Here is a conversation that took place last week at a popular local Italian deli/restaurant in Burbank.
Me: What’s your best imported Italian pizza sauce?
He: It’s Cento, in the cans right over there. It’s the best.
Me: I found the pizza sauce but all the cans are dented. I mean really dented, like somebody used them to play kickball. I don’t want to buy dented cans.
He: I don’t blame you. You can get really sick.
Me: Those cans are really mangled. Nobody is going to buy them.
He: That’s okay. If they don’t sell after about three months, they take them in the back and make marinara sauce for the restaurant.
Me: With the dented cans?!
He: We’ve been here over 40 years – nobody got sick yet.
We celebrated my birthday last night at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park to see A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. It was a great night sitting outside under the stars watching a little bit of Americana. Where else can you go and watch a radio show? It’s so well done with the most amazing sound effects guy, great music, humor, and then… the coyotes.
It was unbelievable! The theater is outside surrounded by wilderness and wildlife and right in the middle of the show, a pack of coyotes started howling right behind us. At first it sounded like part of the show coming through the speakers but it quickly become clear what it was. I’m guessing it was a large pack because they made a lot of noise for quite a while. The show stopped and Garrison asked the audience, “What was that?” We all answered back, “Coyotes!” It’s a familiar sound to most locals, that squealing and howling they do – but it was beautiful music to me. It’s what I occasionally hear in my own backyard (those are the times I don’t go out to see what’s going on!)
What a memorable evening this was. A night out at the Greek and coyotes who sang for my birthday.
Have you ever been mad at somebody for so long, you forgot why you’re mad? That’s me. And I’m still mad. Why can’t I let it go… that thing that I don’t even remember? It’s been two weeks! What’s my problem?
Last week we had a 4.4 earthquake and it was really strong, probably because the epicenter was just down the street from us. We had broken glass and pictures and one of a beautiful pair of pineapple candle holders broke apart. The shattered glass was also a reflection of my nerves that day.
Then today, we had FOUR earthquakes, starting around 8 p.m. The biggest one was a magnitude 5.3 and it was a rolling quake, not nearly as bad as last week. They always tell us on the news that an earthquake can also be a precursor to a larger quake to follow. So far, a larger one has not followed but we have had 30 aftershocks. Luckily, we did not feel the aftershocks.
A lot of people are on edge, including me. A truck just drove by and I thought it was another quake. Or maybe I’m just dizzy from the glass of wine I had trying to calm down.
UPDATE – Midnight, March 30th: We felt another earthquake this afternoon and I just watched the news. We’ve had over 130 aftershocks. Luckily, we did not feel most of them. But still….
“Please… take me with you! I want to live with you in California. I’ve already packed some toiletries and I know there’s room in your purse. I’ll be good. Look at this innocent face. You can trust me. Puh-leeeze?!
Do I look like I would eat your tomatoes and peaches and pomegranates? No way! I have food allergies. Eat a peach and I’ll blow up like a balloon. Besides, I’m not really a squirrel – I’m a cat. This is a Halloween costume. Booo! Now open up that purse!”
Denis and I are on a road trip to the east coast. What better time to come east but when the trees are ablaze with colors like this. We started in Washington, DC and then we went on to New York City. This tree was in Central Park. I got right under the tree and kept looking up at it – I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. But my joy was short-lived. When I looked down, guess who was there to welcome me to New York?
“Hi, Jenny! I’ve been waiting for you. My cousin back in L.A. texted me that you were coming. Did you bring me any snacks? Any tomatoes? Peaches? …No? No problem. Just open up your purse, I’ll jump in and go back with you! After I eat all your peaches, can we go to Disneyland?” How about you jump in my purse and I catapult it across the Hudson River, you mangy, rat-faced, no-good, low-life, beady-eyed, scum-sucking, vacation-ruining squirrel!
The flower fields in Lompoc were beautiful, although not what I expected. I thought they would all be in one huge valley all together but now I know they are farms and those farms are located all over the place. Some people gave us general directions where most of them were but then driving along the highway, you come around a bend and there’s one all by itself – a stunning carpet of orange and purple flowers. But more than the flowers, we saw acres and acres of grapes being grown. I forgot that we were in wine country. If I had known what was to come, I would have had a lot of wine before going in search of a Tilt-a-Whirl.
It was opening day at the Flower Festival so there were not a lot of people. And there was no Tilt-a-Whirl. But I found one that looked kind of like a tilt-a-whirl and the operator was just hanging around waiting for someone to ride. I bought the ticket, got on, and then two other kids got on, all about 8 years old. I was so excited! This would be my Tilt-a-Whirl. The music was loud and I was ready. It only took about 15 seconds for me to start screaming, “Stop! Stop!” I had no idea this thing would fly up into the air, start heaving down to the bottom, then up to the top… but that’s not all. The seats went vertical… but that’s not all. Then they started spinning!!! Got it? Loud music, flying up and down, seats VERTICAL and SPINNING! I was so scared and was screaming as loud as I could to stop. But the other kids were screaming for joy so he didn’t know the difference. Suddenly I remembered that someone died of a heart attack in an earthquake last year. You can die from fear!! Would I die up here? Would I pass out and fly out of the seat? I think I just peed on myself. He finally noticed me screaming and stopped the ride after about 4 hours (Denis says it was 30 seconds but he lies).
I had to be helped off the ride like an old person who can’t get out of a chair. My heart was pounding. My hands were shaking. I was crying and hyperventilating. I thanked the operator for stopping (I think I recognized him from the audience at the prison!). But all that’s not even the worst part. The operator had to start the ride back up for the other kids who seemed to have no problem with this death-trap called The Orbiter. The worst part was the looks I got from the kids for interrupting their ride. Can an 8-year-old girl be condescending? This bitch was.
The last time I was in Lompoc was in 1978 when my band played at the Lompoc Federal Prison. Don’t ask me how we got the gig – I have no idea. I remember going through all kinds of security as they searched us and our instruments. When we started playing, the prisoners’ cheering was so loud we could not hear our own music. We actually got out of sync and didn’t know it as we kept playing through the pandemonium. No one in the audience knew or cared that we were playing out of sync. They kept screaming for me to turn around and I thought maybe one of the prisoners got loose and was coming up behind me. Security guards were stationed at both sides of the stage but they didn’t move so I finally turned around and the crowd exploded. They just wanted to see my ass!
Fast forward to 2013… I’m gong back to Lompoc, but no prison this time. I always wanted to see the flower fields in Lompoc and we’re going tomorrow.
Is everybody happy that spring is finally here? Me… not so much. I was happy until a series of events have put me on edge. First thing: There was a spider in the bathroom. Second: Last week there was a baby rattle snake in the backyard. The gardeners got rid of it but what if his mom, the big one, comes looking for her son?? Third thing: Denis and I were standing out in the backyard last night around 6:00 (it was still very light), watching the hummingbirds, when a skunk walked right past us – like we were invisible. I went for my camera but Denis said not to make any sudden moves – if he feels threatened, he could spray us. Mr. Skunk strolled away like he owned the place. Now I can’t just walk outside carefree any more. In the morning I have to watch where I step not to corner a rattle snake, and in the late afternoon I have to look over my shoulder for the skunk. And as if spiders, snakes, and skunks weren’t enough… the tomato plant came back! YES!! IT’S BACK!! In the exact same spot, right between the roses.
It’s just a little sprout right now but that’s all it was last year and I wound up picking over 8,000 tomatoes! I’m not doing that again! I don’t care how delicious and sweet those cherry tomatoes were…. oh, they were soooo good…. well, maybe I’ll just pick the first five thousand. The rabbit can have the rest.