From the Blog

72 Hours in California

I’m back from my mad dash trip to southern California.

I arrived late Thursday and stayed with my sister in her new apartment in Redondo Beach. And it was on the beach, like REALLY on the beach. Like, on the sand. I could hear the ocean waves as I drifted off to sleep.  And she watches pirate ships blow off cannons from her balcony. Also, there were pirate ships in Redondo Beach. I missed them.

While staying with my sister, I was able to visit with her poor, sick kitty, Keetah.

Does it look like she only has one front leg? That’s because she does. Keetah had bone cancer earlier this year and had to have her leg removed. She had kitty chemo and the cancer is now gone. But she got really skinny. She used to be shaped like a little football with a head. And she used to eat like a gluttonous swine.

When I was visiting, she had a urinary tract infection and had not eaten in days. This poor kitty can’t catch a break. She was weak and lethargic. It was agonizing. After several vet visits, rounds of antibiotics and fluids, she seems to be feeling better. She slept on the couch with me, behind my knees. My sister said she had improved dramatically in the past few days.

My cat may be a bastard, but he is healthy and I am endlessly thankful for that. If you have a pet, give them smooches and be glad they are well. I told my sister if her cat kicks the bucket, she can have Dinger, my cat.  She said no. (He’s not that bad!)

I had a big, stupid, floppy American rental car and I drove up to Big Bear to help celebrate a dear friend’s 40th birthday. It was a reunion of old friends, since some of the attendees no longer live in Los Angeles. And when someone turns 40, people come from miles around. Boston, Portland, and exotic El Segundo.

It was sunny and warm. We were staying in a rented cabin in the woods and when I arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon, everyone was still in their PJs. My kind of vacation.

So as I was saying, Big Bear is very pretty.

We put clothes on and ventured into Big Bear Village for a beer and dinner. We popped into the sad little arcade in the center of town. It had skee ball, pin ball and vintage video games. It was deserted, except for us. And despite having 17 video game consoles back at the cabin, we enjoyed burning up a few quarters on silly old games.

These two are happily married men, with charming wives, but after this round of race cars, they shared a deep, passionate kiss.

We drank beer, had dinner and went to the cabin to drink some more. And play poker. And drink. And, um, I guess there is a pattern forming here. And drinking.

And there was also singing.

Completely Sober Mr Roboto from Mile73 on Vimeo.

I am so super pissed that this video is so dark. The light was dim and my battery was failing. But perhaps it is for the best. You don’t need to know who these men are. The loud, hysterical gales of laughter in the video are from me. I am nearly as embarrassed as these guys are (no, I’m not.)

There was also dancing. A most breathtaking and fabulous rendition of the Humpty Dance will appear here soon.

I ended up staying an extra night because I could not drag myself away from the silliness. I mean, I’ll readily admit that I’m pretty silly. But I think I am the least silly of these people.

On my last morning, I woke up early, packed, and kissed each snoozing friend goodbye. We scatter to the wind and I don’t know when I will see some of these people again. I don’t miss Los Angeles, but I really miss having my friends and family right around the corner.

By 8 am I was driving down the mountain. It was a blindingly sharp, sunny morning. The mountains are beautiful. I love the high desert climate, the scraggy pines, and the clean air. It smells good. The scent is instantly relaxing. The contorted rocks of the mountains were white and powdery and pressure cooked. These mountains get higher as the Pacific plate crunches into the North American plate. There’s no place to go but up.

The big, stupid rental car flopped over the turns in the road and shimmied alarmingly when I used the breaks. As I descended and the canyons broke open, I could see across the LA basin. And even on a Sunday, the valleys were socked-in with smog. It was like looking over an ocean of air pollution. Distant mountain ranges were islands above the smog. Gross. As I got to the bottom, the sharp clarity disappeared and it was hazy again. Sigh.

I stopped at my parent’s house and had breakfast. They have been spending a lot of time in the yard and their gardens and flowers are lovely. Their house is serene. Except my mom yelled at me for putting this photo up on the internet. My dad yelled at me for eating too much biscuits and gravy. I stayed for a couple hours and said goodbye. I will see them at Christmas.

I miss everyone. Seeing old friends brings it back. I don’t question that my moving to Portland was absolutely the grand-slam best decision of the year. I love it here and I feel immensely lucky. But I do miss my friends and family.

There is a standing invitation to all my silly people who want to come visit Portland. But you must be very, very silly.


  1. Those pirate ships!! Yeah, that’s them!! I saw one a couple weeks ago, real quick. I was doing the usual Sunday laziness and I heard, “BOOM!” Then another about 8 minutes later. Then another. “What the hell?” And I heard it last weekend, but not like this. I finally went outside with my camera, stepped out from the backside of the building facing the ocean, and there were 2 PIRATE SHIPS!!! How freaking cool! Took some pictures, watched them cruise the coast and went back up stairs. I got back inside and, “BOOM!” I missed a BOOM! Dammit! So I kept an eye out for them as I sat on the couch, watching football. From my couch, I saw them fire off the cannons, smoke wafting off. I can honestly say I have NEVER seen pirate ships firing off cannons from my couch. NEVER!

  2. Thanks for the shout out. I finally pooped today.

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