Rainy day.

Yeah, it was just that kind of day:


Torrential overnight rains FUBAR’d all the local freeways, not just the Lodge, abated for much of the day, and then picked up again at quitting time. Alan generally works from mid-morning until early evening, leaving for work about 9:30. Typically it takes him 20 minutes to make the drive. I texted him at 11:15 asking how bad the commute had been, and he reply was: “Just got in.” Ugh. There are days when I wish I had more contact with two-legged mammals during my work day, but there are just as many that I’m profoundly grateful my work can be done anywhere I can take my laptop and phone.

Right now I’m propped up against the foot of my bed, with Wendy close by. Cozy, but she’s going to need a walk soon and she hates the rain.

I did a fairly innocuous story a few weeks back, about how Michigan cities are changing their infrastructure to deal with rain events like these, which are far more frequent in this era of climate change. An interesting thing I’ve noticed lately: No one I spoke to, or speak to on related matters, bothers to deny climate change, and I’m not just talking to commie college professors who’ve walked across melting glaciers. It’s here, it’s happening, we better get used to it. Someone from a state farming organization told me a grain elevator is either built or being built near Saginaw, a farther-north location than had ever been able to support one before. Corn and beans are being grown, in pockets, as far north as Gaylord; make your Michigan hand map, find the topmost knuckle on your middle finger, and that’s where Gaylord is. That’s pretty damn far north, 50 miles south of the bridge, above 45 degrees latitude, for crops we generally associate with the flatlands of downstate Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, among others.

Meanwhile, many elected officials continue to insist it’s either a) not happening; or b) not our fault; or c) can’t be fixed, so woo, let’s all put a pineapple tree in the back yard. Also meanwhile, we just endured a blistering, dry summer, and just took in a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours.

Sorry, great-grandkids, we broke the planet. Enjoy the off world colonies.

I’m not really depressed or anything. In truth, I adore an occasional overcast day like today. We had one — just one — when I was in California, and the locals were moping about it. “You mean, the sun isn’t actively trying to kill me today?” I said. “This is not a terrible thing.” We had a very California summer, so this feels like a pleasant reprieve. Of course, knock wood, I got no water in my basement (yet). So there’s that.

Now I’m thinking about dinner, and have some grocerying to do beforehand. Let’s see what sort of bloggage can be scrambled here.

The Detroit News, Alan’s employer, has never endorsed a non-Republican for president in its 143-year history. Until today, when the editorial board endorsed…Gary Johnson. Sigh.

Remember how Donald Trump kinda-sorta defended himself for stiffing contractors at his various properties, saying, “Maybe they didn’t do work to my satisfaction”? I wonder what this piano dealer did to displease him. Was middle C flat?

The New Yorker knows how to deal with this beauty queen.

Great weekend, all. See you Monday.

Posted at 5:45 pm in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 70 Comments

A big bowl.

I mentioned my age here the other day, which has never been a secret. I’m 58. So those of you who have read some of the pamphlets Hillary was talking about on “Between Two Ferns” probably suspect the truth, and I’m here to confirm it: My baby-makin’ days are over. I’m past menopause. (I can never remember: If you’re “menopausal,” I think that means you’re going through it. But once you’re one year with no periods, you’re…what? Post? Whatever. It’s in the rear-view mirror now.)

The biggest shock was how little a shock it was. I recall picking up Kate at a friend’s house on the coldest day of the year, the kind where every house feels chilly, when you wrap yourself in fleece and wool and rub your hands together a lot. The girl’s mother opened the door in a tank top, sweat beading at her forehead, veritably steaming. I guffawed, but she wasn’t amused by hot flashes at all. I don’t think I had a single one. I also didn’t go crazy enough to be institutionalized. I didn’t get old and crone-y overnight. My sleep got a little dodgier, but that was it.

For this, I can only credit genetics and luck. And so far, I can’t say being a crone is bad at all. Now I only feel like crying when something tragic is happening on my radar screen, not because the kid at the deli didn’t see me standing there for 10 minutes, or because someone cut me off in traffic. My keel is even most of the time, my sails unbuffeted by hormonal storms. Which reminds me of seeing a lactation consultant when I was a new mother, trying to figure out nursing, and I said, tearfully, “These hormones! They’re like drugs!” The nurse looked at me kindly and said, “Honey? They ARE drugs.”

Other things are happening, to be sure. I won’t go into the details, because if you’ve been there, you know, and if you haven’t, why wreck the surprise? Hint: It involves eyebrows. Seriously. EYEBROWS. I wake up in the morning and see Andy Rooney looking out of my bathroom mirror. I hate this.

Here I’ll put in a word for exercise, again. If there’s one thing that really does help almost every aspect of physical and mental health, it’s self-care, and especially self-care that includes regular exercise. I don’t want to be a bore about this, but seriously — fountain of youth.

So the other day I found myself killing time at one of my favorite shops, and I saw this dress. Tried it on. It fit like a glove, and I looked at it with a strange mix of emotions. It’s the very definition of what I was talking about the other day, the too-young dress for a matron of my age. Not only is it tight and sexy, the print is covered with cherries. If there’s ever a fruit with a lewd connection to a woman’s sexuality, it’s cherries. Maybe peaches, too, but definitely cherries. Wearing a tight dress covered with cherries is sort of a dirty joke on the hoof, isn’t it? What about an old bag wearing one? As Tom and Lorenzo might ask, “What message is this dress sending?” Is this a Girl, That’s Not Your Dress dress, or what?

Reader, I bought it. It was on end-of-season sale, big-time. Haven’t worn it yet, because I don’t live a cherry-dress-every-weekend life, but every so often I’m invited to an event where it could come in handy. I have a mix of business/party dresses in my closet, and when I was 30 pounds heavier, they were all black. I love me a black dress (got a new one of those, too), but life is indeed a bowl of cherries, and this little retro number stole my heart.

I’m just dreading having to get the I AM WEARING THESE CHERRIES IRONICALLY tattoo across my collarbone. But looking forward to the red heels I ordered to go with. Because you always need another pair of those.

A little bloggage to start the week, as the countdown to the debate starts.

The Narcan backlash. It turns out that when addicts are saved from death by Narcan, they don’t wake up and say, “Hallelujah! Point me to a rehab center!” They go out and get high again. A problem.

There have been many times in this campaign season that I’ve felt amused, felt disgusted, felt astonished, but the moments of actual queasy-making nausea have been fairly rare. I felt it when Donald Trump surrounded himself with Medal of Honor-wearing soldiers, and I felt it this weekend, when he said he was going to invite Gennifer Flowers to the debate. She won’t be there, but is there a truer measure of this man than that reality-show blurtage? It’s almost literally sickening.

OK, then, time to pack it up and map out my week. Hope yours goes well.

Posted at 12:17 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 104 Comments

Tracking shots.

I’ve been rewatching “Rome,” the HBO series on guess-what. Every time I watch a costume drama I wonder whether horsemanship is part of a British actor’s training. So many of them ride very well, and it’s not easy, doing it on camera. I recall an actor who played General Custer saying the hardest part of inhabiting the old general was riding a horse to a mark and getting it to stand there.

I also wonder how British English became the default accent of filmed depictions of antiquity. Maybe because it has a wide range of accents within it, from Cockney to Buckingham Palace, that we Americans somehow recognize as Street and Classy.

Yes, these are the thoughts that occupy me on a Thursday after a long week. They’re all long, aren’t they? And despite the pleasures of working at home — sitting around in yoga pants all day, making banana bread on my lunch break — there’s something about not having a quitting-time whistle, or its associated rituals, that tells you it’s time to put down the hammer and go sit on the porch a bit.

Or it might be that I’m just in a sour mood because I came across some tracking video in the course of my research today, and was repelled by it. You know what tracking is, right? A politician on the trail is followed by an opposition operative with a video camera, recording every word that comes out of their mouth in a public setting — and whatever private moments they might be lucky enough to get, at least if it reflects badly on their target. Both sides do it, oh yes they do. I once sat at a joint appearance by Sen. Debbie Stabenow and former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who was angling for her job. I was sitting in the front row, and when Stabenow was done talking, her tracker got up from the seat next to me and another young man took his place, taping Hoekstra.

It’s just business, but imagine being in this business. If this was your job. You had to get up every morning and be that asshole, hoping to get the next macaca or 47 percent moment (yes, I know the latter wasn’t gotten via traditional tracking, but it was tracking just the same). You want to know why politicians never speak honestly, why you have to pay a fortune to hear one talk about bitter clingers (not that that’ll ever happen again), why they’re such robots — this is one reason.


OK, enough. Time to stop staring at this screen, because it’s not good for me. (Andrew Sullivan says so!)

Why I don’t watch CNN anymore is no mystery (we cut the cord). Why I didn’t watch it for years before we cut the cord is pretty well encapsulated here. Also: Wolf Blitzer.

Mike Pence disapproves of you badmouthing the police. Just thought you should know.

I think I’m ready to go surfing again. Have a great weekend.

Posted at 12:03 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 45 Comments

It’s important to try new things.

(Note: This is long, I know, but well-illustrated, and in my defense, I’ve written longer pieces about mass transit, tax policy and road repairs. Mea culpa.)

On the flight out to California, en route to a week at Endless Summer Surf Camp, I tried to inventory and analyze my fears. You know: Confront your monsters, call them by their names, face them down. In no special order:

** The Big P. I’m a good swimmer, and like most Midwesterners, I’ve been to Florida and the Caribbean, but apart from some dabbling in little wavelets in the Gulf of Mexico or Bahamas, I’d never been in saltwater over my head, never mind contended with riptides, sharks, stingrays or any of the other dirty tricks an ocean has up its sleeve.

** Physical limitations. I’m going to be 59 in a couple months. I’m pretty fit for my age, but my age is eligible for AARP membership and my knees are a mess. Big one, right there.

** Looking like an idiot. We all fear this one, right? The older I get, the less it bothers me. Still, it bothers me.

There were others. But those were the biggies — failing utterly, breaking something, shark attack. I could very easily see a scenario where I spent the week on the beach with an ice pack and crutches, and that was the best case, the one where I wasn’t airlifted home in medical humiliation or a body bag.

It didn’t work out that way, thankfully. For this I can only credit the good people at Endless Summer Surf Camp, which I’m mentioning by its full name again and putting in this post’s tags, because I want anyone like me who might be considering a stay there to find this post high in the Google results.

The first surprise was the camp itself, which is in the San Onofre State Park. I envisioned nights drifting off to sleep to the eternal sound of the ocean. Um, no. I was envisioning a mini-Yosemite, and was brought up short by what it was — a strip of asphalt for camper parking, a belt of chaparral, high bluffs over the Pacific and the beach itself. In fact, it was carved out of Camp Pendleton, the Marine base:


The sound of their ordnance roaring in the hills was sometimes startling, but for anyone who’s camped near Grayling, Michigan? Pretty familiar.

Neither asphalt nor chaparral is welcoming to tent camping, but Jason Senn, the camp’s owner, has made it work — an RV parked at either end of a strip of spaces, grass-colored carpet laid between, and about 20 tents hard by one another, in two rows. If you brought adequate padding and a decent sleeping bag, it was no worse than sleeping on any forest floor. The surprise was the noise from the San Diego freeway, which was, no kidding, maybe 100 yards to the east. So no ocean sounds, but what Realtors call the Detroit river. What’s more, about halfway between was a rail line, and a busy one, although thankfully not near any crossings, so no horns at 2 a.m. After a day it all became white noise. Much like the ocean.

This was where we spent our days:


It’s probably a half mile walk down from the top. Even on Labor Day, when the parking was filled to capacity, we had the beach almost entirely to ourselves. I guess even Californians get picky about recreation when you have to walk so far, and then walk back up a steep hill.

For beginners, it’s hard to imagine a more welcoming spot — a long beach break, with waves breaking far enough out that a clumsy oaf like me has enough time to clamber to her feet before arriving back on land. For the more advanced surfers, the waves were long, many of them “a-frames,” like the ones sought by Col. Kilgore in “Apocalypse Now,” that break with symmetrical right and left shoulders. (The point of surfing is to travel parallel to the wave; perpendicular rides are for coming in or beginners like me.)

But first you have to get “outside,” beyond the breaking waves to the relatively calm ocean beyond. It’s no small thing, because the ocean really doesn’t want you there.

On day one, I and two other total newbies, Adam and Susan, were paired with Romolo, an instructor. He said he got into surfing via downhill skateboard racing, which suggested a certain X-Games fearlessness. Venezuelan, slender and fit, with a cockscomb Mohawk and rapid-fire speech, brown as a bear and so graceful on a board it looked like a part of his body, this guy was put in charge of three middle-aged adults. He gave us a lesson on the beach, and then it was time to paddle out, shuffling our feet through the shallows (stingrays) and following instructions. As we picked up our boards, he crossed himself. It was a startling gesture for someone who’s gone downhill fast on a skateboard, but who am I to argue with a man’s faith? I crossed myself, too, just in case he knew something I didn’t. (Of course he did; I’d never even been in the Pacific Ocean.)

The water was warmer than I expected, maybe 70 degrees, but I was still grateful for my wetsuit. We shuffled through a few knee-high crashers, then it was time to go belly-down on the board and paddle. Within seconds, a wall of whitewater was bearing down on us. “Turn over!” Romolo called, but I couldn’t process the command — he was calling for a turtle roll, where you roll off onto your back, holding the board over your face and letting your legs trail. The wave hit me smack in the face, a HOLY SHIT WHAT WAS THAT moment, but I stayed on the board.

“Celia! You have to roll over!” I heard Romolo calling. (Adam’s name he mastered, but Susan and I became Sonya and Celia.) I knew he was talking to me, but rolling over just wasn’t in my skill set yet. The next wave was bearing down. I hung on tight. SMASH. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad; later in the week I learned a different strategy for getting through, but for my first trip out, I committed to punishment, even as I gave Romolo every reason to be grateful for his religion. Finally, after a few more direct hits, we were there, outside, and we sat up on our boards. Romolo scolded me; you can’t just power through like that, you can get hurt, if the waves were bigger, etc. I was honestly just letting it all pour over me, like the waves; I felt a fugue-like disassociation. Where the hell was I, and what was I doing out here? Is this the ocean? Are those bombs? And more to the point, how the hell was I going to get back to the beach?

I’ll spare you the details of every ride. Romolo spotted the waves for us, and gave us the push we needed to get up to speed, because none of us had any idea how fast you have to paddle to catch them. For the first, I couldn’t rise from my stomach, again because it was just so strange and disorienting. The second, I got to one foot and knee. There were wipeouts galore along the way, and those taught me as much as the fleeting successes — that the ocean might throw me around like a rag doll, but I wouldn’t drown or lose my board (thanks, leash), that each one would pass, that I could still swim, and that this rolling and tumbling was useful. Stressful, too, with a whirl of unfamiliar feelings and emotions, including fear but also the dawning exhilaration of what we were all working toward. When I think of that first day, I don’t remember moments so much as a slide show of images and sounds — white water overhead, smashing down; Romolo’s face, worried under his wet Mohawk, lips white with zinc oxide; the blue ocean beyond; the way the waves outside lifted and lowered us as we sat our our boards; “Celia! Paddle-paddle-paddle! Faster-faster-faster!”

I was grateful to walk back up the hill at the end of the day. But inside, I was also itching to get out again.

Day two brought a new instructor. I figured I had ai-yi-yi’d Romolo into enough of a tizzy that when an amiable Brazilian ambled up to me on the beach and introduced himself as Rafael, my first thought was: I see I’ve been bounced to the special class. But Adam and Susan were still in the group, so maybe it was just the rotation or something. In any event, either Rafael was a much better fit or it was one of those when-the-student-is-ready-the-teacher-will-appear things. His accent was drawling, his mood chill, his encouragement gentle. He had a “two-step pop-up” that seemed made for less-nimble people. And I knew what to expect now.

I also had a bigger board, a foot longer and noticeably wider. This may be what made the difference when I finally wobbled to my feet and stood, more or less upright, and stayed up, almost all the way to the beach. It was different from my first belly ride in many ways, but mainly the illusion of being just a tad more in control and the pressure on the bottoms of my feet, all of which said: So this is what a flying carpet feels like.

For the record, this is what a flying carpet feels like. And I couldn’t even steer it yet:


So. Thus reassured that I could, and would, eventually be able to do this thing, it was possible to relax a little and pay more attention to my fellow surf campers. Besides Susan (who is from Grosse Pointe, and traveled with me) and Adam, there was Rusty, an instructor, seen here making breakfast:


When I met him I said, “You look like you were sent here from central casting.” He laughed, because he’s Australian and everything amuses him. He introduced me to the Cosmic Psychos, an Aussie punk band responsible for this song, which tells you a great deal about Aussie punk bands. When I was showing my pictures around the office last week, one of my colleagues took a look at Rusty and said, “He looks like he was sent from central casting.”

There was also Margery and Tony, Canadians, who come all the way in from Whitehorse, in the Yukon, to surf at Endless Summer every year. They’re both in their 70s, and meet up with their son and his partner. And they get in the water, yes. Paul was a childhood friend of Jason’s, a quasi instructor, quasi because he was rehabbing from a terrifying motorcycle crash a year ago that sounds like it could easily have cost him a leg. Here’s Paul and Susan, Paul elevating his leg because it was swelling. But yeah, he surfed, too:


Irish Mike came all the way from Dublin:


That robe he’s wearing is in every surf shop. I thought it was maybe some sort of cult garment until I figured it out — it’s a modesty coverup so you can change into your wetsuit commando, which I guess a lot of people, especially guys, prefer. The driftwood stuck in the sand behind him was the wicket he and Rusty set up for a cricket pitch they made. He surfs year-round in Ireland, in frigid water, requiring dry suits with hoods, gloves and booties. I’d say he earned this kelly-green tattoo:


There was Daria from Montreal, Cara from New Jersey, Preston the Navy dentist on leave, Ron and Marisol from L.A. and Cristophe, French by way of San Diego. Many others. We socialized on the beach and in the camp, watching surf movies on TV — there was a lounge, with couches, a nice perk for asphalt campers — and sitting around the fire, where we talked about Donald Trump and Detroit and all the places they were from.

And day by day, I got just a little better. I started to recognize the tides, asked Preston about the Marine watercraft sitting far offshore, watched a school of baitfish fling themselves out of the water a little farther outside. (I tucked my arms and legs onto the board, unsure what, exactly, might be chasing them.) Three pelicans flew by in formation 20 feet from my face. The waves rolled by in moving pyramids, the wind whipping their tops into spray, a beautiful sight. And this happened:


Dolphins, not sharks.

And then it was over. Susan and I made our way back to Los Angeles, via the same rail line that ran through the camp. (It kills me that LA, a city perhaps more associated with cars than even Detroit, is so far ahead of us on mass transit by rail.) I was working my way through a burger as big as my head in Marina del Rey on Friday night — and please, feel free to file that under “sentence fragments you hoped you’d never read here” — when it struck me why I was feeling so buzzed by the week just concluded: It was all so very unfamiliar.

My vacations have always fallen into one of two categories. There’s the kind where all you want is total sloth and torpor — lead me to a beach/pool chair, put a drink in my hand, refill it at regular intervals and point me to bed hours later. And there’s the kind where you embark on an adventure, a dive into a new culture, a strange place, and go-go-go until it’s time to board the plane home.

Some people are partisans of one or the other. A true moderate, I enjoy both. This summer, I took two vacations, at the beginning and end of the season, and both were the latter kind. Iceland was a world away, San Clemente on the other side of the country, but both are places so different from my usual routine that they left me feeling …bigger, somehow. Expanded. More open. Wider, maybe, although that may be all the granola bars I ate on the beach. But different somehow, a little wiser about things I thought I was smart about but it turned out I was dumb about. And isn’t that the point of this journey? To enlarge ourselves, to encompass more, to get out of our ruts and see the world? We’re all just visitors here, so we might as well try new things once in a while.

So until next year, Adam, Romolo, Susan and Rafael:


I leave you with a bookend to the other pictures I shot all summer — sunrise in Grosse Pointe. Here was the first-day sunset over the Big P, with the tiny crescent moon coming down on its own journey:


This is the new lock-screen photo on my phone. Reminding me it’s out there, waiting for me next summer.

Some photography by me, most by A.J. Mcclintick.

Posted at 5:50 pm in Same ol' same ol' | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

Pix or it didn’t happen.

I’m back, and I had a wonderful time. I’d like your indulgence to work on a longer post about the experience, which I’ll post in a few days. It turns out I have a few thoughts about the last week, and I don’t want to rush into just bleating them out there, but at the same time, I also don’t want to put in a few hours of work crafting them while I’m still on vacation. And I have a couple of big-busy days ahead — it’s Bridge’s 5th birthday this month, and there are parties and panels and places I have to be, none around the corner from the office. Oh, and checking the calendar, I see I have a deadline in a few days, too. Grr.

Well, I asked for this life. All I need is a little forbearance. In the meantime, how about a picture or two?

Here’s the group from surf camp — some day campers only, most overnighters, all tons of fun:


That’s me, second shaka sign from the right. Our group included two doctors, a dentist, more engineers than you could shake a stick at, bankers, a police lieutenant, firefighter, sales people of all kinds and I don’t know what.

And here’s the photographic proof I was there and successfully stood more or less upright on a moving surfboard for at least a few seconds:


Oh my, was it ever fun.

I stayed plugged in, news-wise, but there were things I was happy to let pass by like a wave in the lineup, unridden by the likes of me. The Matt Lauer thing, for one. Gary Johnson wondering what a Leppo is, for another. One of the best things about vacation is sitting around a campfire, listening to other people talk about stuff, and only joining in if you feel like it.

Needless to say, I usually join in. It’s m’nature.

But this is the start of a new week. Hillary has pneumonia. Oh, what joy to consider the slime that will be stirred through the national stew as that one gets around.

Maybe I should go back to California. I got money saved. Hardly anyone would miss me.

But no! The wave is coming — gotta start paddling.

Posted at 6:56 pm in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 73 Comments

Several sunrises.

This summer I upped my swimming from twice to three times a week, in preparation for the surfing safari I’m currently on. As I believe I’ve mentioned at some tiresome length, this summer I’m swimming at a different pool — the one at the Grosse Pointe Shores city park. They have a program for early-morning lap swimming, open to non-residents.

All five of the GPs have a pool, of course, and each has its stellar feature. The Woods, where I live, has the largest and nicest of the five, with a great double water slide, but it doesn’t have Tim, who coaches us gratis all summer. The Shores pool is shallow in its lap lanes, but it’s the best-situated of the five, in that it overlooks Lake St. Clair, which lies to our east.

Which started me on my summer-long campaign to capture how beautiful the sky was, almost every morning.

June 29, 2016, 6:06 a.m.

Your basic establishing shot: The pool, the people, the lake behind. The sun already above the horizon just after 6 a.m. A perfect Pure Michigan day ahead. It’s already too late for a good sunrise shot; once the orb clears the horizon it bleaches out every attempt to capture it, at least with an iPhone.

July 15, 6:09 a.m.

A couple weeks later. You can’t go all the way down to the lakeshore, not without climbing a fence or going through some locked gates. So for a while I shot through the kiddie splash pad, seen here with no water running, because the kiddies are all still in bed. Almost exactly the same time, but the sun’s lower in the sky.

July 26, 6:18 a.m.

At some point it occurred to me that the sunrise picture is the biggest cliché in photography, and I started trying to make them more like abstract art. I was also cropping out a feature I came to call That Bush.

August 5, 6:21 a.m.

It was a dry season, so clear skies almost every morning. The pictures got prettier as the sunrise came later. This is the look of a day when the humidity will try to kill you, but still — very pretty. There’s That Bush.

August 8, 6:01 a.m.

Sometimes I’d try to capture something other than the cliché sunrise, so here’s the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, next door. That tower is always described in historical and tourism materials as stately and Moorish. But even that day I realized…

August 8, 6:02 a.m.

…the sunrise is still prettier. I think it rained a little overnight; those are the clouds heading off to the east.

August 10, 6:20 a.m.

Brutal, brutal heat and humidity that day. Tim altered the workout for it, because it was difficult to breathe, even in the early morning. That Bush is seen with its twin, That Other Bush. (Yes, I know they’re really pampas grass.)

August 12, 6:16 a.m.

The rain was starting to come back by now, and this pink-and-purple morning color theme emerged for a few days. I stopped worrying about clichés.

August 15, 6:19 a.m.

Totally bananas pinkness this day.

August 22, 6:18 a.m.

I told myself, “No more stupid sunrise pictures,” but then I spotted those geese.

August 24, 6:19 a.m.

And now we’re in the final week. Let us pause for a word from E.B. White:

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone, over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.” A little maple tree heard the cricket song and turned bright red with anxiety.

Last day for me. Oh, so sad! It’s dark!

September 1, 6:08 a.m.

School started this week, and the outdoor pools closed. When I get back, I’ll be swimming inside for the long, long school year. Soon enough, there’ll be no sun in the sky when I arrive, and little enough when I leave. But lord willing, Tim will be there, and we’ll keep turning lap after lap and waiting for next year.

Posted at 12:01 am in Same ol' same ol' | 169 Comments

Old Familiar H.S.

Recognize this place? You should. It’s the go-to high school when the script calls for one. Most notably, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll high school of the great b-movie of the same name. It’s also the alma mater of one of LAMary’s sons, and the highlight of the tour she gave me yesterday.

Unfortunately, it’s the only picture I took. Sorry about that — a bit jet-lagged.

On to San Onofre today, which my reading material says is one of the best places on the globe to learn to surf.

Good thing, too. Catch y’all later.

— Gidget

Posted at 2:28 pm in iPhone, Popculch, Same ol' same ol' | 58 Comments

Wrapping the week.

Another missed day, alas. No excuse, sir — we watched “Weiner” and loaded the car to take Kate back to school. In Michigan, school years start when they’re supposed to start, after Labor Day. At least, Kate’s does. But it made for a busy day and “Weiner.” Which is excellent, if you enjoy portraits of narcissists, and the slow burn of a wife figuring out exactly who she married, and how soon she can get out of said marriage.

Huma was such a great catch for this schmuck. And he threw it away for phone sex with a white-trash ho’ of the first order.

Today and tomorrow were/will be action-packed as well, and then, on Saturday? Wheels up for Cali. Is it coincidence that our local hip-hop throwback station played this Biggie Smalls track today? (Yes, it probably was, because they play it a lot.) There will be photo posts this weekend, and a big one I’m scheduling for Wednesday, because you just know Trump will shit the bed at some point and I want to give you fresh posts to fill up with comments.

He certainly did last night. I didn’t see the speech live, but I read about it, and man oh man, it’s hard to know what, exactly, is going on in that particular clown car. But while perusing Slate’s coverage, I found this piece on yet more weirdness found by spelunking in the Indiana Policy Review, currently drawing attention because Mike Pence once led the foundation that funds the thing. The first archival nugget they noted bears the unmistakable writing style of T. Craig Ladwig, who generally drops the initial in his byline. I always suspected he wanted to use it, to ape his hero, R. Emmett Tyrell, but he couldn’t quite ante up the guts. The second is right out of Crazytown, a detailed description of gay sex by one Col. Robert D. Ray, R-Closet. No clue who this guy is — the piece bears an editor’s note acknowledging it was first published in a journal called First Principles Inc. — but hoo-boy. I can’t cut and paste because the magazine was scanned directly to PDF, so just click and enjoy.

I remember reading that thing when it came out every month or so, and wondering what color the sky was in their world. I should have taken better notes.

And so we’re into the bloggage: Trump is speaking at an African-American church on Friday. His team is leaving nothing to chance. He has various scripted responses to expected questions:

To a question submitted by Bishop Jackson about whether his campaign is racist, the script suggests that Mr. Trump avoid repeating the word, and instead speak about improving education and getting people off welfare and back to work. “The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding,” Mr. Trump is advised to say. “Coming into a community is meaningless unless we offer an alternative to the horrible progressive agenda that has perpetuated a permanent underclass in America.”

In the pudding! Good to know.

And oh, I’m outta gas. See you Saturday or Sunday, then. Surf’s up.

Posted at 12:11 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 85 Comments

Midweek melange.

Last weekend I went down some internet rabbit holes that should have been marked with warning signs. I learned that not only does Hillary’s health make Dick Cheney’s look like that of an Olympic athlete, but Michelle Obama? IS A MAN. Go ahead and laugh, and then read the first three paragraphs of this story. A lie is a powerful thing:

STOCKHOLM — With a vigorous national debate underway on whether Sweden should enter a military partnership with NATO, officials in Stockholm suddenly encountered an unsettling problem: a flood of distorted and outright false information on social media, confusing public perceptions of the issue.

The claims were alarming: If Sweden, a non-NATO member, signed the deal, the alliance would stockpile secret nuclear weapons on Swedish soil; NATO could attack Russia from Sweden without government approval; NATO soldiers, immune from prosecution, could rape Swedish women without fear of criminal charges.

They were all false, but the disinformation had begun spilling into the traditional news media, and as the defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, traveled the country to promote the pact in speeches and town hall meetings, he was repeatedly grilled about the bogus stories.

The older I get, the more I enjoy the pure, simple pleasure of yummy, yummy facts. Which you evidently need actual human beings to recognize.

So. Sorry I took a night off — had a last-minute chance to go on an evening paddle, and as the summer dwindles, you just don’t blow those things off. Was it worth it? Yeah, I’d say so:


Let’s explore the mysteries of the iPhone autoexposure, too, shall we? Maybe 30 seconds later, this was the point-and-shoot from the front-facing camera:


You’d think it was an hour earlier. Believe me, that fading sky wasn’t enough to light our faces that much. It’s MAGIC.

And after today, I think I have most of my ducks in a row for California. Still have to pack, but today my optometrist signed off on a supply of daily-wear contact lenses, not my usual contact-lens jam, to wear in the water. I’m wearing them now. Not multifocal, so I’m in my strongest readers, but they’ll do for spotting other surfers, sharks’ dorsal fins and, of course, the glory of nature all around. Until one washes out, but I’ll have backups.

A few mixed notes on this and that, as we ease into the bloggage:

I really can’t recommend “Keepin’ it 1600,” the Jon Favreau/Dan Pfeiffer podcast, highly enough. Funny, entertaining and, for those of you who live with or near Trumpazoids, living proof that you are not alone, these people are fucking crazy. I listened to the latest edition on my way to Ann Arbor today, and didn’t miss NPR one little bit. What’s more, they turned me on to “Radio Free GOP” with Mike Murphy, and that’s good, too.

The other day didn’t Jeff say he was looking for inspirational reading that fell somewhere between f-bomb-laced realness and the sappy-sweet Albom big rock-candy mountain. May I recommend this honest, fine piece by Tracy Grant, a Washington Post editor who nursed her husband through the last months of his life. Fine writing, fine insight.

You know how every so often you read about how historians can capture many details of daily life in days gone by, but not things like the smoke in a city’s air from a million fires, or the smell of the dank sewers as foul things bubbled within? You really get a sense of the latter here, in this piece about Roman sewers. Sounds gross, and it is, but it’s also not, mainly because you probably have a flush toilet where you live, and your house doesn’t smell bad. I think I’d have been a country girl, given the choice.

And the great Monica Hesse, also at the WashPost, gives us this: 11 ways to think about the Anthony Weiner-Huma Abedin split. No. 7:

Stolen from a friend on Twitter: “Anthony Weiner is proof that the Clintons don’t actually have people murdered.”

OK, off to climb through Wednesday.

Posted at 12:02 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 69 Comments

Grande dames.

Friday was payday, so I made the pilgrimage to Costco. We needed a re-up on paper towels, Cholula, olive oil, the usual. I selected my enormous cart and made my way inside behind a trim woman with flame-red hair.

As she turned to show her ID to the greeter, I caught a glimpse of her face and noticed she was a lot older than her backside would indicate — somewhere in her 70s, would be my guess. And then I noticed something else: She was wearing a thong.

She was wearing it Monica-style, in that the side pieces rose above the waistline of her pants. And it was lacy, too. And here’s the thing: Her waist and hips looked like they were carved from marble. If anyone has the figure to wear a thong, it’s this septuagenarian. Rock on, granny.

Probably a dancer, I figure. Dancers keep their bods until they’re lowered into the ground. Mary Tyler Moore was a dancer.

It’s funny, because a few weeks ago I attended an event populated with business people. I took note of a woman, also from behind, nice figure in a tight black dress, shapely bare legs ending in heels and a tumble of blonde, barrel-curled hair. My mind instantly filed her under “30s, on the make” until she, too, turned to show her face in profile and it’s like, whoa, hi mom. OK, not that bad, but older than me. Which would put her into her 60s.

There’s a lot of chatter out there about never body-shaming anyone, and that women can wear whatever they want and it’s nobody’s business how you look in a bathing suit, and I believe that. If you’re comfortable and happy, that’s good enough. I remember a TV commercial for I product I can’t remember that ran in the ’60s, in which a young man mistakes his girlfriend’s mother for his paramour, seeing her from behind. (Until the Sarah Palin juggernaut ran out of steam, I fully expected her to endorse some product, using precisely this sell: “Levi’s always pinchin’ my butt, thinkin’ I’m Bristol!”)

I guess, if you get up day after day and do your yoga or run your miles or pump your iron, you’re going to be, as they say, well-preserved into your AARP years. But there’s no way I’m doing barrel curls in my 60s. I couldn’t even figure out those fuckers in my 30s.

Other than that, a pretty quiet weekend. Finished “Stranger Things,” which I highly recommend. Bought heirloom tomatoes. Bought corn, bought bacon, bought breakfast for Alan and me Saturday at the market. A busy week ahead, though, moving Kate back to Ann Arbor on Thursday, and then on Saturday? Another trip for me, a hiatus for the blog. Remember the surfing camp I was musing about in, like, January? Well, I bloody well signed up and paid my money, and will spend Labor Day week in Orange County, California, at San Onofre State Park, being one of those inappropriately youthful women I just mentioned. Think good thoughts for me, and think a few more for my knees.

The itinerary is pretty loose for now. Saturday-night dinner with L.A. Mary, a week of surfin’, and I’m hoping to squeeze in a trip to the Nixon presidential library. Got Airbnb lodgings for the first and last nights, and otherwise I’ll be in a tent.

I figure I’m owed one last break before campaign season shifts into high gear.

In the meantime, a little bloggage:

The dangers of poll observers, from Politico.

One good thing that’s happening as a result of this insane political climate is, I’m spending less time on Facebook, in part because it’s so discouraging to see the same old shit being said the same old ways, repackaged the same old zillion-and-one ways. It’s a goddamn industry, it turns out. Lately, I choose Twitter, faster and funnier and, in the case of the Trump’s-doctor story, hysterically so.

Sometimes airbags can kill you in entirely unexpected ways.

Monday dead ahead.

Posted at 12:12 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 75 Comments