Del Boca Vista vs. mid-century modern

In May, Martin and I met my mother, Uncle Joe and cousin Ali in Palm Springs. It was the perfect combination of poolside lounging, eating, hiking, tennis playing, scoping out real estate of the rich and famous, visiting art galleries, hiking and riding around under the beaming sun, top-down in Joe’s convertible.

(There was also a now-classic line from my mother. Driving by the massive wind farm outside of Palm Springs, she asked, “What makes them spin?” and then wondered if they were solar powered.)

But one of my favorite parts of the trip was finally getting to see Joe’s condo, which is by far the most fabulous condo in the history of fabulous condos. He bought it 5 or 6 years ago, gutted the whole thing (minus the fireplace) and rebuilt it with bold, bright mid-century colors and modern concrete floors throughout.

OK. So you know how you always want to see before-and-after-photos? (C’mon. You do. Everyone does.) Well, staying with Joe was like a real-life before-and-after. Martin and I crashed at a condo two doors down, which belongs to an old lady who now lives in a nursing home. The two units had the exact same layout and the exact same fireplace. Aside from that, they could not have been any more different.

It was like mid-century modern meets Del Boca Vista. Behold:

And a few shots from the trip:


Our mothers do so much for us


Two minutes after Martin’s mother dropped us off at the airport in Omaha, Martin realized he’d left his wallet (and his ID) at her house.

He called her and shortly thereafter she was zooming her way back home, a good 20-minute drive from the airport, to locate the wallet and bring it back to us. We checked my bag and printed our boarding passes and nervously kept our eye on the clock. We had only so much time before our flight.

Forty minutes later, she was back, and we zipped our way through security with plenty of time to board. In all, she’d spent one hour and twenty minutes that day driving to and from the airport.

“Our mothers do so much for us,” Martin said to me.


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Mydogischelsea’s mother visits Portland

We’ve been crazy busy at work lately and it’s putting a damper on my ability to blog during lunch. Mostly I just have to work during lunch.

Anyway, my mother was here for a brief but awesome visit this past weekend. Two funny highlights:

  • At one restaurant, my mother ordered her signature drink, a vodka martini straight up. She gave me one of her olives; I asked her where she had deposited her pit. “In that ramikan for the pits,” she said, pointing to a small white dish. “That’s the SALT!” I exclaimed and laughed until tears came to my eyes. “It’s white! I didn’t see anything in there! I thought it was empty!” she explained. And then: “Do NOT blog this.”
  • My mother: “You have more gray hair than I do.” [She dyes hers.]

It was great to see her, as always. We went hiking, shopping, eating and more eating. I ate more incredibly awesome food in three days than I had in a long time. (Her review of Higgins: “Fantastic; NYC-restaurant calibur.” Pok Pok: “Can we eat lunch here tomorrow?” Lovely Hula Hands: She ordered dessert. She NEVER does that.)

Also, she cleaned the dust bunnies on my ceiling.

Extremely urgent

Yesterday I received a “priority overnight” FedEx package from my mother. Printed on the envelope were the words “Extremely Urgent”:

What could it be? I wondered. Important documents that required my signature? Something scary, like a will? Or, perhaps I’d never actually paid that parking ticket I got 9 years ago while borrowing my mother’s car, and it was coming back to haunt me with a vengeance?

Turns out, it was none of the above. Inside were two pairs of lace underwear.

As a Twitter follower (and reader of this blog) put it: “Either you told her your laundry got eaten by a washer, or your mom has a wicked sense of humor.”

It’s definitely not the former, and I doubt it’s the latter—her sense of humor isn’t that intentional. In reality, she was probably underwear shopping for herself and decided to get something for me while she was at it. Then, she sent it from work, where the only FedEx envelopes they have are the ones designed to arrive the next day.

That, or she’s hinting not-so-subtly at the fact that I’m running out of time to get married and produce grandchildren.

Family vacations always lend themselves to stories

My mother complained at the dinner table during the Family Vacation that my blog has an entire section dedicated to making fun of her. While this is somewhat true (there is indeed a category called “My mother”), my intention is not at all to make fun of her. Except sometimes.

She is a wonderful woman—smart, strong, resilient. She’s dealt with more incredible strokes of bad luck in one lifetime than any human being should ever have to endure—and she’s done so with grace, determination and infallible bravery. The older I get, the more and more I appreciate who she is (side note: perhaps not surprisingly, this corresponds directly to the rate at which I become more and more like her).

So, I am saying this for all of the blogosphere to know: I love my mother dearly, even when she nags me about dating a man with tattoos on his arms or about giving her grandkids (not with Tattoo Man, though, unless he gets the tattoos removed, do you think he’d ever consider that, Laura?) or about buying a house or whatever else adult thing I should be doing but am not.

That said:

We watched the Oscars together as a family. Since most of us save for my fabulous Uncle Joe had not seen any of the nominated movies, commentary revolved around outfits, Joaquin Phoenix (“But why did he go on Letterman like that?” my mother demanded), quality of acceptance speeches (“Thank your f-ing wife, you bastard!” my uncle yelled), and how awkward it must’ve been for Jennifer Aniston to do her schtick with Brangelina sitting so close to the stage.

Then, of course, there was the whole “is that movie worth seeing?” topic, and my mother’s report was that she had read the Reader and didn’t like it, but that she’d heard the movie version has more sex in it so it might be better, and that Slumdog Millionaire was great and definitely worth seeing.

She then proceeded to give us a plot synopsis of Slumdog. And by plot synopsis, I mean she revealed the entire movie. It went somewhat like this:

“It’s about a kid from the slums who goes on a game show to win money so he can win over a rich girl. So he—”

“Don’t tell us what happens,” I said.

“I won’t. So he [insert entire middle of the movie here] and then at the end he [insert ending here].”

“Mother! You just told us what happens!”

“It’s still worth seeing!”

So sometimes I do use this space to make fun of her. But I love her nonetheless.

A classic conversation with my mother

I called my mother today to figure out what days work best for me to come home for the holidays. She answered her phone during a meeting:

Mother: Hello?

[Chattering in the background ensues.]

MDIC: Hi, are you in a meeting?

Mother: Yes.

MDIC: Can you call me when you’re done? I want to talk to you about my trip home before I book my flight.

Mother: Oh, okay, I can’t talk about that right now, I’m in a meeting. I’ll call you later.

MDIC: Okay, bye.

Mother: Wait, Laura? Are you still there?

MDIC: Yes?

Mother: Can you do me a favor? I heard the guy from Cook’s Illustrated on the radio the other day and he was talking about this cheese ball that sounded really delicious. Can you do a search and find that recipe? It was on NPR. A cheese ball that you can serve as an appetizer for the holidays. Like, a cheese ball. Sounded delicious. Search on Cook’s Illustrated for “cheese ball.”

MDIC: Uh, okay, a cheese ball. I’ll find it.

Mother: I gotta run, I’m in a meeting.

Good thing her coworkers were busy arguing in the background or they would’ve wondered why on Earth my mother was on her cell phone repeating the word “cheese ball.”

In case you’re interested in making this illustrious cheese ball, I found it on the NPR website. Scroll down towards the bottom.

I can’t say it looks particularly appetizing, but hey. You never know.

Because nothing ever happens without an escapade

I flew to New York City on Friday for my mother’s surprise 60th birthday. She no idea I was going to be in town, let alone there to throw her a party. We managed to pull the thing off without her finding out, but there were a few roadblocks along the way:

Friday, Oct. 10. 4:30 am. Joni Mitchell blasted through my alarm clock and I snoozed her more times than I remember. I eventually stumbled out of bed, fed the dog, let her out and made coffee. Then, you know, I did some dishes, scrubbed the stove’s surface, tossed some old leftovers. Because obviously I had time to kill and why not clean the kitchen before dawn? When it finally occurred to me that I should look at a clock, it was already 5:23 am. I needed to leave for the airport in 7 minutes, and I was still wearing my pajamas. Total running cost: $0, not including gas.

6:05 am. “You can still catch your flight if you run to the gate, but that means you can’t check anything and your suitcase is pretty huge.” I’ll say. Calla could’ve fit inside my suitcase with room to do laps. It was the replacement suitcase that Delta gave me after their conveyor belts/jaws of death shredded my last one to a pulp. My smaller carry-on suitcase had a broken zipper and so I was stuck dragging Australia-on-Wheels to New York. Total running cost: $57.30, including $5 to store Australia, $50 to book a later flight and $2.30 to take the MAX back home.

10:55 am. For a mere $2.25 (the bus drivers in Portland never pay attention to how much you actually put in there—in New York you’ll get kicked off before anyone overlooks the missing nickel), I hopped on the #4 on my way back to the airport. Thirty seconds later, my friend Greg called to say he could drive me to the airport for the second time today. Total running cost: $59.55, not including gas.

12:30 pm. I boarded my flight to Salt Lake. I slept through most of it and there really is nothing to report here. The layover there was short, and I quickly hopped aboard the flight to JFK. Also fairly uneventful, other than the fact that it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month aboard Delta, and after charging me I-don’t-even-want-to-tell-you-how-much for a flight, they continued to interrupt the movie to ask for donations. At the risk of sounding like Scrooge, I have to say that I prefer to choose to donate on my own time and not after I’ve paid $15 for a beer and a “meal” that only half fills me up, all the while soaring in a tin can through the atmosphere. Total running cost: $74.55.

11:15 pm. At long last, I arrived in New York. At that hour, it seemed, every flight in the airport shared the same baggage claim carousel. My New York instincts immediately shifted into gear, and I grabbed Australia-on-Wheels and navigated through the crowd of tourists on cell phones and gypsy cabbies to the taxi stand outside. I nearly ran over the woman in front of me and briefly felt bad about it, but then my inner New Yorker reminded me that it was her fault for stopping abruptly anyway. Total running cost: $134.55, including tolls and tip.

12:30 am. Home sweet home! I wheeled Australia down the steps and up to the door of my mother’s apartment building. I’d arranged with her boyfriend, John, to have her stay at his place that night so that I could safely sneak in without her knowing. That’s when I discovered the slight hitch to that clever plan: THE LOCKS HAD BEEN CHANGED—my keys no longer worked. I called my friend, Rachel, who was supposed to be staying with me, and told her that we needed a backup plan. Total running cost: $144.55, including tip.

1:00 am. A quick crosstown cab ride later, I arrived at my friend Bev’s house, who with John and myself helped plan the big shindig, and Rachel arrived 15 minutes later. The three of us were giddy from lack of sleep and stayed up late laughing about the impossibility of the situation and scheming ways to rectify it. The plates and silverware were to be delivered between 8 and 11 the next morning. Obviously we needed a key. Where we’d find one remained to be seen. Total: $154.55, not including the cost of late night electricity.

… to be continued.