The city from my view.

A pulse on a vibrant Megalopolis.

Monday, February 12, 2018

In A World Gone Mad Kindness Prevails

It's hard sometimes to watch the news about families torn apart for political gain along with a  mix of crude and vulgar language coming from the highest office in the land. It's hard to think the country I love wants to cast out those that yearn to be free because they come from a destitute land. But here in La La Land, life is a little different for this is where dreams can come true.

Sweet Pea and I think about the day on our walks in the hood. How people have shown kindness to me in a variety of ways when I tell them of Wally's passing. There is no judgement of our life style, no callous remarks of my loss but only sympathy for what I'm going through. It helps. For some days are really tough from beginning to end.

What I thought would be easy to adjust to, the freedom of  only caring for myself, isn't so easy. I'm so use to caring for Wally that it became who I was, and now I can't remember to take my pills because I'm not measuring out for the both of us in my morning routine. It's empty here, so very very empty. That too, I thought I would like but it is at times uncomfortable. Though Wally couldn't talk toward the end he was there to talk to, and now those little things that come up in a day that you would only say to someone you love can no longer be said. 

But something magical happens. People, strangers in fact, are kind to you with smiles and pleasantries. It doesn't take much to brighten someone's day. These things we do for one another connects us, makes us all better people, for in that magic moment of kindness we are not alone and that is very important for human beings.

I know that someday this will be behind me, I will feel more at ease and that all the legal issues concerning Wally will be over but right now that is not the case. Right now, he is gone and I miss him to the point that my guts hurt. We met at a dance class and I suppose someday we might dance again. Wouldn't that be nice. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

One Door Opens And Another Closes

For years now I have cared for my spouse who suffered with dementia. He died last month from complications caused by this terrible disintegration of the brain. But it was at great cost to me taking this journey to its end. I'm recovering now from the stress and exhaustion of the final ordeal he went through. A door closed on his life and another opened for mine.

To go through the grieving process, and at the same time, deal with the arrangements for the remains and the legal issues that arise, are the toughest thing a husband or wife has to do. And there is no choice in the matter. No one can do it for you. You can plan, you can have all your ducks in a row but when it comes down to when it happens you are vulnerable as if you were stark naked. You are bewildered to the point of insanity and desperate for a normal of some kind to occur.

I expected his death for a long time. The doctors and nurses told me for years that he wouldn't live another year and yet he did. Even to the end, his body fought for life days longer than the doctor's proclamation to me, "Now is the time, if anyone wants to see him, because he will be gone within hours." That was on a Wednesday and he stayed with us for three more days.

Now I'm at the point of picking up my life, most of what was needed to close Wally's is done. There are still some things left but each day brings less that I must take care of and a bit more for me to get use to. I still look for Wally in bed or his chair that is now gone. The schedule that ruled us everyday of my life for years is now empty and ready for things new.

There was an article I read once on getting over grief. Basically it is replacing old memories with new. Try to do things you didn't do with your partner which would give new memories to have, not that the old memories pass but you're not reliving them without your partner. That was the problem I was having while Wally was still alive. Everything was, "We went here," or "We did this." It becomes unbearable after time and with that I've been looking into forming new memories. I bought season tickets to the games of L.A's new soccer team, the L.A. Football Club.

Season tickets for four at the new soccer stadium, Banc of California Football Stadium that is being built at Exposition Park. It gives me something to look forward to, something exciting I can do with my friends that I never did before. It's very much La La Land to have something new all the time. Only now, for me, it is opening a new door, to new beginnings and new adventures, a new way of life.

I'm hoping I'll do okay. That I will adjust, like so many other things I've had to adjust to, with time and with the help of friends, to a new way of life. That is what makes living in La La Land special, we have taken the golden rule of the universe, adapt or die as a motto to live by. There are no other choices when you think about it. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Grocery Shopping for Memories

Back in my hippie days we lived in an area that went off the grid during storms leaving residents without access to food, water, or power. It taught self reliance real quick and now that I live where that isn't a problem during storms, I still shop and store as if it might happen at any time. There is a supply in the garage of just about everything to get by for a week or more if necessary.  It helped in the 94 Northridge quake, we didn't lose power or water but friends did. We didn't need to run out to the store right away and if we had lost power or water it wouldn't be the end of the world. Inconvenient, yes but with the survival skills I learned, we would get by.

 Still, when storm weather comes (and what a delight here in La La Land for stormy weather) I relish supplying the larder. You need food that cooks in one pot, hopefully for a long time to help warm the house and make it a comfortable place to hunker down. The aroma of slow cooked meals simmered on a wood stove while you sit in front of its cast iron belly to read, craft or chat with family and friends is something usually savored at campsites. Time to open a bottle and contemplate whatever it is that needs contemplation. Time to slow down and enjoy the simple things life has to offer like a warm meal shared with others.

Everyone has their own way of navigating the isles of grocery stores. I start at the entrance and wind my way down each isle until I reach the other end where the produce is stored. But that depends on the reliance of the store keeper. There might not be what I'm looking for in the one department and that might mean changing course, going back to a previous aisle for what I could use instead. At the end of shopping, my last item is at least one block of ice. I like my beer cold.

Back at home, with a look at the weather report while stocking the pantry, I think back to those hippie days and the people I met. There is, unfortunately, no one left alive that I know, except for a friend's son who called two years ago to say his mother was dying.  Apparently she did for I never heard from her that Christmas. That leaves me and my memories.

So here I am with a glass of Merlot as Joni Mitchell and Neil Young play softly to the storm that will bring rain and wind to shade my memories of the  laughter and songs we once had a long time ago. To Johnny Reno, Lee and Roxanne, to Richard, Henry and Jeff, to all those that came in and out of our door during bad times and good that storms bring. May you go in peace just as you lived. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Hood Is Going To The Dogs

Spring in our park inside of La La Land. Notice the pink flowers on the trees, we would have nothing else.

As me and Sweet Pea left the house I told him we are on a great adventure, a new route through less traveled places, some unknown to both us.  Sweet Pea is all for adventure as long as we are on it together, and I feel the same. We headed East toward Balboa Park.

It was a blustery day for the wind did crack its cheeks with an icy breath. But Sweet Pea and I have felt cold before and it would not deter us. It seemed not to deter others either for we ran into a number of folk taking a stroll. It's due to living in La La Land where warm (and every year it is noticeably warmer than the year before) is most days. The joy of a change in weather is too strong to resist and L.A. wants to savor that change to the fullest. Can't blame them.

La La Land is the heart of Fruits and Nuts California. Our first encounter with one of the nuts was right on our block. Someone had bought the house of someone we knew at one time who happened to be a therapist, we have a lot of therapist here to help deal with the nuts and the two come in about equal numbers. I'm not sure though which came first. Before I could pick up the poop of Sweet Pea, screams of rage and profanity rang from the house once owned by the therapist neighbor. We were not on his lawn but the public sidewalk when Sweet Pea decided he needed to take care of unfinished business. I don't know what the man wanted me to do, but before I could get the paper towel out of the plastic bag he was on the porch yelling at me to make sure I took care of Sweet Pea's now finished business. Once the dog completed the task at hand, I wrapped it up and told the raging lunatic he had a definite attitude problem before walking away and disposing the waste in a trash container across the street from him. I figure we're lucky he didn't shoot us for this outrage committed by an eight pound dog. That's one of the things you learn when living here. Avoid the Nuts, the Fruits aren't nearly as disagreeable.

We took to a busier street, I wanted to show Sweet Pea that some streets near us had a lot more traffic than ours and I think he understood for he was very happy once we hit the green grass of the park. And who wouldn't? Our park is really nice and the two of us diffidently felt better once in it. Our walk now became a leisurely stroll to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a quiet oasis set in an island surrounded by cars. If La La Land wasn't so big, more people, I think, would walk around. But here everyone drives before walking, except the two of us, we left the gas guzzling fat-ass caddie in the driveway back home. 

Everything after the earlier and uglier encounter of the day was pleasant. Nods of "Hello" were given when applicable. Sweet Pea was in a fine strut, holding himself quite well and handsome. An elderly couple sitting on a bench even commented on Sweet Pea's well mannered ways and I was proud of him, boasting he was just over a year old and already an accomplished wayfarer.

Then, on our way back from the park another encounter. This time with a person who wanted to know if we were attacked by a pit bull. Specifically his pit bull. Apparently a dog irritated his dog and a fight ensued whereas the pit bull won. I looked at Sweet Pea and shivered at the thought of him defending himself against a pit bull. There would be little defense for him to give and I would be terror struck if something like that happened to him. I've never known a dog to give so much love as Sweet Pea.

That's it every where you go in life. Some days are walks in the park and then other can be strange and frightening encounters with the dark side. Maybe more trees that flower in pink should be planted, or more therapists for the nuts. I'm not sure what would work better but our great adventure, like most great adventures showed us both.  

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Annual Christmas Dinner

Each Christmas we gather, what friends and family are left for gathering, for dinner at a special restaurant. Most times it is at the same place but that place has changed now and then through the years. Presently it will be at the Culver City Hotel where we celebrated last season.

 It is always just before Christmas when shops are open to browse and people fill the streets dressed in winter wear and bright smiles, an unusual sight for LA LA Land. In particular, the Culver City Hotel was made just for this. The building has been restored to its glory days of 1924--only better.

The city has made their downtown a place to go. The streets are wide, walkways plentiful with small green parks placed here and there. It makes a stroll on the avenues pleasant and rewarding. There are benches to sit on, photo ops everywhere and a good selection of bistros and bars to try along the way.

The hotel's food is excellent with daily specials made from farm to table ingredients, and the service very good. Last year there was a mix up on the reservation and for it they accompanied us with seating where we wanted in spite of the error and presented a bottle of champagne to soothe the mix up. The historic structure sits on an island and this makes for a wonderful outdoor setting. You get the feel that your table is special due to the well placed foliage and sparkling lights that accompany your surroundings. It makes dining al fresco a favorite seeing the weather is good most of the year.

But for Christmas we dine inside where there is live music and enchanting heirloom antiques placed about. A fireplace warms a sitting area to enjoy a drink or two while you wait for your table. Fresh vases of flowers overflow on grand tables and the towering walls that surround you have high arched windows to view the city's lights. It makes it grand and special, the perfect way to celebrate a wonderful holiday that brings family and friends together at least one time each year. That's the wonder of Christmas, the joy it brings anybody who wishes to celebrate the love of those close and dear to us.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas In The Hood

Like a lot of folks my age I have grown in girth instead of height. The girth became a problem not long ago with a warning from the doc about weight, diabetes and all manner of ills that come from the excesses of the good life. I've lost the weight, got my blood sugar under control and working on the daily exercise. That's where Sweet Pea comes in.

Our dog, Buster Brown passed away after years of faithful service. Buster was very good at eating, barking, and messing in the house, but his one redeemable act of devotion to Wally was unmatched. His last moment on earth was to crawl to Wally's feet where he laid down and died, quietly and at peace. Buster was not a dog that enjoyed walks, but he was faithful to the end. When we adopted Sweet Pea from the city shelter a few months back he wasn't quite a year old and like all puppies came with a full charge.

Me and Sweet Pea go for our walk in the hood almost every morning. It is Sweet Pea's favorite part of the day, he doesn't whine if I'm too busy for our walk, or if I have to make it a short constitutional. It is when he hears, "Do you want to go for a walk?" And the leash comes out, his tail goes into high gear. Sweet Pea gets so excited it's hard for him to calm down seeing that a walk is better than a steak cutlet. Currently we are reviewing Christmas in the hood.

Now, our neighborhood is where I grew up from the age of ten. It is where all my traumatic memories, outside of the scalding water, happened. It is where I have watched over sixty years of change to the housing tract made for World War Two vets to start a family. Every forth house is the same, yet one of the first things most folks did was make them theirs. Attached garages made into rooms, rooms added, and all manner of additions placed, yet you can still, for most of them, see what they were like back in 1949 when babies popped out around America like a kettle of corn at a carnie.

People have come and go, I don't know who is left here from when I was a kid, they all have passed to the great beyond that I knew, but the hood still holds families starting out. It still has dreams and tragedy, and in all the mix, Christmas comes and so do the lights, the lawn dressing and all manner of things that say, "Merry Christmas."

In the stark reality of daylight, the flashing lights and bobbing Santa Clauses go still and flat yet in my walks with Sweet Pea, we have noticed that it doesn't matter, for when night returns, the magic comes and turns our hood into festival of light.
Happy Holidays Everyone.   

Monday, December 11, 2017

Los Angeles is a big city full of small town people.

One of my favorite places nearby is a water hole on Ventura Blvd. A sports bar with television screens all around and windows that look out on the street and parking lot. If you have enough to drink the parking lot turns into a beach front and the street turns into a canal of floating vessels. It's very comfortable there perched on a bar stool facing the screens of a variety of sports. I enjoy baseball and soccer but watch what ever is playing, it's the movement of color after a drink or two that makes it interesting--that and the people in the bar.

In one corner is a man who is there every time I am. I go on Saturdays as a rule, not all Saturdays but when I do he's there. A kind of ear to conversations, he gives high-fives when the occasion merits, smiles when you smile at him and a general 'All is well' ambiance to himself. He sits near where the condiments of lemon wedges and lime, peels of zest and fat green olives are kept. He has a lemon wedge in his water along with some drink I'm not sure of other than its clear and the bartender knows instinctively when to refill.  For the rest of the patrons, they come--they go and some I have seen on occasion while others look new.

The bartender is a young black woman, very smart with a great smile and attitude to match. I thought, like most of the help there, that she was in college but she is not. She should be because the woman has a good head on her shoulders. But college isn't for everyone and she seems to do very well without it. Her birthday is next week. I know because when I came in she was asking around for someone to take her shift that day so she could party.

The bar is a place where a lot of folks come to meet one another. Probably from some dating site or app. They appear, the women especially, well dressed and searching for someone in particular and sometimes that particular person shows up to introduce themselves. I never see them after that as a couple but I have seen the same person search for another particular person to show up from time to time. They are always older, as I am and sadly desperate as I hope not to be but probably will at some point.

There are hustlers and cheaters, lovers and loners and they come, as Los Angeles, in all colors and ethnicity. They are there because the parking lot turns into a beach front, and the street a canal of floating vessels after a drink or two, just when you wish, as the man sitting next to the condiments does, that the world will stay still for a moment. It's why I'm there, to have the world stop so I can take a breath.

I've had it with my Trump campaign. I'm so tired of the tyrant and hearing his rants and raves that I can no longer write about it. Too horrible to endure any longer I am like the lady who wedged herself between my shopping cart at Ralphs and the magazine rack in front of the cashier. She had to have a National Enquirer. Why? Because she wanted to get away from the awful politics swirling around us like suns circling a black hole.

I almost got one for myself.