Oddities and Obsessions

tomato-plantYou had the nice. Now here’s the not so nice. I recently wrote about finding peace, love, and deeper friendship through agriculture; specifically, growing tomatoes with my friend Mark. Peace, love and light through Heirlooms. It was a lovely piece. Upbeat and cheery, not too “come to the commune”. Just right for a lazy morning read over coffee.

That was before. Before death and destruction arrived. Before my nightly ritual of spraying Simple Green natural product detergent and decorating the chicken wire fencing with sheets of fabric softener got upped to saving the fort status. Before the arrival of …The Squirrel from Hell.

At first I thought my nemesis was a rat. A canyon rat. Can’t be helped here in the canyons there are actually hill mice (rats to my mind) and we do have to deal with them. So I set about dealing with this one, or two with all of the tools I could muster thanks to Google. SOS aka Brillo pads around every single crevice of my planter that I thought they could squeeze through, was my particular favorite.

The blue grey fat squares mixed nicely with the white sheets of fabric softener which I also was led to believe would do the trick. When our weekly housekeeper came and wondered where her supplies had disappeared to I casually said, forget laundry, forget the dishes, I‘ll take care of you come harvest time!

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coffee-poster.jpgMy husband and I managed to miss the whole coffee craze. Up until a few years ago I had never had a full cup – try to restrain your horror – and he would have one only when desperate for caffeine. If it was past 10 in the morning he'd move right past a morning cup and reach for a Mountain Dew instead. All that changed one fateful trip to New England where we were introduced to Dunkin' Donuts. Sure, we knew they made good donuts, but apparently their pastry treats were not the reason for the lines cascading out the door. It was for their coffee, which we didn't hold high hopes for.

For all you DD fanatics, we weren't stupid, we just live in Southern California and we aren't privileged enough to have a single store in our region. Back then if we wanted to "Run on Dunkin" we had to drive 7 hours to Arizona. Coming from a region dominated by Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Seattle's Best, we had pretty low expectations of a "donut shop" coffee. Wow, were we wrong. From the first burning sip – coffee is hot – to the last  we just couldn't believe how delicious it was. Or understand how they kept it hot for sooooo long. We had found our java heroin and there was no going back.

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girlsplaying.jpgI’m not quite sure when it happened, but somewhere between my childhood and early teenage years I stopped believing that I was capable of doing anything. We all did. Knowing better overruled my sense of creativity and ability to imagine any possible combination of outcomes.

Last night I sat next to my best friend of 24 years, on the floor of her Los Feliz apartment. Each with a computer on our lap, we wrote our stories. I remember when we used to sit together and, instead of just creating fictional characters, we were those characters. Our imaginations transported us like a time machine to wherever we wanted to go, as whoever we wanted to be.

I can recall being a shopkeeper – and a damn good one at that – at age 5. Kate and I would block off the kitchen and charge our parents a nickel every time they wanted something out of the fridge. In retrospect, we were genius. Back then, we weren’t intentionally manipulative or greedy money makers. No. We were just doing our jobs- because after all, we were shopkeepers. And it was awesome.

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butter-1.jpgA few years ago I started a poll on Facebook. I wanted to know what possessions make people feel wealthy that aren’t expensive or fancy. Like toilet paper. When I have ample rolls of toilet paper I feel strangely satisfied. And pens. When I have a lot of pens I feel very, very rich in a weird way. I just love to not have to go searching high and low for them. I like bundles of them in the office and kitchen and living room and a few in the bedroom even. I know it’s weird. I know.

The thing that always makes me feel rich in the kitchen is butter. When I have copious amounts of butter I feel that anything is possible.

A month ago Shannon and I took a short road trip down to North Carolina. He has two grand-aunts in Southern Pines that he hadn’t seen in years and felt like reconnecting with. I was a little reluctant because I would be addressing two of my biggest fears – elderly relatives of boyfriends and my belief that all relationships end on long road trips. I’m happy to report neither of my fears came to fruition. In actuality, Shannon’s grand-aunts are about as adorable a pair as I’ve ever met; little and feisty with high pitched, low toned drawls that made me chuckle every time they said anything.

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jiminycricket.jpgDoes Jiminy Cricket sit on your shoulder? He sits on mine – always has. The first time I saw Pinocchio; he jumped right off the screen and onto my shoulder and has been there ever since. If he were simply my conscience, I would consider that a good thing, but he is not my conscience; he is my worst critic!

“You think that photograph is good? Are you an idiot with absolutely no taste? Print that and the world will laugh at you.”

“You prefer A Place in the Sun to Citizen Kane? Are you friggin’ out of your gourd? Tell anyone that and the world will laugh at you.”

“You are wearing what? That? Put that on and the world with laugh at you!”

It never stops. It is most embarrassing, however, when I fix dinner for company. I will get a compliment and before I can smile and say, “Thank you” I blurt out, “I put too much salt in the sauce, I over-browned the meat before I stewed it …” TMI provided by Jiminy.

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