 pm. Standing at the back slider, gazing into the darkness, his head tilted slightly to the left in order to see the pods lying to his right, he stares first, then growls. He then looks to Kevin. Dad? I need to get out there. NOW! Kevin, good vintage-puppy dad that he is, rises from the couch, leaving his food to cool, and slides open the door. Maguire pushes his head out, keeping his body safely in the house. Then, after some prodding, he quietly eases into the inky blue of night, straight out into the yard his eyes never leaving the threatening palm pods.

Barking ensues. Eventually he gets up the nerve to walk right up to that nasty, mean pile of dead palm parts, sticks his nose inside and barks some more. Muffled, like a mute muffling a trombone or tuba. He paws at it, then decides that it’s good and scared and probably most definitely dead. Crisis averted.

Back to the door, and one bark for re-entry. This one’s for me. It says: Mom? I need to get in there. NOW!

And so we celebrate being safe from the palm pods until the same time tomorrow.

Maguire. The vintage pod-puppy. 

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live out loud


by Lorin Michel Saturday, May 7, 2011 11:20 PM

Do it yourself, otherwise known as DIY, has become a full-fledged phenomenon. There are websites and a television show, countless magazine articles, an arts and crafts movement, even an entire music genre devoted to it. It’s a cultural reality that first became common in the 1950s, under the banner of home improvement. In the 1970s, college and recent college graduates started renovating rundown homes, spurred on by Stewart Brand’s The Whole Earth Catalog, Access to Tools published in late 1968. The tools he described were a variety of designer items, carpenter’s and mason’s tools, garden tools, welding equipment, chainsaws and more. Everything needed to take on a project without professionals. How-to-books from Sunset, Time-Life, Better Homes & Gardens and others helped people learn how to do things. This Old House became weekly viewing.  

We do it ourselves regularly. Kevin is more than handy; he’s a near savant when it comes to looking at a space and deciding how best to fill it with something he’s designed, I’ve approved, and we’ve built. We started with our entertainment center in the living room. Then we built a queen size loft bed with a circular staircase for Justin. We retiled the kitchen floor, a little project that my knees and back have never forgiven me for. A built-in barbeque with a raised and eat-at bar happened shortly after. We redid our kitchen counters and cabinets, and the power room; removed the stair’s banister and refinished the stairs. We tackled the master bedroom’s shower, retiling and re-designing. We currently have a list of at least ten things including building a new bedroom credenza, walls around the planting area on the front yard and maybe laying stone on the walkway. We want to put new tile down in the guest bathroom.

Today we tackled the headliner in the Range Rover. It had started to sag about eight months ago, the fabric pulling away from the back of the car and moving ever forward. I first noticed it when the sunroof was open. I figured there was too much air flowing to the back. It billowed, a big light gray fabric balloon. It was annoying. It was also going to be about $1200 for us to pay someone to fix it.

So we’re doing it ourselves. What a job. Disconnecting all of the lights, removing the seat belts, and grab bars; the pillars. And then somehow pulling the fiberglass shell from the inner roof and maneuvering it out through the back door, removing the liner, scraping away the residual glue, scrubbing it to remove the stick and then collapsing in a heap on the floor, exhausted.

We’re not done, but once again we’re doing it ourselves. We like it. Every time we finish a project, it’s a real sense of accomplishment. And we also know it’s done right. That’s why we’re celebrating doing it ourselves.

Now – yawn – I have to go to bed. My back is killing me.

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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. 

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friendly celebrations

All things being equal the simplest answer is simple

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, May 4, 2011 10:38 PM

Albert Einstein once said that “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” It’s a concept that I embrace, or at least I think I do. If I could figure out exactly what it means.

Simple has so many meanings. It can be easy, stupid, boring, ordinary. But I think it means appreciation for the smallest things in life. To watch a butterfly alight and a squirrel clinging to a tree; to watch the jet trails thirty-five thousand feet above the earth and a dog lazing on his back in the sun; to listen to the silence of the air, its crackling energy, and the trucks far off on the freeway, miles away and yet the sound carried easily across the distance.

Simple is without clutter, natural and comfortable. It means not having all the latest gadgets and too much furniture; it means not traveling to far off lands and maxing the credit cards but instead, dining with friends or family, at home, with home-crafted food and good wine.

Simple is a concept that’s starting to gain traction, at least with many of the people I know. We’ve all had the newest clothes and iPods, iPads; now we want the comfortable clothes that make us feel good and the music of nature. With a little bit of internet radio thrown in for atmosphere.

I’ve begun to subscribe to this philosophy myself, especially lately. Simple for me is about joy, about a glass of phenomenal syrah and a plate of pasta drenched in spicy pesto. It’s about laughing with my husband and staying in bed on a rainy day watching old episodes of The Twilight Zone. It’s lying on the floor next to my vintage puppy and feeling the gentle rise and fall of his breathing, of smelling his fur. It’s a hot day with sunshine streaming in the windows followed by a cool night and equally cool air flowing through open windows.

It’s an old sports car, long paid for, a text from my sister, cleaning out the garage, and the closet, taking old paperbacks to the library or donating them to a kid working on a project, driving less and biking more, running less and walking more, cooking more and dining out less, drinking more water and less coffee, eating more fruit, taking more vitamins, smiling at the neighbors, being more patient and understanding, getting rid of furniture no longer liked without replacing it, streamlining phone services, weekend overnights instead of week-long trips, welcoming best friends and embracing the best of family. This is simplifying. It’s being more than content. It’s living without burden.

Occam’s razor, a theory first postulated by the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham, states: When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is better. If you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest.

In other words, all things being equal, simple is better.

Or in its simplest form, keep it simple.

And celebrate.

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live out loud

And now for a little exercise

by Lorin Michel Monday, May 2, 2011 10:14 PM

I have always been a fairly active person. My mother used to thread bells into the laces of my little white shoes when I first learned how to walk so that she would be able to find me. It’s not like the apartment was that big, but evidently, I got around.

Then I got a bike, actually a trike, and I motored around like nobody’s business, flying around the driveway at what had to be warp speed. I remember it well. Then I learned to ride a two-wheeler and got the bike of my dreams, a metallic purple stingray with a white seat and purple streamers. I could go anywhere, as long as I stayed in the neighborhood, but that bike took me to places never before seen. Trees that hadn’t yet been climbed, streams that hadn’t been forged, often times in the same place. Then I got older and got a ten-speed, which was my ticket out of the neighborhood. I could ride to my friend Pam’s house all the way on the other side of Columbia. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t that far, but in my memory, it was a ways. We even did a bike-a-thon, 25 miles of cranking through the wilds of Maryland. I also started running, and playing tennis. I loved the power of swinging my aluminum racket and smashing that poor, unsuspecting neon green ball back over the net, or even into the net. I’d practice by hitting the ball against the big wall outside the high school’s gym. I got there on my bike.

As I grew yet older, I kept riding, running and even playing tennis. I upgraded my bike to a 12-speed before I went to college, a little French number that was very lightweight, for the time, and gave me transportation since I didn’t have a car. It got stolen in college. Someone cut through the chain lock that linked it through a fence. I didn’t replace it for at least ten years. No matter. I kept busy, kept exercising, kept my body tuned and fit.

I have a really expensive bike now. It weighs about 17 pounds and has 18 speeds. Kevin’s bike matches it except for the size. His is a little larger since he’s taller than I. We have weight lifting equipment, and an exercise bike in our gym which is actually a section of the patio. We used to use all religiously.

But something strange occurred to me this weekend. I realized I no longer really cared about the constant battle to keep busy, keep moving, keep exercising. I still do some exercise, of course, like my power walks at least four and usually five days a week, hopping on my bike on Saturdays, the husband unit and I doing our best for our blood pressure, our brains, and our waistlines. I no longer feel the driving need anymore though, and I wondered when that happened. I suspect I have been slowly becoming more and more apathetic. Was it when I turned 40? When my workload got too heavy and I didn’t get enough sleep so I was tired most of the time, too tired to exercise? Could it have happened when I realized there is absolutely nothing I can do to stave off the fact that I’m going to get older and that I’m actually OK with that? Perhaps all three and even more.

Then I began to wonder if I really didn’t care when or why it happened. Because I also realized something else: I just don’t want to anymore. I’d rather go out to lunch, I’d rather have another glass of wine, I’d rather read a book, I’d rather go the movies or watch TV. I’d rather. It’s freeing this freeing of myself, and I’m celebrating my newfound liberation.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to run out for a minute.

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live out loud

The invisible string

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 30, 2011 10:37 PM

There is a string, says a lovely children’s book by British author Patrice Karst, that connects us all, tying us together with those who are most important. Even when we are separated, even when we are alone, as long as we have known someone, truly known them, they are with us always. This book is a favorite of my friend Bobbi’s for many reasons.

Bobbi lives here in Southern California with her husband of nearly 29 years, Roy, surrounded by a number of friends who consider her family. Her other family is mostly in Wisconsin, but Bobbi left them and her life there at the tender age of 18 to come west. She brought the string with her, and it connects her daily with the love she has for her father, stepmother, brothers and sisters and their assorted families, and her now grown daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

The string also connects her to many of her friends, both here and all over the world. And she has many. I suspect that were I to ask each of them their true feelings about her, they would likely gush, for she is a true friend, a light shining bright even when times are foggy and dark. Like a beacon, she smiles and the fog lifts. You feel better having talked with her, for being connected to her.

I honestly don’t know how we became such good friends. We met more than 20 years ago when we both worked at Sebastian International, the hair care and beauty company. Since we were both in the art department, which was fairly small at that point, we bonded over deadlines and irritations. But what tied us together was bigger than that; it was a mutual respect, similar senses of humor, background, and dreams. I was married to my first husband then. It was hard for him to socialize with anyone in my little world because he didn’t like it. But after I finally got rid of him, my friendships blossomed. I suspect that’s when Bobbi and I got closer.

She’s also the one responsible for putting Kevin and I together. I’ll never forget the phone call. She and Roy had long left Sebastian to start their own design studio, in a space they shared with a photographer. I was working with the photographer on a short film so I was at the studio for a meeting. As she was leaving to go home for the night, she had a huge grin on her face as she looked at me and said: Call me when you get home.

I did. That’s essentially how I got married for the second time though there were many events and several years between that phone call and Kevin’s and my wedding in 1998. All fodder for another blog post.

We’ve all become great, great friends, sharing many holidays together, certainly the big ones of Thanksgiving and Christmas, always with others there to celebrate as well. But selfishly I like to think of us as the core four.

Today is my friend’s birthday. May 1st. May Day, the worker’s holiday that began in Australia in 1856 and was designated Loyalty Day in the U.S. in 1958. It can also be traced to the Celtic festival known as Bealtain, celebrating the midpoint in the sun’s progress between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. In Germany it is celebrated as Walpurgisnacht, after Saint Walburga, an English missionary to the Frankish Empire in the 8th century. Her May 1st celebration still includes much dancing and bonfires. In the U.S., one of the biggest celebrations takes place in Minneapolis and is called the “In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre Parade and Pageant.”

The maypole, also part of May Day, is a symbol decorated with ribbons or streamers, and has history in the pagan symbolism first introduced by the Celts so many centuries ago. The pole represents the male, the ribbons the female. Today, it’s part of European folk festivals, and an opportunity for children to sing as they dance around the pole, holding the ribbons, expressing joy through giggles.

These ribbons or streamers are strings, too. They are the threads that sew us to humanity’s rich history; they are the ties that hold us together. Perhaps that’s why May Day has become special to me, and to all of us who know her, who are forever tied to her through our invisible strings.

Grab a ribbon and dance to celebrate Barbara Jo – Bobbi – Jankovich.

Happy Birthday, my good friend. Live it out loud!

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