Are you into Orange?

We just finished Season 2 of “Orange is the New Black.” The show is clever, fascinating, complex, and while maybe you figure out the surprises, it still entertains. I remember after watching a few episodes of the first season, I point-blank say to Chris: “I never, ever want to go to prison.” What hell it must be. I am sure that every prison and jail is different, especially depending on its level of security. Regardless of whether it is maximum or lower, I want nothing of it.

“Orange is the New Black” showcases a women’s prison and I can only image what it is like to mix women and men that are locked up. Maybe that is not even possible, which tells you how much I know about prisons…but this blog is not about how much I know about the incarcerated. I did a stint in college for what we called “Community Service” with a local juvenile correctional facility. I facilitated poetry and writing courses with the young men that were in the facility. It was fine to me. I never really felt unsafe. I was definitely a minority, and most of us that frequented were white in a mostly black facility. These boys craved interaction, and having someone focus on them, and so most responded well and seemed quasi interested. Maybe they were just bored, or maybe they had never really been exposed to writing, poetry, and their feelings.

While I was at a fairly nice liberal arts college, the surrounding community was not as affluent, and mostly farming. I am not sure what access they had to literature or exposure to their own writing. Yet since they had plenty of time to themselves each day, writing might have been just what they needed to process their thoughts. And, maybe it was just a way to have interactions with individuals from outside the facility.

Back to the women’s only prison. “Orange is the New Black” was created by Jenji Kohan, the creator of “Weeds” and she is clever. She has taken a mostly unknown cast (with the exception of Jason Biggs, Michael Harney, Laura Prepon, and Pablo Schreiber). Taylor Schilling plays the main character and she has definitely made a name for herself.

If you have not seen it on Netflix, you will want to spend a weekend or two this summer watching both seasons. It will make you appreciate all that you have, your safety, and that being good is not without its benefits.

When life brings you moles

Have you ever seen a picture of a mole? Not the ones that show up on our body and are watched by dermatologists. I am talking about the ugly little suckers that bore holes in your yard. They look like rats, but with larger front paws, and they have poor eyesight. Can you believe they can be as little as 3 inches long, and weigh 3+ ounces? Those little suckers can make a major mess for being so little.

photo 2 (30)They are also annoying little suckers. Chris and I are in the process of overhauling our backyard, a little bit each weekend, and while it is nowhere near completion, we have been joined by a mole or moles (we are not sure yet).  It started at the perimeter of our yard and only in mulched areas where we could smash the dirt back down and then cover back up with mulch, but over the past week it started in our grass. First one then another hole. Chris filled the large holes with water, and added the pellets that are supposed to make them itch, but then it was obvious that they came right back up the same holes and then created another one each day last week, so now we have 6 new mole holes (see photo below).

From our research it sounds like we are not the only ones that are stumped and there seems to be a zillion options for handling a mole (see this list of ideas, some seem a bit far-fetched). photo 3 (19)

I am about to start my own version of “Whack a Mole” in my backyard. We are fed up. If I knew where they would be, (sorry mole lovers) I’d get a pitchfork and shovel and have some fun. Alas. Mister Catch-a-Mole Man is coming to visit us today. I hope it is his only visit and he catches this mole. When life brings you moles, you fight back.

Love Life or Love Life

I love a good oxymoron, a play on words, anything to get my brain to think and wonder. Rob Lowe’s newest book is called: “Love Life.” His title could really be more about his wife (the love of his life), about his love life, or what I think he really meant, which is to love the heck out of the life that is in front of us. In any case, Love Life is an interesting and thought-provoking memoir. I was a fan of his first autobiography, “Stories I Only Tell My Friends.” See, I like Rob Lowe. He plays interesting characters. From West Wing to Brothers and Sisters to Californication to Parks and Recreation, not to mention all the movies he has been in. Does Outsiders ring a bell? He does not play the same character again and again (as some actors tend to do), and I love that about him. When I happened across his first book, I thought it would be an annoying, pompous book from a famous Hollywood actor. It was nothing like that.

The writing is good, and while I do not know if he actually wrote it (who ever knows these days) it was still a compelling memoir of his life. He is very transparent about himself, his pros and cons, and you can tell in everything he says how much he loves his wife, two sons, and how important it is to him to be a dad. I loved this quote on the very first page:

“I think it was Alfred Hitchcock who said 90 percent of successful moviemaking is in the casting. The same is true in life. Who you are exposed to, who you choose to surround yourself with, is a unique variable in all of our experiences and it is hugely important in making us who we are. Seek out interesting characters, tough adversaries and strong mentors and your life can be rich, textured, highly entertaining and successful, like a Best Picture winner.” Page 1

It really makes you think about who you surround yourself with, and that while we do not always have a choice of who we interact with each day, we should focus on the situations we can control. Lowe never wanted to live a boring life, and neither should we! So get rid of the boring, the dull, and the uninspiring and bring on the adventure.

And, if you never take the leap and have more adventures, then you may never see success. Sometimes you have to have a few failures to find the gem. He discusses the different shows or movies he was involved in that did not make it off the ground, were cancelled, or just did not get the ratings.

“Maybe I’m in denial, but I don’t believe in ‘flops.’ You try something and it may not work. You try something and this time it might. You never know, and you have no choice other than to keep trying. The only time you flop is when you don’t learn something.” Page 148

Sort of like the Coldplay song, “Fix You” with a favorite line 0f mine: “If you never try you’ll never know.” I strongly believe that the tough times and disappointed moments turn into beautiful works of art. Sometimes we just have to have extreme patience as we go through the growing pains.

I pooped my pants at Safety Town

There have been a few times in my life that I have pooped my pants. I will tell you right now that it was not always as a child. As an adult, my poopy pants stories revolve around “Smooth Move” tea. My advice to you is to NEVER drink it. It is like a laxative that you cannot get out of your system… for days. Anyways, this is not about adult poopy pants. I was young, before elementary school, but I do not remember exactly how old I was. I am sure my sister can remember.

We were at Safety Town with the local Parks District. I do not remember if my sister was there for Safety Town or if she was my chaperone. Regardless, I vaguely remember that she did not want to be there in the least. Generally speaking I got very excited about Safety Town. They turned tennis courts into regular streets and sidewalks. There were stop signs, traffic lights, and bike lanes. We had a mini city all to ourselves from behind the daring excitement of our tricycles. For whatever reason I thought it was the coolest thing. Almost as though my tricycle was a car, and we got to be adults. There were even awards and trophies. Who knows why, but I LOVED Safety Town.

Except for the time when I pooped my pants.

You would have thought it was a regular I-have-to-go-to-the-bathroom moment. Yet, it wasn’t. I pooped my pants from absolute fear. This specific day was when the police, ambulance, and firefighters were coming to visit. They would take us onto the trucks and teach us about the apparatus. Except for me. I was scared shitless. There was always something eerie to me about an ambulance (scariest vehicle) and a fire truck (next scariest). In my mind they were going to help someone who was hurt, sick, or dead, or something was on fire. I did not like thinking about the number of sirens I heard daily and how many people needed help. I also thought that if I went inside the ambulance that I might not be allowed to leave. I have no idea where I got that idea. The Safety Town folks did their best to assure me, as well as my sister, but I was definitely not going into those vehicles. I got so scared, I pooped my pants.

My sister was not thrilled. I do not remember what happened after that and if I got into trouble for my scared-shitless actions. I am almost positive my parents did not ever understand my predicament, or even talk to me about it. I think they just thought I had an accident. Yet, I still remember it so clearly. Regardless, I continued to go to Safety Town and enjoyed the make-believe world of our tricycle town.

And, I still have a moment of pause when I hear an ambulance or firetruck. No, I don’t pee or poop myself, but I do think about those in need of help and hope all is well.

An extra day for the spirit

It is amazing what an extra day off can do for the spirit. I feel quite rested after the three-day holiday weekend. We did plenty of little projects around the house, had yummy food, saw friends, laughed, snuggled, and decided not to go out to Sunday brunch so we could stay home and just be together. We explored re-architecting the backyard, and the adventures of planning a trip. Oh, and we ate a lot of food. A friend made the most amazing tarts with local fresh fruit, we grilled, and had a turkey dinner on Independence Day.

We saw art vendors on NW 13th Street in Portland at First Thursday. I learned that the shi-shi art scene has changed before my eyes. As we wandered around the streets of the Pearl District, what used to be relaxed, organic, and simple is different. I saw stilettos (even in neon green). I saw tattoos, and not the local-esque variety, more of the Jersey shore type. And dresses, oh man, dresses with just too much ass showing. Maybe I am getting old, but it seems as though Portland has transformed a bit and I have missed it. What made it all feel like I still loved this city is the band that marched through the street, causing all to stop and stare. This is what makes people say: “Keep Portland Weird.” This is why I love Portland.

Call us lame, but we did not venture out for fireworks on the Fourth. We stayed home, were quiet, in the sun, and together. This weekend was the zen I needed to feel like the world was back in balance. I finished two books, and started a third. I got sunkissed. I smiled a lot and was playful, and sorely addicted to Chris. Amazing what can happen with a few more hours in the weekend. A few more hours to put your feet up, or to sleep in and snuggle.

I am rested. I feel more balanced. I have new creative ideas. My spirit is just a bit higher and happier.