Table Saw: The Final Chapter

by Lorin Michel Friday, September 12, 2014 10:36 PM

Like those insidious dead teenager movies that were so popular in the late 1970s and into the 80s, today was the release of Kevin and Lorin’s movie “Table saw: the final chapter.”

Scene 1.
It is the middle of the day. The sun is bright, the temperature is warm. The camera pans up to see storm clouds gathering in the distance. Ominous foreshadowing. The audience feels the foreboding but having paid the ticket price, they’re going along for the ride.

That ride begins with the filthy red Range Rover traveling west and away from the gathering storm, toward the freeway and the rental place that has promised to hold a lift-bed truck. It was ugly, gray and white, blue Penske lettering clearly printed on the side. Our hero gets out and disappears inside. The building is seedy. There are bars on the windows. As the door opens, inside several men can be seen, all with beer bellies and dirty beards. Our heroine wisely stays in the car.

          I’ll stay here. Wave at me when it’s OK to leave.

He nods.

She sits in the car, constantly checking her mirrors. It is not the greatest part of town. These places are never in nice areas. She glances around nervously. Lightning flashes and she swallows hard. Her eyes train on to the door of the building. There is a sign on the door that is torn and taped, scribbled in black Sharpie. It says “office.” Finally, the door opens and the hero leans out. He waves.

She wonders if he’s being restrained since only part of him is visible and the door closes as quickly as it opens. She drives away anyway.

Scene 2.
Our heroes on jostling along in the rental truck. 

          I knew I should have worn a sports bra.

          Doesn’t bother me.

She glares at him as they pull into the driveway to pickup the saw. Jim is waiting for them. He has a beer belly too, and a shock of twisted gray hair. He is wearing a turquoise striped t-shirt that is too small and plaid shorts.

          I’ve been painting.

Scene 3.
The clouds are black above. Lightning flashes again. Thunder crashes. The rental truck backs up into the driveway of the heroe’s and the heroine’s house. Beep, beep, beep. It stops, the air brake is engaged. It sounds as if a dragon has been unleashed.

It is impossibly humid. 100º. The saw is lowered to the ground but they didn’t think about the lip into the garage and spend the next 45 minutes trying to figure out how to get the damned thing up and over the two inches in order to move on with their lives.

          We could –

          That won’t work.

          Fine. You come up with something better. I’ll just stand
          here and shut up since you don’t like anything I have 
          to say anyway.

          We could –

          That’s won’t work either.

They fight. She hits her shoulder on the corner and draws blood. He hits his head and does the same. Carnage ensues until the blasted table saw is finally secured in the garage and the two collapse into a heap of blood, sweat and tears amongst the sawdust. The saw laughs.

Just then, thunder rages above. Lightning strikes. The rain begins. Everybody dies? Fade out.

The hero and the heroine, with their erstwhile puppy, are sitting at the bar, sipping a glass of Niner Syrah from 2010.

          Hair on your chest wine.

          At last fuzz on your chest.

They click their glasses as Armageddon begins. Scary music sounds.

In the garage, the saw springs to life on its own, its blade glinting with each flash of lightning. Somewhere there is sinister laughter. The table saw has a new home, new people to terrorize. Someone. Will. Pay. 

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live out loud

Sitting on the couch on a Saturday morning waiting on the rain

by Lorin Michel Saturday, August 2, 2014 10:17 PM

I got a text message this morning at 7:05 in response to a text message that I sent last night. I was sound asleep. I rolled over and grabbed my ever present phone. When we went all cellular all the time, I said it was so that I could always have the phone with me. Sometimes, and especially early on a Saturday morning, I find myself rethinking that decision.

When I get an early text, it’s similar to the early phone calls of years ago. When a phone would ring in the middle of the night or in the morning, awaking me from sleep, my heart pounded. I worried. At least with a text message you can automatically see who’s contacting you and decipher whether it’s important or not. Chances are, if it’s a text message, it’s not. Though it can be a way to communicate something horrible when you just can’t talk. When we lost Maguire, I sent text messages to everyone. When Pam lost John, she sent a text. It’s instant, and it’s less stressful in a highly stressful situation.

I ignored the text this morning because it wasn’t important. I thought briefly about getting up since it was 7 and I usually get up around then in order to walk the dog before it gets too hot. I thought I’d lie there for a few more minutes. Kevin was still sleeping, having slept through the bark of my text message; Cooper was sprawled on the floor, snorting. When next I looked at the clock it was 8:27. Definitely time to get up for all of us. Kevin sat up and winced as is the new custom in the morning as he continues to heal from his recent back debacle. Cooper stretched, pushed himself up, stretched some more and shook his fur into place, rattling the tags on his collar. I swung my legs over the side, drank some water and then padded the short distance to the bathroom to drag a brush through my disastrous hair – curls and pillows and tossing and turning make for quite the ‘do in the morning – stepped into some flip flops and took Cooper for his walk.

The day was overcast, the air heavy but not impossibly hot. Both my phone and the weather I saw online said rain today. The temperature wasn’t supposed to go above 88º. Cooper and I plodded along. Traffic was quiet on Campbell. There was a guy walking a small white dog on the other side. We turned the corner onto Prince and kept going, him trotting along, ears flapping like he could take off. It’s one of my favorite things about Cooper, his ears. I love how they bounce up and down when we walk.

Kevin had made coffee while we were gone. I fed Cooper, who was done in the time it took to pour two cups of coffee. Then we all went out onto the patio to sit for a few minutes. There was a delicate breeze, nothing to keep the day cool for long but the sun was still sleeping behind the clouds, and we miss being able to sit outside. We stayed out there for about a half an hour, enough to have a cup and a half of coffee. The humidity started to become stifling so we came inside. Kevin got his laptop, I got mine and we settled onto the love seat.

That’s where we are now. The coffee cups are empty; the coffee pot has turned itself off. We have music on, Cooper is dreaming, his feet racing to absolutely nowhere but his imagination. Outside we can see the clouds getting heavier and more black. The trees are hanging, defeated by the heat. It will rain soon. When it does, the trees will spring to life, the leaves whipping, the palm fronds dancing. The sky will spark and then it will pour. Until then, we’ll wait, sitting on the couch, relaxing and enjoying the nothingness of this Saturday morning. Living it out loud.


by Lorin Michel Thursday, July 3, 2014 8:46 PM

I feel like I should actually title this post Monsoon! But I’m not big on the use of exclamation points. Still, it would be a better way to announce that it is officially monsoon season, that I’m excited, and that last night it absolutely poured. Dogs and cats, puppies and kittens kind of rain. It was 3 am and as such I had been sleeping because that’s what most people do at 3 am. Suddenly I was awake. There was a strange sound. It was a thundering that seems to flood the room. A steady pounding as if someone was on the roof and trying to get through the skylight. Then, through the fog of sleep, I understood. Rain!

I reached over and grabbed Kevin’s arm. This was something he needed to be awake for. It was raining. In July. In the desert. During a horrible drought.

Pardon my giddiness. I know those of you on the east coast who have been living with rain and the threat of Arthur for several days are rolling your eyes, maybe even stomping your feet. You’re thinking: she woke up her husband, in the middle of the night, because of something as arcane as rain?

Yes. Yes she did.

In the Sonoran Desert, monsoon season starts on June 15 and runs through September 30, though the first appearance is generally today, July 3rd. We get an average of nearly 12 inches of rain a year. Not much by east coast standards but about average for the desert southwest. The last few years we’ve gotten even less than average so we’re drier than normal. The ground is hard; the plants parched. The water supply is strained. Enter monsoon.


It should be a movie poster, don’t you think? Like one of those 1950s posters proclaiming the end is nigh, or near, or whatever.

Monsoon’s are caused by warm air creating surface low pressure that draws moist air from the oceans. The winds usually come from the west but in the summer, they shift to the southeast, blowing in moisture from the Gulf of California, also known as the Sea of Cortez, as well as the Gulf of Mexico. Those moist winds run smack into the rising heat from the ground, heat that has been hovering between 100º and 104º just this week, and clouds form. Those clouds eventually build to the point of storms. The rains unleashed are heavy but a monsoon doesn’t last very long. They can, however, occur daily. According to the weather app on my phone, we should be getting storms today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The word is from the Arabic word mausin, meaning season or wind shift. It’s a word that’s now used in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and here in North America.

I love this season. It makes living through a summer in the desert almost fun. Scratch that. It makes it very fun. I watch as the moisture gathers into clouds, first as wisps then as darkly tinged pieces of cotton. Finally the sky drifts toward black. In the day, it covers the sun. At night, it blots out the stars. The wind whips into a frenzy, turning the tree leaves upside down, tossing anything that isn’t secured. The sky and the earth collide, however briefly, in an orgiastic frenzy of wind and water and desert. It’s glorious. It’s Mother Nature living it out loud, and we’re loving every minute of it.

Saturday's with Moby

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 26, 2014 8:48 PM

When Kevin and I saw The Bourne Legacy several years ago, we suddenly became aware of the end credits music. We had seen all of the Jason Bourne movies, with Matt Damon. This latest incarnation starred Jeremy Renner and we enjoyed it more than most people. Part of the reason was the music by Moby. We became instant fans.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought Innocents, Moby’s album from 2013. It’s a very atmospheric album, filled with Moby eclecticism, perhaps less on this disc than on others. We like to put it on in the background, especially on weekend mornings and just let the electricity flood the house. This is what we did this morning, after we got back from a mile and a half walk with Cooper that included stopping at the vet to get his nails trimmed. We used to do Maguire’s ourselves because his nails were clear. We could both get down on the ground with him and I would shine a flashlight through his nail so we could see the vein, then Kevin would snip. Cooper’s nails are black. Neither of us is brave enough to chance it. He’s now very stealthy, stealing around the house and sliding around corners like he’s in socks.

We were back by 8:45. We put a pot of coffee on and listened to the wind. It’s been very windy lately, imposingly strong, in your face. It’s the wind of the desert and when it blows it has a mean streak. I tried to find something I wanted to listen to on live365, my internet radio app of choice but nothing was singing true. Moby was still in the CD player so I fired that up and poured myself another cup of coffee.

The fifth track on the album is called The Perfect Life. It’s got a near gospel sound to it. It begins like this: Oh We close our eyes The perfect life Is all we need.

As I was listening, I thought about those words. Is the perfect life something that’s only seen in dreams; in our imaginations; our thoughts? Is that why we close our eyes? Or is it the fact that life around us is just as we need it to be and so we close our eyes to acknowledge the weight of the ideal we have achieved? This life, the people in it, the lives we have created are all we need.

I thought of this fact all today, through the wind and the rain it brought along to play. The thunder as it rolled across the sky before rolling itself out. Kevin worked in the garage on the Porsche, reattaching the new front-end shocks. I did some cleaning, some laundry. I am always amazed at how mindless cleaning is. There are no thoughts, there are only tasks. It’s liberating, freeing. Easy.

I went to the grocery store. It had been a week and a half since our last trip and the refrigerator, the cupboards, were bare. There was precious little food to be found anywhere. I bought everything we needed and some things we didn’t. When I left home, the sky was brooding. As I exited the grocery store, I could smell the dampness of the dust. It was raining. I drove home and as I turned into the driveway, the garage door was still open. It had been open most of the day. Kevin was now reattaching tires. Cooper was helping in the wonderful way that dogs help which is not at all. They lie nearby and sleep, content to be with you. Maguire used to help me wash the car, which meant he laid underneath the big oak tree in the front yard. Cooper helps dad in the garage by lying on the cold cement.

As soon as I got out of the car, both of them rose to greet me. It was raining, cold. A perfect day. My husband and my dog were there, not necessarily waiting for me, but not not-waiting. Kevin smiled, Cooper wagged his tail. I had a car full of groceries and wine. Later, if it cleared up, we were planning a trip to the property to introduce Cooper to the new house. If not, we’ll go tomorrow.

A rainbow appeared, a perfect arch of refracted color and light against a still dark sky. The clouds were gradually flying east. The sunset was going to be spectacular.

On this Saturday Moby set the stage early on for today’s perfect life. It was all I needed; all I need.

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live out loud

Spring rain in the desert

by Lorin Michel Saturday, April 19, 2014 8:06 PM

In the desert, rain is sporadic. In Tucson, we only get about 12” of rain or so each year, most of it in August, and then January and February. This year has been a bit of an anomaly. Like most of the southwest, our rainfall was pathetic; snowfall even worse. Yesterday was overcast and in other parts of the country, you could be forgiven for thinking it might rain. Even though most of the time when there are clouds here it portends the coming of rain, because of this year’s lack thereof, I didn’t believe it. The wind whipped up once or twice and I heard the heavy thud of a dozen raindrops as they smacked the skylight but that was all.

This morning, we woke up around 8, which these days is sleeping in. Kevin took Cooper out and then went to make coffee as Cooper came in to snuggle for a few. He climbed his stairs and went straight to Kevin’s side where he curled up to gaze out the window. Cooper loves our bed. It’s the only piece of furniture he’s allowed on, like Maguire before him, and he takes full advantage of it. But whereas Maguire never stayed on very long unless he was completely alone and could sprawl to his heart’s content, Cooper would stay all day as long as I stayed there with him. I’ve never seen a dog so comfortable as Cooper when he stretches on one side or the other and rolls his eyes back to sleep.

Kevin came back with coffee and his phone, and he sat at the end of the bed, his legs under the bathrobe I always keep thrown over the footboard. It’s a habit I developed in California. If there’s an earthquake in the middle of the night, it makes it an easy grab for something to wear, especially if it’s cold. I grabbed my phone off the nightstand. This is what the modern couple does now, or at least what we do. We check email, we look at seascanner, we surf the ‘nets. In the past we used to turn on the television and look for a Law & Order marathon, maybe NCIS. Something mindless. Now we have the Internet.

The wind started up slowly, ruffling the leaves. The birds scattered for cover. Cooper picked up his head and glanced out the window. He yawned and stretched and flopped his head back down. Within seconds, he was sleeping again. Kevin was reading my blog. He often binge-reads, and often uses Saturday morning to catch up on the week previous. I was looking at Facebook and the news and looking for a restaurant in Tubac since we were planning on a road trip for lunch.

Then came the distinct rat-a-tat-tat of raindrops on the skylight. Soon there was the roll of thunder and then the deluge. Rain poured from the dark clouds above, swirling the trees. In through the open window came the earthy smell of parched earth tasting a drink of cool water after a very long drought. Dusty and damp. I love that smell.

It lasted for nearly 30 minutes. We were so surprised we both left the bedroom temporarily to glance out the window in my office. Sure enough, rain was drowning the pavement, bouncing off the asphalt. In the southern sky, there was sunshine. To the north, over the foothills, heavy clouds.

It rained in the desert today. Unless you live here you don’t know what a huge story that is. Mother Nature decided to live it out loud on this Saturday and we welcomed her with open arms and a big kiss. Rain. Wet. Wonderful. Something to celebrate. 

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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.

Here's what happens when I'm cold and wet

by Lorin Michel Friday, November 22, 2013 11:23 PM

Guest post by Cooper

I’m not sure what time it started because I’m not always good with what time it is unless it’s time for a walk, and walks don’t happen until mom and dad get up. It was still dark so I’m pretty sure it was still a ways away from walk time and that’s OK. I was sleeping. Then I heard something that sounded like water running. It had been a really long time since I heard that sound and at first I didn’t know what it was. I shifted in my kennel, and looked up toward the window. The window was open. Dad likes the window open at night because he gets hot and mom just puts an extra blanket on the bed because she’s always cold. I like the blanket she puts on the bed. It’s all soft fur and stuff.

I think I must have growled or something because I heard mom whisper shhhh, baby, it’s just rain.

Rain! I like it when it rains. I especially like it when I get to walk in the rain because there are puddles and I get to go through them and slop and splash. I just hoped it would still be raining when I got up in the morning with dad because rain is like a bath without the bubbles. I went back to sleep and then the next thing I knew dad was saying Cooper buddy come on and he and I went out in the backyard.

Pretty soon mom called for coffee and then we got dressed to go for a walk. I heard dad say something about going right now because there seemed to be a break in the rain. BOL! Like rain can break!

Mom put on her stuff and then sat down on dad’s socks so she could put her shoes on. Are you sitting on my socks? dad asked her and she said yes and was that a problem. He said that his feet were cold and she said that’s why dog made slippers. They’re funny, my mom and dad.

I don’t know what they meant about breaking rain because it was raining pretty hard when we left the house and then when we kept walking it started raining even harder. It was in my eyes and I had to blink a lot. It made it harder for me to see but that was OK. I slopped through the puddles and pushed up against and under the trees. I like getting good and wet when I walk. Then we came home and dad said I’ll open the garage door and we can dry him off. I figured the him he was talking about was me since mom is a girl. Sure enough the door opened a minute later and out came dad with a towel. He started rubbing me all over with that towel and I was trying to bite it and wagging my tail because I love getting rubbed all over, especially when I’ve had a bath or walked in the rain and my fur is all wet.

Me, a little wet, on the bed after my walk. See my spiky fur on top?

Then I got to have breakfast.

After breakfast, I was still kind of wet and a little cold so while mom and dad were getting some coffee I decided to go to the best warm place I know: right in the middle of the big bed mom and dad sleep in. I curled up, all wet and put on my best cute cause I’m sort of allowed on the bed but after mom and dad get up and then mom puts the blankets away and puts more pillows on top, I’m supposed to stay on the floor. But the floor is cold!

Mom came looking for me after a little while and when she found me she said Kevin come here a sec. I batted my eyes. Then dad came in and they both stood there laughing.

At least they weren’t mad. Then mom took my bed out of my kennel and took it into her office and I decided that it would be better to be with her working so I got down and went to sleep on my bed with my guys purp, rat and wubba. I got warm real fast.

And the best part is that tonight I get to do it all over again cause it’s still raining. 

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live out loud

Miss trees: observations from outside

by Lorin Michel Saturday, December 1, 2012 6:51 PM

Guest post by Squire Squirrel

The Squire here. It’s another wet morning in Oak Park and wet rainy mornings always make me kind of lazy. I just want to stay in the den a little longer. This morning when I finally left, Mrs. Squirrel told me to be extra careful. The trees are a little more slick than when it’s dry and I could slide and fall off. She was right. I was flying down the side wall, scampering along at my usual pace. I could see Hey Lorin in the kitchen having some coffee. I got to the corner of the wall and jumped for the tree like usual. I almost didn’t make it. I went to grab the branch and my paws started to slide off. I finally caught one of the leaves and was able to pull myself up. Phew. That was a close one. I could have gone splat on the ground.

Once I got myself composed, I decided to just hole up for a little bit. I scrunched down in the space where the branch meets the tree. It wasn’t as wet and seemed wider. Plus it’s a really great space to watch what’s going on, and here’s what I saw. A tree, going in the house.

Naturally I was sort of curious. Trees aren’t usually in the house, but this one went right in through the garage. I left my safe, dry spot, carefully made my way back to the wall and ran to the back of the house. I went down one tree, snuck across the wet grass, and spun my way back up another tree. This one has the lowest branches in the yard and I could look inside. I found myself a dry spot under some big leaves, and hunkered down to watch.

Hey Lorin put the tree into a green thing on the floor. Then she got down on the floor, too, and had these screw things she was turning. The red-furred one they call Cooper was sitting on the rug, just watching. I could tell he didn’t quite understand why there was a tree in the house. His head was cocked to one side and his ears were really far forward. You could just see him trying to understand. He must not have ever had a tree in the other houses where he lived before he lived here with Hey Kevin and Hey Lorin.

Hey Lorin was talking to him, telling him what was going on. I couldn’t hear everything because the windows were closed because it’s kind of cold and rainy but I’m pretty sure she said it’s a miss tree. Hmmmm. I figured that was probably about right. A tree in the house would sure be missed by the outside trees. It’s also a miss because it doesn’t really belong in the house. I don’t think it’s a girl tree, though, so it’s not that kind of miss. Can trees be boys or girls? I’ll have to look that one up.

Anyway, the red-furred one kept sitting on the rug and watching and Hey Lorin started putting these long strings of things on the miss tree, wrapping them around. They were very bright, like a million tiny white lights. They were actually really pretty and I was pretty intrigued by it all. Then I heard a crash from the front of the house so I had to go investigate that.

Back down along the wall, but this time, I didn’t just jump onto the tree. I went down the front of the wall, and then up the tree and to the roof over the house so I could see what was happening. Hey Kevin was out there, on a ladder, hanging more tiny white lights on the front of the house. He wasn’t very happy about it either.

When he saw me, he nodded. Hey Squire.

Hey Kevin. What are you doing?

Hanging miss lights. That’s what he said.

I looked around the neighborhood and some of the other houses seemed to have these pretty little lights on their houses, too. I saw a car go by with a tree on top and I wondered if it was a miss tree, too, and if it was going in somebody else’s house. I didn’t recognize the car but I don’t know all the cars in the neighborhood, just the ones that try to run over me.

Miss lights and miss trees. Seems like there is an awful lot of miss happening around here. It’s kind of pretty. Maybe I’ll even get a miss tree for the den. Mrs. Squirrel would like that.

A puddle stomping fun-fest

by Lorin Michel Friday, November 30, 2012 8:54 PM

It rained today, a lovely drizzle that occasionally turned to showers. I’m told the difference between rain and showers is that showers aren’t steady whereas rain is. To me, if it’s precipitating, it’s raining. I used to run in the rain. In fact, when I would see the sky painted gray and the air would feel heavy with moisture, I was practically giddy with anticipation. Once the rain would start to fall, I’d lace up my Asics, pull on the appropriate gear and off I’d go, iPod strapped to my arm, buds in my ears. I always ran further and faster when it was raining because it kept me cooler.

Walking in the rain has a similar effect. We walked this morning with Cooper, going about a mile and a half, to Starbucks and back. It was the perfect morning for something hot. We trudged back through the drizzle while Cooper maneuvered himself under every bush, the heavier with water, the more he liked them. We walked down sidewalks, across parking lots, down a double flight of stairs with Kevin and I carefully avoiding puddles and Cooper splashing merrily through them. When we returned, Kevin and I felt great and Cooper smelled like a wet dog for an hour or two. He couldn’t have been a happier boy unless maybe it was snow.

At lunch, the two two-legged members of the family went for another walk. It started to absolutely pour but we kept on, going up the Rockfield hill and down the Bowfield one, across Lindero and up behind the Fresh ‘n Easy through the alley behind. Birds were flying low, landing on the wet pavement. A little black and grey bird waded through water pulsing from the gutter, careening and cascading down the road, rippling as when a stone breaks a still plane of water. The bird hopped a bit, pecked at the water, then flew off to find a dry branch.

Again, we avoided puddles. But I found myself looking at them longingly. I wanted to run and jump and stomp in them, send water skyward in even bigger bursts of drops than those that previously fell. I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe it was not wanting wet, soggy feet. Maybe it was that a lot of the puddles worth stomping in were near the gutter spouts and thus the water was pretty dirty. Maybe because it wasn’t raining hard enough to make the great foot-stomping joy of something like the puddles in Singing in the Rain.

I’m a moderate fan of the film but a huge fan of the title song scene and the athletic Gene Kelly stomping with wild, glorious, joyful abandon through puddles on the backlot of the old MGM studios in Culver City. To film this famous scene, holes were dug out of the pavement to make puddles exactly where Kelly’s choreography wanted them. A complex system of pipes was engineered to make the downpour perfect. There are conflicting reports as to whether milk was mixed with the water to make the rain more visible. Regardless, the area was darkened with tarps and lit from behind to make the rain sparkle and to keep the fake shop windows from having reflections. Just as they were about to begin shooting, the water wouldn’t run through the pipes because it was after 2 in the afternoon, which was when the people of adjacent Beverly Hills ran their yard sprinklers. They filmed a bit later instead.

Kelly was also running a fever of about 103º. The soaking he endured caused his wool suit to shrink even while he was filming. I think if you watch, you can see that the sleeves on the jacket are a little too short. The scene is ten shots, and Kelly said that he created the right mood by invoking the “thought of the fun children have splashing about in rain puddles and I decided to become a kid again during the number.”

And there it is. The puddle stomping fun is silly and gleeful, and mesmerizing. It makes you remember what it means to be a kid, to be unencumbered by protocol, to not give a damn about wet feet – in fact, to prefer them. The soggier and squishier, the better.  

I thought of that scene today, one of films’ greatest as far I’m concerned. It personifies, with song and dance, the very essence of living it out loud. 

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live out loud

The great Saturday clean up and out

by Lorin Michel Saturday, November 17, 2012 9:20 PM

It started to rain in the middle of the night. Somewhere around 2:30 or 3, I awoke to the ping-pang of water running through the gutters just outside our bedroom. I listened for a while and then, as that sound became intimately familiar, I could also hear the rain as it pelted the trees and the cement patio. Cooper sighed and growled in his sleep as he often does; my husband was snoring softly. The sounds of the night are a never-ending fascination to me.

When we awoke this morning for real, we were astonished to find that it was nearly 20 minutes after 8. We never sleep that late; certainly not since we got a dog. But he seemed as content as we were to simply laze in the morning, listening to the still falling rain, snoozing in the gray darkness of the impending day. Soon enough we got up. Cooper went out, we lazed for a bit longer waiting for the rain to subside and then we embarked on what has become a Saturday morning ritual. A walk to the nearby Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte for me and a Crème Brule Latte for Kevin. On the way back home, it started to pour, so much so that by the time we got home all three of us were literally drenched. Cooper smelled like a wet dog, always a charming fragrance. Kevin and I smelled like wet people. Once we dried off and once Cooper had been fed it was time to make something of our day.

Something about the fact that it was raining and thus washing the dirt from the leaves and the streets, if not the cars, inspired me to clean. Plus Justin is coming home tomorrow. Plus the house was kind of a mess; I’d let it go for far too long. For the next several hours, I proceeded to take a dust rag to nearly every surface I could find, starting in the entrance way and making my way through the dining room and the living room. I moved photographs and antique toys. I dusted them all, as well as the space underneath them before putting them back. I polished the dining room table and the coffee table in the great room, all while the rain continued to polish the outdoors.

Next, it was time to scour the master bath. I should pause here for a moment to say how much I hate to clean. I love the result of cleaning; I just hate the doing. For many years, I had cleaning people. But once Kevin and I started on our various home improvement projects – like redoing the kitchen or the master bath – and once Justin went away to school, it seemed dumb to pay people to come in and clean only a small part of the house. For the longest time, the kitchen was under plastic, ditto the master bath. So I was paying people to clean the powder room, which gets very little use, and Justin’s full bath upstairs which since he went to college also gets very little use. I let the cleaning people go, deciding that Kevin and I could do it ourselves.

Because Justin is coming home tomorrow, I also cleaned his bathroom. It wasn’t dirty so much as a little dusty. But I rinsed the tub/shower, cleaned the sink, put fresh towels on the rack and a new bar of soap in the shower. I vacuumed. I put an extra blanket on the foot of his bed. Not sure he’ll need it as it hasn’t been horrendously cold and he’s been living near Buffalo, New York. Our weather here is going to seem downright balmy in comparison. Still.

I did laundry.

I changed the sheets on our bed.

I brushed the dog.

Then, after we got showered and cleaned up, we decided to do one more bit of “cleaning.” For a while, we’ve been wanting to sell the wedding rings we had when we were married to other people. I also had a diamond necklace that I never really liked and haven’t worn in at least 20 years. It’s a beautiful necklace, but it’s not me. I’m not sure it ever was.

We have a number of jewelry stores around here that buy gold, but not diamonds. Kevin Jewelers, a fairly big chain out here in the west, advertises that they buy both gold and diamonds. We decided to go there to see if we could sell these jewels from another lifetime ago.

I am not a mall person. Kevin Jewelers is located in the local mall. The promise of cash is about the only thing that could get me to a mall, especially when it’s so close the holidays. We parked, went inside, found the directory and the location, and walked nearly the length of the mall to get to our destination. There were hundreds of people, maybe more. Most had packages, even the younger teens. People were shopping and buying and all I could think, other than ‘please get me out of here quickly,’ is that people are shopping and buying. That may bode well for the season and for the economy. I’m such a nerd.

Kevin Jewelers gave us $550 for our jewels. We may have been able to get more if we’d shopped around, but I don’t like to shop. And it took us two years to finally get to Kevin Jewelers. I knew if we didn’t just take it and go, we’d never get this done. It hasn’t been top priority, obviously. Plus they cleaned the rings I now wear, free of charge.

It was a good feeling, to sell my old wedding rings and necklace, for Kevin to get rid of his as well. It was another way of cleaning, disposing of the old to make way for the new. When we walked out of the mall, the rain had stopped and stars were dotting the sky. The air was cool and damp, and the fresh smell of a day of rain flowed all around us. It was clean. 

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live out loud

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