Friday, February 28, 2014

staaaahlish & toujours gai

a friend of dear sweety cousin mary fafa wrote a nice comment about this pic from a few months back. i looked at it again &... it is pretty cool & yes, we can look pretty stylish. :) on topic of photos, james has been taking some really interesting ones with his nice camera & i hope he'll post them someplace bc their subject matter speaks of his unusual & active mind, i think -- they are novel & inventive, as is his ever-take, just bc he has that james brain... i often feel quite pedestrian by comparison, humbled & often amazed, tho i know what i've got, too, as far as gifts, as well as that everyone has his/her place & niche & purpose. mine is to be always the worker bee always in production & always moving & always trying to figure everything out while his is to be the king bee, maybe, or heck, i don't know, but i think whatever is going on here ultimately is complementary, i'll say that, & maddening, too, & beautiful, too, & enlightening & even revelatory, too,  & i'm sticking to it, too, & he is, too, so that's enough of that... this morn i got to swoosh thru the rain to visit my beloved little sponsor & now i'm gonna venture out into the elements for a walk to the downtown library & gym, & that's it for now except that my manner of writing is reminding me of don marquis's archy & mehitabel tho nowhere near as poetic, of course... check that out, if you've not read it. here's a sample:

Monday, February 24, 2014

in spirare

a little too bushed to write, but am gonna, anyway. i'm moved in many ways by our last few days visiting family. found out our retired parents volunteer for five & more agencies & serve on three boards. "i have to keep myself busy," mama said casually, "or i just start thinking about myself all the time & get depressed!" it sparked me & i got online & finally put in the job apps i'd been procrastinating over. then, the lightbulb: i realized what book i should be writing. bam! in a flash: there it was! an idea prompted by love, too, which dad concurred is the compelling reason one should write.
john updike's daily morning routine was to write for 3 hours at his typewriter from the windowed attic of his new england home; lately i've been gnawed at by the knowledge i should be doing that, too (tho not in an attic, & not in john updike's new england home, but you get the picture...) but i'm not creative, see; that's what i've told myself for years. i can't write a novel. i can't write poems (although i do write songs, copiously & uncontrollably, even).  but applying the discipline of work to the practice of an artistic pleasure such as writing or music, that i can do. and who knows: maybe a novel COULD come of that. for now, with book topic in mind, let's see what i actually can do... 30 days now into my newest practice, even tho i keep hitting those speed bumps because i'm still learning when to steer, when to surrender the wheel, i feel emboldened to add more life-rigor, to be more like our folks & niece (read on), to try harder, to be braver, more affectionate, more trusting, to not give in to the infernal head...
just now, mama & i had a sweet, poignant, long conversation w/my niece (mama's beloved granddaughter), who today in class presented her 1st short story & was met w/overwhelmingly positive feedback. this usually reserved girl cried tears of joy & gratitude & admitted how mad she'd been at herself for giving up writing for a while, having decided it to be impractical. "but it calls to you," i ventured, & she nodded. "it's your passion; you mustn't abandon it ever again!" i said, remembering when i was too "practical" (& drunk) to play piano, how i missed it, how i even felt lonely & ashamed w/o it, like part of me was missing. she nodded w/agreement... we listened proudly as mama talked about her successes as a college writer & later, master teacher. mama was the type of dedicated inborn educator who made others like me look like hacks. her classroom was so beautiful w/art & writing, i felt like quitting every time i visited, yet so damned proud... suddenly james blew thru the room dressed to the 9's & headed to gig, spouting funny stuff to maddy as he departed. dad had drawn him a big silly map & wandered in the room for a minute to tell a dadaish story before wandering back to his computer, where he is working on another historical piece. it's a crazy artistic family, we agreed, w/the emotional rollercoasters that accompany that, but also w/the huge soul satisfactions that come from creating. (you should see the sculpting james has been doing lately, btw! i hope that he will have a show some time soon, & an idea's afoot, i hope!)
i sat down to read maddy's story. i'm a big reader, but my time on earth's getting shorter, so these days at the library, when i pull a title from the shelf, i give it a sentence -- at most, paragraph -- before deciding to choose it or not. ... maddy's story's 1st sentence was astonishing. it took my breath away. i quickly ran in to the other room to read it aloud to mom & dad & we all marveled & smiled & puzzled: "how did she DO that?"
i half-joked to madeline, "when you become a millionaire writer, i want you please to buy me a grand piano." she laughed appreciatively, & my heart is warm & proud & pleased to've gotten to spend the eve w/those i did in the manner that i did... that's all for now.

Friday, February 21, 2014

history & gushing

last night james put on the most kick-butt show i've seen him do in some months. he's always awesome, but last night was super-extra awesome; with guest drummer michael leasure & husband's vocals dialed in really well by sound man scott, it was as thrilling in many parts as the young blasters! i was so proud of james, who put in four hours of solid, honest, hard-driving, no-holds-barred music. i still think he so often is the best band leader i've ever seen, & the greatest front man.
and the handsomest.
if you want to see him do it, come on down to harvelle's in long beach on a wednesday night. but be warned: i might be opening, & i definitely will be up there at some point singing a duet & having a good time with my favorite person!  :D
today i went to two great meetings & learned all kinds of gems of wisdom from some top-drawer people. at the 1st, which i got to walk to through the lovely breezy day, i ate some delicious marshmallow-peanut delights, heard some truly inspiring & touching stories, & won a beautiful jasmine plant. at the 2nd, a young woman declared motivation to be a muscle that can only be strengthened by oneself & another humbly remarked that living by program "is a noble way to exist."  afterward, i came back & cleaned this place up to cheery level so that my jasmine could have a warm spot in which to flourish, then researched a cool train trip for my hubby. i'm so excited for him! i know how he loves trains, & this'll be a maiden voyage so that next time we can travel together! as-is, i will pick him up on the mountain side & we'll be able to visit one of our favorite little towns, which turns out is right where the train will deliver him. (he picks it up just blocks from his dear friend's business, which means the trip will start w/a healthy little stroll... what a nice day james will have, i think!)
 tonight, we met up at the movies & i was delighted that parts were filmed in greenland & iceland. "i want to go there with you," he whispered. new york city, too. "let's do it!" we agreed... i want to go everyplace with him. it's sweet & exciting to know he feels that way, too!
we got home & started talking & i remembered suddenly my last group of teachers; an online search revealed this, so i made a collage & post it here so that i don't forget.
happy upcoming weekend to you, & may it be worthy.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

ice cream, nuts, rabbits, skunks, weasels & rats

the ice cream truck's cranking its whimsical calliope-carnival sounds around the neighborhood. it's february!!! back home in kern county, we'd hear the ice cream truck serenade & know summer was coming... i still smile thinking of my skinny little sister desperately running down the street, her little feet slapping the asphalt & coins clenched in her little fist, yelling in her little voice, "wait! wait!" with the truck's song clinking faster & faster in the distance, not stopping for her, poor little angie...  i wanted to kill that guy for not stopping for her, except the cutely uncaring music made it all funny!
here in so-cal, the appearance of the ice cream man doesn't signal summer or any change of season, for that matter, since this is a constantly temperate area. (around here, also, the ice cream man is james's friend, a man whom james taught harmonica & so from whom he always gets free ice cream, of course! just another one of those james-kinda "coincidence" stories. dad was with james when the ice cream man pulled up @ this connection was revealed... dad laughed out loud w/delight!) ... yes, it's always ice cream weather here. i'm not complaining: i can breathe here. must enjoy it  while i'm here... am, more than usual lately. i've gotten nicely ensconced in being a gym & jogging nut again, as well as a connected 12 step fellow again, w/lots of strong, warm, heartfelt meetings here & on the mountain. feels good to feel so "part of" again w/high-caliber, no-sneaky-agenda/no-hypocrisy, humble & sincere people -- altho there are those here, too, like in all walks of life -- just in much smaller numbers than the good eggs!
geez, i'm supposed to be doing step work, but it's gotten too heavy in the last half-hour, so here i is. so started looking at pix of a recent musician's charity event & saw a cool one of billy watson's harmonica case, with affirmations/reminders written on its wooden edges. what a terrific musician & person! i wish we knew a lot more musicians like billy watson & manuel "big manny"  & people of that positive, optimistic, slightly-bent but wholly-good-hearted, kindly, quick-witted ilk... i know there's a lot more of them out there, but those two come primarily to mind... well, heck, better get ready for the meeting.
oh crap! gotta run!

Sunday, February 16, 2014


today we met with angie & doug at our favorite LB restaurant; what a lovely time! what delicious, delicious grub! my religious sister & bro-in-law snapped what they called the "food porn" pic. we visited doug's folks, who were working a booth at an antique/flea market near LBCC. what fun, to walk around beneath the beautiful breezy beachy blue skies w/two of our most beloved humans, looking at all the junk! a small woman closing up her booth gifted doug w/a metal toy train. wow! doug is a preacher & attributes all such things to god. more power to him & his belief, i say: he has made my sister happier than i've ever seen her, & he is a kind, brave, funny man who fervently loves james (calling him "the finest brother-in-law in the realm") & me, too, & has helped 100s, heck, 1000s of people desperate, spiritually lost/bankrupt, hopeless! i know that my husband, even w/his wild, wild ways, has saved lives, also, as has my sister, our folks, & maybe you? these people -- any  who extend the hand of kindness, salvation, hope, comfort -- are to be marveled by, to admire...
we ended up at dale's diner in north LB, enjoying malts, pie, coffee & loud, ribald, sometimes scatological conversation (angie & i were raised around mad magazine; our husbands are just wing nuts w/crazy, crazy pasts!)... at one pt, i realized we were roaring about this stuff in a restaurant; to my happiness, i realized looking around that no one was paying us any attention at all. :D
there really should be a tv show about james & doug. i mean, look at these pix! my sister & i, not raised to be wallflowers, look so boring by comparison! :) being around angie & doug feels good; they have worked out a friendly, loving, supportive marriage -- model for any relationship, from my viewpoint.
have a happy week.

drive-through communication & the dignity of the golden arches

yesterday was one of the most satisfying v-days i've ever had. practical, calm, it ultimately was quite comforting. i got to meet with my kindly, wise sponsor, then end the day warm in bed drifting off w/magazine as my dear husband snored quietly. in the middle was other good stuff, chiefly a marriage-building conference at nearby megachurch of wide walls, pretty architecture & furnishings, cheerful clean-cut throngs, & lots of good snacks & beverages. the conference featured some seeming-common sense suggestions, but for someone like me, they were uncommon & therefore welcomed! stuff like this: raise your mate's value -- honor him/her; lower your anger; do whatever possible to make your mate feel safe. a great tool we learned was called "drive-through communication," so i'll leave that for you to look up.
today we skipped out early on the conference's day 2 after agreeing we'd gotten more good info already than we could've hoped for & anyways were better off out in the sunshine headed for an eatery. too, we'd woken up far too early for vampire musician/s & were having trouble staying conscious. we packed in some big plates of savory hawaiian food & once home, drowsily tucked in for afternoon nap. james had a wedding gig, so i made him a sandwich & he hit the road after which i went out & cashed in a gold nugget i found while cleaning the mountain house last month: a bookstore gift card!
earlier i mentioned drive-throughs, & for yrs i scoffed at mcdonald's. this eve i decided that, sure, such megacorporations definitely should be viewed w/skepticism, but blanket condemnation on my part is elitist bullcrap. mcdonald's certainly has its place, & not as in a place where only the poor uneducated eat and/or are exploited, or where you'll find "those people"  -- think of those ugly sneering online attacks, whole sites set up to jeer at "wal-mart people." in this sort-of posh orange county town where eateries can be inhabited by spoiled snots w/loud mouths & opinions, the large & clean golden arches i visited tonight was welcoming: quiet, staffed by friendly folks & peopled by brown & tan & flax-skinned patrons who conversed in lulling hushed tones sounding almost like mantra. yes, i really appreciated sitting w/snack wrap & french fries in the reading corner, staying for quite a bit, reading my new book while others around me read/studied, too, in an unspoken, seemingly-consensus politeness & calm... it was a nice time w/no artifice & no waste & no braying bozos, a dignified time... an honorable time. at mcdonald's! maybe, like james told me today, because i feel happy/good/decent/dignified lately, i see it in other people. he could be right!
back here, i put plump massive chicken breasts in the oven for james to have once he's back home, then had long conversation w/jamesjr about director's cuts, orson welles, atheism, etc., then got online to read dad's latest history of dust storms in kern county as well as some weird lewis carroll poems he sent (the funniest is called "hiawatha").
tomorrow we get to dine w/our favorite bennetts in the world in one of our favorite cities, LBC. life's much easier for me personally when i consider my activities as "get-to's" rather than "have-to's." well, i'm still too full to exercise. talk about a golden problem. golden problem, golden arches, golden rule, golden mean, i don't want silver, i don't want gold, all i want is you darling, to have & to hold (sing "5" royales)... over & out.

Sunday, February 09, 2014


jeff hyde snapped this pic yesterday at james's show for a man celebrating 25 yrs' involvement w/a certain motorcycle club... here, we are pictured on jeff's new bike. james used to ride, i hear, & in my 1st marriage, i was heavily exposed to the motorcycling lifestyle. in fact, i had a beautiful red sportster for about 5 minutes, but it wasn't for me.
i was surprised how easily i was able to hop on after these many yrs, but i think that was due to yoga, not a natural affinity for motorbikes.
today's a good day, & it's nice to not be cold at night. i met with my octogenarian sponsor the other day, & her wisdom & kindness so-inspire me. also nice is how james rearranged our bedroom as well as the breeze blowing in as he gently sleeps, my cup of coffee, my peanut butter toast, in short, there is much for which to be grateful. today we might go see my favorite living pianist, but if we don't, that's cool, too. lately i've been thinking, whatever happens beyond my nose is beyond my control, so i just gotta make sure i do what i must to keep the nose & all that holds it up in firm check.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

allergy & addiction

woke this morning w/pain stabbing left ear/throat/eyeball region. the time has come: my allergies, the persistent little a**holes, have caught up to all the places i live, mountains, valley, & beach. crap! i mix a concoction of tea tree oil, meyer lemon, apple cider vinegar w/water & down it. yeccch! -- but i think it helps. (you know what they say about placebos.) i used to write on here a lot about my myriad ENT woes -- hope this blog doesn't again become that!
"the doctor's theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us" is a line from the chapter of the big book that changed my life -- not like seeing a burning bush or being struck by figurative (or literal!)  lightning, but i was changed w/a shiver of recognition, that uncanny feeling of "you've known this all along, dummy"... allergies, i have many, many, & stopping that one in its tracks has sure helped my life along quite a bit. heck, it's allowed my life to persist, endure, abide, period! yes, am sure i wouldn't have a life, had i remained slave to that deadly allergy to ethyl alcohol & its fellow toxic substances. w/in the sh*tbag of active addiction, i wasn't meeting any goal of numbing or appeasing the infernal coconut, anyways. at best, i got temporary relief, but then the stuff would wear off & there i was again. you know what they said in buckaroo banzai, by way of confucius: "wherever you go, there you are."
why am i writing again???? it's what i seem to love to do; seems to me i started writing & piano playing around the same time, so creative output via fingers is wired in me like that. also, yesterday we learned about the death of actor philip seymour hoffman & were sad. what an interesting actor, so unconcerned w/being lovable! seeming so conflicted in his person, & indeed, he was! james & i've watched "the master" repeatedly: such a strange, beautiful, sad, difficult movie! then i heard the actor'd been sober over 20 yrs & had gone back out & i almost hit the ground, like a blow to the chest! the woe & sadness & desperate need for instant relief he must've felt, the terrible aloneness, then the commonality of such despair, the why-does-dope-&-drink-exist-at-all torturing question: i had to contact a bunch of sober people i know, just to reassure & remind myself: we must never give up! many responded in kind, so i was restored to comfort in the company of my fellows. even cyber contact is enough; the world can be such a sad & lonely place; i cannot exist alone.
obsessed w/the "5" royales, i learned today that lowman pauling, the band's songwriter, rip-roaring, protean guitarist, & bass vocalist, also died of alcoholism. i know so little of lowman pauling except his genius music, the unbridled emotion that surged from his guitar & voice, his wise, truthful, astonishing lyrics & melodies. i spose my job is to take that info in, stave my own emotional reaction, & realize: that is not me today. so many of the wildly creative, those who "fly too close to the sun," perish prematurely: i can be sad about this, certainly i should mourn, but i must be a survivor, for the world needs me, as it needs you, even if i'm no wild creative, even if i will not change the world in any large way.... so i'm writing that here. if you're reading this, please don't court the devils of alcoholism or addiction of any kind, be it dope, food, gambling, self- or other-abuse, lower companions, perversions, etc...  don't listen to it: persist, abide, & thrive. if you're down, here's some stuff to look at, other possibilities. see you later. love, jenny
quotes from confucius  engaged buddhism stuff to learn

"when you walked in through that door, all the loneliness i knew had gone..."

(song by the greatest band in the world, the five royales. here's a link:
"i felt so wonderful & strange when you walked in thru that door"
we have had the best many days in a long while. james caught up on much-needed rest at the mtn house & we got snowed in, causing us to have to miss an important appointment, but oh well! "snowed in with you," james mumbled happily from under a mountain of bedcovers. "oh, how terrible!" he was right & the day went well, but i do hope to reschedule soon... the bakersfield production of the producers we got to see was shockingly great! strong acting, excellent vocals & choreography, & the guy who played the director just killed! james said he looked like billy watson, i saw lon chaney; most importantly, the guy had the superb face to go w/his acting! we were at a dinner theatre, so got to dine w/angie, doug, mom & dad as well as see old dear family friends. the gias sent us off to oxnard next morn w/bellyful of great breakfast & other goodies. james loved the beautiful, lusciously verdant, nostalgic heritage valley & we stopped at a giant produce market at which a small man sang a sappy song in english-spanish at blasting volume & then we visited the picturesque town of fillmore before arriving at uncle jimmy's. superbowl was a washout (i'd like to read malcolm gladwell's take on what happened), but the visit was splendid & we ate like king & queen; sherry had put out quite a spread! we watched some of groundhog day in the cozy guest bedroom that night, then next morn had meditation time & went thru 78 records w/uncle jim before heading back out. we drove thru oxnard's historical district w/all its beautiful homes, had oaxacan food, delicious giant cookies, then were back on the beautiful drive along 126, stopping wherever we wanted for a thrifty's cone & some mexican salve at a tidy place called farmamex, then a wonderful garden/antique shop that meandered from train cars to little black goats to koi ponds to produce to uprooted, inverted trees that looked like something from tolkien. we then turned off & wound thru the beautiful little town of piru where a crew was filming a tv show before heading back up the mountain. this eve james rested more & the final big news has been that jamesjr was accepted to college out of state. his father & aunt are so proud, & bricks are being laid in place for the solid foundation of the young man's future. congratulations to jamesjr!
i leave you with link to more five royales songs. the band defies categorization except to say they were the greatest! the five royales, a band you should definitely know, if you don't already...
lastly, jani wisely said the other day, "there are no mistakes, only lessons." as usual, in spite of myself, i must conclude that there is much for which to be grateful. don't you think?