A Short Divide

It’s coming to that time of the year where I peer into lobbies and storefronts for Christmas decorations on my walk to the office. These are the companies with money and they spare no expense with the decor. What makes it so striking is inside you’re in fairyland, or more precisely, Santa’s attic with his elves, gawking at 10-foot trees dripping in gold and sparkles, with beautifully wrapped red and gold presents amidst the poinsettias, and soft holiday music in the background. I know because I go in and take pictures.  But outside on the dirty sidewalk you’re stepping over sleeping bodies of the homeless. The contrast takes my breath away. I wonder how many see it as they rush to their buildings clutching their peppermint mochas and early morning podcasts stuck to their ears.

I’ve noticed a woman who scoops up one of these homeless men. He sits on the street with a teddy bear. He has long grey, bushy hair and is usually reading a book. She takes him to the corner store and lets him pull down whatever he wants from the shelves. It’s usually chips, candies, coffee. I don’t know how often she does it, but she’s my hero. I know this because I’m in the same store. May her tribe increase.

I’m thinking of ways to help these people too, especially when the temperatures drop and the streets thin out because people are on vacation for the holidays.

Calvin says, “I have an idea. Send out a brigade of volunteers with their therapy dogs to give hugs and kisses. That would be a gift.”

 

 

 

(Un)Expected Gifts

There are three Indian families that live across the street from us. They have elementary school age children. At night they come out of their houses and talk with loud voices. It sounds like a party with everyone speaking at once. A friend of mine who visited India for the first time said, “It’s so noisy here, day and night, I can’t think.” The funny thing is they don’t talk to each other. It’s as if invisible walls were wrapped around each house with a no trespass sign. I don’t know why because they don’t talk to me either. It’s a shame because one of them has a prolific tangerine tree in their backyard and I’d like some.

On the other hand, my neighbors to the right have been friends for  years. They have fig trees. Anybody with a fig tree is my best friend for life. As a child, my grandparent’s fig trees were my daily treat. At nap time, I’d climb out the bedroom window with a chair and gobble figs until I couldn’t breathe. My neighbors give me their crop in exchange for my lemons and oranges. To the left of me, there’s not even a hello from the front door. It’s just as well. She has no fruit trees. Two doors down a Portuguese family lives with Sunshine, the American short-hair cat, Nigel, the chihuahua, nameless chickens, and a persimmon tree that is so beautiful it takes my breath away. Every year we receive a box full of those beauties at our doorstep. Across the street from them is a family with teenagers and their revved-up cars that go zoom at midnight, sending me to the ceiling and back. In the front of their house they have an avocado tree. I’ve been tempted to snag a few as a consolation prize for putting up with their noise.

Calvin says, “Lucky you. Sunshine and Nigel bring me nothing but turds.” 

Gems in the Flowers

Easter bounced in and out last Sunday.

I didn’t see many rabbits on the street. Only one.

He was dressed as a squirrel and scampered into the backyard.

He flicked his tail and chirped madly to himself

when he discovered the eggs wrapped in pastel foil  unnamed (1)

hidden in the flower beds.

 

I was worried. The foil could kill him.

The chocolate, too if he reacted like a dog.

Dogs can die if they eat chocolate. Maybe squirrels, too.

I felt a few seconds of remorse, then

I got a gleam in my eye,

from the light bouncing off an egg.

 

Calvin says, “Your nasty is showing.” beagle

Coming Up Spring

Alf surprised me with daffodils and purple flowers that are popping up this spring. My azalea is bursting red so the garden is draped in the primary colors these days. My garden has never looked so colorful. It makes me smile.
We have the worst soil on the planet. The Mojave has more chances of sprouting flowers than my front and backyards. It’s hard clay, and when broken up with toil and sweat, it winks at you for a moment, and then scampers back to form its impenetrable layer of steel. No matter how much rich soil and delicious nutrients you pour down its black hole of a gullet, it regurgitates the clay. I’m convinced the clay runs deep to the core of the planet.
It’s a wonder Alf is succeeding where I haven’t. IMG_0173 (1)
“What’s your secret?” I asked.
“Patience,” he said.
“That’s never worked for me,” I said.
“Maybe it’s the rain. That helps.”
We used to have a rainy season, but that was so long ago. I had given up on it.
“It must be the rain,” I said.
“And not my green thumb?”
“You don’t have one. You’re from New York,” I said.
“How do you think Central Park came into being then?”
I checked Wikipedia.
“Not by New Yorkers. The two landscape architects were from England and Connecticut respectively. It proves my point. Brits know a thing or two about gardens.”
“Then we should import one and really go mad,” Alf said.
Calvin says, “I love our clay soil. I like hearing the splashing sound my pee makes on it. Kills all things green. Adds character to the command, ‘Go potty!'”   beagle

Moose in the Air

 

FullSizeRender (39)

At this time of year I like to search for unique Christmas tree decorations. Not to buy, but to enjoy looking at. Typically office lobbies don’t have them. Neither do department stores. However there are places that make an effort to showcase the novel and the unique.

My favorite store that tops my list is Carrigg’s of Carmel. At this time of year they have more than a dozen decorated trees in the store that delight and transport you to Christmas heaven. Forget the shopping, the eating, and the staying in Carmel. I go just for the design therapy at Carrigg’s.

FullSizeRender (40)

I stroll from room to room. When something catches my eye, I take a quick picture with my camera that I keep hidden in my jacket. After the second room of sensory enchantments, I stop being stealthy and keep the camera in full view. There’s so much to photograph and I don’t care who sees me. I’m like a child in a magic castle.cropped-photo61.jpg

Whoever decorates the store is a genius. There’s so much to absorb it takes several hours, but I limit myself to drooling for 60 minutes. Besides, Alf is waiting for me on the street reading headline news on his phone. Calvin is pulling at his leash attempting to meet and greet all the other pedigree dogs walking their owners.

Calvin says, “Carmel needs a pop-up store for dogs with Christmas delicacies like rabbit jerky.”  beagle

 

 

 

 

Tough Art

Time and time again Alf and I marvel at people who are immensely talented and yet shy away from their gifts. We know of several with writing gifts who never put pen to paper. Others who have a terrific fashion sense and keep it all to themselves. And there are those who do pursue their artistic callings with courage and conviction, but with little support from friends and loved ones. In fact, they’re often told to get a real job. What is it about art that garners less respect than other professions like business or engineering? Heck, there’s more respect for the G-Man (garbage collector) than a painter.

FullSizeRender

We live in a day of practicality. Does the job make money? Will it sustain you and a spouse and children? Will it give you a house, a car and a yearly vacation? Or will you have to eat out of a paper bag full of moldy veggies?

Being an artist is not for the fainthearted. It wasn’t easy living for Van Gogh and his generation nor is it any easier for people today. But one thing is different. Anybody with an ounce of skill is posting like mad on social media in the hope of getting noticed. Consequently there’s a lot of bad art out there. There’s also some good stuff. The serious artist, however avoids it all in favor of a website with class.

It’s like commercial fiction. The serious literary types look down their erudite noses at the fabulously successful writers who make millions with their popular, badly written novels. Secretly they probably wish they could make that kind of money, but they wouldn’t dare try. It would be beneath them.

So what’s an artist to do? I say keep at it, no matter how difficult the task. Post away. Talk it up. Send it out. You never know what door will open.

Calvin says, “I’m so glad I’m only talented in one thing – food. What’s for dinner?”

beagle

 

 

 

Singing in the Rain

I survived the big storm today. Barely.

Our subway system is not prepared for anything but normal. A few drops of rain and all the trains run late.

With today’s downpour that came down in sheets, the rails were slick and the trip into the city was a jerky experience.

Our conductor looked worried. He ran up and down the cars unlocking and then locking us inside in case we fell out. Did he know something we didn’t? How could we fall out? We spent a good deal of time paralyzed on the tracks.

We finally made it into the city. Then came the adventure of walking to the office. Or should I say crossing the Jordan to the office. Except the waters didn’t dry up for me. I waded my way there, getting progressively more drenched as I neared my destination. By the time I arrived, my freshly washed hair looked like a mop, and I was soaked through from the waist down. Never mind that I wore rain boots, a raincoat and held an umbrella. There was no hope of staying dry.

It’s a good thing I love the rain.  rainy-evening

I don’t care how it comes down.

Rain is moody weather. With it comes gray skies, glistening sidewalks, and splashing water from automobile tires. If you’re in the country, then it’s broody skies with different shades of gray, crackling lightning, and drumming thunder. It’s God’s theatrical show free of charge.

I grew up with thunderstorms that stopped your heart they were so powerful. I also grew up with earthquakes. My relationship with God started when I was a child. I wasn’t going to fool around with someone who could produce such power on demand.

I still laugh every time the weatherman makes a prediction.

Like today. Okay it’s wet, but nothing close to the fear instilled in us by the media to stay home and keep dry.

Where is everyone’s sense of awe?

Calvin says, “Awe? I’m awed that you love the scent of wet fur!” beagle