Sunday, June 26, 2011


Every June, our town celebrates the summer solstice with a parade that draws a crowd of approximately 75,000 people. I've always considered it a Southern California version of Mardi Gras, and it's one of my favorite events.

The parade coincides with a huge block party on our street, that includes a bounce house, beer garden, a smaller version of the parade along our street, talent show and DJ. This year, we had a party and invited many friends to come watch the debut of Girl and Boy's band in the block party talent show. This is a photo of two of my favorite people, who had participated in the parade downtown earlier in the day dressed as zebras. Excellent lips!

The theme for the parade changes every year, and one year my best friend and I decided to enter the parade. The theme was Circus, so naturally we decided on a flea circus as our entry. We created a miniature float that included a tight rope, trapeze and a ring of fire. We'd rehearsed our trapeze act that was both clever and a thing of beauty to witness. Her husband agreed to be our 'barker' and carry a megaphone, calling out the stunts that we fleas were about to perform, and Girl would be a butterfly in our show. She was 6-years old at the time.

The day before the parade, my best girl called in tears. She'd been sick earlier in the week and instead of getting better, she'd gotten worse. There was no way she'd be able to participate.

Instead of cancelling our entry, her husband stepped up and became the integral part of the act. He constructed a giant magnifying glass to 'wave' over the mini float to give the illusion that the flea circus was coming to life. He also made a megaphone and got totally into his role and shaved his head - just for the event. We'd made a 'ring of fire' out of a hula hoop and the colorful, curly shavings that come from shaping a skateboard wheel, and used a jump rope to represent the tight rope.

It took almost two hours to make our way up a dozen blocks, stopping every 25 feet to 'perform' for the crowd. Barker would call out one of two death-defying acts, Ring of Fire or Tight Rope - and I would complete each to the roar of the crowd.

Gentle readers, can I just tell you that this was far and away one if the best (and most physically demanding) times I've ever had? From one of the very first 'stunts', I took off flat out running and twisted my ankle. It was very hot that day, and mid-parade was a helpful Samaritan that was spraying parade participants down in an effort to cool us off. Barker got a full blast of water in the face and all the sunscreen on his freshly-shaven head poured into his eyes, blinding him for the next three blocks.

We were both ruined for days afterward, but it was well the effort - and it solidified my deep and profound love for Barker.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

I have never met my biological father. For the most part, I am okay with this although that was not always the case. When I was around 6 months old, my mom got married. The marriage only lasted a few years, but her ex-husband decided that he wanted to legally adopt me as his daughter.

My mom tells me that this was one of the first adoptions of it's kind in California - and that the judge was hesitant to let it go through. They obtained permission from my biological father - although he denied that I was his daughter, and viola! I got a real dad.

I flew by myself, beginning when I was 6-years old, one week of each summer to visit my dad. We were virtual strangers and I often wondered why he'd bothered to adopt me at all. He'd call me at Christmas and on my birthday, and each year he would ask me how old I was. As I got older, I dreaded the summertime visits. He spent much of that time working, so I'd either stay at his apartment watching television alone or come with him while he visited clients.

After one of my summertime visits, I'd been home for a week when an envelope arrived from him. I never received mail from my dad, so I was thrilled to open it. I remember thinking that this was the beginning of him making an effort to establish a better relationship with me. I opened up the envelope to find a sock that I'd left in his apartment during my visit, with no note or anything. My disappointment was palpable.

My dad married his forth wife shortly after I got married in 1990. His wife had three children of her own and she was excited to meet me. Family meant everything to her, and it was because of her encouragement that we began to establish a better relationship.

I talk to my dad almost weekly, depending on how busy he is - he typically does most of the calling. As adults, our relationship has flourished to more than I'd hoped for. It may not be the Hallmark father-daughter bond that I imagined, but I am grateful for his thoughtfulness and his love.

Happy Father's Day, Daddio. Much love to you today and always.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Happy Birthday, Babydoll!

Today is my birthday. Babydoll is forty-three gentle years old.

The link is to a video of the band, Cracker. The only logic to this link is that it's a) a happy birthday song, and b) a friend's cousin used to be married to Johnny Hickman, who Husband and I met once at a party over 15 years ago. If that isn't 7 degrees of separation, then I don't know what else to tell you.

Monday, June 13, 2011


We live in a totally cool neighborhood. It's the kind of block where the kids can safely ride their bikes in the street, and everyone knows each other.

On Summer Solstice, which coincides with a huge parade in our town, the 'mayor' of our our neighborhood (elected during the progressive holiday dinner party) gets a permit and closes the street to traffic for a huge block party. There are inflatable slides and bounce houses, face painting and parachute games, a talent show, a beer garden, and a DJ. It's a highlight of our summer.

It's our own little nirvana except for one thing; I hate our next door neighbors. In the 13 years we've lived here, they've had more tenants that I can count. At some point, they had several bunk beds set up to accommodate a revolving door of exchange students until someone reported them (not me, although I was sorely tempted).

Their house is a complete eyesore. The roof has needed replacing the entire time we've lived next door to them - so tarps and sandbags cover their garage. The trees are so overgrown that they can barely pull one car into a driveway that could easily park three of their five cars plus a motorcycle. They refer to their landscaping as an 'edible' environment: avocados, bananas, guavas, oranges, lemons, blackberries, apples, almonds, persimmons and grapes. And because of all the fruit, they have a total rat infestation. This spring alone, our cats have caught a dozen rats and a half dozen gophers from their yard.

I half-seriously unveiled an elaborate plan to Husband - which involved freezing rat carcasses to bring out for the next occasion our neighbor complains to us about petty bullshit.

Husband replied to my rant with, "Alright, Jeffrey Dahmer."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bring Out The Gimp

Three summers ago, my husband's brother and his wife and kids flew out to California and we all stayed in a condo at Mammoth Lakes. On one of our last days there, we took a drive to visit an old mining town called Benton. We were sorely disappointed.

If we blinked, we would have missed it. After 40 minutes of driving, we came upon the one street town of Benton, population 8.5. (I'm still scratching my head over that. Half a person? Maybe a woman who was pregnant got partial credit?) There was a residence, a few buffalo in a corral, a historic house that was closed for the season, and a small bed and breakfast. The bed and breakfast was called Benton Hot Springs, which encouraged us to "come watch the stars, hear the nature, and soak in our soothing waters. Come relax and rejuvenate, again and again in these historic hot tubs."

Boy had to pee, so we went into the B & B to ask to use their bathroom. Stepping inside, it was like being transported back in time. Instead of a traditional hotel lobby, the entry was a faux living room and dining area filled with antiques and china. The dining table had place setting of china at each chair and a bowl of plastic fruit in the center of the table.

In the next room was a woman standing behind a glass display case, which contained even more antiques and a sleeping cat.

BABYDOLL: "Do you have a restroom that my son could use?"

WOMAN: "Are you with that big group outside?"


WOMAN: "Well, we have bathrooms - but they are for guests. We don't have public restrooms here. If you want to pay $10 per person to use the hot springs, then you'd be welcome to use the facilities, but this is a business. You wouldn't go into Motel 6 and ask to use their bathroom, right?"

BABYDOLL: "Uh...I guess we'll try somewhere else."

As we walked out of the 'lobby', a small end table by the doorway caught my eye. Displayed carefully on a crocheted doily were a half-dozen silver boxes in several sizes, suitable for holding cigarettes or calling cards. I had the impulse to grab the cigarette boxes and steal them out of spite.

When I told Husband about what transpired and how I'd considered snitching a few of the antique silver boxes, he slowly shook his head and replied, "You never know what could happen if you're caught stealing in a small town like this. It'd be like that scene in Pulp Fiction, where the next thing you know you're tied up in the basement with a harness strapped to your face and a ball shoved in your mouth..."