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2024 has been one wacky year. We have a president who can't think or walk, we have one in the running who is a scary dude and convicted of who knows, and lots of garbage like abortion rights, and women's sports being snatched away from us. We have Antisemitism on the rise, and heck, accepted and promoted, by the so called elite intellectual bastions, who are supposed to be oh so enlightened. We are judging and grouping and segregating people, we are allowing the government to have control over every aspect of our lives (Smart cars? Smart TVS? Spy much?) We have coddled imploding young adults, who refuse to grow up, and whine too much and won't work or get their hands dirty. We have gated communities to keep the unwashed masses at bay, and we have a two tiered system of education and of justice. We have criminals emptying our stores, rioters in the streets and campuses, and ...wait.

We have coffee, and nice beds, and TV, and goldfish and guppies. We have 2 kids that are insane but totally responsible and kind and honest. We have cars and a house, and education. We have vacations, flowers in our yard, and vegetables in our garden. We look at the woodpeckers, and the fireflies at night. We get sand in our toes and our bed, down the shore. We flip burgers on the grill.

I don't know about you, but I am going to try to take pleasure where i can find it and stop watching the news. Good night.

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Updated: Jun 3

Just keep swimming....just keep swimming....I drove to Baltimore, my hoopdie deluxe packed to the gills with all kinds of baubles and bangles from my studio, rattling around as I navigated around potholes the size of a dinner plate. Ding dong drivers, stoned wackadoodledoos, old people all squinty when they should have pulled their licenses at 90, oh, the usual fruit basket. White knuckling and praying to all that is holy that I get from point A to point B without losing body parts or my mind. Finally, I got to the convention center, which is your typical cement behemoth, plopped unceremoniously in the middle of an ancient part of town before there were regulations I suppose.

The union guys were all decked out in their Kevlar finery and looking like shepherds from Mars, gently guided us artists, in various vans, crammed hatchbacks, rented U-Haul's, and dented trailers, into the bowels of the hall. I parked, saw some familiar faces, waved, hugged, and dragged all my crap to my booth space. I checked in at the desk, and not seeing our signage, nor anything resembling a welcome basket of snacks and water, usually given to me at other shows.

This show, The American Craft Show, which no one calls it, is known as the ACC Baltimore, put on by the American Craft Council, an old outfit out of St. Paul, MN. Our usual coterie of well fed hotdish middle aged gals, were no longer there. In their places, were um, "young" people, none of whom I knew, and most of them burying their noses in their phones. Welp, such is life. I kind of missed the long winded yap from the old promoters, warning of this and that, and handing us packets with a smile. Midwestern Nice, I guess, flew away, for cheaper versions.

After my ride and schlep, I had to survive the ordeal of setting up an entire jewelry booth, complete with curtains, lighting, this monster Abstracta setup which is like tinker toys designed by some sadistic Swiss perfectionist, and then attempt to make the whole thing inviting to potential customers. Not. Easy. Plus I was running on caffeine and not much sleep. I broke out in some stress related rash, and that was super fun. But plod on I must.

I got the shebang up and running, more or less, then ran outside to meet my pals, real honest to goodness Baltimorons (affectionately said, please), and we headed out to our favorite authentic Greek feedbag, Samos, in, of course, Greektown. Which is half Hispanic these days, Latineek? Leek? Gratino?

We got seated in the super casual place, greeted by a surlyish yet friendlyish and largish waitress who has been part of the place as old as the wallpaper pealing from the bathroom walls. Nothing ever changed, and I guess she likes her job enough. We ate tasty Greek food, my fave, and yes, I know how to pronounce everything as I grew up with Greeks, and kind of picked up the lingo slightly. On of the pals at the table is my friend who no longer does craft shows, nor wholesale shows, but has become the Baltimore queen of farmers markets. Her husband is an old time guy in the catering world and knows probably every single person in Baltimore, and tells me all the gossip of people I don't know nor will never meet, but it is interesting nonetheless. We chowed down and they dropped me off at my hotel. Before I left, they warned me that Baltimore was quite crazy at night with all kinds of riffraff. I guess the police have been defunded to the point that they would rather hang out at donut shops instead of rounding up the merrymakers and pranksters that poison the cities today for nice orderly law abiding folks like myself, the epitome of the what they love to hate.

The good news is they care, the bad news, is that once I have been warned, I am always looking around the corner, hustling out of the way of the homeless that are all over the shopping areas, and decided that it was not worth the risk, since, ya know, I had to return home in one piece. Paranoia Big Destroya, as Ray Davies of the Kinks wisely crooned.

The show went on without incident, and I enjoyed going to a real Baltimore Red Sauce dive of a restaurant in Little Italy, whose name escapes, me, with my show pals. I know what to do there, you go to the bar, Covid be damned, and you are cheek to tush with all of the patrons. Sensing my needs, the barkeep gave me a nifty glass of red, and I shared with my pals. Then we were shown to our table in the back. I had to introduce the gang on the joys of the red sauce joints: one sacred covenant: always order the garlic bread. Always order the Caesar Salad, and then go to town. Calories be damned too.

After lots of sales, lots of rest, and lots of feedbags, I was ready to return home. It was late, and I HATE driving with all the drunks on the road, racing up 95, having to haul Axx through 3 cities. So, smartypants that I am, I get the hell out of Baltimore and get to some dull suburban place with a Hampton Inn, and do Priceline and keep my sanity and life intact. I packed up my crapola, and ran to get my car praying that I would not get mugged in doing so. Baltimore in the evening can get kind of unsafe, so I hoofed it and skeedadled over to the car line. They are slow as mollasses, so I get on the line, put the emergency blinkers on and relax with some water, and slow release breathing. This was short lived, because a bunch of wilding teens jumped OVER my car, and ran right into oncoming traffic, screaming and yelling and having a ball. They were within a hairs' breadth of becoming a puddle on the blacktop. Then they double dog dared each other to go again and again. Thank dog I was finally let into the convention center, where I somehow got all my crap in the car, and boogied to the boring wastelands north of the city for a relaxing night. My lifestyle is not for the faint of heart.

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Updated: Jun 3

Sometimes, we get gifts plunked in out laps when we least expect it. Well, the fact that my father was not well enough to travel 3000 miles away on a bumpy airplane ride was not the gift. However, he and mom could not get out of a lease on a condo they had rented , so we took over part of it. They were grateful that we were able to use the place they rented, to get out of the cold brr and ice of Pennsylvania. We were grateful to have a spot in the sun, as unexpected as this gift was. Our kids were jealous, but as I told them, we paid our dues for 19 years, and now it was our turn to go live life and have fun. We really worked hard to shovel our kids into college, right? So away we flew.

Our destination was Palm Springs, California. I am a seasoned mellow traveler. Hubby, not so much. However, without him, I'd probably forget my purse, my glasses, my money, etc. So we make a great team. We got to the airport in Philthy, which is true to its name, then off we went to our first stop: Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the land of pretty, sporty people, and Mormons with straight white teeth. Everyone was smiley and why not, they are surrounded by gorgeous mountains and ski to breakfast I suppose. They are looked too healthy and everyone seemed to favor hiking boots and knit beanies. I sashayed through in my black puffy Calvin Klein coat, and clogs. I just read NYC, what can I say. Got a coffee, and then bingo! we were delayed 4 hours. Maybe it had something to do with getting their teeth whitened.

Finally, we got onto our next leg and flew to Palm Springs. I felt so uber glam, getting off the plane onto the tarmac, the 70 degree heat thawing my bones and my face sponging up the Vitamin D. And the palm trees swaying in the breeze as you march over past the hideous bust of Sonny Bono and collect the luggage and rent the cars. They are very smiley in Palm Springs. Their accents are super cute and they were thrilled that we were there renting a car. "Does everyone enjoy their jobs here?" i thought. The answer is yes.

We drove our behemoth SUV to the gated communities of Palm Desert, which are basically suburban sprawl California Style. I think the middle aged me likes the safety and carefree lifestyle there. The gas and the groceries are horribly expensive, but we still managed to have a great time despite our wallet becoming lighter. We ran to Trader Joes, got some overpriced organic crap, and some ready made dinners, and plopped ourselves into the arms of our landlord, who stopped into make sure we were alive. And let us in! No names, but he is a script writer for many reality shows in Hollywood, and of course did we hit it off. He was so cool that we decided to have breakfast with him and yap about the area etc.

We went to a cute Belgian Spot called, Si Bon, and of course, I ordered the "wrong" thing. StillI, I did not care, and I was just dealing with the time change, or so I thought. I was not feeling well. Then I was sick with RSV for about 2 weeks, coughing my lungs out, and having to go to a walk in clinic. Not a great start to it all, but I used the time to get my book together, and feed our ducks, who I accidently trained to love Cheerios, and catch them mid air. Apparently, I can train animals too. Hubby loved this. He was thrilled to have me by his side, and was very understanding. For our first stop we went to Shield's Date Farm, for date shakes, a movie entitled (I kid you not) " The Sex Life of The Date", and of course the bible park in back, with a café and statues of Jesus and his pals, frozen in plaster, in situ acting out carious scenes from the New Testament. I walked through all of the flora and fauna, fish, birds, citrus trees (which came with a stern warning that we might be arrested for picking the fruit! How biblical!) All whilst noisily slurping a coffee pre date shake.

I dragged myself out of bed to enjoy the nearby Desert Swap Meet, which is sort of like a flea market with new merch and food trucks. Many of the trucks looked less than appetizing, but I did manage to wait for a very long time for some meh tacos. Half of Winnipeg was there, sitting in chairs, sipping on date shakes, and just looking really really old. It is a thing for Midwestern Canooks to drive down to PS. You see all the plates with "Friendly Manitoba," Alberta, and tons of Saskatchewan folks, all bearing down the gas pedal to escape the frigid Great white North. Look. If you don't want to be a shut in, or having your hip replaced from a fall, or dealing with crippling arthritic joints, you MUST leave. Hence why I was looking at half of the population with walkers and canes. These are are the golden years I suppose. Personally, I would decorate my walker with stick on jewels and a mickey mouse bell, ya know, just cuz.

Still feeling like xxt, Bruce took me to Handel's ice cream stand, which supplied us with 4 kids of ice cream in a plastic tray, and I literally worked on that for the month. He ordered a pizza from Stuft, which was the best pizza have EVER eaten. My scale was losing its mind. I think my husband is actually a Jewish mother in disguise.

I was born in California, but left as a tot. It is like the Salmon coming home to spawn or something. I always feel so at home in CA. The people, the environments, the weirdness of it all, somehow feels right. Hubby was up for an adventure, so we went out to the desert, to a place called Salvation Mountain, plus hit the hot spot of East Jesus, and wandered around the art, the installations, the prep for Burning Man festivals, and the really strange abandoned (sort of) accidental lake of the Salton Sea, in all its toxic scary glory. We met Wizard, keeper of all thing wacky at Slab City, and walked around the abandoned cars, TV towers, and general Sxxt nailed together in the name of art.

We also managed to make it to Joshua Tree, another bucket list thing, and took an actual real hike post Hip Replacement, and nearly killed myself doing it. I managed to enjoy some serious exercise, saw some crazy plants and bizarre boulders right out of the Flintstones, and then topped it off with real Mexican food at my fave place called, strangely enough, Salsa's, which is right when you come into Palm Springs off 111.

We did manage to go to Palm Springs, but I was not impressed. It is lots of retro stuff crammed into a downtown that resembles a midwestern mall, coupled with gawkers and Times Square. Throw in some drag queens on open air buses giving tours and there you have it. Yawn. We skedaddled out of there after having a glorious birthday dinner courtesy of my folks, at Le Valois. Yes, the ritzy titzy folks were there in all their straw hatted glory, and us. The pear with roquefort is to die for. I was also halfway into a bottle of champagne, which is free. I happily wobbled to the car.

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