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Joan Rivers dies at 81

We all hoped Joan Rivers would pull through after she suffered cardiac arrest during a medical procedure on her vocal cords but it was not meant to be. She was a brilliant comedian. She had to be to break through all the barriers faced by women comics back in the 60s. By succeeding she paved the way for other women comics, including myself, but no only that, she was an incredibly kind and supportive entertainer.

I appeared on Hollywood Squares with her in 1988 when I was just starting out and she sat with me during a break, was so nice to me, and even gave me advice about writing. Then in 1990, I was a guest on her daytime talk show and again, she was gracious and just as kind to me again. When she did stand up, everyone talked about it. “Did you hear what Joan Rivers said? Can you believe what Joan Rivers said?” She was fearless. She pushed the envelope and that’s when she was at her best. She was always outrageous and we loved her for it. All the brilliant comics who had us falling down laughing were outrageous, just like Joan.

I am so sad for missing all the great things she still had to say and sad for her family dealing with this unexpected tragedy. Joan may have been 81 but she was full of life and just as funny as ever. Even when contemplating her own death, Joan has managed to make us laugh again. Here are Joan’s final wishes:

“When I die (and yes, Melissa, that day will come; and yes, Melissa, everything’s in your name), I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action…. I want Craft Services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene!

I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing Mr. Lonely.

I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyoncé’s.”

Rest in peace, Joan.

No botulism yet

Here is a conversation that took place last week at a popular local Italian deli/restaurant in Burbank.

Me: What’s your best imported Italian pizza sauce?

He: It’s Cento, in the cans right over there. It’s the best.

Me: I found the pizza sauce but all the cans are dented. I mean really dented, like somebody used them to play kickball. I don’t want to buy dented cans.

He: I don’t blame you. You can get really sick.

Me: Those cans are really mangled. Nobody is going to buy them.

He: That’s okay. If they don’t sell after about three months, they take them in the back and make marinara sauce for the restaurant.

Me: With the dented cans?!

He: We’ve been here over 40 years – nobody got sick yet.

Are you mocking me?

I don’t like this squirrel’s attitude. After investing money is a plastic hawk, it still wasn’t enough to scare off this mangy, rat-faced, no-good, low-life, beady-eyed, scum-sucking, apple-stealing squirrel. I placed the hawk there couple of weeks ago and apparently, it’s just an inconvenience. Now instead of running along the stone wall, the furry rodents have to detour around the bird and scale down the side to get to my apples.

Now I think he’s mocking me. What he doesn’t know is that last Sunday, four coyotes walked by the same spot. The hawk may be fake but those coyotes are real. And hungry. Instead of  sitting there watching the hawk’s back, you’d better watch your own. I saw a bobcat around too. “Here, kittty, kitty, kitty……”

Who needs fireworks?

Who needs fireworks when they have this in their backyard? I was so lucky to get this shot! I saw the mom and baby walk by and went out with my camera (like I always do when anything moves back there) and I started taking pictures. Then the baby saw me and took off but the mom stayed, probably because she’s more used to seeing me. I was about to go back in the house, assuming the mom would follow the baby but then I saw the baby walking back to the mom. I still didn’t know what was coming. I was just prepared to take some photos of them together.

And then THIS happened! Wow! It was lunch time, baby! I was so excited to be a spectator at this beautiful event, I could hardly hold the camera still. What a joy that they came to our house today. Tomorrow’s 4th of July fireworks will never compare.

They sang for my birthday

We celebrated my birthday last night at the Greek Theater in Griffith Park to see A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor. It was a great night sitting outside under the stars watching a little bit of Americana. Where else can you go and watch a radio show? It’s so well done with the most amazing sound effects guy, great music, humor, and then… the coyotes.

It was unbelievable! The theater is outside surrounded by wilderness and wildlife and right in the middle of the show, a pack of coyotes started howling right behind us. At first it sounded like part of the show coming through the speakers but it quickly become clear what it was. I’m guessing it was a large pack because they made a lot of noise for quite a while. The show stopped and Garrison asked the audience, “What was that?” We all answered back, “Coyotes!” It’s a familiar sound to most locals, that squealing and howling they do – but it was beautiful music to me. It’s what I occasionally hear in my own backyard (those are the times I don’t go out to see what’s going on!)

What a memorable evening this was. A night out at the Greek and coyotes who sang for my birthday.

How about a “thank you?”

Thanks to the mangy, rat-faced, no-good, low-life, beady-eyed, scum-sucking, apple-stealing squirrel, I was forced to cover my entire apple tree with netting if I ever hoped to make my apple pie bars with my own apples. The tree is about six feet tall and we covered it 2 weeks ago. It’s been keeping the rodents and the birds away but yesterday, I kept hearing a noise inside the netting that sounded like a bee. No problem. But the sound became louder and it couldn’t be a bee, especially at dusk. Denis and I went to look and it was a hummingbird!

He must have flown through a small opening and now was trying desperately to get out. He would fly wildly around (there isn’t much room inside with all the leaves and branches), grab onto the net to rest, and then fly again. The opening must have been near the bottom but he kept trying to get out at the top or sides. At one point, he was able to stick his face out at the top and I thought he’d be small enough to poke through, but couldn’t.

So Denis and I went to work. I cut a big opening in the netting at the side where there weren’t as many leaves and Denis tried to guide him to the opening, but he wouldn’t come over. It was starting to get dark and we had to try something else. By now the scared little bird saw the top as his only escape. So Denis went and got a ladder to reach the top of the tree and cut a hole in the top.

We were prepared to take down all the netting if we had to but as soon as Denis stepped away, the bird found the opening and flew out… gone in a split second, never stopping to say “thank you.” No high five. No fly by. Oh well. It felt good to do the right thing but they don’t appreciate us. Maybe it’s time for their favorite feeder to get a visit… from my plastic snake. Then I can pretend to wrestle the snake away as it tries to choke me, and I finally subdue the scary snake and they get their feeder back. Maybe then we’ll get a “thank you.”

Throw me a warthog

When I heard our zoo got two new lions, I couldn’t wait to go and see. Denis and I went last week and there they were… asleep. I wanted to take a picture but they wouldn’t move. I tried to explain to the lions that I drove a long way to come and see them and the least they could do is wake up. A bunch of other people were standing by with cameras just like me, but the lazy lions wouldn’t give us the time of day.

Still, I refused to leave. Good things take time and finally, the male started making low growling noises and I expected him to start moving around. All he did was yawn and go back to sleep. I think it was a yawn. Maybe he was hoping someone would throw a snack in there… like a club sandwich, or a couple of warthogs.

I’m still mad

Have you ever been mad at somebody for so long, you forgot why you’re mad? That’s me. And I’m still mad. Why can’t I let it go… that thing that I don’t even remember? It’s been two weeks! What’s my problem?

Too many earthquakes

Last week we had a 4.4 earthquake and it was really strong, probably because the epicenter was just down the street from us. We had broken glass and pictures and one of a beautiful pair of pineapple candle holders broke apart. The shattered glass was also a reflection of my nerves that day.

Then today, we had FOUR earthquakes, starting around 8 p.m. The biggest one was a magnitude 5.3 and it was a rolling quake, not nearly as bad as last week. They always tell us on the news that an earthquake can also be a precursor to a larger quake to follow. So far, a larger one has not followed but we have had 30 aftershocks. Luckily, we did not feel the aftershocks.

A lot of people are on edge, including me. A truck just drove by and I thought it was another quake. Or maybe I’m just dizzy from the glass of wine I had trying to calm down.

UPDATE – Midnight, March 30th: We felt another earthquake this afternoon and I just watched the news. We’ve had over 130 aftershocks. Luckily, we did not feel most of them. But still….

It’s not two snakes

We fill the hummingbird feeders constantly and don’t give it much thought. We go out, take the feeder off the hook, bring it in, wash and fill it with fresh sugar water and put it back. And we’re usually looking down on the ground because it’s rattlesnake season, not to step on a snake. But we never expected this….

OMG!! We didn’t know what to do. Leave it there? Knock it down? Try to pick it up with a stick? I posted this photo on facebook and someone thought it was two snakes. It wasn’t two snakes – it was one four-foot-long snake! Be it wasn’t a rattlesnake so we decided it was safe to watch him for a while and he didn’t seem annoyed with all the attention. He wasn’t after the sugar water – he was just hanging out. When I say “hanging out” I mean that literally. After a few minutes he started weaving in and out of the loops on the feeder.

Even though we enjoyed the show, our hummingbirds, on the other hand, were not happy. You have to understand they are spoiled, unappreciative little flying brats who take us and their free food for granted. Sometimes they scare us more than the snakes because they zoom at our heads going 40 miles per hour. I think they get a kick out of watching us duck so it did my heart good to see them inconvenienced by a snake.

The birds keeps swooping towards the feeder only to be  stopped midair in their tracks every time. I think this bird was saying, “Whoa! Maybe I’ll come back later – when those snakes are gone!”