Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year’s Eve!

“Happy New Year’s Eve!” I said greeting Mr. Wonderful at the breakfast table.
“Hmm,” he said sinking into a chair
“The last day of the year!” I said sliding toasted English crumpets in front of him.
“What a beautiful time to reflect on what—”
“Can you save the happy talk ‘til after I’ve had a coffee?”

It was true: I was a morning person, Mr. Wonderful wasn’t.  I was a reflective person, Mr. Wonderful wasn’t.  I embraced vacation, and Mr. Wonderful… didn’t.  So while I loved this time of year with all its celebrations, twinkling lights and champagne imbibing, Mr. Wonderful couldn’t wait for it to be over so he could return to working and sucking down six triple espressos before breakfast. 

His outright dismissal of this final holiday of the year made me think he was missing the forest for the trees.   
“There’s no point to New Year’s Day,” he said grinding more coffee beans.  “It’s just another excuse not to work on some arbitrary date on the calendar.”

Au contraire, mon ami!  Okay, I’ll admit, the time from Halloween to December 31st is one long string of holidays and fun.  But what’s wrong with that?  We worked hard all year long, so couldn’t we take some time to reflect on what we had done for just one day a year? 
He shrugged.

I attacked his disaffection with another analogy.  If the year were our high school term paper, January introduced our hypothesis of what we wanted to gain and prove in the year.  February, March and April explained Point Number 1—work hard.  May, June and July discussed Point Number 2—work harder.  While August, September, October and November rounded out this three-part theme paper of your life by explaining Point Number 3—combine hard work with the people and things you love, in other words PARTY!  Finally December reminded you of your hypothesis by repeating it—on December 31st—with the question: Did I achieve my goals for the year?  Yeah or nay?
Mr. Wonderful shrugged.

How could I get this idea through to him about the value of New Year’s Eve? 

It was just after noon so I grabbed a bottle of chilled bubbly from the refrigerator and popped the cork.  I poured it into two champagne flutes.  The liquid bubbled, its foam rose to the rims then swiftly sank to just half a glass. 
“Fill them up more,” Mr. Wonderful said.  “They’re half empty.”
“No,” I shook my head.  “They’re half full.” 
He cocked his head then smiled.  “You’re right.” 

New Year’s Eve was a day to enjoy what we had achieved in our life’s term paper of the year, not what was lacking about it.  It wasn’t something to rush through to get back to work but rather something to savor.  He tapped his flute against mine and we sipped the bubbly and enjoyed our half full glasses. 

Worrying about what we’re going to do next year?  That’s something we can think about… tomorrow!   

So in the meantime, Happy New Year’s Eve!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sleepless in Seattle—The Trip

If you’re sleepless, go to Seattle.  There’s so much to enjoy in the Emerald City that if you don’t sleep, you can discover it all—as I learned over the holidays.  Here are some highlights of a trip to this City on Elliot Bay!

Going to the Public Market to see the fishmongers handle the live fish so quickly the gilled critters “fly”.

Walking to Pioneer Square, the old heart of the city.  Although with the totem pole, maybe it should be called “Totem Pole Square”, just a suggestion…

Visiting the new Seattle Central Library designed by award-winning Dutch architect, Rem Koolhaas.  I relished being inside this inspiring, light-infused glass space.  Judging by the number of people using the library they felt the same way.  Or else Seattle has a whole lot of homeless people…

Experiencing the Space Needle.  It’s so touristy, cliché and completely silly but going to the Space Needle for lunch was... a major highlight!  Despite the clouds, the 360 degree views of the city, bay, boats and planes were stunning and—bonus!—the food matched the views.

Seeing the King Tut Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.  This huge, fabulous exhibition included some very fine pieces of Ancient Egyptian art.  The exhibit recreated the Boy Pharaoh’s tomb—complete with Antechamber, Annex, Burial Chamber and Treasury Room—just as it was when British archeologist, Howard Carter, discovered it in 1922, more than 3,000 years after it had been sealed.  Many of the items originally found in these four chambers were on view in simulated rooms, which meant moving through the exhibit I felt like Mr. Carter himself.  To borrow a phrase: it was “bloody” impressive.

Doing yoga in the park with a friend.

I also drank coffee, walked in the rain and… drank more coffee.  If these sights won’t keep you up in Seattle, the caffeine definitely will. 

So go, get yourself to Seattle!  And bring an umbrella!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Christmas!

During this festive time of year the decorations of Christmas red and green and Hannukah blue on this Christmas tree reflect the inclusiveness of our society.  I love that Christmas is big enough for everyone!  On this happy day I'm hoping that you get--and give--the gifts of peace, prosperity and happiness!  

To all a Merry, Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Big Boy Christmas Tree

With all the possible ways to decorate a Christmas tree, I loved this one at Bob's Big Boy Diner! Big Boy makes a delightfully irreverent angel.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas Eve full of egg nog and anticipation!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hallway BEFORE and AFTER--photos

The hallway BEFORE the redo.  Complete with its puke tan/brown colored paint on the walls and ceiling.

The hallway AFTER the redo.  Mr.Wonderful removed the electrical outlet to streamline the small space.  The red walls remind me of our challenging redo journey, which is detailed here. Plus they really make my black and white pictures POP!

Since completing the redo I love walking through the hallway.  It even gets me excited for the next project:... The Guesthouse!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Redoing the Hallway

Mr. Wonderful looked at the hallway quietly.
“It’s small,” I said standing behind him.
He touched the walls silently. 
“So painting it will go fast,” I said grabbing a paintbrush.
He knelt to examine the baseboard wordlessly.
“Imagine,” I said, “redoing a room in just one afternoon!”
“Shhh, don’t jinx it!”

Unfortunately I spoke too soon.  The hallway in question was tiny, consisting of more open doorways than solid walls so I had sky-high hopes of redoing it quickly.  I was hoping remodeling it would be described as “short and sweet” or “done in a snap”!  Instead it was “Welcome to Hell”.

When we moved in the entire hallway was painted a shade I could only describe as puke tan/brown—the walls—and ceiling—all of it was puke tan/brown.  It was as if a dog caked in mud, puke and excrement had shaken itself dry in the hallway.  It was a depressing space too reminiscent of gross bodily functions and had to go!  We redid it in a few steps:

Step 1: Remove paint.  When we removed the puke colored paint we discovered a layer of wallpaper.  It’s not unusual to paint over wallpaper, it just means more work for the re-doers.  Which lead to…
Step 2: Remove the wallpaper and find plaster.  Discovering the plaster meant we’d reached the end of scraping off paint!  Yippee!
Step 3: Sand down the plaster to smooth it out.  When—lo and behold—under the plaster we discovered a second layer of wallpaper.  Plastering over wallpaper was highly unusual, undeniably lazy and completely wacko.
Sooo Step 4: Collapse on the sofa and cry ourselves to sleep.
Step 5: Wake up, drink coffee and prepare for another full day of work on this X%&#$ space.
Step 6: Drink more coffee.  Then suck down three triple espressos.
Step 7: Scrape off the plaster—and the paper stuck to it—all the while cursing the people who did this.  In our zeal to remove the plaster+paper combination we also scraped off plastered chunks of wall, thereby turning our solid walls into Swiss cheese. 
Step 8: Cry some more. 
Step 9: Realize this project gets worse with each passing hour.
Step 10: Remember the original puke tan/brown walls as being highly attractive.  “What an ironic comment on human society to have puke colored walls.  Why did we ever remove it?!”
Step 11: When arms ache from scraping, tumble into bed with a bottle of Advil.
Step 12: Go to work after a weekend of “relaxing” in The House.
Step 13: Smile all week as your friends tell you how lucky you are to be a homeowner.
Step 14: Embrace the new weekend and plastering.  Big whoop.  We mixed plaster and covered the walls and ceilings in a fresh coat of plaster that looked as creamy as cake icing—without the calories.
Step 15: Sand down this coat of plaster.  Once dry, apply a second coat of thinner plaster to smooth out the entire surface.
Step 16: PAINT.  Twice.  Walls and ceiling.
Step 17:  Hang picture frames. 
Step 18: Weep with joy at competing this redo!

Yes, the smallest room in the house took the largest amount of scraping, elbow grease and struggle.  A process I could best describe as “Small and Fighty”.  With this project we went to hell—and back—and the red walls remind me of our journey.  I look at them with a source of pride.  I’m a survivor!

The redo taught me—the hard way—to avoid talking about the ease with which we could do projects in The House.  Although the bathroom is such a small room, I bet we could redo that by lunchtime!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Holidays in Hollywood

Hanukah is wrapping up, Christmas is right around the corner and Hollywood is dressed for the Holidays.  Dressed to the nines, in fact.  Here are some festive images of Hollywood to bring some needed holiday cheer.


Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The French Bakery

“I’d like a loaf of French bread,” I told the bakery clerk.
“We don’t have,” she said in uneven English.
“But your sign says ‘French Bakery’.  What French bakery doesn’t sell French bread?”
She shrugged.  “This one.”

Recently I discovered a French bakery in our neighborhood.  Formidable!  Yet another reason I loved Los Angeles: immigrants from over 150 countries had come to this city of dreams bringing their edible delicacies in tow.  With this local bakery now I could buy a delicious loaf of crusty bread while avoiding French clerks who didn’t care un peu about customer service. 

"Okay,” I said regrouping “how about some light and flaky croissants?”
“We have, but not flaky,” she said tapping the pastry display case at a croissant that was bigger than a bowling ball and twice as heavy.  Listening to her accent I determined she wasn’t French but Armenian.  I punted my plans for a Parisian breakfast.  Better to keep it simple, traditional.

“How about doughnuts?  Do you have those?”
“No,” she said staring at me in silence.  Across the street I heard the church bells chime the hour, then they played Beethoven’s entire Fifth Symphony; once they’d stopped, my ears kept ringing.  But still she didn’t speak or try to sell me anything else.
“You must have doughnuts,” I persisted scanning the display case until I spotted a round pastry coated in powdered sugar.  “Look, that’s a doughnut.” 

“No, it’s bonchi.”
“It's Armenian deep fried, sweet bread filled with cream and covered in sugar,” she said being downright talkative.
That’s a doughnut!”
“No,” she shook her head “bonchi does not have hole.”

I bought one.  She was right—it didn’t have a hole.  But I was right, too—its taste was pure doughnut.

In L.A. you don’t have to go far to get immigrant attitude or a good doughnut.  But I’m still looking for a crusty loaf of bread.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Cat's New Spot

"Jackson, I'm home," I said tossing my keys on the table still clutching my plastic wrapped dry cleaning.  There's nothing better than clean clothes free of cat hair; except clean linens free of cat hair.  "Come here kitty cat!"

But the cat didn't come.  

"Jackson?" I said scanning his favorite chair (empty) and food bowl (half-empty).  
I looked under the bed, under the sofa and on top of the refrigerator.  No cat x 3.  

I searched in the washing machine, in the toilets, at the bottom of the pool.  Nothing--thankfully!

I put a handful of kibble in a plastic container and shaking it like a mariachi, danced around the house singing his name, "Jackson, ole!"  Nada.  

Don't panic, I told myself.  Jackson had gone missing before only to be found in the most obvious place.  So.  Don't.  Panic.  

I continued with my routine and swung open the closet to hang up my dry cleaning when I saw black and white fur.  Jackson!  The cat had discovered how to open the closet and had curled up on the clean sheets and blankets.  

"Jackson!  What a relief to find you.  But you've gotten cat hair on all the clean linens."

He yawned and rolled over leaving a trail of cat hair in his wake.  He looked so comfortable.

Revision: There's nothing better than clean clothes free of cat hair.  Except... a found cat.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Have a Crepe Day!

Last night I went to bed and it was raining.  This morning I woke up and… it’s still raining!  Which makes five straight, exceedingly long days of rain.  To counteract this feeling a wet gloom, I grabbed eggs, butter, flour and milk and made crepes.  Nothing keeps depressing rain or the zombie apocalypse at bay than hot crepes.  Especially if they’re well dressed.

How to Dress a Crepe:
Step 1 Make crepes.

Step 2 Slather a hot one in jam—like strawberry, apricot, or fig. 

Step 3 Roll up the crepe.

Step 4 Eat the sucker while it’s still hot.

Step 5 Laugh at the zombies in the rain!