March 2008 ARCHIVE
March 30, 2008

My supervisor explained to me last night that nothing I did was intentional. “It just happens that way,” he said wistfully.


One of the residents of Bentley Place is a small stocky ruby throated hummingbird with green bronze feathers. Like all hummingbirds his first name is Joy, but I call him Angelo.

According to a couple of web sites, his species are born on the Baja Peninsula, but often set up residence in southern California.

My daily writing is done on a computer that faces a large window. Angelo visits several times each day to flutter a “hello.” He lives among the trees and flowering bushes outside my window. I keep a feeder for Angelo beside the pink blooming vines that fall from a hanging basket on our patio. Angelo has stolen my heart.

He is a tireless acrobat who spins, hovers, and darts through the air like a master trapeze artist. Once, he startled me by suddenly dropping from sight as if he had fallen to earth. But like a mischief child, he soon appeared outside my window. I could almost hear the laughter in his fluttering wings.

Some days and I promise this is the truth; Angelo will sit upon a limb of a tree just a few yards from my window. In this quiet sacred moment, he takes my breath away for it is like watching an angel pause.

I have read that hummingbirds have the highest metabolism of all animals, yet this wondrous spirit of the universe who’s wings can beat up to 180 times a second can still himself long enough to take a breath or a power nap.

Did you know that hummingbirds are native only to the New World? It must have been an oversight that they were not chosen to be our national bird.

Angelo was among the first to welcome me to my new home. He has been my joy, my comfort, and my angel. Joyous hummingbirds are energy vibrating at warp speed. It is in the constant fluttering of his iridescent wings that Angelo has taught me to hug, bless, and enjoy every moment of life.

Traffic Karma

Do we set the patterns of the world with our individual actions and thoughts? After all, nothing happens until someone forms a thought.
He was an eighteen year old kid wearing an orange tee-shirt. He was two car links in front of us at the traffic light. We waited in line; he had a heart attack. I will always have that memory.
I came by this idea in a place where my mind should not have been wandering…I drove to four different destinations today in heavy Los Angeles traffic and survived without harm or causing harm.

The area I covered was probably a total distance of eight to ten miles. I was in the car for a total of three hours.

The trouble with Los Angeles traffic today began early when the traffic reporter announced that there was a tree slide in the middle of a busy street in Brentwood.

I glanced at the television and, sure enough, there were trees lying across two lanes of traffic on Sepulveda Blvd. It looked like half-dozen trees from somebody’s cliff side back yard had fallen to the street below. This happens in LA, particularly after it has rained a couple of days. And much like the forest in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” or the walking trees from the movie, “The Lord of the Rings,” these errant trees wreak havoc.

Commuters would not arrive on time, patients would be late for doctor visits and the worst, today’s drivers were destined to while away large segments of their lives in long lines of traffic. Los Angeles is one of the worst places, but it is happening everywhere. It is happening to Charlotte, and even, the crossroads of Shuffletown.

Driving in LA exposes you to unlikely circumstances. I swear in the year 2004, Lee and I were tooling down Barrington Drive. Lee was driving. We had not reached Nebraska Ave., we were approaching University High School, when a kid passed us driving a jeep. He was rocking, flaps were flying and drums were thumping. He was even jumping up and down in his seat. He was an eighteen year old kid wearing an orange tee-shirt. He was two car links in front of us at the traffic light. We waited in line; he had a heart attack. I will always have that memory.

I spend a lot of my life in traffic between West LA, Brentwood, and Beverly Hills. The problem is that it takes almost thirty minutes to drive two miles in LA traffic.

When I am driving in LA traffic I am more alert than an Indy racer. Because, I, too, feel like I am driving while straddling a gas tank.

I try to stay calm. My eyes dart in four directions, my ears are more alert than those of a startled rabbit. Sometimes, I am so alert that it takes a honking car to get my attention.

I have my traffic mantras. I always remind myself to breathe. I see glorious fall seasons ablaze with the colors of the rainbow, the mountain brook, the lightness of the evening breeze, and the freedom of thunderstorms, fire and ice.

Today, a woman on a cell phone blew her horn at me, while my wheels were still rolling up to the stop sign. I was driving on a street in a sun-dappled neighborhood and suddenly, her horn blasted at me. Did she want me to run the stop sign? She didn’t care about the stop sign; she just wanted me out of the way.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fine Art in the Land of Valet Service

Koons’ Dog

Here I am, again. It is wintertime. Ground Hog Day has passed and I am living on Bentley Avenue in West Los Angeles. I am writing to you from the “City of the Angels,” Los Angeles, my winter home. This city is the lollipop of success filled with the promise of glamour and glitz.

Here, in this land of hype, the trees, the air, people quiver with expectancy because at any given moment, at any given hour, hundreds are waiting, 24/7, to hear from an agent.

Los Angeles is the mythical land where the highways and interstates are lined with Bentleys, Ferraris, and an assortment of shiny four-wheeled baubles that cost more than most people make in a lifetime. Stretch limousines slide silently through the traffic with darkened windows. I am pretty much convinced that there is an unwritten code that stipulates to be on the success track, the wife must drive a large black SUV or, in special circumstances, drive a BMW in a car pool. This is the “Land of Me” and the birthplace of road rage and illusion.

Also, Los Angeles is the land of valets. If you like to open doors for folks…Los Angeles needs you. There is a valet job waiting for you. A valet lives large in this land of sunshine. My favorite grocery store in Century City has valet services every day. Well-coiffed LA matrons arrives driving Jaguars, late model Cadillac’s and land yacht Lincolns pull into the valet section to hand over their cars to courteous men in red jackets who work for tips.

As to tips, valets need to perfect a style for either good or evil. The choice is to either endear yourselves to the car owner or assume an air of being so aloof that the car owner would fear not giving you a large enough tip.

In Los Angeles, houses are paper-clipped on the sides of hills and in the last couple of years, following a heavy rain, one or two houses splits in half and begins to slide down the cliff taking the house below it with them as they crash to the bottom. Currently, there is a mansion in Encino whose foundation split into two pieces and is ever so slowly sliding off the mountain. This event holds everyone’s attention for at least a week. In the fall, the public’s attention is on the wildfires that occur and devour nature and mansions. Also, I would like to point out that the Los Angeles River is paved. I have actually seen a couple of scenic paintings of fish and rocks on the pavement, an addition painted by Los Angeles artists.

Los Angeles receives so much sunshine that the air is stoked with energy. It seems to vibrate with expectancy and it must be water droplets from the ocean that makes the city seem to sparkle. Somewhere in this town, someone is always signing a contract, writing a television show, waiting to hear from an agent.

The metropolis of Los Angeles is alive with dreams and littered with dashed hopes. There is always an air of expectancy in Los Angeles. This feeling of expectancy is as real as the sea breezes that blow into West Los Angeles from Santa Monica. There is always an air of expectancy hanging about Los Angeles. Here, in this land of hype, the trees, the air, people quiver with expectancy because at any given moment, at any given hour, hundreds are waiting, 24/7, to hear from an agent.

Los Angeles has too much sunshine; it stokes the citizens with energy overload and this overload drives them to believe their dreams. The air is cluttered with dreams. It is almost as if you should be able to pluck a dream from the air.

Read the rest of this entry »

Contentment Can Be Where You Find It

Silence is loud in the city. It is the noise of life. City streets, all hours of the day, are lined with cars and trucks in every shape and color; each jockeying for the quickest route home. It is a constant parade of vehicles and people, dogs, bicycles, taxis, ambulances, police, fire trucks, and buses. Standard Utility Vans roll by above the flow. Many are talking on cell phones totally unconscious of the world outside their windows, even; sometimes to the signals of green and red…stop and go. Horns blare and wheels squeal.
I am also fond of this time of day. Contentment is contagious and as I watch my dogs relaxed and content, I settle into the moment and let my mind wander.
We live in a second floor condominium in a small complex that was built around a rectangle swimming pool. Each unit opens on a walkway above the first floor pool area. The pool is usually still and deserted, except for two weeks when Nancy’s grandchildren visit. You could say that we are near water.

Yet, only streets away from this hyper-activity of traffic, in the shaded neighborhood, squirrels eat nuts in the middle of the street. Crows squawk at each other from pole to pole keeping watch for hawks.

We are waiting for Lee, Jipper, Sassy and me. He had called to say he was ten minutes away. When he calls, we follow routine and move into waiting formation.

When Lee calls to announce his impending arrival, I release the hounds, two small overfed Pomeranians. The dogs take their places on the walkway above the swimming pool where they watch the first floor for signs of life. They are not in a hurry. Until Lee arrives, they will bark a greeting to anyone who steps up to the elevator below. They are patient with life, for eventually Lee will step through the garage door and walk to the elevator. Until then, they listen and watch. Silence is a perspective. It is in the pauses that we find ourselves and hear the mourning dove cooing for its mate.

This is the dogs’ favorite time of day, well, except for walks, riding in the car, “getting up time,” which is often four in the morning, and treats.

While they enjoy all escort duty, bringing guests from the elevator to our front door. Their two favorite escorts are food deliveries and Lee. It is the best of the bests, a great honor, in another day of wonder, marching Lee home bringing another work day to a close.

Sassy trots down the concrete walkway towards the elevator. When she reaches the appropriate spot, she lays her belly and body down as smoothly as maple syrup on hot pancakes. When she is in place, she is so round and furry that it looks like someone dropped their fur muff on the floor. She likes to keep her belly cool. Sassy settles just as easily onto the green grass when we are in North Carolina. I always thought she only did this in Carolina because, well, it was home. Only today, I noticed that she seems just as content on concrete as grass.

Jipper won’t go that far from the front door until he sees the top of Lee’s head pop through the door below. Jipper never forgets that he is a lap dog, and he considers a walk every 12 hours quite enough exercise. But this time of day was an exception to the rule, his ears are up and alert. Today, he will see Lee first. He will be the first to bark the alarm.

I am also fond of this time of day. Contentment is contagious and as I watch my dogs relaxed and content, I settle into the moment and let my mind wander.

If we pause, if we settle into the rhythm, we find all. We adjust into the repetition of life. To the city dweller, this loud silence is no different than slumbering off to sleep to the song of the cicada with bull frogs singing bass.