RSS Feed

Author Archives: mlmerillat

It’s Just a Ride

There were a lot of emotions coming up after last night’s election results.


Started off the night eager but as early results started pouring in, that started to wear off.


Well that’s interesting but not at all unexpected.






You’ve got to be kidding me!



But then those words of wisdom from the great Bill Hicks echoed in my mind… It’s just a ride

Just a choice between fear and love.



So, fuck it!  And enjoy the ride.


Love All the People.



Shut Up and Drink

Perhaps these places only exist in the movies or on TV shows, but where are the mellow bars where people go to sit, have a drink and quietly chat with the people around them?  Where are the bars that don’t play ear-splittingly loud music because some study said that would make people drink more?  Where are the bars where you don’t have large groups of people laughing and talking so loudly that you can barely hear yourself think?  Where do serious drinkers go to imbibe in peace?

I had a lovely weekend staying at an historic hotel (another blog on that altogether).  After dinner, my husband and I thought we’d pop into the bar for a drink.  The larger lobby bar had a jazz band that was too loud for us.  So we went upstairs to the smaller lounge.  After securing drinks from the bar, we found a place to sit.  Within a few moments, we were overwhelmed by the large group of people chatting and laughing at top volume nearby.  The space couldn’t absorb all of the sound and it was just bouncing right into my ears.  We finished up our drinks and left.

Perhaps I should just take up day drinking.

Quiet bar

I started fantasizing about creating my perfect bar.  The one where I control the volume of any music played.  The bar that I can keep large groups from entering (four people together max).  A place for drinkers who want a tasty cocktail in a chill atmosphere.  Sunday nights would be a Tiki Party (and no TVs with football anywhere to be found).

Tiki mugs

I could just sit at home and drink, but there is something about communal drinking that I enjoy.  I like paying someone else to shake up that cocktail and pour it into a fancy glass for me.  I like dim lighting and light chatter and chuckling while I knock one back.

There is a place for me.  There has to be.  I can’t be the only one who wants this, can I?


Off the Beaten Path

One of the things I like most about walking around in a big city is how you can find things that you just zoom past in your car.  A few weeks ago, I had spotted a little treasure barely a block away from the building I work in.  I didn’t remember to take the time out to get a really good look at it until yesterday.

On a little side street between Venice and Washington sits this beautiful example of that distinct architecture style known as Storybook.  It was a trend in the 1920s and 1930s but fell out of fashion after that.  Probably the most famous L.A. example is the Spadena House (or The Witch’s House as it’s been nicknamed) in Beverly Hills.  You may have spotted it in the film Clueless.


Not many of these homes remain but there are a few.  The one I found has even been designated a landmark.

Storybook House 7

It really is like stepping into another world when you find something so out of place like this. Architecture has become so bland and functional.  I really miss ornate and beautiful façades.  It’s nice to see that others are doing their part to make sure these gems stick around for a while.

Here is a sampling of pictures I took on my phone.  I only wish I had had a better camera at the time.

Storybook House 2

Storybook House 3

Storybook House 4

There were a couple of fountain/ponds.  One had goldfish and the other had turtles.

Spotted this little guy sunning himself on a rock.

Spotted this little guy sunning himself on a rock.

There was the main house, a garage with apartment above and another building in back.

Storybook House 1

Storybook House 6

The staircase beckons me

The staircase beckons me

It was a great reminder to sometimes chart a new course.  We start to wear groves into our daily routines and they are really hard to break out of.  Sometimes, it’s worth it.  And it’s not always about getting there as fast as you can.

Happy Californiversary to Me!

Fourteen years ago, bleary-eyed and with my truck loaded full of all the personal possessions it would carry, I entered the state of California.  Three days prior, I had left Ohio and gotten here as fast as I could.  I had no cellphone.  Didn’t have much money to my name either.  But the Call of the West beckoned me forth.

What really drove me was the opposite of this Shakespeare line, “And makes us rather bear those ills we have. Than fly to others that we know not of?”  I could no longer bear my current situation.  It wasn’t horrible but it could become what Henry David Thoreau once described.  “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”  Fear of the unknown can sometimes only be overcome by the fear of never knowing.

So if you feel lost or stuck or even just unhappy, listen closely to that voice inside.  No outside source can give you the answers you seek.  Just like Dorothy discovered, you had the power all along.

By the late, great Shel Silverstein

By the late, great Shel Silverstein

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

This is the best thing I’ve seen on the internet all week.  More please!


Owl kids

Revisiting the Past

There are always lots of fascinating and beautiful things to see in a big city.  I love old homes and buildings.  So much more attention to detail in every aspect from woodwork to parquet flooring and tiles.  The East Coast has the best of these but Los Angeles has something relatively new that was built to echo something far older than even the United States itself.

The Getty Villa in Malibu was built in the 1970s to house J. Paul Getty’s art collection of antiquities from Ancient Greece and Rome.  It was designed to replicate in as many details as possible a villa from Italy.  If you’re interested, here is a video of the museum’s history.

For those that can’t travel to Europe, it’s a wonderful opportunity to be transported back to a time long forgotten and buried deep beneath ash and mud.  There are tours to educate, or you can just wander about on your own imagining how a day in the life of an ancient Roman one-percenter might have been.

It’s also a great place to try out your hand at photography.  Gorgeous vistas immediately catch the eye but then amble about through the garden, and the details of the place catch one’s attention.  I love really looking at things and seeing what others might have walked past without noticing.

I love the symmetry of the layout.

I love the symmetry of the layout.

A lovely palm explosion

A lovely palm explosion

A covered walkway to grab some shade

A covered walkway to grab some shade

An amusing fountain spout

An amusing fountain spout

I get more interested in even finer details.  A woman sitting directly beneath these didn’t even see them until I pointed them out.

Grapes hung from a trellis canopy

Grapes hung from a trellis canopy

Crazy looking lily pads dot a pond

Crazy looking lily pads dot a pond

Water trickles from a fountain creature's open mouth

Water trickles from a fountain creature’s open mouth

This is how I see the world.  I’m far more interested in the minute than in the grandiose.  For me, God is in the details.

A familiar pattern hidden in tile mosaic

A familiar pattern hidden in tile mosaic

Beauty captured in marble

Beauty captured in marble

A naughty little image at the bottom of a wine cup

A naughty little image at the bottom of a wine cup

After a few hours of roaming, I started to feel a bit like this little guy.

All tuckered out

All tuckered out

But there was so much more to see, so I will return and look some more.

Wisdom Remembered

In the chaos and hullabaloo of life, it’s easy to lose one’s calm.  When viewed as a whole though, life is no worse or better than it ever was.  It just is what it is and that is that.  It’s a dance with steps forwards and back and forwards again.  Cha cha cha.

When my younger self was anxious or fearful, and I had exhausted the limits of what I could handle, I would usually get really still and quiet.  In the stillness, thoughts would rise up from the depths.  Sometimes in the form of an image or a phrase.  But always the exact things I needed to hear.  I got a reminder this weekend of something that I had already learned but had forgotten for a bit.

The world is not an ugly place.  Ugly things sometimes happen in this beautiful world.

Just because there has always been war and strife for as long as humans can remember, just because fear and anger drives people to do horrible things to each other doesn’t mean this is what has to be.  Life is not inevitable, but you have to remember that you will always go in the direction that you are headed.


How we behave is a direct function of how we view the world.  When we view the world as a scary and dangerous place, we will treat it as such.  If the world is impersonal, then we are at its whim. Some people see scarcity where others view a bounty.  Kindness and cruelty are two sides of the same coin.

What you see can often be what you get.

What’s it Like in Your Town?

Once there was an old and very wise man. Every day he would sit outside a gas station in his rocking chair and wait to greet motorists as they passed through his small town. On this day, his granddaughter knelt down at the foot of his chair and slowly passed the time with him.

As they sat and watched the people come and go, a tall man who surely had to be a tourist-since they knew everyone in the town-began looking around as if he were checking out the area for a place to live. The stranger walked up and asked, “So what kind of town is this we’re in?” The older gentleman slowly turned to the man and replied, “Well, what kind of town are you from?” The tourist said, “in the town I am from everyone is very critical of each other. The neighbors all gossip about everyone and it’s a real negative place to live. I’m sure glad to be leaving. It is not a very cheerful place.” The man in the chair looked at the stranger and said, “You know, that’s just how this town is.”

An hour or so later a family that was also passing through stopped for gas. The car slowly turned in and rolled up to a stop in front of where the older gentleman and his granddaughter were sitting. The mother jumped out with two small children and asked where the restrooms were. The man in the chair pointed to a small, bent-up sign that was barely hanging by one nail on the side of the door. The father stepped out of the car and also asked the man, “Is this town a pretty good place to live?” The man in the chair replied, “What about the town you are from? How is it?” The father looked at him and said, “Well, in the town I’m from everyone is very close and always willing to lend their neighbor a helping hand. There’s always a hello and thank you everywhere you go. I really hate to leave. I feel almost like we are leaving family.” The older gentleman turned to the father and gave him a warm smile. “You know, that’s a lot like this small town.” Then the family returned to the car, said their thank yous, waved goodbye and drove away.

After the family was in the distance, the granddaughter looked up at her grandfather and asked, “Grandpa, how come when the first man came into our town you told him it was a terrible place to live and when the family came into town you told them it was a wonderful place to live?” The grandfather lovingly looked down at his granddaughter’s wondering blue eyes and said, “No matter where you move, you take your own attitude with you and that’s what makes it terrible or wonderful.”

From Stories for the Heart, Multnomah Books