More Summer trip…

Slow down summer!  My hair has been in a dirty ponytail for weeks and I don’t have to be anywhere before 9.  This is living.. So the trip I mentioned a few weeks ago continued up to Mendocino.  North of SF you see a lot more green and drivers let you change lanes on the freeway.  Definitely out of LA.  I like it aesthetically up there more, though when I have lived in No. Cal.  I did miss the dynamism of LA.

We stopped for lunch at a small, old town, Hopland.  So many towns up there you could scamper around and make a trip out of.

Hey, look there, another pretty spot

Hey, look there, another pretty spot

Eventually we got to our prize, Dr. Dean’s home.  Many acres of nature and fun.  The smell is always striking as is the quiet.  The constant noise we experience in cities makes us deaf and crazy, yet I don’t notice it till I’m far away.   There was a fawn born on their land days before our arrival.  Breathtaking to see such a deer and we hoped her mom would be able to protect her from other wildlife…not always the case.baby deer

This doesn't look like La Brea avenue

This doesn’t look like La Brea avenue

Last time we were there they were hollowing out a great old redwood stump for their grandkids to play in.  This trip it had been masionized.

What you doing under there?

What you doing under there?

The kids loved it and it was no surprise when I saw recorded on the Edell’s DVR “Extreme tree houses”.

Rex wants them to put in an elevator.  One morning he got up early to speak to the carpenter working on it.  He was trying out his favorite joke.

Rex: “why are you under there?

carpenter: “I’m working.”

Rex: “But, Why are you under there?”

It took a while but finally pay dirt.

Carpenter:  “Under Where?”

Rex “I got you to say underwear!”

Trying to be a good guest I made an error that is causing me discomfort still.  I decided to repair the wood borders of the path to their river spot.  I moved a bunch of sticks that had been the border of the path, but had moved during the winter.  I went near one shady spot at the base of a redwood to pull up a longer downed branch to make a border and then felt pain.  I looked down and there were yellow jackets all around me.  Mark had been stung on an off beaten trail the day before and Dean’s wife Sharon had told us the best thing to do is run.  I did just that.  Into the river.  I pulled out a stinger when I got there.  It was much worse than a bee sting.  My arms and ankle swelled and got flushed.  The cold of the river worked as an analgesic.

safely away from yellow jackets

safely away from yellow jackets

I sipped a beer and tried to calm myself.  It felt bad.   By dinner I was a bit better and Sharon gave me two Benadryls to help.  Before desert I was face down.

Dean: “You can’t handle that!  I knew you when!”  Sure, in my twenties my ability to process foreign substances was far greater.  I crawled to bed.   “Get up” Dean exhorted me.  “We got s’mores ready for the kids.”

Okay, I staggered to the gathering, but after shoving one melted marshmallow in my mouth I limped off to bed and sank.

A week later back home the swelling returned.  My hair follicles burst upward and the itching was intense.  A non drowsy antihistamine helped, but now back to acupuncture and Chinese herbs, which is the biggest help for my annoying skin.

Another way we try to be good guests is we cook.  Well, easy when you travel with Mark Peel sure, but I jump in as well. It’s easy with Sharon’s garden and she went to Fort Bragg and got a whole, fresh wild salmon that Chef Peel did his handiwork to.  You don’t get salmon like that everyday! Melt in your mouth.

great dinner.. before I passed out

great dinner.. before I passed out

There was a cauliflower dish I am refining I enjoyed and one morning made these scones. Some mornings you need something fresh baked!  They have yogurt in them so they are a little less decadent than a normal scone. I put orange zest in them, but I want to tweak some more and add more orange flavor and some whole wheat flour.yogurt scones

Better than a bottle of wine as a host present, Mark brought the fixins to make a tree swing.  I swooned when he put ours up.  Using a sling shot and some creative thinking he did the same for Dean and Sharon.  He spent days searching for the perfect tree.

Mark Peel, Tree Swing maker

Mark Peel, Tree Swing maker

On the trip I didn’t let my damaged skin get me down.  It’s always hard to leave their paradise, but a dose of reality in the country marked our departure.  They are off the grid so we took some trash to the dump for them when we left.  The chain smoking ladies in pajamas and their tatted up men folk dropping of their waste showed us we were not at Kennebunkport. (Note: file that character away for a sketch one day)

Caught lunch on the way

a place this cute has to be good

a place this cute has to be good

and then a big, good smelling whiff of nature when we rolled into Marin County to stay with our friends and my god daughter.  Next day headed to Santa Cruz, saw another friend and then took the kids to Santa Cruz beach Boardwalk.

skee ball queen

skee ball queen

Back when I was a little kid we use to “summer in Salinas”. ( Yeah, not the Cape)  We would spend a couple of weeks with my cousins after our Yosemite camping trips.  My folks barely slowed the car as they push us out and speed off to Monterey for a couple of nights of child free time.  At the time I thought, “Why do they need to leave us behind?”  Now, of course, I get it!

My cousins were hilarious and we loved going to the boardwalk.  It could never be built today.  Coastal commission, what have you , so it’s great to walk on it’s creaky boards and smell the frying of corn dogs.  When I was little — I was the youngest of all the cousins I tripped over a $5 bill.  The cousins and my sisters surrounded me.  “If you don’t buy us tickets with that money we all have to go home.”  Oh, sure, I don’t want to go home.

Cut to I’m playing skee ball with my kids and you have to spend about $800 in tokens to earn enough tickets to redeem for a fruit shaped eraser.  The kids were a few tickets short when I — NOTKIDDING-  FOUND A $5 BILL!!  I bought tokens and won a few more tickets for my kids.  Still not enough for a back scratcher though. One thing that is different so many years later… the rides where I have to go in loops make me VERY ill.  I can feel the plaque on my brain crumbling.  I’m sure I’ve sped up aging on a tilt a whirl. Mark and Rex are the daredevils in the family.

father son bonding

father son bonding

We stayed so late we couldn’t make it far down the 101.  So our one non coach surfing night was in a hotel in Salinas.  You know how I said you can find so many towns in Sonoma and Mendocino that you could explore and enjoy?  Salinas not so much.  35 years later and gentrification never stopped here.  I found a good little coffee place down town, but most of the patrons looked like they would have been friends with my uncle.  The only hipster in the place was the barista.  There were empty store fronts nearby.  I once asked my cousins, “what do you do in Salinas?”  They replied, “Go to Monterey.”

We stopped back at Vines on the Marycrest and I stocked up on more wine.  I had given out most of my host presents and now I needed a gift as I went back to the noise of the city.  For the smell maybe I should tape a piece of lavender to my upper lip.

I love this Christmas stuff

My nose is running, I’m tired and have skin so dry I could plant corn in the cracks, but I do love this time of year.  It’s all because of my 4 and 8 year old.  christmas kidThis precious time where they

1) Still want to hang out with me

2) Still believe in Santa Claus

3) are open and excited and haven’t become cynical jaded f*cks.

That time will come, but till then I’m loving it.  I love sharing them with my mom

kids, Aunt Cec, mom, niece Lily

kids, Aunt Cec, mom, niece Lily

best gingerbread house

The four at home in front. maybe I should have asked for a little guy just off the plate to represent Oliver in college

and going to holiday teas, church Christmas boutiques, (my splurge here from the Solvang Bakery) Last year my splurge was piano playing miniature teddy bear. What can I say I’m weak for Christmas kitsch.

Mom, are you sure we can't eat it?

Mom, are you sure we can’t eat it?

personalized gingerbread house

Making hot chocolate, buying our tree.  They insisted on flocked this year. decorating a flocked treechildren decorating christmas trees I have bought ONE gift so far and need to do my budget of what is possible, but in the last few years I’ve just come to accept that anxiety at what I’m putting on the credit card is as much a part of Christmas time as hot apple cider.  Oh, by the way Christmas bazaars, this year no one has had hot apple cider.  What gives?  I’m calling Fox News.

Christmas time goes so fast that one really has to have everything staged and ready to go.  I’m pretty good, but still trying to dig out my Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra holiday CD’s. Good I have spotify, but I have to skip a lot these modern ballads.. blech.

children's christmas

Thanks for the Mick Jagger pose Rex

One reason I have been looking forward to Christmas is so that Vivien can finally wear this exquisite dress that Mark’s cousin Vicki made for her.  She visited us earlier this year and we went fabric shopping. She went back to Oregon and then sent us this picture perfect dress.  Red velvet, green silk sash, ruching on the shoulders. homemade christmas dress A one of kind.  Years from now when Vivien is off clubbing or running her medical practice I will be clutching this dress, shooing  my cats away from its beauty.

kids and santaDear Santa, let this sweetness last as long as possible.teddy bear tea

 

A tribute: to a stranger who helped raise me

Harry Lewis died last week and I want to note it.  He created a successful string of restaurants called Hamburger Hamlet in Los Angeles. I wrote about the closing of the final Hamlet a while back.  I wanted to note his passing because without knowing it he helped raise me.  

Growing up in LA Hamburger Hamlet, or “Hamlets”, as we called them for short, loomed large. They were a great medium restaurant.  Not fast food, but not fancy.  You could dress casual, or a great to place to go after you’d been to a movie.  I am a child of the ’70’s.  The political aware, ERA T-shirt wearing kids, mom wearing Dr Scholls with her long straight hair, dad with side burns with big lapels. When I was 8 my mom started her business.  An alternative school.   She was busy and my dad was not Mr. Co-parent.  Domestic duties still fell on to my mother totally.

It was around this time that my mom announced she was not cooking anymore. Once in a while?  No, Thanksgiving was pretty much it.  She meant it. She had her own health food, but if I didn’t want salt less turkey soup,( and who does?) lentils, rice cakes  we were on our own.   My sisters and I would cobble something together.  Our go toos: Fettucine Alfredo, fried Chicken, quiche makes me wonder why we weren’t obese.  
The other way I ate was when my sister Carole got her drivers license my mom would hand her $20 and say “Take Daphne to the Hamlet”.  We would sit in the red vinyl booths on National Blvd, or Westwood or for the fancy Hamlet on Sunset Blvd where it was usual to see Dean Martin at the bar. There were many things we loved on the menu:  the French Onion soup, “Those Potatoes” , which was hash browns with sour cream ( what’s NOT to like about that!).  But, the dish that really took root in my heart, mind and soul was the #11 hamburger.  This burger had crisp bacon, and Russian dressing.  The ratio of meat to bread, to yummy extras was all perfect.  

Harry Lewis started out as an actor.

young Harry Lewis with Claire Trevor in "Key Largo". "Let me go, Claire, I got a burger to make!"

He had a vision of an upscale hamburger place that was still easy, accesible. He and his wife Marilyn sold the collection of restaurants in the ’80’s for $30 million and it was never the same.

Cut to 2000, I was guest on a show in SF and waiting in the green room with me was Marilyn and her son, who was running their remaining restaurant.  She was delightful and gave me her memoir which I read dreaming of a #11.  It had great stories like Sammy Davis Jr. and Jeff Chandler filling in for the Lewis’s so they could elope.

My other mother

Years later I’m very pregnant with Vivien and my doctor was in Westwood near Hamlet Gardens.  One of the few places they still ran.  You know how as the pregnancy wears on the doctors visits become more frequent.  Mark often came with me.  Since I was pregnant I was alway hungry.  Mark knew not to come between a snarling pregnant woman and her appetite so he always let me pick.  More often than not I’d say “Hamlet Gardens”.  Was it as good as the old Hamlet, no.  Partly because it seemed more fancy, ladies who lunch.  Even though I was a lady lunching I longed for the straight ahead wonder that was red vinyl and perfectly proportioned cooked meat.  Nevertheless, during this pregnancy I had little interest in spice, veggies, off beat.  I wanted WHAT I KNEW and hearty.

The Hamlet Garden’s had a hamburger, but not the #11.  I would ask the waiter if they could make it.  They would say, “Let me check.  Sometimes some of the old timers are in the kitchen and they can make it for you.”  One day I noticed that Harry Lewis was there.

he was older than this, but same twinkle in the eye

He was still a handsome man, lined, grey, but distinguished and well dressed.  He was looking over the dining room still very interested in the running of his business and that people were being taken care of.  We caught eyes and smiled.  He said,

“Did I hear you ask for a #11?” said the man who helped raise me, but I had never met. Did I!   So I gushed about how I grew up in the Hamlet’s  and how much I loved them and my baby ( gesturing to large belly) NEEDED a #11 to insure her strength and vitality.  Well, Mr. Lewis was charmed and charming and I GOT MY #11.  I got quite a few during my last trimester.  When he walked away from our table I sat back relieved.  “Mark, our baby is going to be ok.”

“Of course she is” Mark said.

“No, now she has been blessed.”  Because in my agnostic, alternative, always searching for our next meal upbringing the creator of the Hamlet was  the equivalent of a patron saint and he had just laid on hands.( so to speak)

It worked. Look at Vivien! She was a big, healthy baby.

built by love and #11's

I know what it is like to be the loyal customer who misses their favorite restaurant and to be part of the favorite restaurant who closes and misses its loyal customers.  It is a strangely superficial, yet enduring relationship.

My gratitude to Harry and Marilyn Lewis and their restaurants.  Without them I might have starved.

 

 

 

Shtupper-ware party- guest post by Donna Schwartz Mills

While I’m on my trip I have enlisted some of my favorite women to help me fill this space.  Because of my involvement in the Mayor’s race I have felt more connected to my city and wanted to pick bloggers who also feel that connection. This blogger is Socal Mom Donna Schwartz Mills.  She was one of the first bloggers I ever read and enjoyed.  She also came to my Grilled Cheese for Garcetti at Campanile last year.  She is also part of Momocrats.  While Donna is politically involved and did support Garcetti for Mayor this post has NOTHING to do with local politics.  I asked to reprint it here as it cracked me up.  It’s awkward when a friend invites you to a party that you know is an excuse to make some money, but what if what they are selling you would NEVER buy… Take it away Donna.

We’d been talking about having a Girls Night Out for a while, so the Evite from my friend (she asks that I call her “Roxy”) was not a surprise.

The occasion was:

GET YOUR WILD ON!

A wild and wicked evening with friends!!! You are invited to bring a friend along- please let me know if you will be doing so! Drinks, Nibbles and entertainment provided. The Love Boutique will be here.

Gulp.

I guess this is the time I have to come out and confess that I am something of a prude. Oh, I was young and single once (in the 1970′s! and ’80′s), so I wasn’t always a Victorian.

And I’d been to one of these parties before: Thirty years ago, while still in college, my younger sister was a rep for one of the first companies selling sex toys and related products via the party plan. My mom volunteered to be her first hostess, and of course, I was invited. It was a command performance.

And it was weird. There was my kid sister, standing in the middle of our living room, passing around dildos and vibrators to my mom and her pals — all of whom were hooting and hollering and giggling over the wares. And over on the other side of the room, I sat with a couple of my friends, feeling creeped out about the whole thing.

“When you’re our age, you’ll understand,” laughed my mother’s friend Stella, who used to push me in my baby carriage. Shudder.

That experience was horrifying. But what’s more horrifying is that I am now 10 years older than my mom and her friends were back then. And I DO understand.

However, this is one area where I prefer to be private. It probably doesn’t help that I’m married to a Brit, who has very definite ideas about what is appropriate and what is not in polite company.

My girlfriends are not the type of people you’d describe as “polite company.” They’re fun. And this event had all the markings of an evening that would be fun…

…for everyone but Monica, the hapless young woman who came to Roxy’s suburban home to sell sex toys to a group of mommys, teachers and Brownie leaders.

Roxy is a terrific hostess. True to her word, there were plenty of yummy “nibbly bits” … and alcohol, which was something of a double-edged sword. I do the same thing when I’m hosting a sales party. Likkering up your guests loosens their purse strings. It also loosens them up in other ways, too.

The party got off to a raucous start when one of Roxy’s friends brought her a novelty store gift she’d purchased especially for the occasion: penis-shaped drinking straws, which were plopped into each of our cocktails, resulting in lots of cell phone snapshots and dirty giggling from the guests.

The phallus motif was carried on by Monica, who handed out pencils w/similarly shaped erasers.

For young Monica, it was all downhill from there, because my friends and I behaved much as my mom’s generation did in 1979. Monica estimated that her presentation would take about 40 minutes. An hour and a half later, she was begging us all to settle down because she wanted to go home.

Some of the merchandise was pretty benign: products you find every day at the supermarket: shaving cream, bubble bath, shower gel. Even some of the more intimate items are advertised routinely on television: like K-Y’s new line of lubricants — which was a hot item at last year’s Johnson & Johnson Camp Baby conference. (Monica tried to make a case for why her company’s products were superior.)

Some of the products were exactly the same as the ones my sister showed back in 1979 (notably, the Kama Sutra flavored powder with feather applicator – the packaging is even the same).

Then we got into “the good stuff’: The “Crystal Wand,” described by Monica as a “tool that penetrates your G-spot” (I dunno – the word “penetrate” sounded a bit inaccurate to me). BenWa balls. The “Vaginal Work Out Egg.” The Magic Sleeve. The Rabbit. The Dolphin. (All I can tell you is that I can never look at these innocent-seeming animals in the same way again.)

Throughout the presentation, Monica peppered us with little quiz questions for points (the one with the most would get a free prize). At the beginning, they were easy: 50 points if you’ve ever taken a bubble bath. 200 points if you ever lit a candle in the bathroom for your bath. 200 points if you ever made love in a body of water.

When we got to the toy part of the presentation, Monica told us to give ourselves 200 points for every toy we owned. This was the end of the quiz for me – I don’t have any.

But another of the guests announced that she collects them. This is the one who brought us the interesting cocktail straws. It turns out that she — and the two co-workers she brought to the party — works behind in the scenes in the porn industry. In fact, all three women once worked in front of the cameras.

Now, I’ve always heard that the San Fernando Valley is the pornography capital of the world, and I’ve been vaguely aware that people I meet through school and kids’ activities might be a part of that — but this was the first time I ever met anyone who was a part of it and talked about it. It turned out that these ladies were a lot more expert about the products than Monica was, and the conversation grew into a lively discussion of the merits of one item over another. These women had informed opinions — which I would listen to, if I was in the market for any of it.

But I’m not. I really studied the order form, trying to figure out what I was willing to drop some money on… and was relieved when Roxy told me she didn’t expect everyone to buy: this was just an opportunity for a Girls Night Out.

It had been fun. And not a bit creepy — aside from the fact that my mom’s friend Stella was right. Now, I understand.

Donna Schwartz Mills blogs at Socalmom.net and Momocrats

Dr Harvey Karp, the man who got me to bed

I was cruising through the mini meetings at Mom 2.0.  They were in a big banquet hall and every 15 minutes one was to run from one table to the next depending upon the topic.  The most popular subjects were something like this, “how to make some money, or how to get eyeballs doing something every body with an ovary is doing these days.” It was standing room only at those tables. Not on the table, but next to them.

“What did she just say?”

“um, something about optimization.”

When I spied  Dr. Harvey Karp sitting at a table with only two woman.  The rest of the room suddenly went into soft focus.   The guy who wrote the book that got me through the first terrifying months of mom daughter’s life was there. 

Mr Swaddle and “shoo- shoo” shimmy himself!   To heck with it, I can’t hyper link my way  to fortune right now, I need to talk to this guy.

pediatrician with the mostest

The way I remembered it I knocked these ladies aside and then it was just US.  Me fawing, “It all worked!  My kids loved being swaddled.  My husband was so good at swaddling.”

He smiled kindly and said, “Do you have Happiest Toddler on the block?” ( sub title How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old)  I said I did, but hadn’t cracked it open in a while.  Would it be helpful with my now 4 year old son?  He said it can help with tantrums up to 5, sometimes even a little older.  So we discussed it.  He said this book was more important than the baby book “Because this will help you make them into the people you want them to be.” Yes, I nodded, especially boys who can express their feelings.   He explained you use 1/3 intensity of their voice.  Too much in your voice means it’s now about crazy mom, not tantrum kid.  Describe what you see, “you are pounding your fists on the floor, you are banging your head.  You really want me to that was important to you.”   Toddlers are not mini big kids, they think differently, he explained.

the world dissapeared...

He said, “get the DVD if you and your husband don’t want to read the book.”  Yeah, guys are more visual, right?  I sensed my 15 minutes was almost up as 3 other woman had plunked down on my turf.  I turned my back on them and leaned into the doctor for one last nugget o’ wisdom.  “My 4 year old sleeps with me most nights.  I like the cuddling”

“Sure, it’s nice.”  he agreed.

” I haven’t made a big deal about it, because I have older step children.  I know soon enough he won’t want anything to do with me, however, sometimes I’d like a little space.”

Dr. Karp reached underneath his table and pulled out. He gave it to me!  Now he was smiling to those other bitches  moms.  It was time for me to move on to upping my social media presence, taking a picture in natural light or twittering for jam and wipes.

I gazed at him one more time.  “I would love to talk to you about how I’m an Intactivist
I called out as I was forced to give up my seat and he was passing out books and smiles.

He should put all his books together and call it the Happiest Mom on the Block collection.

 

 

what’s YOUR channel

Recently my step daughter came by for a quick visit.  Good big sister that she is she was on the trampoline in the back with Vivien and Rex.  Vanessa came in laughing and told me what they had discussed.  Something came up about what they each would have on their very own channel.   I didn’t hear what they all chose for themselves, but Vanessa told me that Vivien said,

“My mom’s channel would be home improvement shows and cocktails.”

Wow, the kid is smart.  Yep, sounds like my little bit of heaven alright.

"Let mommy have her moment, Curb Appeal the block is on."

Of course,  ironically, I do have this site and my youtube channel and there is little home improvement on it and NO cocktails.  Perhaps the content one creates isn’t the same as the content one consumes.  Maybe I should switch up my emphasis here.

 

New TV fave

Over the years I have become obsessed with different TV Shows.  “Mash”, “The Avengers” ( Mrs Peel!), “Get Smart” and “Wild, Wild West.”  Also, “Maverick” and “Bonanza”.  Great thing about syndication sometimes I could watch these shows 5 times in a day.    Clearly I have a thing for cowboys and action.

Now as a grown adult there is a new TV obsession in town:  the revamped “Dallas”. When I was a kid my sisters and I use to dance to the “Dallas” theme song.  Back in the late ’70’s  and  early 80’s ,when if you wanted to watch something you watched it live on the few channels you had.  The show lost me the last few years.  I was over it in college and barely noticed when it left the air  in 1991.

A few months ago Josh Henderson, who plays JR’s son, came into the Tar Pit ( our now defunct cocktail lounge and eatery)  He had his faint mustache that night, it’s  good look for him.  He knew some of the people working there and he was so sweet and very appreciative of the opportunity.  He said that Linda Grey, Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman had been great to him.  He is playing kind of slime ball, so I think he has some real acting chops because he wasn’t like that at all when I spoke with him.

The other reason I love watching the new”Dallas” is in the pilot JR reminded me of my dad.  My brain is on high alert for men who reminded me of my dad. Did you hear that Robert Wagner? Larry Hagman is   similar in age to my dad and also has a little Southern lilt to his voice.  My dad was never a big oil tycoon, but was a bit the loveable scoundrel. Though I wish someone would trim Larry Hagman’s eyebrows. I use to do that for my dad.  I can come on South Fork and fix him right up.

Now you may not go in for a gringo telenovela like I do, but you fiddle around with their website.  Someone got the whole TV/ internet thing right at TNT.  If you are on Facebook you can put yourself and your friends in the iconic opening.

 

 

It randomly picks the pictures and the people.  But, you can chose your cast if they have enough pictures uploaded to Facebook.  Best of all you can out in your own address and make the opening about your own town.  

Like “Pacoima!”  So, instead of seeing SouthFork at the close your tract home pops up.  It’s a scream.  The one flaw, and it’s a big one, is they don’t allow you to send the link of what you created to your new “co stars”.  So, I’m left to laugh on my own.

Oh, wait, that’s usually how it is.  Well, give it a try. 

 

Post Christmas wish list

There is a reason why the holidays really need to be focused on the kids.  They will love some hunk of plastic for $15 .  I will not.

Anything that is easy to purchase looks like fodder for a white elephant party.

Take these gems I stumbled upon recently. On sale, if you can believe it!

Who doesn’t need an Elvis stocking?
bad gifts

Or better yet, Christmas at Graceland, which was on sale from it’s original $119.00.  Good burnt gravy!  That’s a lot of of after tax dollars for that tribute. Bring me the head of whoever paid full price for that.
bad gifts
What I want can’t be shoved into a stocking.  It’s boring, grown up stuff.  Someone to pay off my mortgage. Botox for life, the usual. How about daily massage?

I would like Santa to drive so much traffic to Cool Mom that I could derive a good income from it. Or whatever one does for such things. ( Dear Santa, why didn’t I go to Law School?).

The best gifts I got I’m paying for myself.  My bannister on my deck.  The steps were pretty scary without them.  This is like a pair of earrings under the tree for me. Except they would weigh me down and catch on a sweater.
wish list

The new roof on our back house.  Now, mind you we still don’t know what to do with this thing, but if we didn’t put a new roof on the “clubhouse”, as I call it, it would have melted in the next few months.  Look at that roofing tile!  Beautiful, like a little black dress.. but made out of fire retardent shingles!
wish list

You can see the front steps to the clubhouse look a bit Tobacco Road.  Well, maybe for my birthday…
wish list
While I’m making my wish list I would ask the present gods for a railing that’s not rusted and a redo of this fine crafted back stairs. They were a homemade job from a couple of owners ago. Each step is a different level. It’s a bit like a fun house.
wish list

This is why I love watching “Desperate Landscapes”.  I keep hoping that hunky dude with  the big arms is going to show up and fix my yard. But, sadly, like “Curb appeal” they only work on front yards.

Oh, of course the very best gifts don’t fit under the tree, but sometimes sleep next to it.
xmas

My Ah ha moment of 2011

I was driving to the market this afternoon , my hacking cough so rough I could barely hear the public radio station I was listening to.  I was about to hear words that CRYSTALIZED why I, and others, feel the way we do.

Why in this land of plenty with no horrible things at our feet everyone was so WORN out. Chopped up like wood chips, baked like supposed to be better for you potato chips.  No, it wasn’t just the holidays.  That’s just some more on the to do list in colder weather.
everythingness

It was a conversation with Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler. ( I would link to it, if they had it handy on th station site, they did not)  A witty, design power couple.  One of them –not sure who– said the problem today was (WAIT FOR IT)

EVERYTHINGNESS

to paraphase, “it’s not enough to just do your business you also have to tweet and all that, you have to think micro and macro all the time. It inhibits creativity”. That’s everythingness.  That’s certainly the world of blogging and the world of restaurants. I’m sure a list of different professions from painter to dress shop owner.

I think, Why am I so tired?  Why does life seem harder now?  It’s everythingness.  There is no let up in the new world of ours.

Do you feel everythingness?
everythingness

Heels on Wheels

I’ve been tardy about writing about a special junket I took part in.  It happened right around the time we moved so my notes and brain were an unopened box  ( my excuse and sticking to it).
Quick background:  many years ago in SF I reviewed cars for a radio show and a local magazine.  Really enjoyed it.  Through a friend I was introduced to the gal putting on the first ever Heels on Wheels event. Put together by the fab Christine Overstreet.  They were looking for different media of the female persuasion to take part and since I have an interest in cars I was invited.  Women make most of the car buying decisions, but are under represented in automotive journalism. Not to mention  American women have a purchasing power of over $5 trillion and women make 65 to 80 percent of service and maintenance decisions
Also, since I’m always looking for role models for my daughter  here is one:  an engineer from GM was in mix.  I loved hearing a woman talk about designing a car  ( take that Hannah Montana).
It was at the Viceroy Hotel in Palm Springs and it was all gals.  From the hardcore auto journalist and the women reps from the various car companies there seemed to be a palatable relief that there were no dudes in the room.   Simply put:  The women felt like they had more room to talk and that it didn’t feel competitive.  Which is good for me because I was one of the least knowledgable in the room.  I was the voice for mom’s.
“I can’t get a stroller in that trunk”
“Sure would like a mini vacumm in this van”
“When did I start looking so haggared?”
Stuff like that.
Here is a video of me driving the Chevy Cruze Eco.  I was taken under the wing by two lovely gals from Kelly blue Book  (www.kbb.com). They also had a lot of great info about the influence of women buyers and drivers.
Cooper tires hosted a breakfast and let us know about how they are going to start a campaign addressing the importance of safety of tires.  IE:  scaring the bejezus out of nervous mom’s.  It worked, I’m going to check my treads.
Here are some of the cars I drove.
I was a smidge dissapointed in the Mazda 5.  It was okay, but I thought the mini mini van would be the answer to my prayers.  Maybe I like more frills.

Honda civic hybrid…. nice, smooth, but I need a bigger car.
Denali … luxury SUV with a capitol L.  Very nice.
Town and Country by Chrysler
Sigh
It was a bit of a tease.  I think I’m in love.  It also helped that Kathy, PR marketing gal from Chrysler, drove with me and we got along like a house on fire.  Nice Michigan gal.  If I ever get to do my Cool Mom tv show I hope Kathy will be my Andy Richter.
I’d love a longer ride in that Town and Country and for more girls to grow up to be engineers.