When we last left our heroine, she was deep in a vale of tears and sorrow. That immediate downpour veil has lifted but the sadness continues. No news about the dear friend in dire straits, but no news is not necessarily good news. Last night, she dreamt of dancing with the friend in question who was dressed in a wheat-colored, debonairly wrinkled linen suit, a spry and mischievous smile on the beloved’s face. As is often the case.
Rain rain rain here in the industrial hinterlands of South East Los Angeles. I had to go out to the car with an umbrella to get my mother yesterday, as it was coming down with what passes for a vengeance here. The rain scuttled my gardening plans with our horticulturalist who was going to dig and prepare my vegetable beds. I have to get the lima beans, Malabar spinach, snap peas, Chinese leeks, lemongrass, cherry tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes, and the lettuces in before I head to Oakland for three-plus weeks. Also, the succulents that have been rooting need to get into the ground. My mom can water the plants as need be, but they need to get started under my more vigilant eye.
May 12 is the birthday of at least four close friends and also the day that my brother Carl left in a definitive way. My father died on May 13 which was also the birthday of my mother’s beau, my probable stepfather, who died the year before Carl, on Easter Sunday 2008. Lots going on in May.
But on this May 12, my mother and I got to witness something very cool. A friend of hers from her philosophical worship personship gave us some Monarch butterfly larvae. I had watched one become a chrysalis before my very eyes that was amazing. Matter transforming. On that day, my mother, Ariel, Emmylou, and I were taking our afternoon survey of the yard when I checked on the chrysalis only to see a butterfly being born. We stood watching for half an hour as the beauty emerged. There was something life affirming about seeing that on what is usually a sad day for us.
Emmylou had to jump on the gardening bench to see what was more interesting than her cuteness.
Unfortunately, this critter only lived for a day; it seemed to be unable to fly. I have more milkweed seeds germinating and I have seen other Monarch larvae near the milkweed in the garden. I will you keep you all posted.
One of the most magical experiences of my life was walking in the Monarch grove at Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz when I was in school there. Being surrounded by those glittering, fluttering, (and fucking) creatures was astonishing, exhilarating, and spiritual. I've been a fan ever since and now I have an opportunity to promote a place for them, I am all over it.
For Mother's Day, I took my Mom out for breakfast at a restaurant Carl loved in Long Beach (The Coffee Cup). We had a blast. We wanted to order everything on the menu. My mother ate everything in sight. She repeatedly remarked on the home fries, as if anyplace Carl liked would have anything but stellar potatoes. It was lovely to see her enjoy herself with so little restraint. Afterwards, we took a tour past all the places she had lived in Long Beach as a child. Termino. Ximeno. Great street names. ("Finished" and "Simon" respectively.) We drove downtown which looked nothing like the place she remembered going to the beach. And we drove past the corner of Pine and Ocean where she first ate pizza. Now that is a sacred spot.
In other news, we finally got signed up for the YMCA in Whittier after much hemming and haawing. Mom has yet to get to a water aerobics class, but I have been swimming three times this week. It has been about 11 years since I was able to swim for exercise. The first swim was near heaven. I am not in any shape to swim many laps, but it was great to be back in the water (my skin is not so enthused). Today, however, kicked my ass and I have been sore and tired all afternoon. I must be doing it right. Now I have to figure out how I can swim while I am in Oakland for three weeks.
I realize this is quite long-winded and will require a time commitment to read all the way through this. I want to share this before I forgot about it.
On Cinco de Mayo, Los Lobos were playing in DTLA (downtown LA) with the Alvin Brothers opening for them. This had been on my radar for many weeks, but I had not purchased a ticket nor had I been able to corral any of my cronies into joining me. On the day of the event, I was still ambivalent about going. But then sanity kicked in and I realized I should not miss this if at all possible, whether or no I had to go by myself. Once the music starts, I kind of don't care who is there anyway as all my focus is on the music.
So with the doors opening at 7:00, I jumped off the couch at 6:00 and decided I had to go. I got dressed and hit the road. Amazingly for Los Angeles, traffic was very light. Siri and I had our usual misunderstandings and misguidings, but I did get to see how DTLA has changed. I drove past Olvera Street several times as well as one of my father's favorite restaurants, Philippe's. I finally found a bank, and then the venue, swearing and questioning my decision all the while. I pulled into a parking lot. Under a single bright light, buying a ticket was a familiar form. I drove up, jumped out of the car, and asked, "Would that be Dave Alvin?" "It would be," drawled the figure. I shook his hand and we parlayed a quip or two when I mentioned I had just driven up from Santa Fe Springs (the town next to where he grew up).
I admit I was pretty stoked then. I parked properly and walked to the (very cool) venue. As I was waiting in line to buy a ticket, a young woman walked up with a sheaf of print outs. She had a bunch of tickets she couldn't use so she was handing them out. Free. At that point, I knew I had made the right choice.
I went inside, immediately bought a shot of Herradura Gold, and found a place to sit at the back of the dancefloor where I would be able to stand on a chair and see. It wasn't too long before I was sharing drinks and dancing with some young homeboys who were there to see their favorites, Los Lobos. The Alvin Brothers (and the Guilty Men and Women) were nothing short of incendiary and there is nothing quite so fun as dancing to La Bamba with Los Lobos on Cinco de Mayo. Can you tell I had a swell time? The universe delivered some succor to a suffering sinner.