They Call It "Tabanca"

"Tabanca" our friend, and Carnival costume creator, Ian, finally named what I was feeling, after a chain of text responding with a bandaged thumb. (Ian literally ground off the tip of his thumb Thursday last, while trying to wedge a rock under the rear tire of his car so he could drive up a steep hill.)

 Here's Ian hot-gluing Curtis's "Horns"pre thumb smash.

Here's Ian hot-gluing Curtis's "Horns"pre thumb smash.

"That's what we call what you're feeling my dear: Tabanaca. It's Carnival Blues." 

I do have Tabanca!...Or feel Tabanca? Or am Tabanca-ish

How could I not have Carnival Blues?  Dang it, after weeks of planning, collecting, gluing, beading and feathering. . . 

 Ian, Charisse & Curtis during a "Bead & Feather" session.

Ian, Charisse & Curtis during a "Bead & Feather" session.

Followed by weeks of playing and limin' and chippin' and whinin' bhoy--not that I am much of a whiner (the Trini kind anyway)--Post-Carnival, rather than coming as a welcome relief after way too much revelry, hit me with, as my mother likes to say, "A dull thud!" Tabanca.

I tried getting busy. Still Tabanca.

I tried ignore in it. More Tabanca.

I'm tired of wallowing it in. So now I've decided to go with it.

In a veiled effort to vanquish TabancaI decided to relive Trinidad Carnival 2016 by sharing memories here. Enjoy!

 Jouvert 2015, we played with a band called "Cocoa Devils" and by the end of the night were smeared with cocoa "mud"

Jouvert 2015, we played with a band called "Cocoa Devils" and by the end of the night were smeared with cocoa "mud"

Carnival Weekend starts Sunday night, well really Monday morning about 3:00 am with Jouvert. Revelers dance along beside music trucks--Steel Pan and/or DJ's spinning Carnival Music.

Splashing, smearing, dunking in paint, mud (cocoa powder), and clay until after daybreak.

The origin of Jouvert and this "camoflaging" isn't "pleasant" as it came about as a response to Officials, mostly British, trying to ban Carnival celebrations. (The Spanish, absentee landlords, really, didn't seem to know about Carnival; the French by most accounts, joined in.) 

In case you wonder where I'm getting my info, I've been reading up on it in John Cowley's Carnival Canboulay and Calypso.

Carnival was introduced to Trinidad by French settlers in 1783, a time of slavery. Banned from the masquerade balls of the French, the slaves would stage their own mini-carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating and sometimes mocking their masters’ behavior at the masquerade balls.
— http://www.definitions.net/definition/Jouvert

As with Carnival, despite it's beginnings Jouvert is now pure fun for everyone. Here are a few more pics beginning with us at 3:00 am sparkling clean and ready to play! This year we played Jouvert with "Caribe" and finished smeared with paint (or, as we say, with "improved work-out shirts)

Like Jouvert, Trinidad Carnival's has ebbed and flowed. Carnival came to Trinidad in the 1780s along with French planters and their slaves from other Caribbean Islands. In the beginning the celebration went from Christmas right up to Ash Wednesday services. 

In wasn't until after 1797, when the British "Captured" Trinidad that serious issues and ordinances against Carnival began cropping up. 

 

 Wealthy white French residents would hired steel pan bands to play for their pre-Lent, "Fat Tuesday" parties. The bands, accompanied by friends and family, made the best of the work. They'd dance and party as they pushed the heavy steel pan drums from house to house. Eventually the revelers inside joined the party outside. But before the revelry can begin, there are costumes to be made:

Carnival Monday everyone dresses in part of their costumes and parade down the street.

 Carnival Monday costumes: halos, purple wig and comfy shoes.

Carnival Monday costumes: halos, purple wig and comfy shoes.

Carnival Tuesday is the culmination of "Bacchanal Week" with steel pan band competitions, King and Queen engulfed by costumes as big as floats--some fully 30 ft high x 30 ft wide--Kiddie Carnival, Band Camp "practice" sessions and parties "Fetes" to support the bands everywhere. Here's a fantastic link to more about Trinidad's Carnival.

 

And here are some of my photos (with apologies as I only had my baby phone to click with. We played with a small band sponsored by Vene Mange restaurant, the owner, Roses is pictured with her parasol below:

And alas, instead of quenching my Tabanca, it's made me long for more...next year!

Trini Translations:

  • "Playing": is getting costumed up, and parading through the streets
  • "Limin'": Getting together with friends
  • "Chippin": bouncy walking to the music
  • "Whinin'": Trinidad-style dancing (precursor to Miley's "Twerking")
  • "Bhoy": Boy in Trini-ese

For more images of Trinidad Carnival 2016 click over to view these by Rapso Imaging

Tabanca Playlist:

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NOT YOUR AVERAGE GOLDFISH

Just because Norman the Goldfish swims around and around and around...inside a fishbowl all day, you might think he's empty-headed. You'd be wrong!

Norman far from your average goldfish. In addition to pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, Norman loves music. Sure Tuba music is his favorite, but he likes all different kinds of music, especially if it's fishy. In preparation for Jumpstart's Read for the Record© 10-22-2015, we've compiled his music playlist. (Norman glugged them; I wrote them down.)

Norman the Goldfish’s Music Playlist:

Norman says, There are way too many fishing songs out, far too few fish songs. These are his favorite fishy songs in order of glugs recieved:

  1. Under the Sea from The Littlest Mermaid
  2. Octupus’s Garden by The Beatles
  3. Fish Gotta Swim from Showboat, sung by Ava Gardner
  4. Somewhere Beyond the Sea, sung by Bobbie Darin
  5. Three Little Fishies by Wake-Up Group
  6. There’s A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Katie Cutie Kids TV
  7. Swim by Jack Mannequin 
  8. Let’s Go Swimming by The Wiggles 
  9. If I Were a Fish by Katie Cutie Kids TV
  10. Barracuda by Heart
  11. Rock Lobster by the B52s

Bonus: Punniest Fish Song of all time (How could we not include this?):

 If you aren't registered yet, whatcha waiting for? Here's the link to  Jumpstart's    Read for the Record© 10-22-2015  :   http://conta.cc/1L97qpM

If you aren't registered yet, whatcha waiting for? Here's the link to Jumpstart's Read for the Record© 10-22-2015http://conta.cc/1L97qpM

Confessions of a Former World Record Holder

 Home of the Oilers. the Tower still stands.

Home of the Oilers. the Tower still stands.

t was The Bicentennial Year: 1976 (and all that entails)! The Country was turning 200! Our school, Huntington Beach High School was turning 70! We were graduating! And we wanted to leave our mark on the world! What better way that to set a world recorded! Recorded for all eternity in THE Guinness Book of World Records!  

And so the launch to find a record to break began. As this was one of those last minute Brilliant Ideas, there were limitations to our record-breaking abilities. Any record we broke had to be:

  1. Easy
  2. Cheap
  3. Fast (It was the next-to-the-last, if not the last day of school)
 This is not us, but this is what we did.

This is not us, but this is what we did.

We had one thing going for us: Bodies! Our graduating class of more than 1500, was one of the largest, if not the largest, in HBHS history.

It took some doing, but someone (s), somehow came up with a record to break: Lap Sitting

Then came the question: How exactly are we supposed to achieve this Group Lap Sit?

I haven't thought about that day for well, pert near 2 score years (2 score is so much less painful than the alternatives). And if not for Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®  campaign featuring Not Norman, I probably wouldn't be confessing now. (BTW: If you haven’t signed up to read Not Norman on 10-22 please do. Everyone can. All you need to do is gather a group of folks to read to and register. Click over to www.readfortherecord.org for all the info.)

That day was hot, hot, HOT! (A rare occurrence in Huntington Beach, California, even in June). I remember me and my girlfriends—Valerie, Michelle, Theresa, Cathy, Lori, Myrna, —glossed up for the occasion (Bonnie Bell “Lip Smackers”) in hopes TV News camera really did come out for the event, and hope of hopes, snapped a photo of us!!!

In an effort to look like Farrah, I’d permed my hair. (We all wanted to look like Farrah…or Kate or Jaclyn, the other of Charlie’s Angels) Big mistake—judging from photos through the years, just the first of too many “hair disasters”—so instead looked more like Barbara.

Everyone gathered on the track to break the Lap-Sitting record.

The P.E. Coaches, whistles drawn, corralled us into one single file line winding around the track.Then came the question: How exactly are we supposed to achieve this Group Lap Sit?  (Remember this is way before the Internet; there were no How-To videos to Google)

What I recall were many hilarious starts to the Lap Sit which definitely resulted in sever leg muscle strain. In these early attempts “Starting Sitters” (I’ll call them, for lack of a better term) would hunker down then a classmate would sit on his/her lap. Another classmate would sit on that persons’ lap, and another on that persons, one-by-one-by one back up and sit.

By the time the 3rd person sat, the “Starting Sitters” legs were trembling. By the time the 4th or 5th person sat, the “Starter Sitter” would collapse and the “chair” would come tumbling down…Tumbling Tumbling

And in the midst of our “serious efforts” some boy would “just happen”  to sneak into line behind one of us so we ended up sitting—Cue the Squeal track—his lap!

Finally, someone devised a plan:  In all seriousness, we circled the track single file, spaced ourselves lap-distance apart (several test-sits were required to make sure each of us had the spacing correct, of course). Then, on the signal, with complete confidence and trust in the person behind us, we all sat down thus setting the 1976 world record for Lap Sitting!

Don't bother looking in the '76 edition. We're not in it. (I have a vague recollection that a day or so after we set the record, another group in Japan broke it. Still, for one brief shining moment, We were the champions, my friends! 

Confesstions of a World Record Holder Playlist:

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Secret of Eternal Youth

That got your attention. Mine, too!  An eager seeker of the secret of eternal youth, of course I read it. Should have taken a better look at the source of the advice, or not. It definitely was not a rag mag as the secret to eternal “youth” revealed was mental, not physical. (Call me shallow but, I confess to a degree of disappointment.) Nonetheless, I read on:

The key to keeping mentally open and vibrant is having friends of all ages, the article expounded. It stressed that we should actively—purposefully—seek interaction with people of both genders from each decade. That doing so exposes us to new ideas, new music, new fads, new mores and conversely to old ones.

Cultivate friendships with people of all decades and genders.

In case you’re doing as I did, mentally slotting friends & family into decades, go back and put question marks by “Family.” Do our interactions with children, grandchildren and parents counts? YES…and NO. Yes, culturally, family members will and do expose us to so much we wouldn’t know about otherwise. But as for interacting with them as “friends. That depends. . . .

Do you/Would you tell your mother or father, or your auntie, the same things you tell your woman/male friends?
   "Ok so we'd had a few drinks and we weren't wearing seatbelts when..  ."

"Ok so we'd had a few drinks and we weren't wearing seatbelts when..."

 

 

What about your children?

 Be honest, do you really want them confiding “those things” to you? Do they? Do you? (I don’t.) 

   "OMG, Dylan! That mother of yours..."

"OMG, Dylan! That mother of yours..."

Knowing this truth—befriending people of all decades is good for you—and doing this are, like many things that are “good for us”: not necessarily easy.

 

 

 

Shortly after learning this secret of youth, I shared it with a friend who’d recently moved to L.A. Ironically, the friend who was a decade and more older, physically recoiled at the idea. “Young people don’t want anything to do with me,” he argued.

 

Knowing my friend took photography classes—at UCLA and the Art Institute, not the Senior Center—I pushed him on the point. 

My children’s writing community includes people of reading age up, literally.  10-20-30-40…70, 80, beyond united by virtue of being writers. Years fall away while we strive for similar goals. That common thread initially brings us together, from there other connections form. Surely the photography community was much the same? 

“Don’t you discuss photography things with the other students?” I pressed. He did; they did. “So why can’t you try to extend the friendship? Ask them for coffee or drinks, to an exhibit…” He scoffed.

Water and time have passed since that conversation. I’m older. I’m more isolated. I’ve moved often and far, and my writing community has shrunk. My community while global is puny, too. 

Frankly, the family and friends I have keep me so busy, I didn't even realize it was happening. That decades of people, are rising up with whom I have no contact. 

To be honest, I hadn't missed that interaction with new, younger, older, different-- people--Or realized I missed it.

And, I must confess, like my friend, as I've gotten older, I've perhaps become a little, if not fearful, definitely lazy about reaching out.

It's what a twenty-something son of a friend I spoke with at a wedding said about dating. He'd recently broken up with his high school sweetheart, but was thinking about getting back together with her.  I asked him if he'd been dating anyone else. He got a pained look on his face then answered:

“I’m too tired. You have start all over with the ‘what sign are you? Where did you go to school? Getting to know you stuff.” —Son’s friend on dating after a break-up.

Reaching out, making new connections, learning new--older, younger, different languages--takes energy. Perhaps way more than sticking with the familiar. And it's easy to let ourselves think we're doing just fine, why stir things up?

https://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=AwrB8psuEwNVHXAAD4iJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTIzOWQybDFyBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAMyZGU4ZmU0MTFjMzkwOWUwMzQ0MWUxZGZlNmFkMjQ1ZgRncG9zAzU4BGl0A2Jpbmc-?.origin=&back=https%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fyhs%2Fsearch%3F_adv_prop%3Dimage%26va%3Ddating%2Bcartoon%2Bimage%26fr%3Dyhs-mozilla-002%26hsimp%3Dyhs-002%26hspart%3Dmozilla%26tab%3Dorganic%26ri%3D58&w=1501&h=2101&imgurl=www.staceyreid.com%2Fnews%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F01%2Fmsd324ry.jpg&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.staceyreid.com%2Fnews%2F%3Fp%3D22091&size=1099.4KB&name=Speed+%3Cb%3EDating%3C%2Fb%3E+%3Cb%3ECartoon%3C%2Fb%3E&p=dating+cartoon+image&oid=2de8fe411c3909e03441e1dfe6ad245f&fr2=&fr=yhs-mozilla-002&tt=Speed+%3Cb%3EDating%3C%2Fb%3E+%3Cb%3ECartoon%3C%2Fb%3E&b=0&ni=96&no=58&ts=&tab=organic&sigr=1175317r2&sigb=14kpj2hmg&sigi=11vmfe7ru&sigt=11295sg7i&sign=11295sg7i&.crumb=nFhKodndYDa&fr=yhs-mozilla-002&hsimp=yhs-002&hspart=mozilla

Decades apart, but so much the same, I totally got what he was saying. Reaching out, making new connections, learning new--older, younger, different languages--takes energy. Perhaps way more than sticking with the familiar. And it's easy to let ourselves think we're doing just fine, why stir things up?

I hadn't realized how much "stirring things up" and doing the "getting to know you" stuff mattered, and how much I've been missing it, until recently. . .  

Earlier this month, at my sis-in-law, Marilyn Bennett’s invitation, I joined her for a week’s retreat on Sanibel Island. (Marilyn's an author, writing coach, video-biographer, documentary filmmaker, check it out at Truth in Progress). 

  Marilyn and me my Ist morning on Sanibel, the view from "Beach Baby's" lanai. 

Marilyn and me my Ist morning on Sanibel, the view from "Beach Baby's" lanai. 

Marilyn had been invited to stay in a beach-front condo by friends of a dear, departed mutual friend of hers and theirs, named Carolyn. (I’d met Carolyn and knew about her via Marilyn, but that was the extent of it.) 

   Speaking of ride: here's Marilyn trying out the beach cruiser.

Speaking of ride: here's Marilyn trying out the beach cruiser.

 

Clueless as to who our hosts were—beyond knowing they were retired—or what, if any interaction, I’d have with them, I was truly, along for the ride.

My first day on Sanibel, Marilyn and I joined our hosts, Deborah and John, for dinner at Trader’s Restaurant.  

Marilyn and I arrived first, purposefully early. I don’t know about Marilyn, but I was What if they don’t like me? What If I don’t like them? What the heck are we going to talk about? Nervous! 

“Buck up,” I told myself, as I ordered a martini  “Up, dirty, large, extra olives.” Drinks and dinner—one evening—we can all make it through one evening.

   Deborah & John taking a spin!

Deborah & John taking a spin!

 

That get-acquainted dinner, there was no “making it through,” we shut the restaurant down! (But only after John had taken Deborah for a spin on the dance floor.)

Conversation floated and flitted From one topic to another, as “friend” chats do, with nary an awkward silence.

Birth year-wise, we were 3 maybe 4 decades; conversationally speaking we were contemporaries—interested, interesting, and challenging.

After that first introduction, for me, it was not a question of “Are we dining together again” but rather “When can we?

  United in a common goal! That 2nd sunset when the smoke alarms-all 4 of them-started chirping: " Si  lence Them!"

United in a common goal! That 2nd sunset when the smoke alarms-all 4 of them-started chirping: "Silence Them!"

 

Each evening’s topics were rich and varied. Deborah and John's personal histories broadened what Marilyn and I knew of the recent past. May be we taught them some, too.

  Motown: Everyone's Music!

Motown: Everyone's Music!

 

Decade to decade commonalities were never so pronounced as the night Deborah and John treated us to “So Good for the Soul”, a tribute to Mo-Town music at Sanibel’s Cultural Center, Big Arts. 

 

 

It was standing-room only in the theater. And Decade-schecade, it was OUR music!  

 

 

Truth is, if fate—and Carolyn—had not intervened, none of us (even if we were sharing the same sundown) probably would have made an effort to get to know each other. But we did and I, for one, am richer for it. 

Decades await! 

Be the one to take that first step—or leap—across those great age divides.

The fountain might be on the other side.

 

Secret of Eternal Youth Playlist:

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One Candle, My Ferris Wheel, a Potato

Marvelous the way memory works. I think of mine like a Ferris Wheel*. When the music starts, the squeaky wheel spins for a while, slows to a stop, the door on the little cage closest to the ground swings open to let someone--or some memory--out, the door closes, the wheel starts spinning, that cage swings up out of reach, another cage swings to a stop.

I know what's in the cages on either side. I can almost reach them . . . almost

As for those cages way up at the top? If I squint hard, I can see them. But danged if I know what's in them . . . 

A book review of Eve Bunting's One Candle, on Lori Norman's writer blog: StoryQuill conjured a cage that must have been so far up on my Ferris Wheel it was lost in the clouds. It's out of season. Random, totally. But, that's how my wheel rolls: 

The door swung open to a long ago Christmas Eve when in a panic, I pulled off the highway to call Ronnie because I'd forgotten the menorah.

I'd called from a gas station pay phone because we didn't' have cell phone back then. Rosie (as we called Lexi back then) and Max (ever Max) were especially excited because that year Hanukkah and Christmas Eve were on the same day, so we NEEDED a menorah!

With the last name of Goldman, everyone but the few acquainted with the prominent "Catholic Goldmans" of Tulsa, assumed we were Jewish, and I, a non-practicing anything, with two half-Jewish as possible--considering the Jewish half was not their mother's half--children was committed to upholding all traditions. Fortunately, my dear friend and writing partner, Ronnie, a full-blood Jewess and, as it happens the first women in Oklahoma to have a Bat Mitzvah.

   In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

 In addition to baking & decorating the best Hanukkah sugar cookies, was educated enough for both of us. 

"You can use a potato!" Ronnie told me. She went on to explain how during the Holocaust, because Jews were not allowed to keep traditions, were, in truth, imprisoned or killed if any religious accouterments were discovered in their possession, they improvised: thus the Dreidel game, a secret way to study the Torah; the common potato, a secret menorah.

We stopped at a grocery story before we stopped for the night. And that night and for the following seven nights, light our potato menorah, said prayers, and opened gifts. 

 This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

This photo is not mine, but this is including the birthday candles--sans the gold paint--what our menorah looked like.

In One Candle, Eve Bunting shares another grandmother's potato menorah story. Hers wasn't a Piggly-Wiggly supermarket russet, hers was stolen from a Buchenwald prison kitchen. Here's a snippet of the review:

With a little stolen butter and a thread from Rose’s skirt placed in a hollow she’d carved out of the potato, and with a stolen match, they made a candle in their barracks on the first night of Hanukkah. ‘It lifted us to the stars,’Grandma says.
— http://storyquill.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/one-candle-a-review/

Up up up to the stars . . . And on the way, nudged my Ferris Wheel. The power of words: it takes so few to coax down a distant cage. 

*Wait! Before the music plays and the wheel spins again: Be sure to check out Dani Sneed's book, THE MAN WHO INVENTED THE FERRIS WHEEL. about George Ferris and his World's Fair Wonder! You and every kid you know will be glad you did.

 

 

Thanks for reading!

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Play it Again, Pal! or 2:48 Minutes More

Settle your little ones in front of the monitor, click on an Author Read-Aloud video (below), and let them watch and listen while you enjoy some lazy time. Okay, you can view, too--if you promise to act  OUR age!

The Truth About Visitors

Visitors use towels, dirty dishes, take up space, have the nerve to claim the TV clicker . . .basically wreak havoc on routine. And more...

. . . If were lucky that is!

After having a home in New York for more than 3 years, I could name the sights on my way to and from the grocery, post office, hardware store & the airport exits. . .  I was especially familiar with the view from my desk chair. And since we're being truthful, with the view from the fridge to the TV. . .  I had a drawer full of New York/Long Island "Sights to See" Guides but had never cracked the spines. 

Then the visitor came! 

The visitor was framly (friend-so-long-they're-family) John from Tulsa. John and I, almost 30 years ago, worked together. We were both restaurant cooks. Our working relationship spread from kitchen work, to raising kids, gardening, decorating, painting, unpacking, packing. We work well together and have fun while we work. Our motto is: 

Crank up the music and get er done! 

Without apologizing, I'll admit how, in anticipation of John's visit, I looked around at my house, at the columns of boxes needed to be unpacked, at the stacks of pictures waiting to be hung, and the cupboards waiting to be organized, at the wallpaper waiting to be hung, and practically salivating. Imagine what John and I could accomplish this week!

And even though John was using one of his two-only weeks of vacation to come and visit, he wouldn't have minded one bit. In fact, I know he would have loved it! (He's that kind . . . )

Still. . . as enticing as the thought of all we could accomplish was, instead we:

 Walked and walked and walked the city, discovering wonders like this Zipper Graffiti

Walked and walked and walked the city, discovering wonders like this Zipper Graffiti

 Hunkered under a nut vendor's umbrella during a rain shower, then finally broke down--after we were soaked--and bought umbrellas.  

Hunkered under a nut vendor's umbrella during a rain shower, then finally broke down--after we were soaked--and bought umbrellas.  

 Toured  Radio City Music Hall --and sneaked snaps of  Tony Award  rehearsal through the camera room window. Then, come Sunday night, glued ourselves to the TV with take-away dinner to watch the show because "we were there"!

Toured Radio City Music Hall--and sneaked snaps of Tony Award rehearsal through the camera room window. Then, come Sunday night, glued ourselves to the TV with take-away dinner to watch the show because "we were there"!

 Braved the long and winding line at The Original Shake Shack. Which shake should we try? 

Braved the long and winding line at The Original Shake Shack. Which shake should we try? 

 Took turns playing "photographer" with Russian tourists at Rockefeller Center--while pretending not to speak English

Took turns playing "photographer" with Russian tourists at Rockefeller Center--while pretending not to speak English

Before I knew it, I notices my mind drifting back to my stories. The "What ifs" and "I could trys" were popping, snapping, pinging and zinging in my noggin. At a level I hadn't experienced since first beginning on this writing journey, I found myself wanting to get to work. I even pulled out my cell phone to jot some story notes. 

 Sniffed spices and filched samples at  Grand Central Station Marketplace

Sniffed spices and filched samples at Grand Central Station Marketplace

 And even bought souvenirs   

And even bought souvenirs

 

 Played with Dots pillows--even though we knew we'd get in trouble-- in  Dylan's Candy Store

Played with Dots pillows--even though we knew we'd get in trouble-- in Dylan's Candy Store

 Sat at Meg Ryan's infamous " Sleepless in Seattle " table at  Katz's Deli (with the bossiest, grouchiest staff in the world!)

Sat at Meg Ryan's infamous "Sleepless in Seattle" table at Katz's Deli (with the bossiest, grouchiest staff in the world!)

 Note one, but two tours of the   Tenement Museum  , and walked the streets, and explored the gift shop . . . 

Note one, but two tours of the Tenement Museum, and walked the streets, and explored the gift shop . . . 

 And finished with a Frozen Hot Chocolate at  Serendipity 3- -because of that scene in the movie . . . 

And finished with a Frozen Hot Chocolate at Serendipity 3--because of that scene in the movie . . . 

Julia Cameron, discusses the importance of taking ones' self on "artist dates" in her 12 Step Guide to Creative Recovery, The Artist's Way. She believes these dates to be so restorative, she prescribes them weekly as a vital component of the recovery process. 

As prescribed, I've taken myself on Artist Dates. However, as with gym time, spa time, dentist visits, and other "good for you" scheduled events, regardless how enjoyable,  I tend to rush through Artist Dates to art stores, playgrounds, museums and the like. After,  I tick them off like just another chore on the list and more on. 

  When the Newark Express pulled away last evening, I was sad to see John leaving.

When the Newark Express pulled away last evening, I was sad to see John leaving.

At the same time I was bubbly, energized and excited to get back to writing. Why?

When we were kids and acting fussy. Not naughty, but that sort of irritating, pestery, whiney baby-ish, my folks would send us outside. "Let them play it out," they'd say. As though, by playing hard, we could use up, expel our peevishness. 

Artist Dates can be inspirational, informative, restorative even. But let's face it, they aren't necessarily fun. On the otherhand, Play Dates are fun. What the heck? We are writing for children + We are trying to tap into our inner children + Play Dates are fun = Maybe you do need to stay focused, keep your butt in the chair, approach writing as seriously as every other career. But, but, every now and again, especially when we're feeling peevish, we need to get out there and play! 

The truth about visitors is: Visitors visit to have fun. They want to play. And, unless they visit when we're away, they come looking for a playmate. Sure, we can do our best to stick to "business as usual" when we have visitors. But why?  

Playmate! Come out and play with me/And bring your dollies, three/climb up my apple tree . . . 

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Mama's a CA Chromaniac

Mama has a brand new bag: she's a CA Chromaniac! In anticipation of the Belmont Stakes, Mom sent a packet of newspaper clipping of California Chrome along with a check and instructions to "Bet it to Win!"

 Racing Form in hand, Curtis lines up at the Betting Window

Racing Form in hand, Curtis lines up at the Betting Window

Truth is, Curtis & I started this latest of Mom's obsessions by attending Kentucky Derby weekend 2014.

Who knew, when we donned our fancy hats and duds that was the beginning of CA Chromania! 

 

So, as we await the running of the Belmont Stakes--and California Chrome's shot at the Triple Crown and diamond-crusted path to stud infamy--it seems fitting to recount highlights from our Derby 2014 Experience: 

 Look, Mom! I placed the bet!

Look, Mom! I placed the bet!

Since 1931, the order of Triple Crown races has been the Kentucky Derby first, followed by the Preakness Stakes, and then the Belmont Stakes. . .

To date, 289 horses have won a single leg of the Triple Crown, 52 horses have won two of the races, and 11 horses have won all three races. Pillory won both the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes in 1922, a year when it was impossible to win the Triple Crown because the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes were run on the same day.
— http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Triple_Crown_of_Thoroughbred_Racing
                  Mom's betting that after today's race, I'll be able to name another:   California Chrome  !

                Mom's betting that after today's race, I'll be able to name another: California Chrome!

 Joy decorated her "Roses" bathroom for Derby Weekend

Joy decorated her "Roses" bathroom for Derby Weekend

 

 

The Kentucky Derby is all about tradition. We were especially fortunate to be guided through our first Derby weekend experience by veterans, Joy & Donna, both Louisville natives whose Derby history stretches back 30 plus years.

 

 

 Michael led the way into Churchill Downs . . . 

Michael led the way into Churchill Downs . . . 

Note the gallon ziplock bags Michael is carrying!

There are rows of booths selling all manor of food on both race days, but locals traditionally bring in their own. Joy and Donna's specialty, and a Derby tradition: sandwiches with a cucumber-cream cheese spread called  Benedictine

 Donna stopped to pose with a a pair Pinked up for The Oaks--her personal tradition! The Oaks is run the Friday before the Derby. As Derby Day has attracted more "tourists" and become more expensive, locals prefer The Oaks. 

Donna stopped to pose with a a pair Pinked up for The Oaks--her personal tradition! The Oaks is run the Friday before the Derby. As Derby Day has attracted more "tourists" and become more expensive, locals prefer The Oaks. 

 Our  box for Derby Day was right at the finish line. 

Our  box for Derby Day was right at the finish line. 

 Tony Danza walking his horse, "Danza" to the starting gate. Danza ran 3rd in the Kentucky Derby (Tony Danza doens't own the horse, it's named after him.)

Tony Danza walking his horse, "Danza" to the starting gate. Danza ran 3rd in the Kentucky Derby (Tony Danza doens't own the horse, it's named after him.)

 Before races, attendees gather at the stables to check out the horses. 

Before races, attendees gather at the stables to check out the horses. 

"The Derby" is really 2 days of racing. The Oaks is held on Derby Friday; the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. “The Oaks,” so they say, has gained in popularity with locals as The Derby has become more commercial and more expensive. Too, “The Oaks” is a fundraising event, for Breast Cancer research and awareness and most folks dress in pink. 

 The Oaks is a charity race day to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer:  It is all about the hats, too. And most every one wears pink.  (I have pink on underneath my sweater, really (It was freezing at parts of the day)

The Oaks is a charity race day to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer:  It is all about the hats, too. And most every one wears pink.  (I have pink on underneath my sweater, really (It was freezing at parts of the day)

 Pink Lily is the traditional Oaks drink                           Mint Juleps are the traditional Derby drink

Pink Lily is the traditional Oaks drink                           Mint Juleps are the traditional Derby drink

A portion of the sale of each Pink Lily goes to charity: Bright Pink and Horses for Hope. We donated of course!

 No clue if/what Moet Chandon donated, but we supported that, too!

No clue if/what Moet Chandon donated, but we supported that, too!


 Let's hope the Cigar proceeds were donated, too!

Let's hope the Cigar proceeds were donated, too!

 Kentucky Derby day was bright--so we posed at the finish line between races. L-R: Michael, Aaron, Joy, Donna, Kelly & Curtis

Kentucky Derby day was bright--so we posed at the finish line between races. L-R: Michael, Aaron, Joy, Donna, Kelly & Curtis

It’s really Derby “week” with events including steamboat races, parades, parties, etc. culminating in two days of horse races. Those we all know of “The Derby,” locals favor Saturday’s event, “The Oaks.”

Here's Aaron with Lee. Tradition and convenience demands they always park at the same place: Ms. Lee's house.

Lee's made Derby Weekend a business. She turns her yard--front and back into a parking lot, and blocks off as many street spots as she can. 

She used to cook for both The Oaks and The Derby, but now Lee only cooks on Derby Day. Her specialty is greens, beans & ham. 

The Rule is:

No matter what, Meet back at Lee's!

 We met up at Lee's then walked the 2 blocks to Churchill Downs. L-R: Kelly, Joy, Donna, Eileen, Leah's friend & Leah (Donna's daughter)

We met up at Lee's then walked the 2 blocks to Churchill Downs. L-R: Kelly, Joy, Donna, Eileen, Leah's friend & Leah (Donna's daughter)

Almost time: At 6:52 EDST the Belmont Stakes starts. The horses are making their way to the starting gates. Mama's watching!

                                           COME ON CALIFORNIA CHROME!!!   

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