It’s been about two weeks since last I posted – as anyone knows, the pandemic and associated social distancing, etc is still going on, and probably will be for quite a while longer. Things really aren’t that exciting, in other words. But Nicki has come over every weekend and that has made the time go by a little better, as the weekends don’t feel just the same anymore. I’d probably have lost my mind even more if we didn’t start doing this.
So, since you know this bitch loves to post pictures, here are some from the last few weeks. Keep scrolling though as I will go into the things I’ve added. I promise.
PwC gave us a 4-day weekend for the Fourth of July. It was much needed. On Thursday, July 2, which most people didn’t have off, I decided I’d finally make myself go out to Target. I hadn’t been since the lockdown began, so some time in early March? I was worried a little, but happily, everyone had masks on, it wasn’t super crowded, the lines were organized, and people respected each other’s personal spaces. I spent more money than I probably should have, but that haul included getting two more Ticket to Ride games, Europe and NYC. Spoiler alert, Ticket to Ride Europe is fantastic, challenging, and the only I’ve really got a shot at beating Nicki at. Anyway, on Thursday, I also cleaned the house pretty good, including mopping the floors with my favorite mop. Larry is rolling his eyes somewhere.
Floor is Lava: During this weekend, I binged the Netflix series, Floor is Lava. Holy shit, it’s amazing. Imagine a big obstacle course you take on as a 3-person team, but the ground is instead “lava” that you have to not fall into. The goal is to get to the exit on the other side of the room, and holy shit it’s not easy. I loved every episode. The first episode had those 3 guys in the American Flag tank tops above, and I loved them all. All the episodes included plenty of attractive men, and the winners were often surprising. Anyway, amazing show. Give me more!
Ticket to Ride – Europe: This game is so fun, and so perfect. The core USA game is also a blast, but the Europe board really adds a lot of complexity and a forced ‘long route’ means you can’t avoid a painful cross-continent route. Tunnels and ferries are also a great addition to the challenge. I’ve played these on the app before, but the real thing is just so fun.
On Friday, July 3, I then got the courage to go to Ralph’s for the first time since March too. I do appreciate Instacart’s convenience, but man, that got expensive quick. All the surcharges plus you don’t get the discounts from store memberships really add up.
Nicki came over on Saturday for the Fourth of July, and we had a nice rooftop afternoon of Ticket to Ride Europe and music and drinking. For dinner, I fired up the grill and made hamburgers and hot dogs. Made hamburger patties from one of the ground beef packets I got from Butcher Box, so happily I’m chipping away at all the meat I’ve been storing up. I actually had to go down to every 2 months as I just don’t get to the meat that regularly. So to speak. In the evening, we began our watch of Search Party Season 3, which is amazing and continues the show’s slide into darkness (while also mixed with hilarity). We took a break though, as Nicki had to experience what fireworks in the SFV are like. That’s shorthand for fireworks (illegal or not) being launched EVERYWHERE you could see from the roof. I’ll have to post the pictures I took last year when Larry and I enjoyed the festivities from the roof and update a link here when I do, as I didn’t bother this year taking pictures, but anyway, her mind was suitably blown. It really is ridiculous.
Search Party, Season 3: This group of friends wades ever deeper into the holes they keep digging, and it’s impossible not to binge this entire season at once to see what happens. These 4 characters, as well as those that get wrapped up in their orbit, can at times be the worst, and it’s just so watchable. Of course, it ends on yet another really surprising cliffhanger, and online it sounds like the 4th season has already been filmed? Let’s hope, because jesus.
On Sunday, July 5, Nicki and I ended up also binging one more show before she went home, which is a wonderful show called I Am Not Okay With This. I’m not sure how much to reveal, but the trailer here should be enough to make you want to watch, as it is another really fun show and one where it’s like, I’m ready for the next season:
I’m a sucker for anything Fireball Island, and I found out that another expansion had been released. Yes, I realize that I have played this game only a handful of times as it does take a lot of setup and a lot of explanation of rules, but it is just the funnest fucking game to look at and once you play, and those fireballs start flying? HELLS YES. I got the latest expansion and had to put it together, and here are the results. One day we’ll play this.
On Sunday night, I also challenged myself with another ambitious (for me) dinner recipe, making a ribeye steak, using a recipe I found online. It included making it in the cast iron skillet, along with creating a thyme, rosemary, and garlic in-pan sauce, which omg was amazing. I documented it as what else do I have to do?
The work week, like all work weeks since the pandemic, is a blur. It was particularly painful this week coming after a 4-day weekend. Fuck that. But every day, more yoga (yay, Adriene! I’m currently in the True 30-day program and up to 140 days now? wow), and while I backed off of my every day also doing jump-roping and/or band workout, I still do my best to add one of those at least after yoga. Then it’s work work work until around 6? Then cooking or something, and I’ll watch TV or play video games. I’m back on my Railway Empire kick after over a year not playing it. I started playing that back when Larry first got sick – I was terrible at it, so i gave it up. Then there was an association with Larry being sick, so I kinda didn’t play it again, but I did pick it back up as Anno 1800 can be so overwhelming. Anyway, that has been my game of choice lately, and it’s a satisfying thing. I think I want to start another of my action-adventure games soon. Will have to figure out which one.
Anyway, this weekend came – and it was kind of epic. Yesterday, in particular, a lot of cool stuff. First up, Mixtiles! Alright, so I may have to post the first set of Mixtiles pics that I took from last year, when I printed out 16 of my favorite LA shots that I’d taken. Larry and I then put them up on the first stairwell – and I loved them. But these weren’t people pictures – purely scenery, so you know, totally pretentious. So here’s the pictures from that fun activity with me and Larry. 🙂 I did put these on FB when we did it, and it’s posts like that which keep me from deleting FB entirely, as especially this last year, I didn’t post on my site much at all, but I would go on FB occasionally. Anyway:
June 2, 2019 – The First Mixtiles Adventure (w/ Larry)
As you can see, the result was spectacular. Honestly, I was so proud of how this turned out, and the work Larry and I did to make our home special. The rest of the year went to shit, obviously, as soon after this day, Larry had an appt at City of Hope where we got the first terrible news that things were not good and then obviously it wasn’t. I’m glad that I have many memories of us and him before that, and it was those things that I realized I needed to see as well.
Last month then, I went through my pictures from the last few years. I didn’t want to go back too far, so I stuck to like 2016 or so and after. I wanted memories of things that made me happy, and to capture Larry in his healthy, happy days. Also, I wanted pictures of my friends and family up too, as I really didn’t have any printed out. I absolutely love the Mixtiles concept – they’re so easy to use (no nails – it’s all contact strips and easy enough to take down and rearrange if needed) and the image quality is really something. I ended up picking 44 images that made me happy. I finally got them delivered last week, and I wanted to wait to put them up once Nicki was here as it was good to have a sounding board and someone creative who has ideas.
My initial concept was to do something with the entry floor wall. It was unused and boring, especially facing the bright blue wall we painted down there. Then I got FORTY-FOUR Mixtiles and was like, oh shit, did I buy too many? You can see that they don’t seem big on the wall, but in the delivery box, they kind of seem bigger?
You may have noticed that these Mixtiles I chose a different format. In the first round of scenic shots, I had them add a white border (pseudo-mat). It made the pics look kinda classy. But for these people pics, I wanted as much pic as possible. So they filled the frame, and I think that also made them feel bigger. So I started to panic thinking there’s no way they’ll fit on the wall alone.
When Nicki came over yesterday, Saturday, July 11, we got to work figuring out with some rough math approximations what would work. 44 splits evenly only with 4 rows of 11 pics, and that wouldn’t work all that well. Larry and I had used the deck-of-cards trick to separate the first round of Mixtiles, and I wanted to do that again as I love that spacing. So Nicki and I settled on 5 rows of 8 pics, hoping that the top row wouldn’t seem so high. We kind of tried to approximate it before committing, and it didn’t seem too bad. Happily, we were right. We took 40 of the pictures and rocked the hell out of the entry wall – it looks fantastic. I chose the 4 that wouldn’t be part of this 4 for another area, as you’ll see soon.
I am unbelievably happy with how well this turned out. It’s also kind of overwhelming – a lot of love on that wall, and it reminds me of what I, and all of us, have been robbed of. Larry is dead and I still can’t accept that and miss him and need him here. I also miss my friends and the ability to go be with them. Grieving in this manner is not normal and I recognize I occasionally lose my fucking mind. It’s not fun. So I do things like this to work through it – and as I said in my social media post, this is a way to walk to work and see my friends and family. 🙂
Upstairs, on the landing heading downstairs, that’s where i put the last 4 pictures:
I love these pics of us, and I can’t tell you how magical that picture of Larry looking out at that beautiful sky (and rainbow – which you can just barely see here) is. Anyway, he was and is loved, and I fucking miss him. But we had 10+ amazing years together, and that’s not nothing.
Yet this day was not done. I had enlisted Nicki’s help when she first got here, so I then allowed us to have a sun break, so back to the roof deck for sun and Ticket to Ride fun.
We headed back inside after a few hours as it was easily 100 degrees, and even under a deck umbrella, it’s still effing hot. So we watched The Old Guard movie on Netflix, and holy shit, watch that movie. IT’S SO FUCKING GOOD, and like everyone else on Twitter says, where’s the goddamned sequel because damn. Charlize Theron (and everyone else) was so good in this, and the story was so compelling, and the mythology, everything…..damn. SO GOOD.
While watching the movie, we took a break as we got a Facetime call from Alyssa & Jon because it was Rachel’s 4th birthday and she got a Travel Barbie from her Uncle Hobie (and Larry). So we got to celebrate a little with them (and Fran and Joel, who were over). I do love them all so much.
A delicious pot roast dinner was on tap for the evening, and it was wonderful. Nicki brought asparagus and it was so good, and the slow cooker was a champ with the roast. YUM.
And FINALLY, something I’ve been thinking about since the first time Larry & I toured the Glen LA model homes: a fucking rooftop theater is now my reality. Seriously. So, we’d had ideas about how to do it from Day One, but of course it’s not a priority thing to do, and with everything else that happened last year, rooftop cinema was put on hold. We did end up getting the surround sound speakers installed in the living room, which holy shit, that’s still some awesome shit, and Larry definitely got to enjoy that. Actually, I’m gonna post those pictures here too, as this blog post is not nearly long enough. When watching The Old Guard in the early evening, it was stunning how good the sound was.
July 6, 2019 – Getting Surround Sound Speakers!!!!!!
Anyway, that detour into 2019 was necessary. I was so thrilled getting that in place, and knew waiting on that with the news we had was foolish – let’s just make this part of our lives more enjoyable as Larry and I both loved watching movies and he knew I’d always wanted a kick-ass experience for home.
Back to July 2020 – I’d been really wanting to do something for the roof. I can see my neighbors have done various things that i’m envious of – especially market lights, which is probably the final thing to do as Larry really wanted those. I’ve seen TVs mounted on the wall, a white sheet hang on the wall….but I’ve not really wanted that. So I did some research and a projector and screen seemed the best bet. I still didn’t want to mount anything on the exterior of my house, so I did find a solution for finding a screen that could be affixed to a stand-alone structure that could be assembled and disassembled fairly easily. The projector though was going to be key – you could totally skimp out and buy something cheap but you’re gonna get what you pay far. I did a google search and Wired had a listing of various Bests concerning projectors. My spidey-sense was tingled when I saw the BenQ projector option, and lo and behold, it’s a really popular projector. So popular, it’s sold out everywhere. Having used it myself now, I understand why. I did find a listing on eBay with a $200 markup, and while initially hesitant, I pulled the trigger. I also couldn’t find the recommended Yard Master screen anywhere (sold out everywhere) and I noticed it was kind of fucking expensive. So in Amazon, I did find an alternate which had decent reviews, and was 100 inches. YAS QUEEN. The one little thing that called out to me was that one of the reviews pointed out that the structure holding the screen is really deep – like 4 feet or so. I did the measurements where I had wanted the screen to get set up and was like, 4 feet? That’s fine.
I got the projector first and did a test run setting it up in my bedroom using the Apple TV from the guest room. Fran had made use of that Apple TV while she was here in 2019, but now it was sitting unused as Michancy and Nicki weren’t using it. So I had my entertainment streaming device, hooked it up to the projector, and prayed that I hadn’t been sold a lemon. I had not.
This BenQ projector is absolutely no joke. The picture quality is fantastic. Even against just a white wall, the image quality is outstanding. It’s not a 4K projector and I honestly don’t need that as an HD DLP projection is stunning. If you’re in the market for a proejctor, this one is well worth considering. You can see though, even in these images, that a reflective white surface of a screen is going to help the images pop, so while I do love that I actually have the option of watching something in bed, the image can get better.
So last night, after dinner, it was time to test it out! First thing was figuring out how to assemble the screen’s frame – and come to the realization that a 4 foot depth was a lie. This thing easily has a 6 foot depth, which is bigger than expected. (Thank god for Nicki btw, as I was buzzed enough and the directions and darkness were enough for me to give up, but she persisted, and yay for that!) My thought of having it in the nook of the roofdeck was not going to work. But I saw how big the triangle was of the support frame and saw it could easily fit around the deck umbrella support, and holy shit, it was perfect. The deck furniture worked facing that way, the distance was perfect, and if the neighbors wanted to watch a movie with us, they totally could (and they did, honestly. I could hear them looking which was awesome). I was trying to get the Bose speaker hooked up to be the sound, but I just couldn’t. It was dark, i was somewhat buzzed, and the projector’s speakers were fine, which is kind of awesome.
We could have watched any new movie, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to watch a Larry favorite in his memory, and so I chose Back to the Future. Let me tell you, watching that on that fucking 100 inch screen was AMAZING. Like, I do not need to go a movie theater again. The sound up there is obviously the lacking part, but honestly, it didn’t suck either. And the picture was huge, and it was crystal clear. It was magical. i’m excited to watch other favorites this summer as at night, even if it’s been 100 degrees during the day, that makes for really comfortable evenings. That was kind of a motivation for me to just get the projector too – to take advantage of the good weather.
Geez that was a lot of pictures and stuff. But honestly, it was an epic day. I’m glad to have had the detours back to 2019 as I remember those moments fondly and vividly.
This morning, Nicki and I had breakfast and watched the Hulu movie Palm Springs with Andy Samberg and Cristin Millioti and wow, what a fantastic movie. Groundhog Day style plot but a really entertaining twist on it with great comedic performances.
And that’s that – time to relax and enjoy the rest of this Sunday afternoon. I hope to talk with my mom a little, drink some more, and consider setting up the roofdeck cinema again for something like The Empire Strikes Back, which I heard was the number one movie in America this weekend as the only things counting towards box office gross are drive-in movies!!! WHAT THE FUCK WORLD IS THIS.