If you're not living in Southern California, chances are someone is having a worse day than you. I really don't want to complain, because breathing is overrated anyway, so I'll just say that you can literally see, taste, smell and feel the air. I'm talking dirty air.
Today was very surreal, like being in a smoky fog, with someone having put an orange filter over the sun. It is hot and every breath you take is like inhaling a pack of cigarettes. You can smell smoke everywhere you go, there is no escaping it, even in the house. There is a reason they warn people to stay in doors unless you absolutely need to go out. The toxins in the air will take you down. How weird is it to live in a state that names its fires? Witch, slide, buck weed, and magic to name a few.
It is mind boggling to think that half a million people have evacuated their homes and are living elsewhere tonight, wondering if they will even have a house to go back to. They predict the number of evacuees will probably reach 750,000 before it is all over. I feel guilty because all I have to complain about are my allergies and the inability to breath. I consider myself lucky.
The Santa Ana winds came to Southern California with a vengeance on Saturday night. It started out as a hot, gorgeous day, perfect for the UCLA - Cal game at the Rose Bowl. Then, as fast as a click of a mouse, the winds made their brutal presence known, causing chaos everywhere. Think hurricane with heat instead of the rain and cold. Santa Monica looked like the mother lode of palm trees had exploded, with sharp, jagged palm fronds everywhere. I guess that is our equivalent of Autumn leaves, only they are at least 6 feet long, and it takes a lot more than a rake to dispose of them.
The Santa Ana's, affectionately know as the Devil Winds, arrive every fall, blowing in from the desert, ready to zap the moisture out of every living thing in their path from foliage to the lining of your nose. Every time they arrive, I think of the book and movie "The White Oleander" whose central plot revolved around the Santa Ana winds. I can still see Michelle Pfeiffer and Alison Lohman sitting on a rooftop overlooking Los Angeles, while the invisible but powerful winds were dancing all around. If it weren't for the all the fires they help trigger and promote, you could almost find them enchanting and seductive. There is nothing like warm, forceful air, consuming your body and proving just how ominous Mother Nature really is. Of course for people like me with allergies, it is grit, dust, pollens, mole spores, and irritants consuming my sinuses.
The fires started before 6 a.m. Sunday morning in Malibu and have not let up yet. On Sunday night, looking down the coast of Santa Monica towards neighboring Malibu, all I could see along Pacific Coast Highway was a line of vehicles with flashing red lights. All you could hear was the back ground music of sirens filling the air. Although it was a beautiful sunset, with the pink cloudy glow surrounding the sun, you couldn't ignore the smell of smoke in the air and the brown haze that is everywhere.
I have lived in Southern California for many years and this is the most frightening fire season I have ever experienced. There are at least 13 major fires going simultaneously, including Malibu, Lake Arrowhead, Orange County and San Diego. They have evacuated 250,000 people from San Diego alone. Folks, this is a real disaster area.
I was excited when I saw this organic cotton at Michaels and immediately bought it to knit a shawl. Halfway through, I realize that it sheds like a husky in the summer time. It is so annoying to have specs of fluff all over and I can imagine how obvious it will be when I wear it with black. I don't know whether to finish or not. Hopefully it will be better if I wash it. Or else I can give it as a present to someone I don't particularly like!
I had to go to a meeting last night and I decided to make these bars that I had seen on a food blog. I can't believe that I have never made these before because they are so easy and are way better than chocolate chip cookies. Of course,you have to have an industrial strength sweet tooth to appreciate this, which I do. I think I am in love.
They went so fast, and I didn't hear one complaint or worry of causing clogged arteries. My friend who was just diagnosed with type 2 diabetes even had one. I haven't heard from him today, so I don't know if he is in a coma or not.
Anyway, here is the recipe. Make at your own risk. I'm warning you, these are sweet!
Hello Dolly Bars
1 1/2 cup crushed graham crackers 1/2 cup melted butter 1 12 oz package chocolate chips 1 12 oz package butterscotch chips 1 1/2 cup chopped pecans, or walnuts. I used both. 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into a 11x7" buttered pan. Next time I will put aluminum foil on the bottom and butter it, so they will be easier to get out. Layer the chips, nuts. coconut on top. Pour condensed milk on top and do not stir. Bake at 350º for 25-30 minutes.
I am happy to participate in Blog Action Day since the topic of Environment is near and dear to my heart. I have always been an environmentalist, and even in the age of Pampers, I raised two children using cloth diapers. I admit I did have Diaper Service, and never washed a diaper, but I feel that I did my part, by not polluting the earth with plastic diapers that take up to 500 years to decompose. Of course I lived in constant fear of stabbing my kids with a pin and the house never smelled quite right, but that was a small price to pay.
Now more than ever, I feel that everyone should take part in living green, no matter how small the effort. I have made a list of the things I can contribute to help the planet.
1. I already do the obvious, by using power saving light bulbs, washing my clothes in cold water with Cheer, driving less, walking more and turning off the lights when I leave a room.
2. Cry less, to save on Kleenex, and think about investing in handkerchiefs. What a concept - do they even make them anymore?
3. Stop buying bottled water every day. I seriously have a bottled water addiction and I read how plastic bottles are taking over the world. They are not as recycled as they lead us to believe, and they take up to 1000 years to decompose. I often wonder where bottled water comes from anyway and why does it cost more per ounce than gasoline for my car? My new thing is making my own herbal tea and refilling the Arizona Green Tea glass bottle which I love. I am not only saving the environment but saving a few bucks also. It's prettier to look at that than the plastic water bottle anyway.
4. No more plastic bags. I hate everything about plastic bags. They are too small, they make noise, and things fall out of them all over my car. It used to be that they asked you if you wanted plastic or paper, but now if you ask for paper, they throw a fit. You would think that I asked them to go out an kill me a fresh chicken with all inconvenience it causes. I want to participate in BYOB (bring your own cloth or canvas bag) but the problem is that I only go to the market once a week and I would need ten bags for all the groceries I buy. Maybe the next project I should work on is making my own fabric bags. If I start now, I may finish before they run out of paper bags.
5. Last but not least, I promise to work on reducing my carbon footprint along with my carbon assprint, in the near future.
I love to cook and most of the time I feel that I am pretty talented, but then I go to a restaurant like Mozza and realize that I will never be close to being a great cook. Granted, Nancy Silverman is one of the best in the world, but I realize what a talent it is to put ingredients together and having them be orgasmic. Not too many people can do that.
I don't claim to be a pizza aficionado, but I did spend a lot of time in Italy while my daughter went to school there and I admit I had pizza almost every day (while I'm being honest, I had gelato twice every day). This is better than any pizza I had in Italy. The crust is thin and crispy in a way that only a wood burning oven could produce. I love this restaurant and could eat here every day.
By chance, my daughter and I just happened to be in the area, and were surprised that they actually had two seats available at the pizza bar. This is one of the most popular restaurants in Los Angeles, and needless to say it is hard to get reservations at prime time. If you ever go there, I would recommend sitting at the pizza bar instead of the tables, because you get to see up close and personal, the camaraderie of the chefs while creating their masterpieces. It's like watching artists at work. Nancy Silverman was there, more behind the scene this time. It's reassuring to know that even though she opened another restaurant next door, she is still involved with this one. Bon Appetit.
Last Friday my daughter and I went to lunch in Hollywood and decided to go to the Arc Light theater to see a movie, no matter what was playing. The Arc Light is the hip, high tech, overpriced theater in the heart of Hollywood that is worth every penny of the inflated ticket price. The sound, seats, picture are all superior to any movie theater in LA. I didn't sample it, but I heard the popcorn even has REAL butter like it did three decades ago. I was thrilled that Michael Clayton was playing, not only because I love George Clooney, but because Cindy Adams said it should be illegal not to see this movie. Of course, I feel that way about An Inconvenient Truth, and now I guess the rest of the world agrees.
The theater was great - reserved seating, huge, comfortable seats like the kind you imagine movie executives have in their own private screening rooms, and cheap parking. There is a restaurant and even a gift shop in the lobby in case you felt you haven't been robbed, spent enough already.
The movie did not disappoint me, although at times I had flashbacks of being back in chemistry class trying to keep everything straight. If you see this movie, empty your bladder before you go in because if you miss one minute of it, you will never understand what is going on. It is not for the weak of mind. You have to concentrate on the dialogue and there are no love scenes or car chases to give your brain a break.
George Clooney was on David Letterman and eluded to the fact that the premise of the case was modeled after a certain auto manufacturer and the class action suit brought against them. All he would say, was that the car in question, is the name of a horse, after which Dave yelled out - PINTO!
The disadvantage of seeing a movie before it goes citywide, is that none of the people I know have seen it yet and I have no one to discuss it with. I am sure most of my friends will love it, and if they don't, well, they are no longer my friend. My daughter loved it even though she is an attorney, and it isn't real kind to attorneys. I highly recommend this movie, and I'm sure Al Gore does too.
Al Gore just won the Nobel Prize for his work to raise awareness about global warming. You have to hand it to him for re-channeling his energy into his passion, and making an impact on the whole world. It makes you wonder how different better the world would be right now if he were in the White House. Al Gore belongs to the whole planet now, I guess the presidency would be a step down.
Whether you are a Republican or Democrat, you have to realize that this planet is going to hell because of greed. The mighty dollar is more important than what we leave behind for our great-great grandchildren. Congratulations Al, this is one prize that Florida can't take away from you.
To all you mothers out there who feel that life is one big carpool line, a marathon of breaking up fights, wiping runny noses and butts, I have good news for you - they grow up, leave the nest, and become your friend. You not only love them, you actually like them.
You almost forget the days of wanting to tie your own tubes because your child wouldn't eat, poop, or go to sleep before your head exploded. All of a sudden you are hanging out with your young adult children and their friends who you have grown to love over the years.
This was an incredible weekend for me, as my daughter and her friends were in Pasadena for the Notre Dame - UCLA game at the Rose Bowl. My oldest daughter's in-laws had a gigantic tailgate party at their house which is near the Rose Bowl and it was an all day and night affair.
The best part was that Notre Dame finally won their first football game, and USC lost to Stanford. Needless to say, there was much celebrating, and there were so many people there, I didn't even have time to talk to their stepmother. Darn it.
My daughter came back to Los Angeles from Chicago for the weekend and I got to make another trip to LAX, the happiest place in town. Since I average about 60 trips to LAX annually, I have it down to a science and I didn't have to circle even ONCE. Not one police man yelled at me for lingering, and I pulled up just as she was getting to the sidewalk. I should put this talent to use and get a job with Super Shuttle.
As a typical Los Angeles native who lives in another part of the country, she isn't officially home, till we stop at In N Out.
It's October, and I guess that means summer is officially over. Of course it is 90º today in Los Angeles, but they promise it is going to drop 20º by tomorrow. I am getting the last of the roses before they have to be pruned, and time for fall flowers to be planted.
Hopefully October is productive for me as I have many plans I hope to implement and move on with my life. I hate being stuck in the great abyss. It's a lonely, frustrating place to be.