Saturday, October 26, 2013



The mail was waiting for me when I came in from the garden. The usual fire-starters from Suddenlink, Geico, and BedBath&Beyond, but a letter, too, the thin paper necessary for Air Mail both attracting me and repelling me. My life here is quiet, a small pension, a garden plot, and selling eggs and vegetables to the neighbors. The drone of insects in the summer air fills my head, keeps it clear of old thoughts. I traced the fragile edge of the envelope once, twice, walk away but come back. Always, I come back.



The slides look blank to my eyes, black squares in smudged white frames. I can't read the faint cursive on the single sheet inside. Nothing else in the envelope. Now, the envelope...Cyrillic cancellation, Russian stamps, no return address. Who is Zarcagual?

The only thing I am sure of is the seal in red wax on the back of the envelope: a six-leaved palm frond under what I always thought looked like a cloche jar, and the cursive L of the Librarians.

The Librarians! I thought they were all dead. The temple blew up. Nobody could have survived that.

I throw the letter in my traveling bag.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Mariposas of Leisure


We are terrible tourists, Greg and I. In four days we have seen zero area attractions--unless you count a pet cemetary as an attraction, in which case we have seen one. And epic freeway traffic; we've seen that, too.

(The news says it's been "chilly" lately...Really? It's been mid-70s, so nice.)

Anyway, today was the best day yet. I slept in til an astonishing 7:30, had coffee and reading time with my love, then we hopped in the car and headed to the Santa Anita fashion mall to meet my grade-school friend Pam and her kids for lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. The restaurant was very accommodating as it was a four-hour lunch! We had a lot to catch up on, and I loved having time to talk with her kids, all grown now, and a real delight.

Then, as if the day could possibly get better, we headed over to Burbank to go trail-riding at Circle K Stables, nestled at the foot of Griffith Park. Since Greg starting taking lessons a year ago, we haven't ridden together. I haven't even seen him ride, so we were pretty excited to do this together.

We then ended our fabulous day with a tlayuda, a selection of Jarritos sodas, and a bottle of Lagunitas.

We might just get up tomorrow and go back to Burbank!

The Circle K corral.

I introduced myself to the horses while the wrangler matched riders with horses.

  
Greg's on! We were amazed that Circle K had a helmet big enough to fit his ginormous Stafford head.


Greg's riding Chief, a good ol' gelding of a roan.


 ...and Chief's place in the herd was up front! He and Greg took off like a shot.

 It took me some maneuvering to get around the Asteroid riders but soon it was G-man and I in front, setting the pace...And the pace we chose was, fast! I'm sure some of the asteroids behind us weren't thrilled to be cantering so much, but we didn't care. At one point, while we were waiting for the slower riders to catch up, one of the Asteroids asked us, "Are you professional riders?" Ha! But now Greg feels that he no longer needs to put "novice" on the trail-riding forms. Damn straight, G-man!

 Back at the corral with Chip. Or Snip. I'm not sure which. On our ride together I called him Beautiful Chestnut, which he was.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Estamos listos

After last night's super-feed at Guelaguetza, I was not exactly looking forward to breakfast anytime before noon. So while Greg slept, I got up on the late side--almost 6!--and went out to explore the neighborhood at my own brisk pace. By the time Greg was up at 8, I was ready for a second cup of coffee and having scouted things out I knew where to take him.

Denver isn't the only town with a Devil Animal...good thing we're packing the Power of Juquila!

After an expedition to Burbank to buy sports bras we were finally ready to eat a meal so back to Koreatown for a stop at Expresion Oaxaquena. We were now acutely aware of the need to pace ourselves so we just got a lunch plate each: enfrijoladas for me, entomatas for Greg, and two fancy horchata with nuts, cantaloupe bits, and a dollop of sandia nieves. Wow!

We still ended up stuffed, but oh my those beans and tortillas tasted good. Nothing to do, really, other than read and nap. I love vacation!

(We did better at a late dinner: two tacos and an agua fresca each and done!)


I believe that's a chicken tinga (front) and a mole poblano taco, which is what Greg had.

And on the other side of the table, a cochinita pibil (front) and hongo & cilantro taco, which is what I had. They were delicious.

 Heh.

Smart phone, dumb car

Even though we're taking this trip in order to attend my 30th high school reunion, I don't usually feel old but for some reason, technology was against us today. It started in the Southwest terminal, when we had to ask a young man in line at the baggage check-in counter how to have the machine scan our boarding passes--we could NOT figure it out from the video directions. Climbing in our rental car was worse. I always get the smallest car they offer, because not only am I used to driving a very small car, but economy cars have a minimum of fancy shit on the dash to confuse me--again, much like the car I already drive.

This car confuses me.

But we found someone's wallet at the rental terminal, and for being so nice in turning it in with all its credit cards and cash (three whole bucks!), the nice lady at the Budget counter upgraded us for free to a Ford Fusion. A nice car, but loaded with buttons and screens and who knows what. We had to ask how to turn on the A/C, then we had to pull over and figure out how to turn it down, or off. The rear window wipers we've given up on--we've pushed every button there is and they won't turn off. Driving through the depressing, endless-seeming miles of suburban tract housing and malls just about finished us off.

But as we got closer to downtown L.A. we started to relax. Our natural environment is downtown: the last three places we've lived, the last ten years, have all been in city center.

No, the cat did not come with us. I was dinking around with my iPad and Blogger, trying to see if I could get photos from the iPad into Blogger, when I found something that asked me if I wanted photos from my phone...And this photo of a very young Vivani popped up, as did a bunch of photos of our trip to Egypt. Weird.

And as we drove up Normandie Ave and crossed Olympic Blvd, Greg swiveled his head around and said, "I think Guelaguetza is...there!" Maybe half a mile from our hotel? So we dropped our bags, placed the Wishfrog and Amusement Owl on the dash, and drove over for some Oaxacan food.

We sensibly knew not to order two tlayudas, but with chips and a botana to share and a tamarindo agua fresca for the man and a limonada mineral (slap! slap!) AND a michalada for me--I was thirsty after the plane/airport ordeal--it was still a lot of food. Lunch and dinner combined into one meal!

I'm happy to be in the land of racial confetti, happy to be on vacation with my hubs, and happy to be full of Oaxacan food, even though my stomach hurts!

Our crash pad for the next four nights, the Shelter Hotel.


Strolling the two blocks back from the coffee shop on Wilshire toward the hotel.

 We're here!

Amusement Owl



We told our house-sitter that we'd leave early, but of course the post office left me no time during the week to prepare. I didn't even have time to blame procrastination! Though I did read the Sunday paper, watered the plants, put some art up on the wall...then I started cleaning and packing. We left at 2:00 p.m. Add sandwiches and the bank and it was 2:30 before we got through most of Eureka.

Our car's dashboard shrine: that's Wishfrog, our parking deity, hanging from the rearview mirror, with Our Lady of Juquila clipped to the dash mat, our keyring wishfrog, and the Amusement Owl tucked up by the windshield.

Since we got such a late start, we skipped crashing at my daughter-in-law's place in favor of finding a random hotel at the airport and calling it a day. I am so fortunate that not only does my husband thrive on spur-of-the-moment travel decisions, so does the rest of his family! We are always dropping in with minimal lead time. Even so, coming in for a visit, maybe some dinner and Oh can we stay the night and can you drop us off at BART the next morning? Monday morning? A bit much. Then Greg says, Well, maybe I can stay a few days to visit after we fly back next week. Which is a big deal when you're talking lots of animals and a wife who works lots of hours. But it's a good idea: unrushed family time, see some friends...it'll be a good opportunity to share some time with our grandson and allay his fears about Da's surgery. Well, I say "we," but it'll not include me. Same old song!

So we decide, yeah, no crazy rushing around trying to hook up with family on the way down. Instead, we will just find a room at the airport.

I think at that point many people would pull out their smartphones and head to Yelp, TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, something. We just drove to Hegenberger. Only I got off an exit too soon. Then we changed our minds and said, Well how about those motels near 23rd? Oh, there's a detour...and so on.

But Greg and I have our system down, and whoever is driving does what the navigator says. So when he said Turn! I turned and voila, a row of three executive traveler hotels. Which one, Navigator? ... Best Western it is!

All this room for little ol' us?

We waltz in and five minutes later we have a shuttle arranged to take us downtown to Everette & Jones BBQ and are wandering around a hotel room that is almost the size of our tiny mansion--700 sq. ft! It even has its own porch, which I am using now.
We had our own porch! And it came not only with a view of the estuary but a goose promenade.


...and foggy, just like home!

Tomorrow, Adventures in Airport Parking (did we make advanced plans? No!) and Los Angeles.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cat Bearding

Now, this is a nascent Internet meme I can get behind:








So I thought I'd give it a try:

Vivani says, "No!"


Gina says, "Put me down!"

Oh, well.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

J.J. Abrahms

First off, I'm doing this on a tablet while recovering from the flu; not the best composition scenario. But in case the flu kills me I want to get this off my chest.

 J.J. Abrahms ruined Star Trek.

That's right. Ruined it. And I'm not talking about his time-traveling re-boot. That was genius. I'm talking about his either being completely tone-deaf to the characters. Or nonchalant about changing the characters to suit perceived tastes.

Last year before I ditched my Netflix account I watched all 79 episodes in order. What a revelation! I'd grown up watching Trek, but I had never seen whole episodes before, much less all at once and entire. (Older tv episodes are edited down to accommodate longer commercial breaks.) plus, I'm 20 years older; I pay better attention to what's going on onscreen. So imagine my surprise and delight when Kirk turns out to have been super-studious and serious about his career as a cadet and young officer. He was known for it. He was teased for it. He got to where he was--the captain of a fucking starship, one of only 12--by being super-smart, super-driven, and gung-ho about the Federation. In the Farscape universe Kirk would've been a Peace-keeper. In Serenity he'd have been Alliance. Kirk was willing to blow people up to preserve Federation ideals of Centralization, Darth Vader-style.

I was a little shocked. What an asshole! He also, and I couldn't tell if Starfleet practice was to dump cadets from the same class into assignments together, or whether Kirk worked it so his (few) friends got posted to the Enterprise, but he did start the series with a handful of Academy friends. He was not pals with Spock, McCoy, or Scott; theirs was a working relationship of captain and officers. So here's where Kirk turns from a one-note asshole into a character: the writers start killing off his friends. All of them! And remember, he doesn't have that many. It takes about a year and a half, but midway through the series, he is fucking alone on that boat. He doesn't even have a plant--or hobbies. It' just him and the Enterprise. Oh! and his bickering officers... No one likes or trusts Spock. He's an alien! You're in the Federation--a group to which you were introduced by Spock's people. Why no love for the Vulcan?

Kirk admires his intelligence and contributions to the ship, though whenever a conflict comes up between Spock's desire for scientific study or furthering Federation diversity and Kirk's desire to protect the status quo, Kirk wins. And the universe loses another last-of-its-kind creature or being, again and again.

So on the series, when things go poorly and Kirk is missing and/or presumed dead, and Spock is in charge? You can see the sharks circling. The other officers, McCoy in particular but all of them, go after Spock! Damn. It's so bad that Kirk makes a special video to his officers in case he ever is declared dead...He has to tell them to knock it off, to accept Spock as one of them and their new captain, to play nice. Of course after they watch the video Kirk turns up alive, but after that there are small changes. There's no more turning on Spock when Kirk disappears. Spock only has to be rebuffed once before the unique creature gets a death sentence, though now Kirk admits that if they can spare it, they will. And Kirk starts relying on his senior officers for friendship.

Other than both being human and working for the same employer McCoy and Kirk don't have a lot in common. And Scott's an engineer and gear-head while Kirk, though talented, is not. But Spock... Spock's family is bitterly disappointed that he's chosen a career in Starfleet instead of the Vulcan Academy of Science--geez, even a Federation career like his dad would be better. Kirk's family...we don't know a whole bunch, but Kirk's bro and sister-in-law are both scientists, and it seems easy to believe that maybe Kirk's family was disappointed when he chose Starfleet over the sciences. His parents dis drag him around the galaxy to different research posts. And nothing turns on Kirk like a scientist lady, preferably blonde, but certainly brainy. So these two have some things in common, and it was so satisfying watch the friendship develop--until NBC killed it, anyway. Thirty years and a handful of series and movies later comes the J.J. Abrahms reboot. And while he cleverly liberated himself from the events that came before, we now have a J.D. Kirk who is brash, brawls, doesn't study or work at it or for it, a rigid Spock, a buffoon Scott, and a one-liner McCoy...I want my old series back. Hey, Netflix!