Thursday, February 24, 2011


Before I was in a position to buy my own horse, I would rent one at a stable near Griffith Park. Dolly. Dolly had one blue eye and one brown. She had a high proud neck and a high butt, with a slender Arab frame.

I rode Dolly bareback, all up and down the trails. Sometimes in company, sometimes not. Every time I visited the stable the same guy would be there. “Dolly?” he’d ask. Yes, Dolly. He’d bridle her up, give me a leg up, and off we’d go.

I wanted to own Dolly, oh so badly. Clearly, she hadn’t always been a string horse. She could do all sorts of stuff, like the fancy trot, or flying lead changes with a quarter inch lift to the rein. Sometimes we’d just do a lazy walk and I’d drape myself over her neck, bury my nose in her sweaty smells of alfalfa and molasses.

Dolly always held me on her back as though she were balancing a crystal glass, one filled to the brim with fine champagne. And she never spilled a drop. I trusted her completely. Her every step was honest, thrilling, kind.

Truth be told, I almost married a guy, just so he’d buy my Dolly. And maybe I should have – as life’s bargains go, I’ve done worse.

One day I went to the stable and my regular guy was gone. “I want to ride Dolly,” I said. And they brought out a palomino quarter. “No, that’s not Dolly.” So they went back and brought some other stranger. “No, no.”

“Well Miss, we probably have other Dollys. Why not take a look?”

So I walked the shed rows. My girl was gone.

“I don’t know, Miss. Maybe something happened. Or maybe someone bought her. Sometimes that happens.”

When I bought my own horse, Vandy, one thing I made clear to the two of us from the very start: Even if we weren’t a match made in heaven (and we weren’t), even if she didn’t prove to be a trustworthy friend (and she didn’t), I’d never let her go (and I haven’t). I promised Vandy, even if she threw me, bucked me off, even if we disagreed on some very basic philosophies, I’d never give her up. No one would ever call her Dolly.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Take a seat

Make yourself comfortable. Show us what you've got.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Altadena Snow and Palm

Those Winter Sundays
--by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

Like it? Visit my favorite poetry professor, Banjo52. Didn't like it? Visit for the discussion. Didn't like the discussion? Visit for the bird photos. Didn't like the birds?

There's always Argerich.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Homestead of Urban

Participants in the urban homesteading movement are reacting strongly to a move by …[a] family in Pasadena to trademark the term "urban homestead" and related terms and require Facebook to take down pages on the topic.--LA Observed

Ok, first let me say, we appreciate your donations and support, and the loyalty you’ve shown our little tax deductible enterprise over the years.

Gosh, I don’t have to tell you how distressing all this brouhaha has been. This morning, I grew, picked, dried, and brewed a cup of chamomile, sheared a sheep, spun some wool, knit my slippers, wrapped myself in Grandma’s hand stitched quilt, and carried a candle to my Apple iMac 27" 2.8GHz Quad Core Computer MC511LL/A.

I just wanted to reach out to you and say, “Yes, perhaps we sue. But we sue because we care. We sue with great love® and affection, our bonnets held high. My family and family alone are UH's, but you can be something, too. Something far, far less, but better than nothing. Maybe.”

If you say UH, we say UH-UH.

In our defense, you backed us into a corner, and after we offered a number of alternatives. Before we took down the Facebook page “Keewanee Urban Homestead,” we offered them,“Structures and vegetable gardens using compost and no insecticides within the perimeters of incorporated areas of the Midwest,” for example.

All right. Enough. Least said, soonest mended.® (I wasn’t the first to say that, but the first to give it meaning.)

On to some good news.

Your tax deductible contributions have not been wasted. Not only do we drive a biodiesel van, we always take the short cut to our lawyer’s office. And he thinks we’re this close to owning Truth, Justice, and the American Way. As for Mom® and Apple Pie® , let me quote that great American Joan Crawford and say, “Don’t fuck with me, gentlemen.”

Oh, but I’m still sad, even as I throw another log on the woodburning stove. Thank god our next in a series of UH outreach missionary trips to Tuscany is only a week away.

As a scholar of great literature, both English and American ®, in the face of this unjustified adversity, I find solace and comfort in the classics I studied as a child. I’ll never forget Little House on the Prairie when Pa said, “Hard workin' folks only smell bad to some folks who have nothing better to do but stick their noses in the air.”

Michael Landon could always make me cry.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hearts and Clubs

The New Yorker piece on Scientology is online here, all 26 pages.

Mostly it reminded me that religions, cults, single codes of beliefs, can gather followers of any intellectual level. They aren’t appealing to reason or intelligence, but a primal longing. I suppose the primal goes without saying; longing is visceral, and doesn’t always make us act in our own best interests.

Longing can make us believe the impossible, even when we know it's impossible. And so we draw for that inside straight, over and over again.

The deck is stacked, really, as given the power, heads of these organizations usually are or eventually become the worst human nature can dish out.

I lost many friends to groups like this. Friends who were so much smarter than I was or am. But I have one thing they didn't -- skepticism. Heaps of it, in spades.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Breaking News

“Angelina Jolie announced she is not going to adopt another baby. The news ricocheted around the world…”
The Daily Beast

The news that I’m not adopting a baby hasn’t travelled far, but then I haven’t told even my closest friends. In fact, there’s a whole lot of stuff I’m not going to do that nobody knows about. And I'm keeping it that way, else someone may try to stop me.

The list of what I’m not going to do is extensive, practically endless, possibly unprecedented. Whatever you think you’re not going to do in this life, I just know I’m not going to do so much more.

And I’m not bragging.

For example, I’m not even going to tell you what I’m not doing now. I believe in a private life.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ask Yourself -- What would Yogi do?

He'd bring a pickanic basket. Apparently, a medieval pickanic basket.

Join us for the Third Annual San Gabriel Valley Blogger Meet-Up. Internationally Acclaimed, Super-Spectacular, Pretty Good, Not Bad, It's Better Than A Trip to the Dentist ... oh, sometimes hyperbole fails.

I'll be there, you betcha. March 19th, Farnsworth Park.

Rain or shine.

Monday, February 7, 2011


“To understand how KFC got mixed up in the tumultuous events playing out in Cairo requires an understanding … KFC became a proxy for anger about perceived Western interference.”
Los Angeles Times

I know where my sympathy lies. I often feel a protest coming on after a thigh of the extra crispy recipe. Nothing that can be explained in so many words -- call it a gut reaction.

When setting up a business in certain nations, choose the right symbols. Consider whether a Southern Colonel, even an honorary and dead one, is the best way to carry the message of secret sauce and slaw to the people.

Every country has its sensitivities. And if you doubt that, let me say two words: Freedom Fries.

Well into the 1980’s, and way after the Frito Bandito packed up his pistols, a major supermarket chain introduced Scotch Buy, discount items which sported a kilt-garbed gentleman pointing an ecstatic finger to “Save 10 cents!” On certain products he clicked his heels, and that meant we could keep an extra half dollar in the sporran.

Trust an Angus to know a bargain. Mony a mickle maks a muckle.

I was involved with a guy from Scotland at the time, so Scotch Buy was like a gift from heaven. I guess you can imagine how many Safeway labels I stole and what I did with them.

Which brought on an attempt at retaliation. But sad, really, and ultimately unfair. I'm from Nordic stock. What possible ammunition could he have.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Street Smarts

Ah, freeways. I glide (rarely) crawl (usually), home to work, back and forth, past all the life that's right and left (directionally, not politically), over, under.

And what have I gained? On average, twenty minutes, white knuckles, and a finger exercise.

I'm not officially off the freeway grid, just trying.

Because freeways are kind of a mindset out here. All too often I've been in a big big hurry to get where I didn't necessarily want to go. And missed what's next door. And next to next door. And next door to that.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Taking to the streets

I'm going to swing some of this to my Tuesday Patch piece. And probably steal a couple of these photos, but I promise not to sue myself.

Ah, freeways. I glide, no, usually crawl, past all the life that's right and left (directionally, not politically, but perhaps, ultimately politically), over, under.

And what has been the upside? Twenty minutes, white knuckles, and a finger exercise.

I'm not officially off the freeway grid, just trying. Trying to learn as much about County LA as I now apparently know about Cairo.

If the world seems smaller, it's only because I've been careless, and missed what's next door. And next to next door. And next door to that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Verdugo Road

Brake here. Sopes can be a religious experience. Still waiting for The Word on the combination plate.

Steer clear of cannibals, no matter how cute.

This makes my morning commute.