Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hippie Hippie Shake

I am so concerned about the health, well-being and cholesterol of the stellar,
crow and yellow-necked sparrow, that I always buy salt-free nuts; organic lettuce for the deer too.
Often times I forget to look up at the sky because I’m carefully watching my every step, in order to avoid crushing 
rollie-pollies, ants and spiders.
My pal, Alec understands my sickness.  He has it too.
He and I have both confirmed that when a spider, moth or Daddy-Longlegs has managed to make its way into our kitchens, out of compassionate (and possibly obsessive compulsive) habit, we take out a small Tupperware bowl and an envelope, gently place the bowl over the insect, carefully slide the envelope under the creature and head for the door.
I am in a state of euphoria when I see the small arthropod animal make it’s way to freedom.  
I want to shout, “Free at last! Free at last!”

Such humane heroine-ism has its downsides.  Like right now I am worried about a lost cat named Little in Shiner, Texas that I read about on a friend’s Facebook page. 
WTF?  And ever since I was a teenager, I've blessed road kill. Yep, true story.
I recall one Thanksgiving holiday week.  I was up in Redding visiting my mom, my brother and my niece who was about 3 or 4 years old at the time.  She and I were driving around, picking up last minute items for the Thanksgiving feast, when I merged onto the freeway.  To the right of the on-ramp was a dead cat.  I quietly muttered, “Spirit be with you…white light surround you” as I, in my ungodly yet loving way, blessed the carcass lying there.  She stared at me from her car seat and said nothing.

Hours later, my family was gathered around the table, preparing to stuff ourselves silly.  Now, I must tell you, I do not come from a religious family.  And although I went through a period of giving out Bibles at the Esplanade Mall (another time, another blog) we weren’t the Cleavers that said grace before a meal.  Yet, out of the blue, my brother says, “Let’s hold hands and go around the table and everyone say grace.”  I’m like, “What the hell? Out loud?!”  So, we do.  

He starts and it’s very weird and awkwardly traditional, “Thank you god for the food in front of us…etc"  It continues to my niece’s mom (who we thought was my brother’s wife, but they actually never really married), then to my mom and then to me.  I can’t recall exactly what I said but I know it came out of my mouth in NASCAR time.  My brother skips my niece, (WTF?) says “Amen” then starts to cut the bird.  All of a sudden my 'little gem' says, “I have grace too.  
So my bro puts down the carving knife, we put down the serving bowls and join hands again…
My niece closes her eyes and begins, “Spirit be with you, dead orange cat on the side of the road…I know you are in heaven even though you are bleeding…and spirit be with all the dead kitties, dogs, cows and all the animals…white light around all the animals…”
Since I didn’t have my eyes closed, due to my aversion to the whole damn thing,
I could see all adult eyes fixated on me; especially my mother’s, whose glare was sharper than the carving knife we were about to use on the (dead) bird. 

                                                               (Spirit be with you.)

I’m the kinda girl that, after the movie ends, I remain in the theater and pan the credits; not for the director’s name or the producer’s name.  Not for the song titles of the film’s soundtrack.  
I scan the credits for the American Humane Association’s one assuring sentence: 
“No animal was harmed in any way during the making of this film.” I suppose I'm just a hippie, hippie girl from way back, but it’s especially comforting to me, whether the flick I have just seen was mediocre or phenomenal, to leave the theater knowing the animals were pampered throughout the production.
Speaking of phenomenal, Wes Anderson’s recent film Moonrise Kingdom, is all that and more.  
Much more.  The lead protagonists are 12 year olds who fall deeply, sweetly in love; a love very misunderstood by the grown-ups.  Their performances are natural; their chemistry is immediate and unforced. During the scenes when they alone occupy the screen, we see the world through their eyes without the distracting filter of an adult perspective. In a turnaround, which isn’t surprising if you’ve seen any of Wes’ other films, it's the adults who come across as immature and silly.  (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums)
And Robert Yeoman, the cinematographer, is a stallion.   The pace, the shot selection, the colors, the composition were pure genius.
If you’ve ever been a misfit, or currently fit the bill.  Or if you’re not a misfit but love a multitude of them, check out this film.
Since I began this blog talking about animals, what about this one?

Jerry Sandusky continues to display his arrogance, denying any wrong-doing.  Ha!  His team of rich goons will, of course, appeal. I say, let Penn State, who a couple of decades ago were the Division 1 School who publicly acknowledged "not wanting lesbians on their women's basketball team" pay for the appeals.  Tax payers should not carry this financial burden. 
The almighty Nittany Lions should and I'll tell you why.  Those bastards covered it up for years in order to receive booster bucks for their beloved game.  
I say, "Take it out of the popcorn fund."
But you know, it's the artists who find a way to right wrongs and Michael Pilato wins my vote this week for a most creative endeavor with a thought-provoking twist. He scrubbed Sandusky out of a mural on Penn State's campus and replaced it with an image of a poet/activist draped with a blue ribbon--a symbol for awareness of child sexual abuse.

A huge HOORAY to the artists, musicians, poets, writers and the animal rights activists and the millions of volunteers who give so much and so freely to the betterment of a community, a culture and the beautiful beasts habituating our planet!  Below are links to some damn great non-profits in my hood.  I know you have some in yours, but take a moment and check 'em out; especially Peace of Mind Dog Rescue which started out as a one-woman show and has grown to dozens of volunteers.  
And their sole/soul mission? Older dogs.
Way cool, eh?

Here's who runs my castle. Hands down.  I don't even get up to go potty when he's comfortably sleeping on my lap. (Or on my side.)


Monday, June 18, 2012

Place Your Tray Tables in an Upright Position & Other Challenges

I had no idea that if you choose the first seat in the first row on a Southwest Airlines flight,
you do not get a portable fold-up table for your lap.  You also must store everything in
the over-head compartment or on your lap, as under your seat is a “No, no.” 
My partner and I, usually extremely capable when it comes to life’s (and airplane’s) little challenges, actually found these simple rules annoying, rude and quite frankly, taxing.  Yesiree.  Silly, but initially we thought, “Yippee, we’ll get to be first off the plane; 
de-board in a split minuto upon landing.”  Also, my partner wanted to stretch out her legs,
all 5’2” of them.
To add to jetliner fiascos and minor complications, and because my partner is losing her memory at a very young age (‘effin scary), I somehow ended up with Mt. Everest on my lap:
my laptop, jacket, neck rest, scarf, 4 ‘sample packets’ that I call ‘baglets’ of complimentary peanuts AND crossword puzzles to exercise her brain. 
“Please put your seats and your tray tables in an upright position in front
of you”  went the announcement. 
Once in the air, we decided to celebrate the smooth takeoff and my incredible ability to balance a 24 “ pile of crap on my lap by ordering the flight’s  “Signature Special”; Tangueray and tonic for just $4 bucks. 
4 Peanut baglets are challenging to open, even when you don’t have a lap full and even when you’re not holding 2 G & T’s filled to the brims in cheap plastic cups.  
What came next was reminiscent of a Laurel and Hardy movie, except in slow mo.
I’m holding her beverage while she insists on squeezing her lime into her cup, except it misses her cup and hits the quiet, intellectual man from India sitting next to me; the one reading his thick, historical non-fiction and hoping to himself that we get off at the layover stop.  He wipes his right cheek and eye with an expression of forced composure, yet border lining on disgust.
He gazes out at the clouds.
Mortified, my partner wipes her fingers on the napkin and as I carefully hand her the cup,
she misses the fucking thing completely and it goes flying, soaking my right thigh,
her left and the right jean pocket of Mr. Perfect next to me. 
The fact that we had asked for extra ice, only made the situation more noticeable. 
All passengers in the near vicinity look at the floor, then at both of us with judgmental glares. Of course, as you’d expect, we get the sober-giggles, as neither of us has taken a sip. 
When the plane lands in Los Angeles, most passengers get off, and the man to my left moves across from us and 3 rows back. The flight attendant, no longer called stewardesses (fyi) brings us another beverage. 
Bless her heart.

Life is jam-packed with surprises and often those surprises show their frisky little heads for the mere purpose of innocence and mischievous fun, at which time, one learns quite quickly the degree of patience one has.

I received a call from the new park manager last week; the poor gal who took over for me and is now most likely heavily drinking.  Seems there’s been some “perky” incidents at the ‘ole trailer park; ones that have required her utmost patience and maintaining of dignity.  She wanted to share one in particular with me, as she was sure I could empathize with her, since I’ve been there, done that. 

“Work has been crazy busy here” she started out.  “You know of Alta’s passing and did I tell you about 26’s foreclosure?  Both very sad situations.”  She continued.   
“But we had some (more) septic issues and I wanted to tell you of one incident because I know you like to write about these kinds of things and you just can’t make this shit up.” 
(Did she intend the pun, I wondered?) “Space 16 had septic problems awhile back and we had to bring in PSTS to do some major work; digging up 16’s driveway; the section that runs between hers and 17.  It was a major job, days of heavy labor that required replacing the septic pipes down under.   They asked my maintenance man to help.   They began the work around noon.  All was going pretty well, as expected, when suddenly all came to an abrupt halt.  Evidently, the resident at space 17 decided to stand in front of her glass slider, naked as a jaybird, totally nude, and watch the men work.”   
Non-fiction, folks.

“No shit!?” was my outburst. “No, lots of shit but I swear to God, my maintenance guy didn’t know what the hell to do!” 

I love life’s little awkward complications.  Those of you who have been following me for awhile might recall naked Leonilda (brother she lives with is Leo) She’s the resident that was sure someone was stalking her because she found a single cherry pit, with stem attached, lying in her carport.  (“I haven’t eaten cherries since I was in the first grade and I got real sick from ‘em.”)  She also left a voice message one time asking permission to spray paint the outside of her unit, but worried she might get some paint on the neighboring units.  When I returned her call around 5 that afternoon, prepared to give her the rules & regs of painting, she said,
“Can you call me back another time? I’m drunk right now.” 

Her parents must have been ‘special’ to name her and her brother Leonilda and Leo.
And the siblings are pretty ‘special’ too, as they still share a pre-fab, though they both look
to be in their late fifties.
My only question for the boys digging up the septic is this… Did you hold a look? 
I’ve met the new maintenance guy and he’s a polite gent, so I doubt that he’d
do anything but continue digging. 

It’s funny how we find ourselves in these pickles; delicious combinations of comical and dicey situations in our day to day.  For example, during a recent trip to Taos, I was browsing in a locally owned bookstore called Moby Dickens.  A friend had recommended it and if you ever get to Taos, go!  It’s jam-packed with very cool books, but not so crammed that you don’t feel at home in the comfortable surroundings.  Anyway, I was multi-tasking; reading the back covers of a few books on Mabel Dodge Luhan, while eavesdropping on a conversation that was taking place at the checkout counter.

“Hello, Armando! Good to see you this morning” said the friendly, obvious owner lady to the man in his late 70’s who was dressed in a plaid western shirt, bow-tie, jeans cinched high above his navel with a leather belt and carrying a Moby Dickens bag.
“I’m doing well but my wife sent me to return the book I bought for our 12 year old granddaughter.  
I guess I got the wrong one.”
Reaching into the bag, Armando pulls out the book by E. L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey; 
the first in a trilogy of adult erotica. 
“My wife is mad at me. I guess the book for our granddaughter is a hardback called
Between Shades of Gray.” (Children’s book by Ruta Sepetys)
My expression matched that of the owner and she quickly offered to order Armando the correct, age-appropriate book that wasn’t in stock. 
I recently read an interview with Ruta Sepetys, in which she said that her sales have  “sky-rocketed” in recent months due to the release of James’ bestseller.
Right on, Ruta!  CHA CHING!
I haven’t read the (supposedly) sexually explicit novel.  Not sure that I will. 
Right now, since I’m forging ahead with my healthy nutritional plan, the discovery of a new flavor of potato chip actually seems more seductive than a hetero S & M novel.

It’s great to be back with you on the page, pals!  It’s my big, fat wish that life’s hurdles, whether whimsical or horrific, never get ya down too low.  
Let's all just keep on keepin on!  Remember the laughter.  And always remember to keep your tray tables in an upright position.