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OMGG, HASF, OMGD!

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You may be wondering what all those clueless letters above could actually mean. You may think that I’ve totally lost my mind. But you would be SO wrong. I’ve really had my mind blown. Remember last post where I promised to reveal the event that the hubby and I attended involving glitz and bling? It was just the beginning of one verrrry long, strange trip.
Now everyone get ready, steady, stay calm and & let’s party on!
OMGG

Oh My GaGa! Could I mean the FABULOUS Lady GaGa and Tony Bennett performance held near the end of May in the San Francisco Bay Area? Oh yeah. The venue for this awesome concert was the Concord Pavilion in (where else?) beautiful Concord, California. It was our first visit (hubby surprised me with the tickets) to this magical setting high in the golden, parched hills above the suburban city of Concord. Tony Bennett is one hip dude. In fact, this swinging, singing sensation will soon reach the age of ninety. His singing pipes haven’t “rusted” at all. The man’s stamina is amazing. He’s on a World tour with Lady GaGa: How does he do it? All those ooh, la, la costumes GaGa slips on may be recharging his spark plugs!
Whether good karma or not, he remains an Italian stallion.

We previously saw Tony maybe 10 years ago on my birthday. It was another outdoor venue in Mountain View, California, the scene of many a “Dead” concert. This was an annual benefit for the school that singer Neal Young’s son attended. It’s an all-acoustic gig. Tony was there with Paul McCartney among the cast of performers, and he and Sir Paul sang together. How exciting was that?

There was a wee problem at this show: We could not score any seats and had to settle for lawn “seating.” Yeah, they usually will rent you a low chair for the event, for an extra fee of course. However, the ground was saturated from two days of rain (no drought then), and it was way too muddy for chairs. So the hubby and I sat on black plastic bags provided by the couple next to us.
And you know what happened next?
As the concert progressed, rain began to steadily fall and we soon began to slide down the hill! (I was hoping that I would “slide” into Paul McCartney’s arms, but no such luck.) We were “saved” by somebody who stepped on the bags, man.
But I needed more Tony, so was happy to see him perform again.

No way could I compete with Lady GaGa in the glamour, glitz and bling department. She has the hot bod and the bucks to dress to impress. I just wanted to look somewhat festive and wasn’t sure if my outfit was GaGa-ish or kinda Katy Perry. I just bought some new shades to complete my ensemble (hahaha). The concert was awesome. Man, can the two of then sing. Who would have believed that Tony & the Lady would be so groovy together?

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In early June we made our annual trek to Mecca- (heh heh, I mean San Francisco) for the Haight/Ashbury Street Fair. Fairgoers look forward to seeing us every year. (I wanna believe that, I really DO.) Car parking is becoming scarce as more people with megamoola move into the increasingly expensive City-by-the Bay. A lot of less affluent people are crowding into tiny apartments and even tinier spots to park their cars. Saw quite a few “smart” cars on the roads. Don’t even think about getting an over-sized vehicle or (God forbid, and I bet the Almighty does) buying a Hummer. You will NEVER be able to find a space for it. If you do happen upon one, and it happens to be free, puleeeze give me a call. We have a mini van we use when we have visitors, and they wanna see the City, man.

I pleaded with my Parking Angel to guide the Mini Cooper into a heavenly space. She did. Amen to that, my wind-up winged friend. Yeah, I sought her help for our annual pilgrimage to Haight Street, where we like to celebrate what remains of the Summer of Love. A genuine hippie or two can still be spotted…at least when I’m in town!

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I may not have worn the most glam threads to the concert in Concord, but I believe I looked way groovy for the Fair. At least many people said I did. You didn’t lie, did you? You don’t want any bad karma, do you? My terrapin-topped hubby and I didn’t see the trippy, tie-dye couple from last year when we arrived, didn’t see our Deadhead friend Annie, either. (A lot of people have left the Bay Area because of high rents and lowered paychecks and I hope Annie isn’t one of them.)

We did get there pretty early (for Henry, it was really early), and no-one had asked to take our photo for quite some time. Then it happened: We were asked to pose for a photo and then the pepperrazzi (like Sgt. Pepper, man) swarmed around us with a plethora of photo devises- some even looked like cameras. Imagine that.

Well, I thought I might be imagining the tie-dye tornado that nearly knocked us off our feet while we posed for fan photos next to a local food charity booth. (We really act as international ambassadors for the City of San Francisco, although they don’t know it. We happily chatted with visitors from London/Birmingham, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Canada (eh?), South Africa, Brazil and Germany, just to name a few!) The tie-dyers recognized us, how could they not? They also upped their game from last year. They also go in their quasi hippie get-up to the “How Weird Fair” in S.F. every year. I don’t think that dressing in tie-dye is weird, however. Wearing glorious color is just who I am, man.

Finally we knew they were NOT the hippie skeletons seated in the totally groovy motorbike/cycle parked at Jerry Day last August. Whew! The old man and I were relieved. They also looked relieved. Who will be “seated” there this year, huh? Stay tuned to the LaughLaundry for the latest info. They were excited to see us. I asked about their son and he now teaches scuba diving in Cancun, Mexico. Sounds like a dream scene for a 21 year old male. We tried to navigate the street which was now filling- in with people who obviously didn’t have a parking angel of their own. I feel so blessed. Good luck finding yourself a parking space without divine intervention, you guys. We parted company from the tie-dye duo, while we noticed the distinct lack of colorful attire on the majority of fairgoers strolling down Haight Street. There were numerous vendors of tie-dye and hippie-type fashion, so there is no excuse for not wearing hippie clothing next year. Ya hear?

There was a lot of excited talk on the Street among fair going Deadheads about the coming shows commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Grateful Dead. It’s another year of celebration, folks. OMG, are you ready for…
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That’s Oh My Grateful Dead, in case you didn’t know. Why didn’t you know? We went to hippie nirvana on Saturday, the 27th. Nirvana has become very pricey these days, just so you know. We went to the new home of the 49ers in Santa Clara for a major celebration for fans of the Grateful Dead and all their individual bands. (They are still referred to as the San Francisco 49ers despite being 40 miles from the City.) This is it for concerts with the surviving members of the band. They haven’t found –they can’t find – anyone who could replace Jerry Garcia, their spiritual leader. So they’re 2 nights performing in Santa Clara and 3 over the 4th of July weekend in Chicago. They say that’s it. The fans at the show were not ready for the music to end. I was jazzed to be part of the scene, but I don’t want the magic to stop.

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A lot of people came in tie-dye for this event. I mean, my very first Dead show looked like a tie-dye convention. Of course, there are a lot of fans who refuse to grow-up and dress in fun attire for anything. It was a PARTY fer cryin’ out loud. The food wasn’t too bad. I had a vegan dog (I hope it didn’t contain any actual vegans ‘cause that would just be wrong, man.) The garlic fries are derigueur cuisine in the Bay Area, but I think they tasted better at Sir Paul’s show at Candlestick Park. No big deal. I doubt I’ll be back to the Levi Stadium. It’s expensive, yet I found it rather soulless. Thank goodness it’s now flowing with the joy and vibrancy of Deadhead energy.

There was a rainbow that appeared over the stadium after maybe 10 minutes of light rain, and many fans think it was a sign of love from Jerry Garcia. I’ve told you how magical the Dead are. Earlier an airplane attempted a peace sign in the sky above. Peace and love, man. We all left sporting neck braces.

My hubby took some fun photos, we were gifted with free roses –tie-dye included, and he recorded a video which will take you on that long, strange trip. It’s far-out, man. Don’t miss the photo of the young hippie girls with the floral headbands. They came from London just to see the show. They never saw one before. Way too young and far away. Glad they got to see a show. Glad I got to see the show. Thanks, Henry!

Peace, love, joy, laughter, with the continuing magic of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia,
Kathleen

It was aMAYzing!

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Easter Extra

I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to dine on Mother’s Day this year. Until my old man brought home a newspaper from nearby Pleasanton, California, that is. (OK, so you do have to drive over the East Bay Hills and some distance out into the Pleasanton/Livermore Valley from my home in Hayward to get there.) Their local news featured a Mother’s Day ad for a dining/drinking establishment in the tiny town of Sunol (the town is actually soooo small it might even be a hamlet- NOT Shakespeare) that grabbed my attention. Well, actually, it was the Mother’s Day menu. It sounded yummy and not -very pricy, especially considering that many restaurants raise their prices for moms big day. They mostly serve Italian-style cuisine, folks, with some Bay Area faves tossed into the mix. But soup or salad and dessert were included with the entrees. It was an offer my old man –and older son- couldn’t refuse. It’s a mistake to mess with a diva mama like me!

So where did I go? After the hubby and I drove to Sunol down the picturesque Nile’s Canyon Road, my family rendezvoused at Bosco’s Bones & Brew. They actually arrived more than an hour after we did: The funky antique shop I had hoped to visit had closed. Me thinks for good. Bummer. So we explored what little of the town, or hamlet, or whatever the locals call it to build an appetite for dinner. (I already was famished as I decided not to eat my usual lunch stuff.)

Sunol is quite quaint…even magical. We drove up the winding Kilkare Road, where we paused to take photos of “The Little Brown Church of Sunol.” Look at the photos my talented hubby took: It really is little and brown, first built in 1885. The church added gaslight in 1905. It’s still an actual parish church, well-known for beautiful weddings in an exceptional wooded setting. The pastor is a woman wearing Easter Bunny Ears along with her clerical garb (my “Rosie Rabbit” has the very same ears!) in a photo on the fascinating LBC website. Please Google and learn the history of this sacred space.

There are impressive old mansions galore on Kilkare Road, and I hope you enjoy seeing a few pics. Farther along the road is Elliston Vineyards, complete with an old, former mansion. We didn’t have time to stop for wine tasting. Dang. But we’ll be back, huh, Henry?!!
So where did I go?

As I previously said, the hubby and I went to “Bosco’s Bones & Brewery,” man. The restaurant/saloon features “elegant dining of the (late) 1800’s,” according to their website. The food served, however, is actually NOT from the 1800’s. The local health pupperazzi would shutter- em –down. You can’t really have food that’s like so last century.

Who is Bosco, anyhoo?

The oft-told story told worldwide –really- is about how two men lost a mayoral (unofficial) election in this tiny town to a dog, no less. Two men were arguing over which one of them should run for mayor, and another man said his dog would beat both of them! They were sitting in a local watering hole, of course. And the man’s dog, Bosco, was a “regular” there. Actually, he hug-out in all the bars & cafes in town. Yep, his fave treats were beef jerky and doggie biscuits and he growled if you didn’t feed him. Just the way my hubby does, doesn’t you Henry?

Bosco won the mayoral race, of course! He ran as a “Re-pup-lican,” with the campaign slogan: “A bone in every dish, a cat in every tree, and a fire hydrant on every corner.”
He was the doggie, er, the mayor, and was pupular with the town’s hounds. Supposedly, all the new pups in town were black like him (black Labrador/Rottweiler). He was reported in a local paper (NOT the one that he did his doggie “business” on) to have ruled with his paw and openly accepted grafts from the town’s business establishments. Many of the town’s businesses have burned down over the years, including the joint we ate in!

Bosco was spotted watching the old place (1850’s) burn. Someone said he looked sad. He held the job as mayor for a total of 15 years before he went to that great fire hydrant in the sky. Now, a replica of Bosco sits on the saloon bar, and when his hind leg is lifted out pours beer! Or pees, I guess. Great little place in a fab little town. The food was yummy with friendly service. Only saw a few motorcycles parked in front when we first rolled into town. The place used to attract lots of “Hell’s Angels.” And good ole Willie Nelson used to frequent the saloon as well. There are photos on the wall to prove it.

Hated to get out of Dodge, er, Sunol. I love being in a time warp, man. As long as I can come back, that is.

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How lucky am I? I get to come back to the Himalayan Fair held in Berkeley every May. This was the 32nd anniversary of this awesomely magical extravaganza, and this year the focus was on raising funds for the recent Nepal earthquake. I was concerned that much of the joy of attending would be erased by the scope of such a massive tragedy, and I wasn’t sure how to prepare for the sadness I expected. I forgot about the natural joyfulness of the Himalayan peoples, and found the attendees happy to just be there. They understood how blessed they were to be alive –and well- in Berkeley’s Live Oak Park. Lots of smiles and loads of laughter echoed throughout the park. It was quite chilly and windy this year. Even the Monks were wearing sweaters.

Each and every year, the park is transformed into a colorful marketplace for food, fine arts, crafts, as well as lively music and vivacious dance. (If you go next year be sure and try some veggie or meat Momos…Om my gosh, they’re gooood!) My British friend was selling her wares at her gorgeous booth. She jets in from her new home in Hawaii for this annual event. I attended on Sunday this year so I could see –and hear- the amazing Karma Moffett.

Karma comes complete with his Tibetan bowls, bells, tingshas, and long horn –it’s TEN feet long and you will likely feel the vibrations at least TEN miles away, probably even farther away! You wondered what that was, huh? Karma performed a ceremony for Nepal, Berkeley, anyone and anywhere healing was needed. The crowd was mellow, including the three dogs who were sitting in front of me. The long horn sent their ears up in the air. Yeah, you wanted to know: They had been doing Downward Dog before Karma began. It’s a now famous “Doga” pose. Just saying.

My old man and I were quite popular at the fair. We posed for so many photos I thought we had been transported to that other fair over in San Francisco. It’s getting close, man.
There was one other event that we attended, but you will have to wait until my next blog post to read all about it. Lots of bling and glitz involved. Oh, get used to waiting, OK?

Until then, Peace, love, joy (cause you really do need it) and laughter,
Kathleen

April was just a marvelous month for bunnies and baseball. Yeah, it always begins with the exceedingly funny Feast Day of St. Stupid, of course. (Come on! Youze gotta know the First Church of the Last Laugh drill by now.) In the meantime, wild ‘n crazy, hippity-hopping’ Easter bunnies and major league baseball teams were engaged in spring training for their big/opening day. Which was rapidly approaching, oh my!

I put a groovy Easter outfit together, and yes, I did find a FABULOUS hat. And I also purchased some fab earrings to match, created by the lovely Linda. You will see her every weekend on Telegraph Avenue. (Photo of moi will be included in an upcoming post.) Unfortunately I was deep in the midst of an upper-respiratory thingie, and I could not taste any of my waterfront restaurant entrée. I wasn’t even hungry. At least I had a gorgeous view. My Easter breakfast was also a bit of a bummer. My tasteless Hot Cross Buns could have been delivered by a hunk with extra hot buns of his own….so what? I love HCB’s, and you can only buy them once a year. And fuggedaboud my beautifully decorated eggs, cause no amount of salt was gonna make me taste them either. I know, I know, boo hoo. It was an absolutely beautiful day, however…if you like some early-morning rain.

And we do in drought-stricken California, Mother Nature. Thanks!

Thank goodness the Bender household was gifted with an Easter visit from our very own resident “rabbit.” Rosie Rabbit, that is. She really dressed for the occasion, she did. (See her groovy photo.) Our little “wascally wabbit” has many fans in the neighborhood. My neighbor Creesh (hippie name!) is a major fan (she’s not in the military!). She loved Miz Rosie’s Easter photo so much she created this wee bit of whimsy for me to enjoy:
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ROSIE RABBIT

There once was a pooch named Rosie –

A Diva from head to toesie,

The threads were made –

For the Easter parade,

As she posed for her close-up –

Way Groovy!

Get this: According to my neighbor, I might want to get “Rosie” her very own website. Or perhaps find a card company that will feature Rosie’s pooch photo on their greeting cards. Hmm, maybe she could she earn some cash to help pay for all those doggie biscuits she demands. I have to admit I’ve seriously considered renting her for cleaning jobs. Yes, cleaning jobs. After observing her oversized bushy tail, I had a brilliant idea!

Who needs a Swaffer or whatever they call the gadget? Why not rent a doggie duster – a real sWOOFer – who will work their tail off for you. Just remember to give the hound a hug and a biscuit or two after the job is completed. And puleeez don’t blame me for any breakage that (likely) may occur. Capeeche?

I don’t know if Rosie is OK with any of these wild ‘n wacky ideas. Stay tuned.

Get in touch if you are at all are interested in opening your very own doggie duster franchise. We could really clean up (literally) with this. Oh my!

Baseball season is now in full swing. I just wish more of my winning team’s hitters were doing a little more productive swinging while at bat. Like in winning more games, man. There were a significant number of pre-season injuries, including the awesome Hunter Pence –known as the Reverend because he gives encouraging “sermons” to his teammates. Find that hard to believe?  Well what about the THREE –count ‘em- World Series Championships the SF Giants have won, and then say that you don’t believe. GO GIANTS!Dreamcatcher

The baseball team on the other side of the Bay –that would be the Oakland Athletics- or the “A’s” as they are fondly known- is playing well. And that could very well be because of a player that had previously flown under my radar. The dude’s name is Billy Burns!
NOT my bro Billy Burns, however, but a younger guy from the South. This Billy is quite the babe. Don’t hate me bro. YOU are my fave and a pretty darn cute leprechaun to boot. (Rosie will happily dust them off for you if you ask her nicely.)

Peace, love, baseball, and less dust bunnies for y’all.

Kathleen
(Remember: For dust bunny removal all you need is “Rent a Rosie,” the Doggie Dusting Diva!)

March Modness!

You probably think I’ve made a mistake titling my post “March Modness.” But you would be oh so wrong! Yeah, March Madness is usually associated with some type of ball sport –I believe that it’s called basketball or something involving a net. But I could be wrong. No, really, I could be wrong. It does happen occasionally. (I find that the real “madness” is with all the crazed viewers like my husband. The hubby’s delirious dive into his recliner to watch this “madness” is about the only exercise he gets while the games are televised.) Although a seemingly unending, warm, nearly rainless weather (save for a few splashes here and there) here in Northern California this past month is definitely a sign of a planetary March Madness. (More about “Modness” to come.)

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(“In this land of drought and sun, we don’t flush for number one”….or howzabout this?

 

“Save water and shower with a friend.” These wild ’n crazy one-liners are gems from an earlier California drought that ravaged the state in the late 70’s. The population has grown by the gazillions since then….so fugeddabout watering that grass. Brown is the new green.)

 

Speaking of green, March 17th was St. Patrick’s Day. Now for the past couple of years I’ve missed the wearing of the green at my fave Irish pub in Berkeley. I know, that’s a real bummer. I was so ready for 2015. I may have gone a wee over-board with my green theme this year. My dog “Rosie Colleen” had the good sense to go into hiding when she saw me strolling into a soon- to -be over-decorated room. She could see I was laden with a gazillion green garlands & stacks of sparkling shamrocks galore. (A wee bit over the top? I’m so sure.) And she somehow knew I would not leave her fur unadorned for long! Come on, I live for this, you guys.

 

This St. Paddy’s I somehow managed to avoid a contagious disease (Hooray!), but I had to cope with a hurting head. I had NOT one drop of celebratory liquid cheer. I did make some lovely Irish scones on the 14th. Even found a recipe for a salted Irish whiskey butter which I found the strength to refuse. The hubby was anxious to have a scone –with the butter, of course, but I told him they were for the big day. Not sure what happened, but I recovered the next morning and that was good enough for me. There’s always next year, huh, leprechauns? Did not need them for a parking space again this year. My bro Billy Danny did not party so much this year as he has let-go of 82 pounds of excess avoirdupois and will need all the luck o’ the Irish to stay his now slender self. Oh, that young lad will really look groovy in his kilt now.

 

I noticed a photo of a mischievous leprechaun on my 2015 Irish calendar, and the wee fellow looked exactly like my late father (if he were a leprechaun, that is), who left his beloved Corned Beef ‘n Cabbage behind as he departed the planet on St. Patrick’s Day, 2001. Slainte, Daddy.

 

Now this is where “March Modness” comes in: Just three days after St. Patrick’s, I was sufficiently recovered to make the trek to Concord, California. (Actually, it’s the town next to Pleasant Hill, where I spent a significant number of my academic years at JFKU.) I spotted an ad for a British Fish ‘n Chip shop named “Scousers.” A scouser is defined as a person who comes from Liverpool, England, especially one who is a Merseysider. That’s living yer life close to the Mersey River, and the Beatles were considered right scousers, mate. Liverpool is the shop owner’s ancestral home. He hopes that Scousers will become your fave British Chippy. There’s a lot more to being a scouser, but go there and let the friendly owner, Kevin, explain it to you. You won’t be disappointed with him or his yummy food.

 

Why, the man even put on Beatles music just for me. I suspect he played it for himself as well. He saw the Beatles in Liverpool before they were called the Beatles. Far out! You just might feel like you’ve crossed the pond, I say. This smashing place looks like it “jumped” the pond. The place is festooned with Union Jack items, assorted British paraphernalia, photos of the Queen, and a clock the owner stopped at the exact hour John Lennon died. Owner Kevin has earned himself a place in my personal Beatles Hall of Fame.

 

Kevin didn’t forget the Irish either. Hello, that’s his name. There is a picture on the wall (see me grinning in photo) which shows the ancient church of St. Kevin. (I visited this church when I traveled to Ireland.) The British Kevin told me that the Irish St. Kevin lived to be 120! My own son Kevin hopes he lives that long. Drinking Guinness could help, I’ll bet. And don’t discount my salted Irish whiskey butter, either. You see, I did experience some March Modness after all. Aaahh, it must be the Luck of the Irish.

 

 

Peace, love, joy, laughter & a scone -or two! – slathered with salted Irish whiskey butter, of course,

Kathleen-

 

OK, so that’s a whole lot of celebrating for the shortest month of the year. (Oops, I didn’t even mention National Margarita Day – my bad.) I wasn’t even sure I could handle all the fab February frilovity, but (somehow) I did. February 3rd was the anniversary of the day that my late Mom and Dad were married in Chicago. Of course, I miss them a lot. Not missing the brutal Midwest winters, however. I totally get why they decided to wed on this particular day: The Feast of St. Blaize.
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St. Blaize (French spelling) is a patron saint of healers and a source of protection through bad winters. Hellooo, this current winter may be the mother of all Chicago winters! When I attended Catholic school we always had our throats blessed by a priest on her feast day. We knelt at the altar as a priest attacked our throats….um, I mean, blessed them with two crossed candles. (Thank God they were unlit.) According to my Mom (and she said this every year), she was married on the Feast of St. Blaize and ever since then it had been holy smoke! (You may try to forget these kinds of things but you can’t….and you don’t really want to either.)

 

Valentines Day we dined in Berkeley at our fave Tibetan restaurant. Oh, yes, you can find Himalayan cuisine in more than one eatery in Berkeley. You knew that, come-on. We are talking about Berkeley here people. But this is our way fave place to indulge in epicurean delights fit for the Dalai Lama. The beautiful owner is a former pastry chef who still makes her own FABULOUS desserts. Her Tibetan-styled desserts are particularly nice if you are a Tibetan and miss your mother’s home cooking.

 

However, just in case I haven’t previously informed you: I AM A CHOCOHOLIC. There, I’ve admitted it right here in the Laugh Laundry. It’s true. I eat the addictive stuff everyday; I always lick it off the plate (sometimes NOT even my own), and I’ve been known to sniff empty chocolate bar wrappers AFTER I’ve licked them squeaky clean! I’ve got it bad…no good, that’s how good chocolate tastes. Don’t even try to reform me. You know darn well this will make me wolf (sorry wolves) down a humongous hot fudge sundae with extra, extra chocolate, man. Oh, like you wouldn’t do the same thing if given the chance. (Give chocolate a chance…Yeah!)
I’M A CHOCOHOLIC and this is why I simply must lick the dessert menu at this Tibetan hot-spot. Just reading about her dark chocolate mousse cake – loaded with nuts! -sends me way over the top…and the top is really, really WAY up there in the Himalayan peaks. If I’m truly blessed and able to eat more mousse (a lot more!), I’m certain to achieve Nirvana. (Is there such a thing as Chocolate Nirvana? That would be so OM sweet OM.)
It’s a shame that Presidents Lincoln and Washington no longer have their individual birthday celebration. They are supposedly honored on “Presidents Day,” but usually all it means is a day without snail mail, a day off from school and work, or an excursion to the Mall. Well, leave it to the Margarita producers to use George Washington’s actual birthday as an excuse for a National Margarita Day! How utterly American, Si? AYE, AYE, AYE, AND CHERRY PIE! I CANNOT TELL A LIE.
The Lunar New Year began on February 19th. The Chinese, Vietnamese & Tibetans all celebrate at the same time. And this year they all share the same animal in the Chinese zodiac: The Ram or Goat or Sheep. They all seem to have agreed this year it will be the Sheep. (My dog Rosie voted for the Goat: She snatched a paper fortune left on my hubby’s recliner -it was about smiling more- and the little vixen chewed it up! She could not resist essence of fortune cookie, obviously.) I have included several photos of my fireplace mantle decorated for February’s holidays. The Lunar New Year mantle is mainly Chinese motif with Vietnamese (Tet) and Tibetan (Losar) symbols at each end. Pretty groovy, huh?
Long ago and far away in my grammar school, there was this little ditty we recited because it sounded oh so naughty for a Catholic girl to say. Don’t know where it originated, but it seems appropriate this Lunar New Year:
Mary had a little sheep

And with the sheep she went to sleep

The sheep turned out to be a ram

And Mary had a little lamb

 

Hmmm….Fifty Shades of Sheep?

 

Peace & love & laughter,

Kathleen

Please lovingly remember the gear George Harrison who would have celebrated his 72nd birthday in February.

Doing Downton

It’s a brand new year and many of you make an annual attempt to eliminate your excess avoirdupois. You know what I’m talking about, folks: Over the Holidays you found yourself hotly pursued by pepperoni pizza, chased by extra-chunky chocolates (next year direct them to me), and an army of artisanal appetizers. Oh yeah, and you people surrendered.SAM_1723

(Alas… now get off your a##).
Now many of you are going all Flitzits or Nitwits or whatever they call this newbie- techie- fitness gadget for your wrist. Somehow, this devise follows your every movement, me thinks. It’s kind of like Santa Claus (I know he’s not a good example of the physically fit, huh?), cause it sees you when you’re sleeping, it knows when you’re awake, it knows if you’ve been bad or good…
(Oh, just toss it out the window fer Heavens sake!)

Who needs a gadget such as this? Just say No and get yourself a mother –your mom or any mother that’s handy- if you really think you need someone to monitor your every movement. I know that my late mother did. She had quite a knack for it. Mothers just do. It’s sca-a-a-ry, sisters.

(And your mother doesn’t need no steenking battery, either.)

Well, I hung-in there (over a heavily-laden buffet table, too) during the Holidays. I used some serious kung-food moves ™ as I fought back the French fondue, barely dipping my festive fork into a cauldron of chocolate chiffon. Then I nearly gave in while enduring a massive margarita mugging. Although, I finally did give-in because they were extra –heavy with the luscious limes, man.

(However, nothing fattening clung to my cleavage or attached itself to my hippie hips as far as I can tell).
So while some of you were going down –a –ton (oh, lighten up), I was doing Downton – PBS’ Downton Abbey, that is. The hubby and I got free passes to see the new season’s initial episode a day before you commoners did. However, we had to go to San Jose in order to view it. There were two showings at theatres in either San Francisco or San Jose. And the San Francisco seats went like hotcakes, so the old man and I traveled by coach (not!) to the theatre. It really is a magnificent theatre for the performing arts as both the Sillicon Valley Symphony and San Jose Opera hold concerts there. We were initially entertained by a distinguished gentleman playing the Wurlitzer organ. What a spectacular venue for downtown San Jose; it originally opened for business in 1927.
Many of the ladies dressed in Victorian finery (Downton has now moved into the “Roaring Twenties”), including moi…well, kinda, sorta. Please see my posh photo that the hubby took after the show….well after the event, if truth be told. Rosie Colleen – my doggie diva- thought I was going to see “Dogton Abbey,” and got her self all glitzy fur the gala. She was bummed that they would not let her in…they likely would have in jolly old England as pets rule there.

 

We were also treated to “The Prime of Miss Jean Brody,” a late 60’s film starring Maggie Smith. I say, it’s quite easy to hear the voice of the Dowager Countess in this award-winning role.
We had a jolly good day, despite the incident where I nearly knocked out some snooty Count, or Earl, or Duke with my tie-dye cane.

This past week we traveled to Stinson Beach and Muir Beach for a one-day staycation. It’s not that easy getting there because of the main entrance to both towns being blocked by landslides caused by torrential December rains. But we were given directions by someone who knows the area well, and we did have our newish GPS. (Yeah, “she” got us home from San Jose after the Downton preview.) Lots of ups and downs, then more ups and downs, and even more on narrow mountain roads, but SO worth it! It was sunny and fairly warm weather: perfect beach weather. The Pacific Ocean looked awesome.
Henry got some FAB ocean photos before we took the only route that was available to Muir Beach with its Elizabethan styled Pelican Inn. And another lovely lunch was had there. The Inn couldn’t have looked any better. It may have been January, but it felt –and looked- like early summer. A crop of newly-planted red flowers greeted us as we approached the front door. Celtic music (perhaps Irish) added an enjoyable soundtrack to our veddy British lunch. A yummy Ploughman’s Lunch & a shandy for myself, while the hubby enjoyed Fish ‘n’ Chips with a Guinness. Lovely, it was. After a visit to the stables across the road to see some very cute horsies, we were ready –although not really willing- to re-cross the pond.

Now back to “civilization,” man.

 

Peace, love, joy, laughter, & doing Downton Abbey,

Kathleen-

 

I asked you guys, I really did: PULEEZE stop it with all this “FROZEN” stuff. But you like totally ignored my sage advise at your own peril, dagnabbit. Yeah, you folks are partially responsible for the uncharacteristic FROZEN conditions occurring here in coastal California, both Northern and way, way down there in the Southland.SAM_1689

Our palm tree fronds are positively sagging from the weight of all that ice that you FROZEN fanatics unfeelingly sent this way. (I can no longer even feel my fingers to remove the FROZEN lemons from our backyard tree, either!)   Oh, and think about what y’all have done to the red-tailed squirrel community that resides in our towering palm: Even if they could safely make their way in and out of said tree, the avocados that they so highly prize from assorted trees in the Hood look like iced green bowling bowls –if you were a squirrel that is.

It’s time to stop this FROZEN madness.  For your own peace of mind, just let Californians chill in our own unique way, OK? However, before the Arctic chill arrived, we had a pretty groovy month. St. Nicholas Day (Dec.6) always make my heart ping just a little. I attended Catholic grade school and we   received crunchy candy canes to celebrate the European cousin of Santa Claus. Yeah, and we were SO envious that children thousands of miles away were getting their holiday presents early. And we had to wait until the 25th.  There were nineteen (count ‘em) more days to worry about being good! The hubby and I made two excursions to Berkeley for the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Fair. On the first trip we discovered an acquaintance who sells his handcrafted button pins each Saturday on the Avenue. This is one hip, older dude (91), who gifted me with one of his “Fuggedaboutit” buttons several years ago. He is a long-time master photographer and a real sweetheart. If you go to Telegraph on a Saturday he’ll be easy to spot. You don’t see many old guys rocking tie-dye accessories these days –except maybe in Berkeley that is!

We were recognized by a goddess dressed in glorious tie-dye style at a vendor booth towards the end of the Avenue:  Sunshine (Sunny) Powers – a genuine hippie – said she saw the hubby and I at the Haight/Ashbury Street Fair in San Francisco. I told you we were famous –and fabulous!  Her title is the “VP of Awesomeness” at Jammin on Haight, a very visible Hippie/Bohemian shop on the corner of Haight Street and Masonic Avenue.  You can Google it, man.

 

You know we dressed rather hippie (well, I did!) for the Telegraph Fair, don’t ya?  I like to put at least a wee smile on people’s faces. There is a photo of moi with my groovy button purveyor, as well as a solo photo of the “VP of Awesomeness.”  What really tickled me was the young couple who commented on our festive tie-dye attire as we sauntered into the street on week two: “You two win the photo contest.”

Tis the season for people pleasing. (It’s NOT the season for freezing folks!)

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Early Christmas morning I heard some wee tapping at my front door. Too early for leprechauns, I thought. And no gnome would dare knock at my door.  I opened the door to see a Santa (not Santana) wannabe who looked amazingly like the late Jerry Garcia. “Merry Jerry” I said to the little guy. Although he rocked the white beard that Santa sports, and he was wearing a red shirt with “Merry Christmas” on the front, somehow the surfin’ shorts and flip flops told me he wasn’t the real deal. No, this guy was so very Jerry, and he was freakin’ freezin’, man.

No wonder he knocked on my door! What a long, strange trip, this man had.  I let him in. I promised everyone a December surprise in my last post. Remember when I explained to you Paul McCartney fans that my hubby “accidentally” erased some absolutely fab footage of Paul complete with fireworks in order to take more pictures on our vacay to the Southwest?  I know, that was months ago, and while the pictures he snapped were awesome, I was inconsolable over the loss of the never to be repeated at Candlestick again history. But guess what?  Hubby discovered the missing card on which Sir Paul’s awesome video is recorded.  “Accidentally,” he said. I don’t really care how he found it, just that he did.

My heartfelt thanks to the Universe & the gods (and goddesses) of Rock ‘n’ Roll for your most groovy gift.

Let me finish my post with a slightly skewered version of some writing by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and hope you will apply at least some of the  wisdom in 2015:
To laugh often and much;

 

To win the respect of intelligent, fun people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest, humorous critics and endure the betrayal of felonious fiends; To fully appreciate the humorous, to find the humor in others; (You know it’s in there.)

 

To leave the world a wee bit better, whether by a child with a healthy sense of humor, eating a garden burger (organic, of course on Meatless Mondays), or hoping for a revamped Congress wearing total tie-dye! To know even one life has laughed a little easier because you shared the gift of laughter;

 

THIS is to have succeeded.  (My apologies to Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Hippie New Year! Peace, love, joy & laughter,

Kathleen

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Freakin’ Frozen

Mother Nature may be freakin’ frozen (or hot as heck depending on where you live), and at her wits end. And who could blame her? What with all the harm that has beset Planet Earth, the profound disrespect shown her, and with the way she has been thrown out of balance, well it’s no wonder Mom is now in a steady decline. Come on people and show your Mother a little love. Mom’s SO confused. Why else would all 50 states experience freezing temperatures on one day in the middle of November?
Hawaii… really, are you kidding me?

"I'm so not Pumpkin pie!"

“I’m so not Pumpkin pie!”

A prime contributor to this weather wackiness could be an unceasing demand for anything related to the FROZEN flick. You know what I’m talking about: Oodles of frozen themed “stuff” have cropped up for you to spend your hard-earned cash on. (You may have even abused your credit card buying all those goodies and found your card has been frozen!) Stop talking about this film, folks. I get the chills even thinking about it.

Of course, I’ve been here in drought stricken California and have not had to deal with all those snow blizzards that have plagued much of the country. (Please send ALL un-used snow to California Ski Country ASAP!) But I feel your chills, man. And I have some suggestions that just might help:

1): DON’T turn on Holiday music until December 25, if you really must have it. Like none at all. Nada. You don’t want to mess with Mom. Do you really want her to listen to lyrics telling her that the weather outside is frightful, or she should just let it snow, let it snow, let it snow? I think not in her current condition.

2): Drink HOT liquids only –Give the ice cubes a rest –PLEASE! (Avoid ICE rinks, my friends).

3): Absolutely NO purchase or display of any SNOW Globes can be allowed this year. Come on, this one is easy, man. (I think I’ll immerse most of mine in industrial strength lotion with a VERY high SPF factor.)

4): This next suggestion could get me in HOT water with particular family members or neighbors (you know who you are), but think of how much it could help yo Mother Nature!:
Lay off the FROZEN Margaritas –and those yummy ones “on the rocks” – at least until things warm up a bit, OK??

(And NO, I will not go suck on an organic lime! Where do you get these craaazy ideas, man?)

5): Do NOT buy any new fashion boots. I repeat, DO NOT buy any new boots, ladies. You don’t want to encourage more snow to fall. Put those cute UGG boots down –NOW!

Ode to Thanksgiving

Over a dwindling river,
and through the Hoods
To a funky food feast we go.
We won’t have a roast,
Tom Turkey’s fled for the coast
Tofu Tim was persuaded to stay
He’ll be served as a vegan entrée, oy vey!

Hope your November was at least a little groovy. Next month I have a wee surprise for y’all. Stay tuned for some extra special Beatle joy while you snuggle close to your fireplace (or loved one) for some holiday warmth. Excited? I thawed so! Tee hee.

Peace, love, joy, laughter & warm wishes to everyone,
Kathleen

Let’s Party in Rocktober!

If you don’t already know (you bettah), the San Francisco Giants baseball team just won game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City, Missouri. (K.C. claims to be some kind of big and bad barbeque town, but it will take an entire San Francisco Bay filled with their best barbeque sauce to compensate us for the humiliating defeat of our Boys in game 6 by the Royals!) SAM_1530

Oh yes, the Giants put their fans through torture, as they refer to some of their, ahem, challenging innings, but in the end “THEY GOT IT DONE.” It was an awesome orange and black experience (the Giants team colors are also the colors of Halloween). Orange you glad I told you about this?

Congrats to the team, to their legion of devoted fans & to the San Francisco Bay Area. I’m really down with both Hunter Pence & Mad Bum….Madison Bumgarner, that is. Did ya know that we’re BOTH left-handed? He was SO calm, cool & collected while he pitched.  I was SO NOT. (I hope that nobody royal in the United Kingdom is too upset over Kansas City’s loss.)  It has been said, that while K.C. may have the ROYALS, San Francisco got the CROWN!

JOLLY GOOD SHOW, I say. Gooooo Giants! October is also a month for par-tays:
The old man & I recently celebrated our wedding anniversary at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California. I went there for my birthday dinner two years ago and the hubby took a photo of Phil dining near the top of the staircase. No live music in the house that evening and no birthday serenade from our European waiter, either. That was summa bummer, but the ample, fantastic food and the setting by a scenic canal left me in a quite joyful mood.
So for this year’s wedding anniversary we decided that brunch at the Terrapin Crossroads was just the ticket. (What I really wanted was a ticket to a Furthur concert!)  Our big day was on a Sunday and there was a live Dead performance (sounds funny, huh?) from the Terrapin Family Band scheduled for early afternoon. Phil’s restaurant staff asked my hubby if we were celebrating anything special when he called for a reservation, and he told them we were. A smart move on hubby’s part, as they gifted us with a tasty, tiered arrangement of fruit-filled, sugar-dusted donuts with a lit candle placed on top.  Good job they didn’t use a candle for every year we’ve been married, ‘cause if we set the place ablaze, patrons likely would have flung them-selves en-masse into the canal.  And we would have been so busted on our wedding anniversary. We chowed- down on our yummy brunch entrees and I quaffed sparkling wine and lemony chilled water. (Not from the canal, I hope!)  After all, it was a very hot day in San Rafael (95 degrees), and the house was packed. After drinking all those fluids I really needed to visit the facilities, and who do you think I saw tuning his guitar on my way to the loo? Why, Phil Lesh of course!  What an unexpected anniversary surprise. I yelled out, “Hi Phil!” excitedly wielding my tie-dye cane.  Probably thought I arrived via Crazy Train.  I may have given him that impression.

The band put on a FABULOUS show: two sets of more than 45 minutes each, with Grateful Dead tunes galore.  I was so close to the stage as Phil played and sang along with his son Grahame & three other musicians. Their stage may have been teeny tiny, but the music totally rocked!  What a thrill to actually see a member of the Grateful Dead perform many of the band’s famous tunes. The fans were in a euphoric state of bliss…or was it just me?  I did notice a very hot (and not from the indoor heat) bar server boogying-on-down, balancing his tray thru an aroused Deadhead crowd. (I know, I know I was there for my wedding anniversary, but this particular employee should not dance that hot. Mama Mia.) The hubby was thrilled he only had to pay for brunch, which was our cheapest “Dead” concert ever! I was thrilled to see even one member of the famous band perform at such close range. Merci, Henri: YOU rocked! We continued to party throughout Rocktober: Six days later, we headed to MLK Jr. Park in Berkeley for the first annual “Shakedown Street Festival.”  Yours truly & the old man were decked-out in our usual celebratory tie-dye for this freeee event (did I mention it was free?). There was a sizable crowd on hand for a show that wasn’t that heavily advertized.  But it’s destined to become a major event for the Deadhead community and the city of Berkeley.  There were lots of groovy craft booths, food, beverages, and lots of groovy people to see and commune with. The famous photographer Rosie McGee was there selling her fab new book and Grateful Dead pictures that she herself took back in the day. A great lady, she is. You can find out more about her at rosiemcgee.com.

The live music was even wilder than I thought it would be. Love that tune, “Shakedown Street.” Oh, and David Gans, KPFA Radio host of “Dead to the World” is himself amazing.  He rocked the crowd playing numerous Grateful Dead classics along with other established musicians of note. The guys played until after 8pm and nobody wanted this festival to come to an end.  (Well, maybe my terrapin-topped hubby did.) See you next year, man. My next reason to party was my birthday, and don’t bother asking which one.  The old boy and I traveled to Marin County to have afternoon tea at the British Inn I told everyone about in April.  It was another beautiful weather day, with just a finger or two of fog visible on the coastal mountain road leading to Muir Beach. I could see a horse being led from a barn across a quiet country road, while Celtic music emanated from somewhere in the Inn. It was all very idyllic. I just love sipping tea… it’s so very civilized.

We took the winding coastal road back to the highway that leads to the Golden Gate Bridge and into the City of San Francisco. You do know what they say about drinking too much tea, don’tcha? Oh, yeah, you do.  Unfortunately there were NO public restrooms or port-a-loos anywhere to be found.  But a whole lotta traffic, however. Following a truck laden with portable potties, I BEGGED the driver to pull-over so I could use one: “It’s my birthday, and I gotta go …NOW!” “Sorry lady, but they’re all over-loaded, filled to the brim.” “And so am I!!”…. leaked I.

It was a pity I could not use a potty after my birthday tea party.

The old man had a par-tay, too, and I’ll say goodbye to Rocktober by asking that everyone please remember the late John Lennon whose birthday was on October 9th. This former Beatle asked us to “imagine all the people living life in peace.”  Do imagine that. And then I’d like to suggest that we also “Imagine all the people laughing as they live their lives in peace.” Imagine how healing that would be.

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Peace, love & the absolute joy of healing laughter,

Kathleen

 

Jerry, Sir Paul & Jerrie: Part Two

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Hope y’all enjoyed the exciting first installment of my August blog. Now, all you lovely, fabulous fans – I want you to keep on reading my monthly mess, so I am totally jazzed to recap a few of the highlights of Part One: Well, Jerry Day was absolutely awesome & awesome. I mean, Jerry’s birthday bash can’t possibly get any better next year, can it? Dunno…but I wouldn’t bet against it. Remember that trippy, tie-dyed couple from the Haight/Ashbury Street Fair that told us they would see the hubby and I at Jerry Day? (There are quite a few photos of this South Bay duo on my June post.) We did not see them anywhere while we partied in McLaren Park, and I supposed they may have been hangin’ amidst some Deadhead-loaded tree branches?

However, I’m thinkin’ they may have been in attendance after all.

Noooo, I didn’t spot either of them in any near-by trees. Although numerous trees were packed with Deadheads, their outrageous tie-dye colors likely would have given them away- no matter how high in the tree they happened to be. (Ahem… I bet they could have been very high while hangin’ in a tree branch). But as I again looked at my hubby’s photos from the bash, I believe I may have found them, although I’d probably refuse to testify in court.

If you look closely at the photo of the two skeleton Deadheads “relaxing” in the oh so groovy psychedelic motorcycle (I’m standing next to this bad boy bike), you may draw the conclusion that this jolly well is them! There is a slight resemblance, no? However, they were awfully quiet, unlike the pair from the Fair. But oh my gawsh, hope I’m mistaken, though if they arrived at Jerry Day far ahead of time and were unable to find their way out of the park, who knows what may have happened??

Or, perhaps they fell from some tree branches into the motorcycle while looking for a primo view spot. Oh, like that couldn’t have happened.

Dunno, but really hope to see them next year at the Haight/Ashbury Street Fair.

(Note to exhibitionist in my video near the amazing dancing diva: Dude, put on your clothes, puleeeze! At the very least have the decency to get out of camera range if you are there in 2015, and try getting some serious sun exposure before the show, ok? Believe me, your wanna be vampire hipster look just doesn’t cut it.)

Of course, seeing Sir Paul was one of the most awesome experiences ever, man. Ok, so I said that Jerry Garcia Day was awesome & awesome. And it was. But being present at Candlestick Park to see the magical Paul McCartney close-out the rapidly deteriorating stadium was beyond AWESOME!! I can’t emphasize it enough. I hope that you Googled Kathleen Bender, Paul McCartney. I just can’t emphasize it enough. It’s all very groovy, I say. Also Google Henry Bender, Paul McCartney and keep my old man happy.

I’ll never forget my trip to the Southwest to visit my dear friend and her “children” (two “Westies” & a kitty cat). We had some wonderful adventures in the Four Corners area of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado & Utah. Heck, we even had culinary adventures involving green chilis & Margaritas. It doesn’t get any better than that. Or does it?

After we sadly said goodbye to Jerrie & family, we drove for an eternity (it seemed like 4evah) through a Navaho rez (reservation) on our way to the Grand Canyon. (Come on, it was way over 200+ miles and hotter than Hades. Yeah, I’m exaggerating a wee bit, but not much, folks.) Talk about living an isolated life; I guess these tribal members would not have it any other way. We didn’t see very much traffic, either. We tried to follow the exact route the new GPS gave us. But not all the time while on vacay. I thinking the chick who guided us didn’t like me at all as she mispronounced every Irish street or road name.

The Grand Canyon ought to be experienced by all Americans if possible. The park was filled with foreign tourists who were filled with awe by what they were seeing. I wasn’t even sure we would even arrive before it turned dark. We had stopped along the way at a Grand Canyon overlook (views from outside the park) complete with a Native American “pop-up” jewelry stand. I still had some souvenirs to purchase and I was desperate to use a porta-loo.
You have NO idea just how desperate I was! It was quite a hike to the “loo,” and I nearly had an accident when I read the sign on the side of the lone outhouse. Let me attempt to paraphrase: “Warning! Cats & Rats & Elephants are known to attack occupents.” Ok, so no rats or elephants, but SOME kind of cats, maybe coyotes/bears, mountain lions & (this is the one that scared me) snakes! You can’t imagine what was running thru my mind at the time. Besides, I thought the porta-loo might go over the side of the cliff it was perilously perched on. And I would have had that “accident” if my hubby wasn’t ready to ride shotgun for me. I just wanted to get the hell out of Dodge and back to civilization, wherever the heck that was.
But we were able to view the awesome sunset and were then trapped in a ginormous traffic jam getting out of the Grand Canyon National Park What fun!

We made our way to our evening lodging outside of Sedona, Arizona. An awesome (there’s that word again!) place to visit. I would have liked to spend more time there as it appears to be an ideal setting to refresh your soul. The natural beauty is absolutely breathtaking. But our destination was Las Vegas, baby!

Las Vegas is not my cuppa tea, but the hubby had already purchased tickets for the two of us to see the Cirque Du Soleil’s Beatles, LOVE show at the Mirage Hotel. Thank goodness it wasn’t a mirage but the real deal. I LOVED IT! If you are a Beatles fan or not – get yourself to see this spectacular show. You will not be disappointed. You will renew your Beatles love and great affection for the Fab Four. And the sizable cast is amazingly talented. I got to spend time in the Beatles shop (the hubby got to spend his money) and my old man bought me some groovy Beatles goodies. I even got a Beatles 50th anniversary shirt, luv. How awesome is that?

We spent the night at the Mirage Hotel in a chichi suite and drove thru the Mojave Desert upon returning to California. Several hundred miles later (1a.m.) we turned onto a street close to our house. Yeah, it’s not Irish, but “she” mispronounced that too!

What a month filled with laughter, humor & joy. I enjoyed friends, fun and a Beatles trifecta to fondly remember. I shall 4evah refer to this month as Awegust.

 

Stay groovy my friends.

Peace, love, joy & Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

Kathleen

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