Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Dinner With 12 Strangers: A Feast for Friends

The guys may have won at Charades, but the girls won the wine drawing....
What's more fun than a barrel of monkeys? A gathering of UCLA Bruin alums at a Dinner for Twelve Stranger, hosted in Newport Beach by Joan Kelley Lutz, former librarian and present traveler.

Last night we dined on lasagna, salad, hot bread and chocolaty desserts, and sipped a variety of wines. Our wine sampling experience was enhanced by the presence of Richard Proctor, a geology professor who has been a taster for Trader Joe's. No, nobody brought Two Buck Chuck, but a lot of wineries other than Charles Shaw were represented. So many, in fact, that at the end of the evening, Joan had us each put our name in a bowl, and we drew for the six remaining bottles of wine. I'm fortunate enough to have picked out a bottle of Six Grapes Reserve Port.

After supper we played Charades, movies and television shows, guys against girls. Joan kept a timer, and at the close of the game reported that the fellows were nearly a full minute faster on their guessing than the ladies.

The evening's discussion ranged from how to recruit students who can meet the grade point average requirements and tuition costs of a public university to whether tunnels really run beneath the Westwood campus. I'd long heard the story of the urban labyrinth but had suspected it was an urban legend. Not so! The tunnels exist. Have you ever wondered where the card catalog shelves from the old Dewey Decimal system used by campus libraries are stored? And theater props, including alcohol bottles? Down there; that's where! And we all want to go on a tunnel crawl!

Here's a link to a tour of the tunnels:

UCLA’s underground tunnel system, site of late-night forays by adventurous students and a subject of campus folklore, plays an important role in keeping the university running smoothly behind the scenes. The tunnel system transports steam created by a co-generation plant near Ronald Reagan Medical Center around campus, houses communications and chilled water transportation systems and accesses the underground portions of several campus buildings. Official tours of the underground tunnels can be arranged with Leroy Sisneros, UCLA Facilities Management’s Director of Maintenance and Alterations. Those touring the tunnels should wear closed-toed shoes and be advised that the tunnels are very narrow and hot in some places.
Hostess Joan Lutz, seated far left, with her 12 "Strangers."  --Photo, Mandy Low

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In and Out of Hot Water

The view from my balcony at H-W Senior Living (photo by Jane Conn)

One of the selling points when I signed the lease on my apartment here in Westminster, CA, last autumn was the luxury of a year-round heated swimming pool. I'd noticed a water aerobics class on the newsletter calendar, and vowed to take it up. Sure, I wouldn't be imitating Esther Williams, the mermaid of MGM spectaculars in the forties. I'd done that in my preadolescence, trotting to Los Angeles's Harvard Playground's pool on chilly mornings to take advantage of free water ballet lessons on summer Saturdays. Now, in the envisioned comfort of balmy winter mornings, I'd be popping in for lessons a couple of mornings a week. Barring rain, of course, but we all know it never rains in California.

But guess what? It did this past weekend, blanketing the nearby San Gabriel mountains with snow and providing a chance for Huntington Beach surfers to dodge the waves while flailing off hail and snow. For the first time since moving here, I've had to turn up the thermostat in my tiny apartment.

All this, of course, will explain why I skipped class this morning. I've shoveled snow when the thermometer barely inched toward double digits. But somehow the prospect of bouncing up and down to Fleetwood Mac while halfway immersed in lukewarm waters in 45 degree weather couldn't coax me out of my robe and into my tankini this morning.

So instead I browsed some websites, seeking possible venues for submitting a story I intend to write this week...a love story! And I found one. For those of you who are venturing into fiction for the first time, check out this publisher:

I'm hoping to turn out a romantic morsel and share it with the Poets and Dreamers Writing Group in Orange this next Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, with luck and a return to normal temperatures, I'll be wiggling and jiving in the pool once again.

 Writing updates:

Blue Lobster Press will release Only Trollops Shave Above the Knee in late April, just in time for Mother's Day. This collection, with the theme of  "Lessons We've Learned from Our Mothers," will include my story, "Mama Hankered for Hankies."

Yesterday I finished and submitted a story to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions, with hopes that it will be a contender.

Wild Dreams!
I'm committed to making a stab at contributing a love story worthy of seeing print...and have a possible publication lined up.
Wild Dreams!