walking in the garden

I finally visited Descanso Gardens. Chris has been bugging me to do this for a long time, maybe the entire year I’ve been here. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s just having the time and energy.

For both of us.

Today, we went at last. It was so beautiful! The Rosarium, and the Camellia forest, and the Japanese tea house with Bamboo. We saw so many flowers! There is also an audobon bird observatory, where they provide a telescope to look at birds that are far away.

We looked to see an Egret, with long black, knock-kneed legs.

There was a waterfall, in the middle of the redwoody and ferny part. Later on, we saw some extremely placid deer, who kindly let us take a lot of pictures of them. We were respectful and did not make sudden movements, but even so, they were extremely patient.

at the end of our three or four hours there, we decided to join. That way we get in free for a year. We had to pay their fee, but it is so close to where I live, that I think it will be worth my while.

We didn’t even see half of it.


This recall of the California Governor has us thinking about the ridiculousness of politics.

I have other reasons to think about politics:
PERSONAL politics

Things can get so scary so fast between people. Misunderstandings build up and then become an impenetrable wall.

Sometimes you can walk away.
Sometimes you can’t.

I try to go back, chase the tangled ends of the thread. What happened? What went wrong? What did _I_ do, so I don’t do it again?

HOW can I fix it?

When I was younger, I was convinced that I would be able to fix these things. That I would work HARD and FIND the problem and MAKE IT RIGHT.

As I get older, I realize that what I had formerly thought of as apathy in those around me was not quite that. To state it right out:
Sometimes, you just have to let things go, do nothing and let time ease you past.

Because that can really work sometimes! Amazing how so little effort can actually result in a big payoff.

But it doesn’t work all the time.

So I’m back to pulling on the threads of the knotty problem.
Do I leave it alone?
Or do I worry it a bit longer?

I don’t know.

What I _do_ know is that I’ve run across this problem before. And I also know that if you see a problem twice, the thing that is the same about those two problems is YOU. So what have I done to cause this problem?

was I just worrying it again?

These things make me so uncomfortable.

Since you brought it up-John Donne Rocks!

Carpe Diem and Rock and Roll!

Eric Olsen had reason to metion John Donne while talking about the Rolling Stones, the Spirit of Rock’n’Roll and Living Life fully to the end.

I am a fan of John Donne, so I thought I would take up the thread and say a little more on the subject.

Remember the Movie, Dead Poets Society? I can’t remember exactly, but the super-cool English teacher teaches the boys the meaning of Carpe Diem-Sieze the Day! He says it was the poets anthem.

It was the anthem of a certain SCHOOL of poets, not all poets. They were the Cavalier poets, or the Metaphysical poets. And that other thing that Robin Williams said, that the real reason for poetry was to woo women, was really true of these guys.

That was almost all they did. They came right AFTER SHakespeare, and were constantly writing poems to get the ladies to give it up. But it was part of their Credo, Live now! Live large!

Sounds a lot like Rock’n’Roll to me.

Check out this bit by Donne:
Go and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil’s foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
Or to keep off envy’s stinging,
And find
What wind
Serves to advance an honest mind

Remind you of anyone? Dylan? Hendrix?

When John Donne is young, he pretty much devotes himself to pursuit of chasing tail. His poems are almost entirely seduction poems.

But he gets older. He passes 30. And he gets religious.

But he doesn’t leave it behind. “It” being the passionate intensity. If you ask me, and maybe it’s because I’m a jaded female who is not impressed with seduction attempts, the religious poems are much more powerful than his earlier carnal works.

Here is my favorite:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The driving energy of that is just as much as a head-banging drum line or a squealing guitar riff. Rock on, John Donne!

Weetzie Bat

You know how when you were young, you came up with all kinds of “in” words for things.

I remember we came up with all kinds of strange meaning for the colors of M&Ms. Green was supposed to have aphrodisiac powers. If you offered a green M&M to the young man of your dreams, and he accepted, it was a potent love spell.

I think the guys were completely unaware of this.

I knew one guy who referred to overly available women as puppies. Have no idea where that came from. It took him a long time to tell me that what he meant when he called a girl a puppy.

Weetzie Bat, by Fransceca Lia Block, takes that to an extreme. This very L.A. book is for young adults, a sort of fantasy coming-of-age story where there are special words to mean everything, and of COURSE everything works out in the end.

It was cute. I started reading it in the bookstore, and could have finished it there. But I was honest and bought the darn thing. It made the world feel very exciting and possible.

The State Fair!

I spent the weekend at the California State fair. I love the fair! I was a little 4-Her when I was young. I had pigs, cows, rabbits and a big dog.

Not all at the same time.

But I would take my animal to the fair and put it in the show and see if I could win something. When you take your animal to the fair, you have to stay and take care of it. So I would be there all week long taking care of my crittur and seeing all the sights.

I got to see everything, since I was there all week. Because I was exhibiting, I got it free!

Fairs are pretty much as good as the community they are in make them. I thought that the state fair would be much larger than the Los Angeles County Fair, which I visited last year.

It really wasn’t, but it was pretty good. I saw a 600 pound performing pig, I learned how to milk a cow or a goat. I saw bunnies and cows. No pigs or sheep though. They were the week before.

We were all looking for the Deep Fried Twinkies, but they had vanished. My brother saw Deep Fried Oreos, though.

I settled for Funnel Cake.

The food at the fair seemed to be anything “on a stick.” There was Catfish on a stick, frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate on a stick, chinese food on a stick.

This made us consider how you could put other kinds of food on a stick. I thought that a yarn-like skien of noodles would be good.

Then, the problem of how to make nachos on a stick was tackled: make it a thick stick, with a plunger that could be used to push up the cheese sauce onto the tortilla chips, which would be arranged around the stick like a pine tree.

Next year, we’ll need a booth.

Arranged Marriages

This collection of short stories, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, blows me away. The author is an Indian female living in my old neighborhood, the San Francisco Bay area. The stories talk about husbands, children, work, school, love and ambition. They are the most modern feminine stories I have ever read.

Maybe it’s because the idea of an arranged marriage strips away the necessary “happily-ever-after” fairy tale we have in the west, maybe because the Indian women feel the pull of family and children so strongly..I don’t know. Maybe we have heard the feminist views here in america so long that our sincere concern for children and mothers and brothers as equally important to our personal ambition feels like a guilty secret.

The emphasis on societal pressures reminds me a lot of Jane Austen. That, and the very pragmatic view of marriage. Let’s be real, kids. Marriage is very much a practical affair. Love waxes and wanes, but the solidity of married life has to remain.

I find this book affirms the real details of female life. The scariness of having children, or not having them. The struggle to evolve as a person without disrupting the lives of your loved ones. Others’ expectations of you, and your expectations for yourself.

The stories are beautiful, utterly practical, and haunting.

Can I get a witness

My new bus route is a little scarier than the old one. It starts out in a nice area (the area where I live..Imagine! me in a nice area!) but then heads off into the hinterlands of silverlake and echo park.

There are more interesting specimens of humanity on this route. Last week, there was a pungent gentleman with a huge growth on his thigh. I’m sorry, but it made me ill. I couldn’t even look at him. The thing was, though, he was yakking up a storm with the driver. Hard to ignore.

Yesterday, on the way home, the bus was really full. People were getting on and off, and sometimes people had to stand. There was a beautiful older Asian woman holding onto the rail at one point. I thought, Maybe I should stand up and let her have my seat. But then I realized that the seat next to me was empty anyway. She could sit if she wanted to.

And then she did. She sat right next to me. And she turned to me, trying very hard with all the small bit of English she could muster, asking if I knew Jesus.

I stifled a spasm of laughter, and told her yes, I did.

“Are you go to Heaven when you die?”

“I hope so,” I told her.

That was chink enough in my armor! She plunged in with her evangelical message. God Bless her, she was extremely earnest, if rather unintelligible.

Don’t you love that evangelical certitude that they are hell-proof? 100% inspected, guaranteed brimstone- and hellfire-free, just sign on the dotted line. Extra credit and jewels in your celestial crown if you can shed a tear or two.

I remember beginning those witnessing classes when I was 14. Evangelism courses at the church on weekday nights, teaching us to be brave and uninhibited about butting in on people. They had pre-fab answers for ALL the possible excuses people gave for not asking Jesus into their hearts.

Each excuse had a folded tract explaining and dismissing it. Things like, “What about all the pygmies in Africa who haven’t heard about Jesus? Are they going to hell?” Of course! and here’s a tract about it.

Most of the questions in the set of tracts were ones I’d never thought of. I was a little worried about them, for a minute or two. But then I had much bigger things to be worried about-I actually had to approach strangers and wrangle them into saying the Jesus prayer.

Years later, I would run into these “Are you going to Heaven?” roadblocks. I thought I should give them a little thrill. Ever hear of a secret shopper? The random customer that goes to the stores and checks out the customer service? I was the secret sinner!

I’d give these evangelical wannabees a line they shouldn’t be able to refuse, “So, if I wanted to become a Christian, what would I have to do?”

They would wig out. “Umm…Um…You should read this..!”

“Well, okay, but can’t you just tell me?”

“You should come to our meetings, they could explain it a lot better.”

Both these things went along with the same training I’d recieved: push out literature, and get them to come to church. But I was disappointed, why didn’t they try to move in for the kill? It was humiliating to know that I was probably as inept a missionary as they were.

I had actually realized this at the time. In the middle of trying to evangelize my hometown, I figured out that this was not the way to do it. Mostly, my efforts were rebuffed, and the very few times I managed to “lead someone to the Lord,” we would smile blissfully at one another for a moment afterwards and never see them again. “Hey it was nice to meet ya! See you in Heaven!”

It was so not fair! How did they get off so easy? I had to go to church and give up worldly things all the time. THEY just got off scot free. Happy on their merry way.

I had my doubts about that being all there was. Did it count, if you just said a prayer once, and then lived your life no different?

Besides, it seemed wrong to just walk up to strangers. Shouldn’t we be friends with people? Show them love and be involved in their lives? Why should they listen to a total stranger? We lacked credibility, I thought.

The evangelism class instructors admitted that “friendship evangelism” was the most effective kind. But that put me in a bind-I wasn’t allowed to know anybody that wasn’t a Christian.

Back to the mall with my wallet of tracts. That is, until I gave up on the whole idea as flawed. Tracts weren’t in the bible! Knocking on the doors of people’s home and staying completely uninvolved with their lives was wrong.

That still didn’t mean I was allowed to make friends with them. Because they would drag me down into their sinful ways. One bad apple makes all the rest rotten! Despite my protestations, I was defenseless before the evil lure of the world.

It’s been a while since I’ve been witenessed to. I almost thought it had gone out of style. I asked the woman on the bus where she was from.

“Korea!” she said.

“Where do you go to church?” I asked.


“Which presbyterian?”

It took a while for her to understand what I meant. She at last told me it was a presbyterian church on Wilshire.

After a moment more of her discussing the perils of sin and death, I tried to let her off the hook. I told her I’d known about Jesus for a long time, ever since I was a child.

“You go to church?”

“yes!” I said.

“Presbyterian or Baptist?”

I wonder why she picked those two denominations in particular? I told her Orthodox, which did not satisfy her. She gave me a japanime-looking cartoon tract which spelled out exactly what I needed to do to go to heaven. She had a selection of several languages.

I read it as she sat next to me silently. It was hard not to laugh out loud. The girl and the boy and the talking dog were pretty funny. The dog really was rooting for the boy to go to hell. And the girl wouldn’t get “involved” with the boy until he got saved.

I finished it before she got off, and I was thinking I should maybe hand it back to her. But I thought she might be offended.

She handed the bus driver another one as she got off.

Gene Kelly

They had a Gene Kelly movie marathon on this weekend. Oh man oh man…I love those musicals!

On the Town
An American in Paris
Singing in the Rain
Summer Stock

Summer Stock is one i hadn’t seen or even heard of before. But it has the COOLEST dance scene in it. You know how STOMP is a performance with all kinds of sound-making objects?
Gene Kelly does this dance that incorporates a creaky floorboard and the way a newspaper on the floor makes his tap shoes sound. My god, it is thrilling!

On the Town explodes, and it has the stellar voice of Sinatra in the harmonies. It’s great! And I love the strong female roles.

An American in Paris is one I’m going to have to sit down and watch carefully again. It was very artistic. Yes, it’s a light musical, but there are incredible interpretive moments that grab your attention. Dance is art, not just entertainment, and Kelly wanted the viewers to see that.

And Singing in the rain has no rivals. It’s a classic for all time.

I am thinking that it is a crying shame that I have reached this stage of my life without learning to tap dance. Something must be done about this!

Great weekend

I seem to always want to do more than is humanly possible to do.

If you asked me, and I didn’t think about it, I would tell you that I spent a very quiet weekend.

But then, If I think about it, I did a LOT!

On friday night, I was exHAUSTEd. I had been up since 3:30 am dealing with the blackout on the east coast. I staggered home from the bus stop at 4:30ish, I think…and FELL into bed.

But I didn’t want to stay in bed. I wanted to be up and about. So I woke up, tireder than when I fell asleep, about an hour later, and slapped myself awake.

Oh yes! My friend had sent me a really good book, “Arranged Marriages”. I had an Amazon box waiting for me at the door. In my dazed state, I was trying to remember if I had ordered something lately. Then I thought, “I bet Bonnie sent me a present!”

She did, and that was a wonderful thing. I will write about the book later. Suffice it to say for now, that I really like it.

But I woke up all groggy, and forced myself out of the house. I needed to buy a microwave. It’s hard to make food for one person when you don’t have a microwave. I had priced a good one at Walmart. Barely 50 bucks, and the right color and wattage.

But I live in a walmart desert. It was 13 miles to the nearest walmart.

I have to say, 13 miles means something different here. There is SO MUCH in between one mile and the next, it’s an ordeal to get through it. 13 miles should only take 15-20 minutes, right?


Man I don’t undestand it, maybe I never will, but with this many people and THINGS in the way, miles are farther. It is like an obstacle course. In big cities, cars are not always the advantage you think they should be.

In any case, the great deal on the microwave had sold out by the time I got to Friday. I shopped again (thanks, mysimon.com) and found one at Kmart. Kmart is closer.

So I shoved myself out the door, in pursuit of a microwave. I woke up pretty fast when I started driving. And I went down the main drag which is right my my new place, and saw the Salvation Army thrift store. I peeled to a stop. Well, not really. But I was very excited to stop and look at this place. I’d known it was there, but I’d never had a chance to look inside.

Oh! Thrift bliss! I bought two pretty shirts and two pretty dresses for 12 dollars! I’m so pleased. I love thrift shopping. All the stores near my old place were RAGGEDY. ew. This one was perfect. You can bet I’ll be visiting it at least every week. I love clothes, but I need to save money now that I have a mortgage.

Then I ran off to the Kmart, and found my micowave. It is a GOOD microwave. Amazing what proper wattage can do. My old place had a LOW power microwave. It took 4 MINUTES to make popcorn, and the corn always came out stale and half unpopped. This one takes less than two minutes. It’s beautiful.

All that was just friday.
Saturday, I went to a invitation only designer clothing sale with a friend, bought and read a whole book for my book club, had dinner with Chris, went grocery shopping, and in between put more boxes away. Sunday, I went to church, took a nap, read more, went hiking in a beautiful park with Chris, had ice creams afterwards, watched a Gene Kelly Marathon ( i LOVE musicals!), made dinner FOR chris, ironed and fell BAM into bed.

It was wonderful. I am starting to feel more like myself.


The whole east coast practically is DARK!

This is a problem for my time-zone striding profession. I have a feeling that we won’t be doing video conferences tomorow.

I’m worried about New York City. I just had a very pleasant blackout at my home in Glendale on Tuesday. I am afraid that NYC is not having such a nice time of it.

NYC has had two other big ol’ blackouts before, one in 1965 and one in 1977. The one in ’65 was a widespread one like the one right now.

“At 5:27 p.m., November 9, 1965, the entire Northeast area of the United States and large parts of Canada went dark. From Buffalo to the eastern border of New Hampshire and from New York City to Ontario, a massive power outage struck without warning. Trains were stuck between subway stops. People were trapped in elevators. Failed traffic signals stopped traffic dead. And, at the height of the Cold War, many thought Armageddon had arrived. One pilot flying over a darkened New York City stated, “I thought, ‘another Pearl Harbor!'” By 5:40 p.m. that evening, 80,000 square miles of the Northeast United States and Ontario, Canada, were without power, leaving 30 million people in the dark.

Despite the confusion and disarray, New Yorkers spent the night in peace. There were no riots or widespread looting. Instead, New Yorkers helped each other. Some directed traffic. Others assisted the New York fire department as they rescued stranded subway passengers. In many cases, New Yorkers just shared extra candles and flashlights with neighbors, reveling in the opportunity to get to know the people who lived across the hall.

By 11 o’clock, the power was restored in 75 percent of Brooklyn, and by 2 a.m., the borough was fully equipped with electric power. By midnight, much if the Bronx and Queens were lit. And, at 6:58 a.m., almost fourteen hours after the massive blackout struck New York, power was restored citywide. “

The one in 1977 was just the city:
“On a hot July night in 1977, the lights went out in New York City. The purr of air conditioners, cooling millions of New Yorkers, was replaced by stultifying silence-and then the sound of breaking glass. Faced with the second blackout in twelve years, New Yorkers responded with resilience as well as violence. Many stories emerged from the night of July 13th that revealed New Yorkers’ divergent feelings about the city in which they lived. In some places, neighbors helped neighbors, and strangers helped strangers. Yet, at the same time, neighborhoods throughout New York exploded into violence. Stores were ransacked, looted and destroyed. Buildings were set ablaze. And the police, for the most part, stood helpless. In these stark contradictions, an unusual yet definitive moment left its mark on New York history-the night the lights went out.

In other parts of the city the experience was starkly different. News broadcasts reported outbreaks of violence, looting, and fires. Areas of Harlem, Brooklyn, and the South Bronx experienced the most damage, where thousands of people took to the streets and smashed store windows looking for TVs, furniture, or clothing. In one report, 50 cars were stolen from a car dealership in the Bronx. The police made 3,776 arrests, although from all accounts, many thousands escaped before being caught. 1,037 fires burned throughout the City, six times the average rate, while the fire department also responded to 1,700 false alarms. Regardless of where you where when the lights went out, New York’s streets teemed-and sometimes burned-with life.

While the lights would not be turned on in some neighborhoods for another twenty-five hours, the blackout led many to question the reliability of New York’s power system. Ironically, this attitude was partly the result of unusually high expectations for power reliability on the part of metro area consumers; Con Edison had (and still has) the least interrupted electrical service of all utilities in the nation. “