Look Ma', No Cash!

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Archive for the category “My Favorite Things”

Last Carousel Ride of the Evening (A Wolf At The Door Part IV:Part I?!)

We packed so many things into The Wolf’s second to last day in town that it’s going to take three posts to cover it! Granted mostly photo heavy posts.

After The Wolf had read my post about taking my Gramps to the Carousel he could not leave town without riding it himself.  I had work that morning, so we headed to the pier in the early evening. Making it just in time to ride the carousel, enjoy the vintage Soda Shop, and then pile on for the last ride of the evening.

After Gramps’ visit, I did some research on the carousel.

Scenic artwork on the top skirt of the carousel

Scenic artwork on the top skirt of the carousel

The carousel was built in the 1922 on the Pleasure Pier. I am happy to report that my Gramps was correct in his thinking that it was featured in “The Sting”(I think I inherited  my love for movie trivia from him). In 1990, the carousel was moved inside the Hippodrome.

It has 44 hand painted horses.

Photo by The Wolf

Photo by The Wolf

One Goat.


And one Bunny.

Shirt and skirt thrifted during our Joshua Camping Trip.

Shirt and skirt thrifted during our Joshua Camping Tree

The magical music is provided by a real working calliope.

Our first round on the carousel, I took the bunny, Gibby took the horse next to mine, and The Wolf rode a horse just behind us, and took control of my camera gifting me with these beautiful, if overly romantic shots of Gibby and I.

Such a charmer

Such a charmer

You'd think we were in love or something...

You’d think we were in love or something…

I regained control of my camera in time to get these “action” shot of The Wolf on his horse.

"Some day they're going to erect a statue of me in this town"

“Some day they’re going to erect a statue of me in this town”


“This thing has breaks, right?”

We then headed to Soda Jerks for shakes and to await last ride.


Soda Jerks moved into the Hippodrome in 2010 and is a wonderful ode to old fashioned soda shops and the memories of the owner’s grandfather.


It takes its cue from the carousel and is set to reflect the 1920’s, right down to the uniforms of crisp white shirts and pants and black belts, shoes and bow ties.  All the fixtures are from the 20’s through the 40’s and the ambiance of siting at a marble counter on a bar stool with your shake, listening to the calliope and watching the carousel go round and round is enough to make any vintage lover misty eyed.


Not to mention how tasty the shakes are…

I actually managed some rolled bangs!

I actually managed some rolled bangs!

We finished our shakes just in time for last ride. The Wolf took the goat, Gibby the horse beside him, and I took a horse just in front of them for some more photographs. Can you blame me?

DSCF6788 DSCF6791 DSCF6790I adore my silly silly boys.

As the carousel was winding down, one of the operators hopped on and asked me about why the last ride was so important to me. She remembered me from when we brought Gramps.  I told her about Grandma and Gramps always riding the carousel in whatever town they were in and how after I had taken Gramps on this carousel I decided it should be a tradition for me too. And what better way to make a tradition your own than to make sure you catch the last ride of the day? She smiled, and said I and my family and friends were welcome any time. Apparently, the sight of grown “adults” laughing and joking and singing on a carousel is something they don’t see every day…

How very disappointing.

We left the carousel just as they started locking the doors and headed to the beach to catch the sunset and some waves.


How A Book Can Save Us (No bullet stopping required)

I was talking to a coworker about my excitement in meeting Neil Gaiman and how the book I was having him sign saved me as a teenager when a customer piped up,

“Saved you? What did it stop a bullet”

Not all of my customers are great. I knew the argument I wanted to make would not be appropriate in that setting, so I said nothing.

But it’s still bothering me, so I wanted to tell you an important story:

When I was in High School, I wasn’t the best at maintaining a social life. I had friends at school, but I didn’t really hang out with people unless I was invited out. I’m still working on this trait, but it was very pronounced in High School and this combined with insomnia and health issues led to some very hidden bouts of depression.

When I was 16, I met a girl, Absinthe, who was an aspiring writer, like me. She loaned me a copy of “Neverwhere” by Neil Gaiman, and something inside me woke up. I delved deeper into my writing, so inspired by this author who wrote about magic worlds just hiding beneath the “real” one.  For my birthday, Absinthe gave me “American Gods” and on a trip to New York I bought “Coraline” and, most importantly, “Smoke and Mirrors”.

“Smoke and Mirrors” is a collection of short stories and poetry.

It changed the way I wrote. So many short stories I wrote during that time carry the same themes, or were inspired by a story. For the first time I started writing prose poetry, and I’ve never gone back. It changed the way I talked to people about myself and how I saw the world.

There is an introduction to each story and poem at the start of the book. Reading those introductions exposed me to Neil Gaiman’s personal sense of humor, and showed me that even a talented and amazing storyteller like him could get writer’s block, could be dissatisfied with a work but publish it anyway because it was “done”, could be told by editor after editor after publisher that something wasn’t good enough only to have it be published ten years later and win awards. I learned that his amazing stories and characters came from the same places that mine did. Somewhere inside, and mysterious, and something external and magical. I learned that I could be magic just by how I saw the world.

There were nights throughout High School and College that I couldn’t sleep due to loneliness and self doubt. There were times I stayed awake for days, content with nothing and unable to connect with anything or anyone. And I would read “Smoke and Mirrors” and a story or poem would speak to me and tell me that somewhere at sometime this faraway British writer had felt or thought something similar, because here was a character saying it or feeling it and here was a whole beautiful prose poem about that one thing that was keeping me up. I read the book so many times that the binding came apart. A friend bought me a fresh copy, but in the end, I gave it away. It wasn’t the same book that had made the journey with me, that had sculpted me as a writer, a storyteller and a human being.


That’s the book that saved me. That’s the book I took with me when I met Neil Gaiman.


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