Yesterday evening I took a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights on houses, Santas in front yards, and wreaths on front doors. Except there weren’t any. I asked myself if I had the right month. I checked my phone. Yep, I did. What happened to my neighbors? Then it hit me. Most of the neighbors that traditionally went wild with their lights and front lawn decorations have fled the area for warmer pastures. I miss them. They had a spirit of Christmas I didn’t so I lived on their enthusiasm. They brightened up the neighborhood and made us smile. We were proud people who basked in their twinkling lights. We could count on them every year. Now they were gone and took the spirit of Christmas with them. Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are now flying high over sand dunes. And no, I’m not going to take over the tradition. You’re lucky if I have a bow on my front door. Inside the house is another matter. I enjoy displaying several trees in the living room, lights over the mantelpiece, and Christmas cards on a table.
So I gave up on Christmas decorations, and settled for the natural growth around the neighborhood. Here are some pictures.
Calvin says, “Yeah, I miss those midnight walks. I tingled with excitement.”
This is what I saw on my way to the office this morning. A beautifully decorated tree on the street, curbside. No lights. Was it waiting for a taxi, I mean Uber? Maybe since it was standing there in front of the building where Uber has its offices. If it was a gimmick, it worked on me. I asked a security guard and he said, “It was leaking so they brought it out.” Wait till the dog walkers and their pups notice this. A Christmas tree just for them!
The things one sees during the holidays.
I had coffee last weekend with a friend. I ran into a woman and her beagle at the entrance of the shop and bolted inside before she captured me. She will talk to anyone for ages about her dog and how much it’s costing her to keep him alive. Something in the vicinity of $20,000. He pooch has two bionic knees otherwise he wouldn’t have made it. He’s now on expensive drugs for skin allergies. And the list goes on. Every time I’m at the coffee shop she’s there, so I suspect she goes every weekend in search of an audience. The man in the picture? That’s her husband. Notice the delighted expression on his face.
I thought this planter decoration was great. Different. Colorful. Something to use all winter long. It was lobby decor in a building that used to be home to the local post office. Now we have to hunt for where it moved to. No forwarding address.
Calvin says, “I’m signing a DNR. Do not reconstruct. Me.”
At this time of year I like to search for unique Christmas tree decorations. Not to buy, but to enjoy looking at. Typically office lobbies don’t have them. Neither do department stores. However there are places that make an effort to showcase the novel and the unique.
My favorite store that tops my list is Carrigg’s of Carmel. At this time of year they have more than a dozen decorated trees in the store that delight and transport you to Christmas heaven. Forget the shopping, the eating, and the staying in Carmel. I go just for the design therapy at Carrigg’s.
I stroll from room to room. When something catches my eye, I take a quick picture with my camera that I keep hidden in my jacket. After the second room of sensory enchantments, I stop being stealthy and keep the camera in full view. There’s so much to photograph and I don’t care who sees me. I’m like a child in a magic castle.
Whoever decorates the store is a genius. There’s so much to absorb it takes several hours, but I limit myself to drooling for 60 minutes. Besides, Alf is waiting for me on the street reading headline news on his phone. Calvin is pulling at his leash attempting to meet and greet all the other pedigree dogs walking their owners.
Calvin says, “Carmel needs a pop-up store for dogs with Christmas delicacies like rabbit jerky.”
With all these sexual harassment allegations popping up all over the place, it’s a wonder we can live normal lives these days.
Every day there’s a new one.
The truth is if every industry, especially the media and government, were to come clean, there wouldn’t be anyone left to make movies or run the country.
We’re all a bunch of scoundrels. It’s in our DNA.
Sexual harassment is as old as the bible itself. Just read Genesis where it all began.
What floors me is how women expect to gain respect dressing the way they do with cleavages to their belly buttons, skirts wrapped around their waists and backsides like plastic wrap leaving nothing to the imagination, and stilettos like walking stilts.
If fashion returned to modesty, if women wore clothing that was attractive and decent, then men might behave themselves. Maybe. There’s no guarantee. For complete assurance of respectful behavior between the sexes everyone would require heart purification surgery.
Calvin says, “Dogs don’t have these issues. We are what we wear. We wear what we are. Simple.”
I’m writing this on the subway on my way home. Two women, about the same age, complete strangers, sit in front with their backs to me. I notice both have the same shade of blonde on their heads, out of the same tube, probably the same store and shelf where all the other hair dyes live, where a spectrum from black to almost silver beckon to female customers. Boxes and boxes with faces of models half their age. I wonder what shade they picked. Bubbly Blonde or Gold Nugget. One is trying to camouflage the Earl(y) grey. The other had highlighted the mouse(y) in her head. At any rate, it doesn’t work. I would have chosen a warm brown with flecks of red cardinal to make their complexions come alive.
I say if you’re going to change your color, go for broke. You can always paint over it if you hate it. Or live like another woman for a while. It’s your opportunity to go Bohemian, paint a canvas, go belly dancing or hug a stranger, your husband. He’d think he walked into the wrong house. You might come home looking ten years younger and then the adventure begins.
Calvin says, “So when’s your next appointment at the hair dresser’s? I could use a little excitement around here.”
The pumpkins are out. All kinds, shapes and colors. They make me smile. I can’t explain why except maybe it’s the color and the texture that draws me in. Something so ordinary has so many interesting features, like a black and white photograph of an old man with the wrinkles of time carved into his face.
It takes 85-125 days, about 4 months, to grow a normal size pumpkin. The mini variety can be grown on a trellis or fence. So even high-rise techie dwellers with a balcony can get into the harvest mood. Who knew?
I love to line up the minis down the middle of my dining room table, and they’re pretty on a mantelpiece in a row. But the place for most impact is in a large basket on the living room coffee table next to your blue coffee mug. It must be the color of the sky if your basket is filled with orange pumpkins. Blue and orange are complementary colors and make a good pairing.
If you have the time, paint one black and white. That’s always a stunner. In fact black and white patterns elevate any space. Try it.
I think I’ll paint my pumpkins this season in polka-dots and stripes and line them up on my driveway. They’ll act as landing lights into my garage when I get home.
Calvin says, “What’s that funny looking squash with bones painted on it doing in my food bowl?”
Time and time again Alf and I marvel at people who are immensely talented and yet shy away from their gifts. We know of several with writing gifts who never put pen to paper. Others who have a terrific fashion sense and keep it all to themselves. And there are those who do pursue their artistic callings with courage and conviction, but with little support from friends and loved ones. In fact, they’re often told to get a real job. What is it about art that garners less respect than other professions like business or engineering? Heck, there’s more respect for the G-Man (garbage collector) than a painter.
We live in a day of practicality. Does the job make money? Will it sustain you and a spouse and children? Will it give you a house, a car and a yearly vacation? Or will you have to eat out of a paper bag full of moldy veggies?
Being an artist is not for the fainthearted. It wasn’t easy living for Van Gogh and his generation nor is it any easier for people today. But one thing is different. Anybody with an ounce of skill is posting like mad on social media in the hope of getting noticed. Consequently there’s a lot of bad art out there. There’s also some good stuff. The serious artist, however avoids it all in favor of a website with class.
It’s like commercial fiction. The serious literary types look down their erudite noses at the fabulously successful writers who make millions with their popular, badly written novels. Secretly they probably wish they could make that kind of money, but they wouldn’t dare try. It would be beneath them.
So what’s an artist to do? I say keep at it, no matter how difficult the task. Post away. Talk it up. Send it out. You never know what door will open.
Calvin says, “I’m so glad I’m only talented in one thing – food. What’s for dinner?”