Our Microsoft Outlook went wonky last week, and wouldn’t send any emails, telling me that all our messages were rejected because of abusive behavior on our part. This happened once before, and the tech guy who fixes our computer had to push some unknown button to correct the issue so that Outlook communicated with our internet provider. When it happened again last week, I took a chance and just restarted the computer. It did a few upgrades and, voila, our emails were delivered.
I needed a reboot after a stressful late winter and early spring at work and with my regulatory board. Our travels kept me from rebooting in the way that is the best for me, which is pulling weeds and planting new plants and seeds. I finally got to do it last weekend, and, despite developing that weird eye virus, it greatly helped my spirit and made me very happy. It is hard for me to focus on work problems when I am weeding and laying down soaker hoses. It is good for me to worry about cut worms instead of paperwork deadlines. This year we only planted 21 perennials, a record low for us, but our garden beds are really shaping up. I can breathe deep and relax just looking out the windows.
How do you recharge and reboot? Any wonky computer issues vexing you?
We ate out a lot in Los Angeles early last month, and our wait staff were all very friendly and inquired about the reason for our visit. Every time we explained were in in the city for Daughter’s graduation from USC, she got something free. She received several lovely gratis desserts and one free breakfast.
She traveled to Iceland last Saturday, and was informed earlier in the week that she had won some sort of Icelandic Air lottery for a free upgrade to First Class seating. She bought her original round trip ticket for $500. She said the First Class lounge at Seatac was “quite the place” with an open bar and a buffet. (She was too sophisticated to take a photo of it for her curious mother! ) Once boarded, she drank free champagne and slept in great comfort on the flight to Reykjavik.
She is in Iceland with her best friend. Today they sent me a video of them belting “All We Like Sheep” from Handel’s Messiah, as they sped down an Icelandic road lined with flocks of sheep. They have been best friends for 19 years, They are staying in a country inn-a four star hotel called the Hotel Grimsborgir. When they checked in on Monday, they were given a free upgrade to a fancy suite because it was Best Friend’s 25th birthday. How lucky, both in upgrades and friendship!
When have you been lucky? Where would you like to travel with your best friend?
We went to The Broad Museum in Los Angeles in May. It is a museum of contemporary art with works by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, among others. Admission is free, and the place was packed with citizens of all ages. They had a special exhibition called “Soul of a Nation, Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983” curated by the Tate Modern out of London, that Husband went to. He said it was interesting but hard to describe.
Daughter and I viewed the general collection. It was fun to tell her about Warhol and show her the paintings of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, and the soup cans. The Lichtenstein comic-inspired paintings were far bigger than I ever imagined they would be and were pretty amazing to finally see in person. She liked all of it, but neither of us quite understood what we were looking at. It is all significant, but I don’t know the reason why. I really don’t know the meaning of the big blue Dachshund made out of plastic or the enormous dining room table and chairs.
What are your experiences with modern art? What are your favorite art works?
Daughter found a wonderful bookstore when we were in LA. It is downtown, and is called The Last Bookstore. It boasts 250,000 volumes in 22,000 sq. ft. of space, including new, used, rare and antique books, vinyl LP’s, and graphic novels. It is in an old bank. The mystery novels are shelved in the vault. It claims to be the biggest bookstore in California.
There are overstuffed chairs all over, and a small stage area for poetry readings and lectures. People came in with bags of books to sell, and left with bags of books to read. It was a wonderful place. I especially liked the used book sculptures.
What kind of bookstore would you like to own?
We traveled to Los Angeles in early May. I hadn’t been there since 1978. The air was certainly cleaner this time around. Our accommodations were lovely. We had a very nice time, ate in great restaurants, and had fun with our daughter. The people we met were very friendly. Our flight connections worked as well as could be expected, and we had no major glitches in our travel plans. Aside from some cool and rainy weather, it was a great trip.
It was kind of surprising when both husband and I independently stated that, as far as we were concerned, neither of us had to go back to Los Angeles ever again. We had been there, done that, and now we wanted to move on to other things.
I suppose it could be a sign that we are aging, and the fast pace of such a vibrant city was more than we could tolerate. I don’t think it is only that, though. I think it means that it is more important for us to do things that are truly meaningful and feed our souls. While I dislike how the word is bandied about, we want to be more mindful when we travel.
What are you relieved to be finished with?
We are starved for color in winter and early spring in the northern Great Plains. Husband and I have been fortunate in our travels since April to be in places when the flowering trees and shrubs are at their peak. We were in Brookings, SD last weekend and the flowering crabs, plums, and apple trees were beautiful. In Santa Fe we saw blooming fruit trees of all types. I was amazed, though, when we were in Los Angeles and I saw blooming Jacaranda trees for the first time.
I have never seen trees that shape and size with blue/purple flowers. I have no idea what they look like with their leaves. It is said to be good luck if the flowers fall on your head. The seeds and sap are said to be quite poisonous, though. They are found mainly in tropical climates, but have survived to winter temperatures as low 19 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t think they would winter over very well up here.
What are your favorite and least favorite trees and shrubs?
I came of age in the sixties, when it was all the rage to be un-patriotic. It felt like blinders had come off for the first time; we didn’t want to accept the perfect glowing images we had grown up with but were seeing America in all its stark reality. This got ugly fast, of course. Vietnam vets got the brutal end of this, as if risking life and limb wasn’t enough, but you had to put up with immature folks back home ridiculing you for your service.
Then the pendulum swung back after 911. In shoring up our solidarity we reverted back to flags and flag decals everywhere, freedom fries in the congressional cafeteria and presidents decried if they didn’t have their flag pin in their lapel every time they stepped out.
I feel smack in the middle of this spectrum. Having traveled quite a bit, I feel quite strongly that there are few places where I would prefer to live. Religious struggles, authoritarian regimes, overly controlling policies (think.. it’s a crime to spit out your gum), racism/sexism practically built into the system – all of these things make me think I’ll just stay here, thank you very much. On the other side of this fence is my feeling of disquiet about our current political crisis; it’s embarrassing when I travel. (Except when I go to London, as their problems are pretty overwhelming right now as well so they’re not as quick to judge.)
But in general, I’m glad to be an American and will fly my big flag this weekend and stick my little flags out in the front garden. No picnics or parades, but a quiet weekend of gardening and weeding and thinking of those who have fallen for me.
What are your plans for the weekend?