Category Archives: Remember the Day

Atwater Village, Los Angeles

June 9, 2017

Despite all the pavement and visible litter,
the Los Angeles River still hosts much life.

Snowy egrets stood watch on the stones while the gulls swooped around.

In the shallows,black-necked stilts, mallards, and coot were all busy pecking and dipping for something tasty beneath the surface—
Except the cormorant, piously sunning himself,
arms outstretched like Moses.

I ventured down the steep paved banks,
wondering if the textured sides had a sincere engineering purpose.

Up close you could see some pink froth clinging to the grasses,
as if the river recently convulsed,
or more likely in LA, was just stumbling in,
still soiled and drunk from last night’s revelry.

Down at the river’s edge,
the soothing babble was louder than the traffic noise.
I crouched to catch a video and noticed
an eddy of orangey froth
with a plastic water bottle caught in it’s vortex
bobbing helpless in place.

I headed back up the steep embankment,
and passed a weathered Latino
wearing a “Hulu Casual Season 3” t-shirt.

I watched him turn off the path,
down to the riverside I just left.

He dropped his backpack
pulled out a bag

and threw breadcrumbs to the mallards.

Late Spring Evening

June 5, 2017

It’s dusk on my front porch,
a cool evening
still at the last of Spring.

The red maples are turning green.
The pear blossoms have given way to leaves.
The primroses are thinning as
the four o’clocks rise up around them.

The swallows cheerfully chirp as they swoop around,
eating hopefully most of the mosquitos.
They settle into the trees and the sun fades,
making quite a racket
as they tell each other about their days.

The lullaby of the crickets rises up from the ground.
The birds settle in for the night.
The peepers croak in a bass line.

Every now and then,
the traffic noise quiets,
and I imagine
I am in a deep forest,
as it was in centuries past,
before we paved so much of it.

I remember…

I remember standing under the blossoming crabapple tree and shaking the branches, making warm pink snow.
I remember putting on our flowiest dress-ups and twirling in the wind.
I remember playing in the river at the curbside in the summer rain.
I remember the bells of the ice cream truck.
I remember making a boat out of our jungle gym, sailing down a river, canoeing over to the maple tree.
I remember blackberries, jam and pie and ice cream.
I remember shattering rocks on the sidewalk to see their secret inner crystals.
I remember hearing my mother play the piano as I tried to fall asleep, Für Elise, one of my favorite in her repertoire.
I remember the taste of her spaghetti, and the Christmas gumdrop bread.
I remember standing in a field in the middle of the night with my father, looking through binoculars at Haley’s Comet.
I remember the feel of a jelly fish sting.
I remember the sting of Old Bay in my fingers after picking crabs.
I remember the warmth of my Love beside me in bed at night, the sound of his breathing.
I remember the smell of babies’ hair, the happy gurgles, and the warmth of them on my skin.
I remember seeing a big grizzly bear walk down the center aisle of an outdoor church service in Yosemite. I was so grateful to be on a big boulder.
I remember that icy water in the mountains, and seeing my first streakers – really just skinny-dipping hikers, but it was the seventies.
I remember tearful laughter with my brother over Saturday Night Live.
I remember watching my other brother dance, and later my own children, feeling their joy as their young bodies were learning to really speak.
I remember my front porch, the mimosas and the four o’clocks, the peeling wicker furniture and the squeak of the swing…

I remember…

Mindful Eating

I was just dining on my front porch earlier, too lovely of a warm spring day to go inside. The crickets are back, whirring their evening songs.

I find it easier to be mindful of my food when I eat outside. Way easier to be mindful when I’m not watching TV too 😉 When I eat mindfully, I consider where my food has come from, how many people helped it arrive here in my bowl tonight, and also, is it tasty? Do I like the texture?

I had combined some leftovers with some fresh ingredients, all mixed together: brown rice and peas, onion and garlic sautéed in butter, a little diced pork tenderloin Mark cooked on the grill a couple days ago. I enjoy combining textures and flavors. The peas were fresh and sweet. The rice, firm with just enough salt. What isn’t improved by an onion sautéed in butter?

I envisioned rice fields, Guatemalan gardens, a pig and a cow, that I hoped were able to enjoy the pleasures of their kind. And the people who brought me my dinner: the brewers in Pennsylvania. pickers, warehouse managers, truck drivers, stockboys, that young tattooed cashier, and the workers in the desalination plant that made the salt I sprinkled over it all.

All these plants and animals collected energy from the sun for my benefit here tonight. All the workers labored for my dinner tonight, here on the front porch at sunset with the crickets.

So to make all their journey and energy worth it, what can I do? A bit of yoga, a little tidying up my home, a little writing.

Chips & Sushi

July 19, 2015

The clouds didn’t deter us, sun not our only motive
Just the sound of the waves like a craving

Umbrella, blanket, towel, one chair
And a picnic – but it could wait

The boulders drew us over to explore the tidepools
The mystery of the other side luring us over the top

So beautiful

We returned to our picnic—
and a report from the next blanket over.

Seagulls took your chips!
We chased them away!

I eyed the reporters suspiciously,
The bags were unopened!

But later I witnessed another seagull incursion
a chee-toh feeding frenzy.

Poor seagulls

6989626-beach-waves-sea-bird-seagullI always felt a kinship with the seagull
the soothing song of waves, warm sand

And as I watched the seagulls I realized
if I was one of these seagull banditos

I would still be me, staring at the crashing ocean
feeling regret over more chips than sushi.

Talking to Strangers

I had never used Uber before coming to LA, and I have to say, I’m going to miss the kaleidoscope of encounters it creates.

Besides their great app, Uber appeals to me for the randomness of  who their drivers are. Perhaps I should worry more about strangers, but I love talking to them.  Each ride a random conversation with someone you normally would have just walked right by on the sidewalk. Here are a few of my favorite encounters:

Lee, 30ish, a Chinese man in a Corolla, starting his second week as a driver for Uber, and only recently in America. That was my longest ride. He kept making wrong turns. We turned left and faced an incredibly long steep hill near Dodger’s Stadium and he hit the brakes.
“No!” Stunned, he gasps, “I can’t go up there! Do you thing it’s safe?”
“Well, it seems ok for the cars parked up there,” I pointed up the residential street as a pick-up truck sped around us. He just sat, wide-eyed, like he was facing some old fear.
“It’s OK, we can just turn around,” I offered. “Siri will redirect us.”
He nodded, grateful.

Matthew, a classic surfer dude, tanned, tattooed, and playing Led Zeppelin, who must’ve been driving his mother’s Lexus. He pointed out a great beach that we went to the next day, Topanga State Beach.  Beautiful.

Vic, 30-ish, brawny Armenian with very little English. I had been trying to learn how to say Thank You in Armenian as so many shopkeepers around here are Armenian.
Shnorhagenlutoon” I struggled. He glanced over, expressionless. I explained my attempt and asked if I pronounced it correctly. He nodded, still silent. I asked if he could say it for me to hear, and in English he said “Thank You.”

Ivan, maybe 40, recently a citizen after immigrating from Uganda 6 years earlier. He had an interesting take on the upcoming election, which would be his first to vote as an American: pro-Hilary and amazed at Trump. He was very animated and loud, and happy to share his opinions. Awesome accent.

Emily, maybe 30, asked me a few questions about myself.  Once she realized I had been married twice, the ride turned into a therapy session. She asked me about love at first sight, true love, and what role sex plays in loving relationships. I went ahead and just spoke candidly, since we were unlikely to ever encounter each other. But at the end of the ride, I felt like I should charge her for the therapy 😉

Mary, mid twenties, a grad student new to the area told me the reverse is true, that her car often becomes a confessional for the random people who she spends a few private moments with.

I know Uber is riddled with controversy, but my experience has been fascinating, and super convenient.

Sunset in Santa Monica

IMG_6899

 

The Los Angeles traffic was August sweaty, driving with my lovely teenage daughter to a couple of auditions. The second audition was at Fox Studios, and we enjoyed just walking around the campus, seeing the various production crews taking their lunch breaks. They have whimsical shrubbery there.

IMG_6917I passed a little “Free Library” that was the size of a large mailbox: leave a book, take a book. Of course I peeked in, and selected a magazine, an anniversary issue of Astronomy magazine – not what I expected. We were planning on the beach for sunset after the second audition, so a magazine would be perfect. Now I’m hoping she gets a callback so I can put a book in next time.

I’ve been here for four months and finally, I was going to be at the beach at sunset. At last! The sun so bright on the water it was hard to look!

School had recently started, and it was a Thursday night, so the beach wasn’t nearly as crowded as we had seen it earlier in the summer.  We were about a mile north of the Santa Monica Pier – close enough to see the ferris wheel spinning out its light show, but far enough away not to hear any of the pier sounds. The ocean was calmer than I had seen it too, no surfers out this evening.

My daughter headed over to the cafe to grab us some dinner for the coming sunset show, – salmon burgers, how California.  I was left alone to people watch. People-watching at the beach is one of my favorite things! I missed my lifetime people-watching teammates.

IMG_6921Los Angeles is very international, and the three families closest to me were not speaking English: Spanish, perhaps Arabic, and maybe Armenian? The Spanish-speaking family in front of my had three daughters and all seemed to be peacefully enjoying their evening – clinging to the last of the summer. The little one with her wild curls, and the two older one rolling their eyes at each other.

A man was taking pictures of a woman and baby, sitting right at the edge of the surf.  A nearby family, unaware, kept getting into their picture and the man kept moving to edge them out and still get the watery bright light.

A little boy, maybe three years old, wandered over by our blanket, no swimsuit, just covered  waist down in sand.  “Hey” he shouted, I thought to us, but it was back at his family. He grinned when they saw how far he had wandered and waited for them to call “Yusaf!” before returning.

I had brought some books, one in particular from my uncle that I was using for background research for a screenplay I’m planning. It was way too serious reading for the beach. I pulled out the magazine.  Just a few pages in, I found a tidbit that informed my research better than anything I could have found in the book. How fortunate that I grabbed it!

The photoshoot mom put her baby right in the surf, and he did not like it at all. And now he seemed too sandy to hold tight, so she headed for deeper water to rinse him off.  He did not like this either, being dangled in the cold water, crying as loud as the surf. I watched as she turned her back to the surf, rinsing him with one hand, holding him loosely and not seeing the big wave rising behind, I looked for the photographer dad, readied myself to spring into action and at the last minute she pulled him to her. They both tumbled under the wave, but she came up with him.  I watched with her, waiting for the child to cry again. First a watery cough, then a furious wail. The father looked over, not realizing what had just nearly happened. I thought, that kid is going to grow up hating the ocean, and only his mother and I will really know why. I noticed how judgmental I was feeling and looked away.

A young man in British-seeing swim trunks was laying underneath a woman in a turquoise bikini, their equally tattooed skin blurring together as they kissed.

I looked the other way, feeling I had interrupted a private moment, and say five beautiful young men playing a modified football game. Their skin ranged in shades of brown from cinnamon to chocolate, and they were distractingly beautiful.  I wished my friend Peggy were here to see them.

And then there goes Yusaf again, wandering by, noticing the big strong men playing football and being captivated. Looking over his shoulder every now and then, Yusaf wandered further from his family, their distraction packing up. Wearing only his sand pants, Yusaf walked right to their sidelines, awestruck. His departing family beckoned, and he crossed right through their play, unharmed. Yusaf is going to be a handful.

IMG_6924And my suntanned daughter returned with our sunset supper. They were out of salmon burgers, these were regular. So we saluted Liz Lemon and watched the sun melt out of the sky. The clouds looked like hovering angels, floating fuschia mermaids.