Snakes and Ladders, and Roach

After the Getty that first evening, we took the dollar-a-ride Blue Bus the two miles down to Santa Monica beachfront from our high-priced basic motel room (with its rooftop terrace, complete with astro turf, bogus ferns and a couple of Greek statues). We were rewarded with dancing and singing street acts along Third Street Promenade, as well as the boardwalk in front of the pier. The loin-clothed guy below got the prize for the sheer novelty of his act. As you can see he’s on a ladder, his black skin gleaming with sweat from the effort it took to balance while gripping two writhing snakes.

Okay, the snakes were fake, but there was a certain irony in his expression, along with a couple of comments he made that allowed him to pull it off.  A short walk away, was Border Grill, the place I’d been dying to try where we had reservations; it was a bust for the most part. Except for the fact that it was a hole in the wall–which to me, is essential for a Mexican restaurant–with a wild bold fiesta décor, a long saloon-type bar, and the mango margaritas and the Jicama Orange Salad were fabulous. And then there was that little extra, a tip from the bartender that just across the street lay Harvelle’s, a quintessential blues, jazz, and soul club, in operation since 1931.

Later that night, we squeezed into Harvelle’s dark narrow barroom and found a seat up front against the wall, just in time to see the performers take the stage—the Blues Brothers incarnate, plus Roach, the female singer. They started playing and it took everything not to get up and dance, but then we would’ve lost our seats. The highlight of the night for us was this one smokin’ number from Roach. I think I managed to capture her acting it out in this iPhone shot: “If you ever see me at three o’clock in the morning on Montana Boulevard, you know, a black woman with blond hair, pull over and help me or get the hell out of my way.” Note: Montana Boulevard is in a rich white neighborhood.

It was hard leaving the show but we had a bus to catch before they stopped running and tomorrow was another day of fun, fun, fun. And an almost disaster.

Old Times

I only mention that Joan was wearing heels because she has a style that is so different from mine, and because I’m having fun with it. You see she’s a bit of a dresser, turned one whole bedroom into a closet filled with dresses and shoes for the Henley Royal Regatta, golfing, hosting dinners, eating out, trips across the Channel to Paris, trips to Dubai. I, on the other hand, wear clothes from the Gap, yoga tanks and pants and flip flops and prefer hiking the hills and spur of the moment outings. She was right, I have become a California girl.

We hugged long and hard then the three of us hurried into her pub-house; a fire blazed in the lounge. Three hours later after a bottle of champagne along with one of red wine, we were doubling over and crying with laughter, remembering old school mates, all the crazy things we did. Now here’s the amazing thing, I don’t remember ever feeling this free in their company in the old days, as unguarded. Whatever reservations I’d had disappeared just like that. I don’t know how they felt but to me it was a victory; I no longer felt like I had anything to lose. Maybe I’d learned something after all these years.

(The photo above is of Donna and Joan in her bed on their computers accessing Facebook and their Nkana friends. The photo below of is of me and Donna–only I’m posting my A to Z Blogging Challenge–God Bless ’em, they were so understanding!)


Blogging Fool

F is For Foolish, as in foolish me. You see I’m about to launch into the 2012 WordCount Blogathon for the month of May and I’m using the A to Z challenge format to get me going again (that was fun, if a little stressful).

I found out about the blogathon on Julie Farrar’s delightful blog, Travelling Through. I thought it would be a terrific way to document my trip back to the past via England where I paid a visit to my old chum, Joan, from our lives in Zambia. (She’ll be commenting, who are you calling old, you just watch and see). Plus, Michelle V. Rafter, who hosts the blogathon has theme days: May 7th “Five movies that have inspired my blogging,” don’t know about that, but hey, I’m game. May 14th, “Guest Post Exchange Day.” May 21st, Haiku Day. I love  haikus, never written one. But I shall. May 23rd, finish the phrase–If I started blogging today I would . . . Hmmm. Stay tuned. Hopefully, I can stay the course  while finishing my final edit on my memoir, Loveyoubye.  And everything else.


On my way up Canyon Acres to hike the “other” hill yesterday, I swooped down on a penny lying on the side of the road. It was heads. Yes! Good luck. I stuck the coin in my pocket and later dropped it into the blue, hobbit-sized covered jar in the kitchen filled with pennies. If the penny had been tails, I would’ve flipped it over for the next person to discover. Create some good luck for the next person. I haven’t a clue when or why I started this custom. All I know is that it was with a feeling of joy and anticipation.

 For the most part, I’ve abandoned all those other little rituals I grew up with, like uncrossing knives because it’s bad luck, throwing a pinch of spilled salt over my left shoulder for good luck, or expecting a windfall when my right hand itches. And I walk under ladders. Is that because I go fearlessly into the future? Not really. I worry about things. But I believe that luck is believing you’re lucky. I believe that as James Allen states in that little gem of a book he wrote in 1902, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” So today, for fun, I added a qualification to my penny ritual, if it’s shiny and new, the luck factor gets a boost. The one I found today was shiny and new.




So, yesterday, I got tagged. Finally! I thought, I’m a candidate for the Pulitzer prize! Or else that naked shot of me in the background of my ex-boyfriend’s wedding at Heisler Park was tagged on Facebook (okay, it wasn’t an ex-boyfriend).  Not so.  Instead, YA author W. Chaser, invited me to answer some questions, eleven to be precise, and then I’m supposed to pass the tag on, so others can answer the questions I’ve posed. You know what, it was “funner” than I thought it would be.

1. If you could be any fictional baddie who would you be and why?

Sauron, because he’s magnificently bad

2. If you could go back in time and stop someone being born who would it be?


3. When do you get your most inspirational ideas?

What inspirational ideas? Just kidding. Any time, but there have been those absolutely out of the blue ones that wake me up

4.  If you had to live without either books or music, which would it be?

Neither. I couldn’t live without books or music

5.  Who provides the most encouragement for your writing?

My girlfriend who reads for me

6.  If you could have one wish, what would it be?

You mean something other than a million other wishes? I could get all philosophical on you but I won’t. How about a five year long trip around the world?

7.  Do you remember your dreams and do they influence your writing?

Yes. And Yes.

8.  What word do you frequently misspell?

Actually, I don’t. I’m a spelling freak. (Now watch, you’ll find a misspelled word in my answers)

9.  How much influence in your writing do you take from other people’s opinions?

I’m way open to suggestions, is that the same as being influenced by other people’s opinions?

10. If there is one book you wish you’d written, what is it?

“Don’t Lets Go To The Dogs Tonight, by Alexandra Fuller

11. Starter or Desert?

Starter, hands down. Lots of ‘em

So, I now have 11 questions for 11 new protagonists :

1) What book have you always wanted to read, but still haven’t gotten around to it?

2) What classic book do you feel is overrated? Why?

3) What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book?  Least favorite?

4) Where is your favorite place to write?

5) Pen, pencil or computer?

6) What was your favorite toy as a child?

7) What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

8) If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one ability or quality, what would it be?

9) What are five songs you hate to admit you love?

10) Where is your dream destination, (or place you’ve always wanted to go)?

11) What are the top five things on your bucket list?

CherylAnn Ham

Jolene Stockman

My First Book

Minivan Momma

Doreen McGettigan




Cindy Thrasher

Been there, done that!

Crazy California Claire

If you choose to take the challenge, please post a link from your answers to this post. Have fun and pass it along to 11 more bloggers.

Essay Workshop

I leave tomorrow for a four-day essay workshop up at Lake Tahoe with six other women, which includes our leader, the brilliant writer and teacher, Ana Maria Spagna.

Yess!  That ought to get my butt in gear, ay?  With this weird mode I’ve been in I’m just a teensy bit worried that I’m going to freeze up, you know, like what on earth am I going to write about, why aren’t the words streaming onto the page?  As to the latter, who am I kidding, the words have never streamed onto the page, especially, not when I’m on the spot to perform.  Just as long as I don’t come up completely empty.

But hey, at least I’ll have fun.  This is about the seventh workshop I’ve taken with Ana Maria, mostly on memoir while I was writing Loveyoubye, in different places from the tiny community of Stehekin, gateway to the North Cascades National Park where she lives to Cannon Beach, Oregon, to Molokai, always under one roof.  Other than the very serious, illuminating learning that goes on, it’s truly fun.  I make new friends and reconnect with old.

We start out by buying groceries together–one time, we overbought and ended up stocking Northern Washington’s food bank for a good long time; we’ve gotten better at it.  Then there’s the drawing straws for rooms, communal cooking, sharing our writing, wine drinking, hot tub soaking (Stehekin), jogging on the beach (Cannon Beach, Molokai) and delicious late night discussions about writing.

It’s all good.