With Martine at the Arboretum

Martine Sitting on the Shore of Baldwin Lake

Yesterday Martine asked me if we could drive to the Los Angeles Arboretum in Arcadia. I was reluctant at first, as it is an hour drive at high speed over several freeways, but I was delighted that Martine actually wanted to go somewhere that was interesting to her. And the botanical gardens of Southern California are favorite destinations for her. She is shown here siting on her tripod cane chair, wearing one of my old guayaberas and a Mexican straw hat, looking at the ducks and geese plying Baldwin Lake.

We would up staying over four hours, much of it with the geese and ducks.

A Mother’s Day Portrait of Mom with Ducklings

Most of the time was spent around the lake and its various inlets. Having seen all the signs about warning not to feed the birds and wild animals, Martine felt she had to explain to the geese why she didn’t bring any food for them. They did not seem to be very put out by the lack of bread crumbs because they were so busy rooting around in the grass for the insects and plants that form much of their diet. Still, it was interesting that she felt so bad about not being able to feed them herself.

The View Across Baldwin Lake at the Queen Anne Cottage

Because we have had a wet winter, Baldwin Lake no longer looked like a large mudhole. It was covered with millions of tiny leaves that had fallen from the surrounding trees (you can see them in the middle photo above).

When she is at a botanical garden, there is no trace of the depression that marred so much of her life in the last year and a half. She no longer wants to escape to another city: She can’t because she has spent her savings on previous abortive trips. Instead, she is taking long walks in our neighborhood, which, probably, is good for her.


The Flip Side of the Coin

We’re Still Not Back to Normal

One can never take a relationship for granted. Beginning in July, Martine told me she wanted to get out of Los Angeles. And, just by the way, I wasn’t picking up my stuff. Now that she’s back to L.A., it looks as if she was returned under duress. And now I’m a monster who doesn’t pick up after myself.

Now what does this picking up involve? If I move one of her vitamins over two inches to make room for something I have to make room for in the refrigerator and I don’t return it to its original position, I’m not picking up after myself. Yesterday it was a small triangular piece of paper that somehow got out of the garbage can. In other words, it’s infractions of the “Who moved my cheese?” variety of which I am guilty.

Martine after her week in Northern California is depressed and angry, and I am here—available to be blamed. I feel a bit irritated for being the subject of blame when my sins are all of the venial variety. Nobody’s perfect. I just have to maintain my cool and try to edge her into a mental healthcare program for her own good.

Yes, I still love her, but she is clearly not thinking straight. If Martine gets away again, which is highly likely, she has no money. Nobody’s going to give her free housing and then leave her alone. Well, except maybe me. But it’s a delicate matter which can go either way. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Riding the News Cycle Without a Helmet

Follow the News Cycles If You Must ... But Don’t Get All Tangled Up in Them

Follow the News Cycles If You Must … But Don’t Get All Tangled Up in Them

In yesterday’s post (“Terrorism Made Easy”), I suggested that the news orgies indulged in my the media—especially cable news—make it extraordinarily easy for terrorists to get us all in a dither with a minimum amount of effort.Today, I plan to go one step further: Stay away from the news as much as possible. It’ll only mess you up.

Now there were times when the news affected my travel plans: I would not go to Guatemala during the dictatorship of Efraín Ríos Montt in the 1980s, I would not visit Peru during the Sendero Luminoso insurgency of the 1980s and early 1990s, and I would not go to El Salvador today because of the Mara Salvatrucha criminal gang. Oh, and there’s some parts of Mexico I would shy away from because of the narcotraficantes (namely the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Sonora, Monterrey, and Michoacán).

That said, I lose track of Middle East skulduggery because there is so much of it that I confuse the incidents one with the other. Nor is it important to know the number of car bombs in Baghdad, the casualties at Kobani, the Hamas-Israel pissing match, the piracy and banditry of Somalia, the endless repercussions of Benghazi, or even the weirdness of North Korea’s non-interaction with the world. Because I read the paper, I have a rough idea of what is happening. The details are just a tad excessive.

I work with a really nice bookkeeper who listens to the news and all the pundits on her long drive to work. All the badness, of which there is an endless amount, has the effect of making her depressed. I suggest that she listen to nice music instead, either the classics at KUSC or new wave at KTWV.

Remember one thing about the news: They are trying to make you hooked on all this global negativity so you keep coming back for more, and maybe even buy all the crapola the sponsors want to unload on you. Skip a few news cycles. Maybe read the paper instead, or a weekly news magazine (if there still is one), or even the Internet. When things get too bad, I’d rather put on some J. S. Bach or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

As my old hero Ghoulardi (about whom I will write more in the next week or so) said, “Cool it with the Boom-Booms!”