Our cup runneth not at all

by Lorin Michel Monday, July 10, 2017 8:44 PM

Regular readers know that I am not religious. I consider myself a good person, highly moral even. But I stopped believing when I was 15 and stood up in my backyard one Sunday morning, dressed in the appropriate Sunday attire of a teensie weensie bikini (no polka dots, definitely not yellow) and announced to my dad who was standing just outside the house that I wasn’t going to church. He glared at me. His mother, who was extremely religious and went to church three or four times a week, was visiting and standing behind him. He was taking the family to church because we always went to church when my grandmother visited. It was the only time. And I was finished with the hypocrisy. Needless to say, it didn’t go well.

I can go to a Catholic service to this day and recite every part of it from memory. Obviously I don’t go often, but people getting married, people baptize babies, and we get invited. Kevin was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school through 12th grade. He jokes that he was beaten by the best, meaning nuns. We both joke that we’re recovering, that it’s a twelve century program. 

There is a prayer said in Catholic churches and other Christian churches around the world. It is The Lord is My Shepherd, or Psalm 23, taken from the Old Testament. There are many translations of the Psalm, originally written in Hebrew. But the gist is the same. That god provides, that all is wonderful. As is usual with translations there are a number of thous and ths and ests. The middle of the Psalm is basically this:

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.  Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.             

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.  Thou anointest my head with oil.  My cup runneth over.

Again, I am not religious and as far as I’m concerned oil is used to anointest my skillet as I sauté something. The cup runneth over thing is pretty self-explanatory and most of the time, that’s how I feel. My cup is filled. I have a good life. I have love and laughter. Life, as the saying goes, is good. Sometimes it’s so good that my cup definitely runneth over.

This morning we left to walk through the valley of the shadow of hell since the temperatures have been high. There were scant clouds in the sky though the humidity seemed unusually high. The air wasn’t moving. It wrapped around us like a blanket, oppressive and heavy. Nothing was moving. Kevin glanced up at the weather station we have positioned just above the turn-about in the driveway. The wind paddles, small white cups that spin to tell us the wind speed, were motionless.

“Our cups runneth … not at all,” said my recovering Catholic husband.

Later this afternoon, the winds roared in accompanied by dark skies, rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning. The temperatures dropped from 107 to 80 to 73. Our cups were running over with rain. Luckily the rain gauge was there to captureth it all.

Praise be to dog.

The view from here

by Lorin Michel Saturday, July 8, 2017 8:44 PM

I’m in San Carlos Mexico for the weekend. It's a small town, authentically Mexican, located on the Sea of Cortez. I drove down with a friend of mine on Friday afternoon, a straight shot through Sonora, past Hermosillo and then on down into this small city of no more than 15,000 people. It's hot and almost excruciatingly humid. As I type this at the bar in Susan’s kitchen, the outside temp is nearly 88 degrees and the humidity is 68 percent. Heavy monsoon clouds - monzon - rim the city and the bay where the house is located. I doubt they'll get all the way to us and I'm not sure it would do much to relieve the humidity if they did.


The houses here are almost like row houses. Very little space separates each one, sometimes no more than a tiny pass-through. It is legal to build right up to the line of your property here. Susan’s house is on the beach, literally with steps off the covered patio leading down into rocky shell strewn sand. The water laps at the shore line, thirsty and looking for relief from an unrelenting heat. It's a constant soothing sound, melodic and mesmerizing, like the gentle tick of a metronome. It's blue and green, the water, turning brown as it rolls onto the shore because of the sand it stirs up along the way. The water temperature is easily in the 80s. It is the definition of bath water, warmer than anything I've experienced including in Hawaii. It's almost too warm, not offering as much refreshment as one would like when trying to escape the suffocation of the air. It also has a heavy salt content, leaving your skin soft and sticky.


Currently there are two people in the water. It's a small beach, open to the public but the public, what there is of it, is elsewhere. It's 3:30 in the afternoon. Perhaps siesta time.


Along the many hills, high above the water, sit Mediterranean style estates, white cliff dwellers with an exquisite view of one of two marinas, alive with big, private fishing boats and masted sailboats.


There are also a number of abandoned building projects, condos that are nothing more than a shell of concrete and steel, left by developers who lost their funding or lost interest. They do things differently down here. It's a slower lifestyle, a decidedly non-urgent approach to anything. When asked if someone can do something, the inevitable answer is always si - yes. Manana. But they often don't show up and if they do, the job isn't always completed to specifications. It's simply how it is. But the people are real and true, kind. It is impossible to pass someone on the beach or on a walkway without getting a big Buenos Dias. It's infectious, the kindness and the smile.


I have always been a big fan of Mexico, and remain so. It has been some years since I've been for no reason other than life rushes by often at breakneck speed. It was just yesterday that it was ten years ago.


The people are kind, the food incredible, the weather hot but the water wet. This morning we had omelets - omlettas - with chorizo and San Marcos sauce, a tomato based concoction that has peppers and onions. We went to Susan's boat which is actually the purpose of our trip. She brought two big batteries down with her. Captain Gerardo had them installed and we went out for a tour. It was choppy, the wind creating white caps, but it was glorious, relaxing. It’s what I remember most about Mexico, the relaxation. 


And the view from here. 


live out loud

Kill the Beast

by Lorin Michel Thursday, July 6, 2017 10:14 PM

Once we had a beast in the house, and today it was murdered. It was brutal. It was ugly. It was Riley. Our boys have always been toy destroyers. Maguire, dog rest his beautiful soul, used to love plastic toys that he would squeeze once or twice before managing to get one of his canines inside the squeaker hole which would create a breech which would give him the opening he needed. Death, destruction and way too many pieces of plastic ensued. As he got older, his need to destroy evaporated. He would simply chew a bit to elicit a squeak, then rest his head on whatever toy he had at the moment. 

Cooper, dog rest his tortured little soul, pulled apart his cloth toys but not very often and not with such visceral intent. I think it’s because Maguire was a pup and Cooper wasn’t. Cooper liked to, instead, gather all of his guys together, sometimes six or seven at a time, make a pile and then lay his head on them. We called it his harem. 

And then there’s the killer. Riley has never met a toy he couldn’t destroy in minutes. He doesn’t always destroy them all that quickly; it depends on his mood. And the toy. Certain toys are toast within 10 minutes. It’s why I often buy toys out of the bargain bin. The one guy that seems to last a bit longer is Wubba, except when it doesn’t. Wubba lasts roughly three months before needing to be replaced. Except this last Wubba that lasted three days. And Wubba is expensive. 

Last week, when I was at PetCo getting a new Wubba, I also got Beast. Beast was a bone-shaped toy with a rope through it. It was in the bargain bin. It was $5. 

We have always named all of the toys for all of our boys. Our boys have also been very smart and know their toys by name. So when we named Beast we did so because printed on the side of Beast was actually the words “King of the Beasts.” Who knows why. Naming the toy King didn’t seem right and so Beast it was. Beast was very popular. He got carried around the house and taken out on the deck in the morning to watch the desert go by alongside his Royal Rileyness. 

But this afternoon, Riley settled down in my office with Beast in his mouth and proceeded to tear the thing apart. Then he picked up what was left and moved into the great room to tear the rest apart. It was obvious from his complete focus that he had one goal: Kill the Beast. 

In the film as well as the stage production of Beauty and the Beast, there is a song right before the climactic scene where the villain Gaston leads a mob to “Kill the Beast.” In the 1976 Eagles song “Hotel California,” there is this passage: “And in the master’s chambers, They gathered for the feast They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can’t kill the beast.”

Today, in Tucson, on the hill, under the gathering storm clouds and the still hovering smoke of the Burro fire, Riley killed his beast. Sadly, I suppose. But he did it while living it out loud.


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In which Lorin is fascinated by history

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, July 5, 2017 10:15 PM

Maybe it’s the fire burning perilously close to our house; maybe it’s the impending doom I feel daily due to our current political climate and the ridiculous man-child we have to call president. Maybe it’s that the older I get, the more fascinating things old become. Whatever the reason, I am fascinated by Amelia Earhart.

Everyone knows the story of the famed aviator, a woman who made the first solo flight across North America – by a woman – in 1928, who took up competitive air racing in 1929, and in 1931 set a world altitude rating by reaching 18,415 feet. Her first solo trans-Atlantic flight occurred in 1932 and for that, she received the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, the Cross of Knight of the Legion of Honor from France, and the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society from then President Hoover.

In 1935, she became the first aviator –male or female – to fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland. Other firsts followed along with more speed records. In March 1937, she made her first attempt at flying around the world but was unsuccessful. In June 1937, she tried again, flying in the opposite direction and again was unsuccessful but this is the trip for which she is most known because on July 2, she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared. 

There has long been speculation as to what happened. They died on impact with the ocean. Or they landed on a reef and made it to a deserted island where they eventually died after not being rescued. Or they were captured by the Japanese. But nothing was ever found. No plane. No bodies. Only mystery. 

This story fascinates me in the same way the Titanic fascinates me. Maybe it’s that both involve an ocean. Maybe it’s the era. Maybe it’s both. The Titanic was, of course, unsinkable until it sank on its maiden voyage. The arrogance of man dictated not enough lifeboats and those that were available weren’t filled to capacity. On that frigid night in April 2012, 1514 people died. I can’t imagine the horror. I can’t imagine the chaos. And I am drawn to the stories, to the films about it. 

Full disclosure, I am also drawn to stories about the Holocaust. It is unfathomable to me that people could be so cruel. It is almost more unfathomable that some survived. It haunts me; it terrifies me that we are capable of such atrocities even though I know we are still. I wonder if I’m drawn to it because I’m so afraid it will happen again and that this country will be responsible. 

Today, news broke that a photograph was discovered, one that had been misfiled many years ago. There is speculation that it shows Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan on a dock in the Marshall Islands – alive – and prisoners of the Japanese. In the background is a ship towing a barge and on the barge is what some are speculating is Earhart’s Lockheed Electra plane. 

If she was captured, she most likely died in a cell somewhere in Saipan, of something horrible. No one knows. Still.

And so the mystery and my fascination continue. It doesn’t ultimately matter, but much like the world needing to know more about the Titanic, the world continues to want closure on Earhart. In 1985, Robert Ballard and his crew found the Titanic in 12,000 feet of water off the coast of Newfoundland. If explorers can find evidence of what actually happened to Amelia Earhart, it would be, in a word, fascinating.

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by Lorin Michel Monday, July 3, 2017 10:42 PM

The Burro Fire, so named for its origins near the area of Burro Tank, is burning within 4 miles of our house. The fire started on Friday morning, is currently under investigation as to its origin, and has burned some 15,000 acres in the mountains just to the east of us. A little too close for comfort.

This morning, as for the past couple of mornings, I looked out the window to the east and was pleasantly surprised to see nothing but blue sky. I took Riley for a walk (Kevin had something else to do) and as we made our way back, again facing east, we saw nothing bad as far as smoke was concerned. That quickly changed. By mid-morning, plumes began to rise in the sky. By late afternoon, the sky was once again thick with brown smoke. By dusk, it was Armageddon, the sky black and ominous.

We followed it closely on several websites. Inciweb is phenomenal. The local firefighters and emergency response people also set up a Facebook page and tonight live-streamed a meeting where they gave an update and took questions. We watched the whole thing.

There is not a lot of ground support at this point simply because the terrain is so horrific. In the meeting, they talked about maintaining the perimeter they had established, using tankers and helicopters as much as possible to keep the fire from spreading until later this week when the hoped for monsoons are supposed to arrive and provide what they call weather related relief. Would that it were so. 

Their goal: maintain. 

All day long we heard the drone of aircraft. In addition to the hotshots, the ground crews who fight wildfires, there were three helicopters, one water tender, and 14 engines. Those engines, I’ve been led to believe, are spotters as well as what they call VLATs. VLAT stands for Very Large Air Tanker, believe it or not. It’s also true. These very large air tankers are actually modified DC-10s fitted with fire retardant delivery systems. Each is capable of dumping 11,600 gallons in a single run in eight seconds. They were first used in 2006 in San Bernardino County. Here, they fly out of Mesa and Fort Huachuca, refueling and then flying directly into the fire to drop their retardant to try to stop the fire or at least slow it down. To maintain. 

We watched these monsters fly low over the house and into the smoke, their belly’s red, their wings white. They were heavy and loud, and we were in awe. They represented hope and strength and perseverance. Every time we’d hear the heavy engine we’d go outside and watch. And wait for them to help deliver us from impending doom.

The men and women who fly these tankers are amazing. The hotshot firefighters are incredible. The other air personnel and ground personnel should be applauded.

We watched, we listened, we hoped. We don’t pray or we would have done that, too. The VLATs were here to help. And we celebrate them.


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The fire list

by Lorin Michel Sunday, July 2, 2017 8:44 PM

I got a call one morning when Justin was a sophomore in high school. It was about 3 am. Kevin was in Las Vegas for a convention. I answered and it was a recorded message from Tony Frank, the then superintendent of the Oak Park School District. “Due to the wild fires burning in Oak Park, the board has made the decision to cancel classes.”

Wild fire burning in Oak Park? I popped out of bed and, with Maguire in tow, trudged out the front door and into the street. Sure enough, the hills lining our beautiful town were rimmed with fire. I saw lights go on in some of my neighbors’ houses as they too got the call.

By sun rise, the sky was thick with smoke and ash drifted down like snow, covering cars and trees and flowers. I was never truly concerned about it reaching our house. We were safely ensconced in a neighborhood where each of the houses was mere feet away from the next. Fires like space. 

During fire season, I often watched the news in horror as flames devoured hillsides and canyons, racing along unchecked due to the terrain, eating any fuel in their path. I always felt for people who lived in areas where fire could get to them. My old bosses had 30 acres in Hidden Valley, an area of Thousand Oaks. Fire burned perilously close to their house at one point. When we flew to New York to see one of Justin’s productions, there was a fire burning in the canyons near the pet motel we used for the dog. I was emailing them from 35,000 feet, trying to get an answer as to whether there was any actual danger. There wasn’t. 

When we built the house up here on the hill, I wondered about fire. After all, we have four acres ourselves, and the land above us is undeveloped. It’s desert for miles. To the east is another lot that’s not developed and more land above that. There are canyons that cut into the land that can’t be developed but there are still trees and brush and desert grasses. We have fire insurance along with our homeowners. 

Most people hear of fires burning in Southern California because it’s such a famous area. When homes burn in Malibu it makes national news. But the entire southwest is susceptible to fire and often succumbs. In 2013, the Yarnell fire in Arizona burned 8400 acres, destroyed 129 buildings and killed 19 firefighters who got trapped in its path. In 2003, a fire burned in the mountains above us, destroying 84,750 acres and 340 homes and businesses. One of our neighbors here told us that they stood on their patio and watched as the flamed climbed up and over the hills above Catalina Highway. The fire department had told them that if the fire jumped the highway, they would need to evacuate. It didn’t; the firefighters were able to stop it. That fire burned for a month before it was fully contained. 

Yesterday when we left to run errands, I noticed smoke off to the east. Big, awful plumes reaching high into the sky, white with dark brown laced throughout. Fire. We watched it as we were out, the smoke visible for miles. Last night we watched it from the deck as we made a list of things we would have to pack in case of evacuation. We decided it was a good idea to have such a list even if we didn’t end up needing it because if the fire department tells you to get out, you have, at best, an hour. We would not be thinking clearly; we would be reacting. Having a check list would be helpful. 

But as I wrote the list, I thought how strange it was to be making it. And yet how necessary. Things like dog food, water, jewelry, photographs, artwork, my Carolers made the list. Things that are valuable, irreplaceable; that mean something to us. Computers, cameras, some of my writing notebooks. It was making a list in case of our impending destruction.

This morning, the fire had tripled in size and became Type 1 Incident Management meaning national and state resources were brought in. We watched as D10 Tankers flew close enough that we could read the tail numbers. The roar and rumble of a DC10 flying just about the house was both terrifying and comforting.

There were possible thunderstorms forecast for this afternoon. The winds were mild earlier and picked up throughout the day, as is usual. We had our list. We watched the sky. And celebrated the men and women who decide that this is their calling, to fight fire in hundred plus degree heat, with high winds, and dry conditions. Dogspeed all.

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I can’t deal with cleaning up. Let’s sell the house.

by Lorin Michel Saturday, July 1, 2017 8:34 PM

My parents used to entertain every once in a while. I remember several times, like the surprise party mom threw for my dad’s 40th birthday. Friends from everywhere descended upon the house and when my dad answered the door, there was a group of his friends from his previous life even before he had us. I don’t remember the party all that well other than there was quite a group of people, eating and drinking the night away while my father beamed. After it was all over, I’m sure we had to clean up before going to bed because my mother always cleaned up before going to bed. It didn’t matter what time it was, if there was a mess in the kitchen, it had to be dealt with so that it was gone in the morning and she – and everyone – could start the day anew. 

For years, I subscribed to this same philosophy. It didn’t matter how late it was when people departed my home. When they were gone, I went to the kitchen to rinse plates and load them into the dishwasher, wash any pots and pans, as well as glassware from cocktails. On the rare occasion that I used my china, I also hand washed that. Leaving a pan to soak overnight because it was simply too crusted to clean immediately was my worst sin. 

Somewhere along the way to middle age, I stopped doing that. I don’t remember when it happened. Perhaps it was after Kevin and I got together. Our relationship has always been fun and easy; we’re each other’s best friend. I think because of the easy nature of our lives together, it occurred to me without ever really thinking about it that I could leave plates on the counters and used pots on the stove and go to bed. That it would all still be there in the morning, and that it would all clean up just as easily then.

Maybe it was because we became late eaters, rarely having dinner before 8:30, a practice that continues to this day. While not especially healthy, it has become habit. Also, we work until about 7 each night, then we shower. By the time I get around to cooking, it’s often close to 8. By the time we’re done eating, we just want to relax and maybe watch a little television. Soon, we’re tired. The dishes sit on the counter; any pots or pans remain on the stove.

Last night we had some people over for dinner. It was casual, just like we like it. I made an artichoke-jalapeno dip in my small crock pot, put out some pita chips and cheese and crackers. Kevin made cosmopolitans and poured wine. For dinner, I made a pasta primavera and a big Caesar salad and sliced some bread that I served with a pesto balsamic dipping sauce. About 9 o’clock we noticed there were fireworks in the distance so off we all went to the deck where we spent the rest of the evening. Everyone left somewhere around 11 I think. Not terribly late, but by then we were tired and simply went to bed, leaving the kitchen for another day.

This morning, I looked at the havoc I had wrought and all I could think of was Marilyn Lovell. 

The 1995 film Apollo 13 – one of favorites – begins with the famous moonwalk by Neil Armstrong. There is a party at the Houston home of astronaut Jim Lovell and his wife, Marilyn, played in the film by Tom Hanks and Kathleen Quinlan. All the astronauts who aren’t in space are there, including the men who would eventually join Lovell on the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission. There is much champagne and eating and something about Cadet Lovell getting a haircut. After everyone leaves, Jim is in the backyard, lying on a chase lounge gazing up at – what else – the moon. Marilyn comes out and says: “I can’t deal with cleaning up. Let’s sell the house.”

My thoughts this morning.

Friends, food, cocktails, fireworks. Worth the mess on a Saturday morning and definitely worth celebrating.

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The bathing suit dilemma

by Lorin Michel Thursday, June 29, 2017 10:46 PM

When I was in college I had a gray striped bikini that I loved. That was back in the day when I was skinny and looked good in a bikini. I had it in a beach bag in the back of my Toyota Celica in my garage one night for reasons I can no longer remember. It got stolen, along with my beach bag and a small tool kit I kept in the car for emergencies. I remember thinking how disgusting it was that someone would steal a used bikini. Also, I was pissed. While I bought others, I was never able to replace that bikini. I remember it fondly to this day.

I used to like shopping for bathing suits. It was fun, and I was in great shape. Picking out a bathing suit wasn’t difficult. It was an enjoyable experience. 

I didn’t swim a lot but I did love the sun. Too much. I am paying for it now, all these years later. 

As I got older, I stopped loving the sun in terms of sunbathing. I still love it. Love its energy and its beauty; don’t love what it has done to and for my skin. Still one needs a bathing suit in order to partake in pool parties and go on vacation to tropical places like Hawaii.

I don’t have a good bathing suit. It’s been years since we went anywhere tropical or that required swimming or even just sitting in the water. Still, one needs to have one just in case. We’re already making plans for a trip next year to either Hawaii or Cabo San Lucas, where we’ll stay at a resort and sit under cabanas and swim up to aquabars; where we’ll stroll the beaches and soak up the warmth, if not the sun. I’ve been dreading the idea of finding a bathing suit. I thought I could put it off. I hoped. Today, I was confronted with the bathing suit dilemma body-on. 

Friends of ours have a home in San Carlos, Mexico. It’s not far from here, about 5 hours or so by car. When we’ve gotten together, we’ve talked about going down, joining them for a weekend, or renting one of their condos and going by ourselves. I got a text this morning from Susan: I have to go to SC next weekend to deliver some parts for the boat. Wanna come?

Just the girls. No husbands. No dogs (they have two; we have one). 

Naturally I said yes, of course, fabulous, love it, can’t wait. Except for that one tiny issue. I DON’T HAVE A DECENT BATHING SUIT. 

I immediately dialed up the internet and started looking at what the styles are today, what might look good on me, on a body that’s much different than the one that easily wore the bikini that got stolen out of her 1979 Toyota Celica.

Evidently something called tankinis are very in. Two pieces that have a tank type top and different types of bottoms including swim shorts. I was intrigued. They seemed perfect for this old body of mine.

So I ordered two. Both will be here by mid-next week. In time for my weekend trip to Mexico. Hopefully one will work. If not, I’ll be wearing shorts and a tank, and hoping for the best. Either way, I’ll be in Mexico, on a boat, having fun. And that’s a good thing.

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The four elements of the apocalypse, desert edition

by Lorin Michel Tuesday, June 27, 2017 8:22 PM

Kevin went to the doctor today. He has a great relationship with his physician, a man who, coincidentally, happens to live in our little ‘hood. He’s a DO, a doctor of osteopathic medicine which means he advocates a whole-person approach to care. He’s a good guy, and I might have chosen him myself except for two things: it’s a little odd to see your doctor every day as well as at homeowner’s association meetings, and I also prefer female doctors, for all specialties.

It’s been hot here, the June-furnace has been blasting now for several weeks. We get this every year right before the monsoons hit. It’s been brutal. Last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we recorded 120º up here on the hill, a temperature I feel pretty good touting because it comes directly from our own personal weather station. It’s also been windy, a continuous hot breath that offers a grand total of zero relief. Mostly we stay in the house. We urge Riley to pee quickly when he has to go out. 

With the heat comes fire, plague and pestilence. We’ve had brush fires burn, thankfully none close enough to threaten us, just close enough to smell and see the smoke. We haven’t had plague or pestilence, also thankfully because that would be bad. We have, however, had our fair share of creatures and by creatures, I mean bugs. We have been over-run with box elders, tiny flying beetles. They’re outside, but they’re disgusting. We’ve seen snakes. There have been toads. Also the lizards have been prolific. 

Kevin’s doctor, who lives in the house just below us, swims every morning before he leaves for work. He was entertaining Kevin with tales of not going into the pool because it was occupied by a toad, and that he draws the line at sharing his pool with creatures. He has had box elders and toads sticking to his windows. He has had pack rats eating the wiring to his lighting and poor equipment, and ground squirrels and rabbits oh my. Scorpions and lizards and cicadas. 

“Basically half of everything ever talked about in the bible,” he joked. 

Kevin laughed. When he told me the story, I laughed, too. Because it’s funny. It also happens to ring a little too true.

The start of this summer has been hotter than usual, drier and windier. That heat has brought out the bugs in droves. Bugs that cling to the side of the house, that climb the windows, that die and congregate in piles of black carcasses on the portico and the deck. They look, at first glance, like raisins, only infinitely less appetizing. 

Toads, bigger than usual, descend upon the house at night. They haunt the top step leading down to the front door, sitting there until the dog sees them and begins to whine and squeal. Let me at ‘em. As if that’s going to happen. These toads are poisonous to dogs.

The heat speaks for itself. The winds are wicked and wild. 

There is no water, no rain in the forecast. Only sun as far as the weather report can see. It is biblical. This is how polite society ends, pulling its hair out because it can’t get rid of the annoying bugs, having to co-exist with Colorado river toads, and never being allowed outside because of spontaneous combustion, with your ashes blown away by 20 mph winds with gusts up to 50.

Welcome to the apocalypse, desert edition. It’s about as religious as I get, and while I’m not into the bugs or the toads or the heat or the wind, I am very much into the storms that follow. May they come soon and wash away our sins.

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Red Rover, Red Rover … uh, red Rover?

by Lorin Michel Sunday, June 25, 2017 8:20 PM

Kevin has a 1992 Range Rover Classic. Along with his Gold Wing, it’s his mechanical pride and joy. We bought it in July of 2016 after months of searching. He needed a truck, but didn’t want a traditional pick-up. He wanted something that was enclosed so that if he had to haul things a long way, those things wouldn’t be subjected to the harsh elements of the Sonoran desert. That meant an SUV but one that was big enough. He also tends to like classics. Yes, they’re more temperamental in some ways, but in others, they’re also easier to fix since they’re not completely governed by electronics.

Before we got married, he had a 1992 Toyota Land Cruiser. It looked like an SUV but at the time, which was before the rush of sport utility vehicles, it was classified as a station wagon. He had always loved the look. Big, boxy, square. The interior was fairly utilitarian but it was comfortable. It was also in phenomenal shape. He put brush guards on the front and it was a head turner. It also had leaf spring shocks making it a very rough ride. I got to the point where I didn’t particularly enjoy riding in it. That’s when we bought our first Land Rover, a Discovery Series II. In Land Rover forums and when buying parts at places like Atlantic British, people call them Discos. 

My current vehicle is my second Land Rover Range Rover, this time a Sport. The first Range Rover we had was a fabulous car. Truck, the mechanics called it. Not like a truck I’d ever ridden in. It had heated seats, dual climate control, the ability to raise and lower the vehicle depending on what was needed. It rode on air shocks. It was red. Unfortunately, this particular model of Range Rover, designated a P38 by Land Rover, had a fatal engine sleeve flaw. Eventually we had a choice to make: rebuild the engine, or buy a new car. That was in 2012. 

I loved my first Range Rover. It was big, comfortable, flawless on the exterior and interior, and had a bitchin’ sound system to boot. When we had to get rid of it, I was not happy. We had fallen in love with the Range Rover Sport when they first came out in 2005, so we decided to get one. Kevin: “Don’t you even want to look at something else?” Me: “No.” 

Not only did we not look at something else, we bought another red one.

There is a review about the Range Rover that basically describes it as a limousine that can climb a tree That’s fairly accurate. They’re built for off-roading, for traversing mountains and streams. My beloved Sport does none of those things. I’m a typical limousine SUV owner. I love the bigness, love the luxury. Use very few of the off-road capabilities. I baby this car. I don’t like it used to haul things. 

So when we moved and Kevin decided he needed a truck, we looked at old Land Cruisers again, and settled on an old Range Rover, the models before the P38. We looked here in Arizona, even driving up to the norther part of the state to test drive a couple. Our budget was $5000. The trucks we test drove were in appalling shape. Then we found one on Craig’s List in Chino Hills. It was a 1992, with 188,000 miles on it. For $3500. Also, it was red. We talked to the guy, looked at the pics, and decided that it just might be perfect. Kevin flew to Ontario, Ubered to the guy’s house, test drove it, bought it for $3000, and drove it home that night. 

He loves it. I love it. We both love that it can haul whatever he needs to haul, without having to employ the use of my beloved Sport. They’re both beautiful trucks.

This morning, we were outside, with two of the garage doors open. I started to laugh. Red Rover in stall three; Red Rover in stall one. And there in the center, the most beautiful red “rover” we have, our beloved Riley Boo. And he’s always worth celebrating.

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