Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Open locks, whoever knocks!

I have had keys since I was seven years old. A single house key, then two - one for my mother's house and another for my dad's apartment. I collected more keys: houses where I babysat and stayed for weeks on end, relatives, friends. New York apartment keys were usually three or more; having a dog upgraded my collection to a lanyard around my neck, always. Car keys, mailboxes, production offices, gates, garages, other dogs I walked, neighbor's spare sets - my keychain was a magnet. I was nearly arrested at JFK in the 90s after I forgot to remove a canister of tear gas hanging from it; airport security called NYPD but in the pre-9/11 flying days, I managed to get out of it.

I live a keyless life now. When I realized I didn't have any keys it hit me in a strange way. I felt an odd sense of loss mixed with freedom. Not the corny phrase, "One door closes, another opens" - but instead, "Doors open when you throw away the keys."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lost Highway

Open-ended traveling rule #1: never ask yourself, "Where am I?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Travelin' Light

I've been living out of a suitcase for awhile now and it's so much fun. I haven't done this in a long time. Most of my pictures are on Instagram, but here's a few from a trolley museum I recently stumbled on in Maine, of all places. Some of these - like the Boston Causeway Street switching station, the Northampton (Boston) el platform, old NYC subway cars, London double decker - were all places I've lived.  Next stop, Willoughby ...
 Robert Shaw, where are you? Take Pelham 123...  to Maine.
 Take the A train
 interior, abandoned London double decker. Mine was the N19.
 Salvaged el from Boston. I knew this station well.
Old switching station, Boston, Causeway Street. This was pure deja vu.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rest in Peace, Skip E.

 "The Boy with the Betty Grable legs" singing me Happy Birthday in Beverly Hills.
 Big Lou (l) at my birthday party.
 Big Lou leads the way while Leona and I go-go.
 Happy wows 'em with his George M Cohan medley.
 Leona belts one out.
 Mary singing x-rated tunes.
Happy resting.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I liked listening to "Highway to Hell" on the stairmaster and treadmill. Mostly because everyone else at the Y was a senior citizen, and it made a much better music video than anything on TV.  By then I was only bringing AC/DC to the gym because I didn't have to skip over any cringe-worthy slow songs.

Pretty soon I was the only one left in the room, which made me wonder if all of the older folks were on a special exercise bus. I finished up and headed downstairs to my friend at the desk who asked, "Donna, do you have any friends or relatives at World Trade?"

Outside, I stood and watched the second plane hit.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Party Tips

1. Invite nuns.
2. Make sure children are properly dressed.

I used to work in a film archive and this was one of our favorite newsreels. (It's from the 1930s, not '50s.)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Come and Learn to Dance

I'll never understand why they weren't more famous.

Do the Memphis!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monday, August 25, 2014

If only ...

all of our dads were as hip as Vincent Cassel's ... (Jean-Pierre)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Daisy Mae Flies Away

Monday morning Daisy did not eat. She jumped in the front seat of the car without wanting to walk or pee. Whenever we returned from the desert she was listless and depressed and if I had laundry or trash, she assumed we were leaving again and jumped to the door.

I had planned on moving to the desert for many reasons, the main being that Daisy deserved the best for the end of her life. When she showed up on my doorstep in January she had a large stitched wound, unsocialized and underfed, terrified of loud noises and clumsy and simple. The last eight months of her life were spent happy, being the dog she had never been able to be, surrounded by love and freedom. Yesterday as I arrived in town I had a sudden change of plans. For the first time in all my years in the desert, I wasn't going to the usual place where I spent many days and weeks with Chester and eventually scattered him there, and where I had introduced Daisy to her new, joyful way of life. Something horrible was in my brain and my heart and I drove up the familiar canyon into a rainstorm, rather than to our intended destination. I arrived as thunder and lightning began only to find that my dear friend's dog had just passed away.

Lucky was the only male dog Chester ever liked, and in his last days tolerated Daisy's social awkwardness with a grumpy, big brother attitude.
 Daisy (l) and Lucky
 the sun after Monday's storm
 Daisy poised for takeoff.

They even looked alike. Daisy wandered, looking for him. Yesterday on our hike, she wandered instead of running, and then sat down next to me on the ridge where Chester and I had spent many hours, and where his ashes were. She had never sat before on a hike. I snuggled her, telling her how much she had done for me, how grateful I was for her, and that I wanted her to be happy. Her ears flapped in the winds and I said that she looked like she was going to fly away. I couldn't stop taking pictures of her.  The next morning I awoke with a horrible feeling in my chest. It felt like rising liquid and I was briefly frightened. I pounded my chest with my fists until it stopped. Daisy was still asleep. She was shuddering in her sleep and didn't want to go on our morning walk. She wasn't able to jump up on the porch and lay shuddering in the sun.  What appeared to be a large lump - the second of two - had grown overnight in the same spot where her cancer was. Then,  a roadrunner walked up to her and they stared at each other before walking over to me and staring,  following me to my cabin door, where he stood outside next to Daisy's untouched breakfast. I knew. When I got in the car, he walked in front of us to the gate, then moved aside. After I returned I found out that my friends had named the roadrunner "Chester." Chester had been gone for months, but returned a few weeks ago.
Roadrunner, roadrunner

Last night, after my lone hike, two baby bunnies sat to my right for a very long time. Then a third hopped over and sat beside me in the dark. A bat hovered overhead. All three eventually moved into a triangle and we all sat quietly.
I know they're hard to see, but I didn't want to scare them.

This morning, the sunrise was spectacular and then storm clouds and high winds blew in.

 Sunrise. My first morning alone here without an animal companion.

A rainbow appeared before the sky vibrated with lightning over the mountains and waves of thunder.

My friend - who Daisy adored - and I sat, breathing in the electric air and marveling at the downpour.

I tried not to think about all the warning signals I had - going weak behind the knees on my daily 2 mile walk to yoga, fearing it was an earthquake. (I found out later that we had two small quakes the day she passed.) I didn't want to see what they were: Daisy's cancer behind her knee. I found out we had a quake in the desert a few days earlier and our spot was the epicenter.  I walked to our cabin and said goodbye.

Daisy was on borrowed time from the day she arrived. I chose not to have her last days end in the suffering she showed up with, that first month. She was trying to tell me, and I almost didn't listen.
Fly away home, gentle little flower.


My beautiful Jessica - the stranger/neighbor who was there for me every second of losing Chester - wrote this loving tribute to Daisy Mae Clampett:

"8-months ago my neighbor & I decided to foster a senior Ridgeback-mix whose owner had died unexpectedly. She was sickly with giant tumors that had not been tended to and was traumatized. It appeared to us she had never led the carefree life all pets deserve. We fell in love with her. And she fell in love with my dog HoneyBun, who taught her how to just be... a dog. Watching this 11+year old with cancer run off leash, have doggy sleepovers, explore the desert and blossom into Daisy Mae was an unforgettable experience. We took her in thinking we'd make this homeless girl's life as comfortable as possible, we never expected to turn her back into a puppy."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Patricia on Astrology

Poor video quality is because she gets shy on camera too long, but I'd never film her without her permission.


 "Choice number three might turn out to be a warlock," she said.