Monday, April 29, 2013

Venice Neighborhood Book Park

I was cruising around the other day, just happy to be right where I was, when I got even happier. Right on the corner of Altair and Andalusia is the Venice Neighborhood Book Park!

Like the "Little Free Library" movement popping up around the country, the VNBP is a little box that anyone can come by and leave or take a book to read. For free. Books for everyone! A friendly guy was just leaving when I rode up, and said, "I just left a whole bunch of new ones in there!" I already have a fat back log of books to read (and, ahem, write!) so I didn't take any on this day, but I sure have a bunch I can leave. If there's any room! It seems to be pretty popular, as the box was stuffed.

The box itself has little plastic dragons guarding it, and a rasta colored ONE LOVE sticker on the side. I love everything about it. These are the little surprises that you chance upon in Venice, and what keeps it special. The whole city could use dragons guarding it now, and the reminder that ONE LOVE is really all that matters.

OK, gotta get reading...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

An Open Thank You Note To Venice and Minnesota

Please let me take this opportunity to spill my heart all over the place and THANK my two homes, Venice and Minnesota.

If you've ever met me you know that my Mom is a big deal to me. I've never met a better lady, ever. She had a heart attack in Minnesota while I was on the phone with her in Venice. I was beside myself. Minnesota friends went to her even before I could. Venice friends got me there overnight.

Minnesota friends picked me up at the airport, took me straight to the hospital, and gave me strength to handle seeing my Mom all hooked up to a million things. The way her face lit up when I walked in absolutely proves the power of love to heal. Venice/LA friends called and texted and let me know that we had thoughts and prayers going in my absence. People everywhere that I didn't even know attended Church told me about adding my Mom to their prayer chains. Facebook blew up with beautiful messages and offers of ANYTHING to help, from every place I know people internationally, especially Venice, especially Minnesota, particularly from the unusually close and timeless friends that were/are Richfield Spartans.

Minnesota friends brought me lunch, stole me away for a stiff drink, made a party for me when I got home late one night so I could see friends, and held me while I cried on their shoulders, both from fear and joy.

When I'd leave the ICU to check messages, every time there was new love and light shining on us from sunny Venice. This was extra needed when there were not one, but TWO April blizzards while I was back, which I was totally unprepared for, packing wise. I was the only person in Minnesota thrilled about it, since I'd missed Christmas back there this year, and tried to keep it to myself as they are OVER it.

As I became used to the awful lighting (and food) of the hospital, I started to feel sick and in pain myself. Stress piled up on my neck and shoulders, and I started to feel hypochondriac-ish. That's when my dear friends, Christine, Jane and Kate stepped in and took me out of the hospital to hear some music and get some fresh air for an hour at the MacPhail Center for Music, where Jane is the lead singer in her 10 year old rock band. Perhaps to Jane's embarrassment, her "Fairy Godmother" also needed to rock, and blow off some steam, even if for just a sorely needed hour out of the Heart Center. The 10 year olds gave me the uplift and spirit to go back to the hospital, stronger and more hopeful - both for my Mom, and the future, with kids as great as these coming up.

I would read Mom messages from my family of friends in both homes, and see her eyes regain that familiar twinkle every time. Just knowing that you have so much love lifts you up to feel like you can handle anything. And we did.

Mom had scary surgery on her beautiful heart. It went well, and the only reason they didn't have to admit me to the Psych Ward during that was because all of my people from all over had my back so lovingly well.  Every day Mom is getting a little better, though it's a whole new life now, and a lot of change is underway for her. I could only leave (real life still rolls on) because I saw first (and grateful) hand how very sweetly she is being taken care of, both by the lovely nurses and our friends.

I left Minnesota last night amid another blizzard. I was a sobbing wreck, and even the airport security guy was tender to me about it. That's Minnesota.

I awoke (after a long and crazy-delayed journey) back in Venice, to sunshine and profound feelings of gratitude. I came back to the news that my good friend, Bobby Brown (The World's Greatest Wino) had died. More than ever, I feel the truism that life is short, and you honestly have to do your best to have the best time you can, while you can. Venice friends - that I didn't even know KNEW about my Mom's ordeal - have stopped me every day, asking about her, and telling me to call if I need anything at all. People care. I went to the beach to inhale the fresh sea air, and close my eyes to give thanks ... for this life I've been given, for the abundant love I've been shown, and for the people and places I call home. Gratitude is glory!

As truly hard as that week was - it was also deeply beautiful. The humanity - that we were surrounded in like a huge embrace - was a lesson in how to be a friend. In how to live your life gratefully and positively. If you've ever thought I was sappy and gushing about that kind of stuff before ... well, now it's really on. For all time.

Thank you, dear friends and family of mine, wherever you live. From the bottom of the Gronners' completely full (and on the mend!) hearts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Street Wisdom

Literally. This little pointer is paved right onto the street in front of my new place.

I like it when people take the time to share what they think in interesting ways. I'm gonna go out and learn from my fellow man/woman right now! And then add to it ... And then ... PLAY! (I also like that the person in red writing did what was asked and added to it - making it even better).

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Big Red Sunday

Hello there! I'm a little behind on stories as I had to move. Again. More on that later, but amid the boxes and unpacking and re-situating (a little closer to the beach) and all the junk you have to do when you move, I found that my soul needed sunshine and friends more than organization. Thankfully, Big Red Sun and The Golden State on Rose Avenue hosted a day of music and fun in the sun last Sunday, where a whole crew of my favorite Venetians were participating.

Cup Cups were being served by Miss Vavine, and "The Dave" made my day. Delicious. If you're thinking about hosting an event and want some delicious party food to offer your guests, get a hold of Vav.

YUM. Miss Sophie was serving fresh roasted coffee alongside the Cup Cup cart, so I was all fed and set to get down to some of the best music in town.

Lacey Cowden started off the tunes, and I STILL cannot get her "Shotgun Lovin'" out of my head. I love her. Her rich, soulful voice just kills me. Get out to see her as soon as the opportunity arises, because a guy riding his bike by on Rose almost hit a parked car when he did a double take to see where the gorgeous music was coming from. So good she's causing accidents ... excellent.

Scotty P. took over the mic next, and I had a wave of nostalgia wash over me from the days when we'd sit on that dude's roof and hear him making up some of these very songs. He even made one up as he went along, about organic vegetables and Big Red Sun. I was a little disappointed that he left his shirt on, but it's still a little early in Spring, hence chilly. But still. Love you, Scotty P!

People came and went all day ... I stayed. People shopped, caught up, ate CupCups and BBQ from a cart parked in the street, and a taco truck pulled up in back as the party picked up.

It was a family affair too, as kids played among the plants and maybe even picked some flowers. Mia.

Paul Chesne rolled in with his band, and as usual, that's when it really got into the swing of things. He climbed up on the table and rocked the afternoon away.

I sat on a gorgeous red rocking couch with my friends and held my face up to the sun, listening to my friends jam, feeling awfully lucky. The stress of the previous week was totally forgotten for the moment, and I was able to simply sit and be grateful. And told people so all day, I couldn't help it.

The fun didn't stop there, however, as then there was a party to celebrate the short film by Venice's Joey Indrieri, Heading Weast, at the home of its star, Venice's Patrick Wilkins. In fact, almost the entire production company was made up of people who call Venice home, and it shows.

You may now watch it here:

Yes! So many talented people mixed together all day, some of whom I hadn't seen yet all year, so the day was just completely great. And exactly what I needed the most.

Thank you to everyone involved in a perfect Venice Sunday elixir. Bless each one of you.

*Rumor has it that Big Red Sun is going to be throwing more of these Sunday Fundays this Summer. Stay tuned!