Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Two days ago, maybe?

The only good thing about humidity is it makes your skin look absolutely fabulous.  All of that moisture.

Otherwise, it is a misery, but the beauty is, summer only lasts for two months around here.

The forest that is our lot is so old, the leaves are really too big to fully understand when written about, so here are a few photos to have something to compare.

It is just past a year since Bullet died, and it is coming up on two years since my cat Monkey died.  I have not been able to write about Monkey, and I just got word that my friend Tara Zucker lost her cat Blanche.

Tara writes much more eloquently than I, and her life with Blanche is a beautiful chronology of how we come to love the four-legged creatures that speak so well, if only we were smart enough to understand.

My shoe size? Six and a half.  Ahem

My shoe size? Six and a half. Ahem

Hand?  Not much bigger than foot.

Hand? Not much bigger than foot.

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There was a rabbit. He was running around in Koreatown, Los Angeles, where I was teaching English as as Second Language.

It was July 9th, ten months after my father, Bill Mahan, died.  July 9th happened to be Bill’s  birthday.

I saw all of the students, of every level, yelling in their native language and running around in circles in ninety degree heat.

It was lunchtime, so I did not want to be the bitch teacher screaming “English, people, English!” – but I was intensely curious and needed someone to have done enough of their homework  to clue me in.

(Granted, I had purchased every student a copy of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” to show them that the English language did not always translate across every state).

They were chasing a rabbit.  I knew nothing of rabbits, and I was wearing the one good pair of pants I owned.

I waded in, and saw him under the ficus, loaded for bear.  He had big teeth and an attitude.

I grabbed him, and god help me, he went quiet.  The students and other teachers were in a circle, laughing.

“Now you own him!” or “You just caught dinner!”

I knew if I brought home another animal, Tomas’s patience would wear thin.

We all got through it.

Billy “The Bullet” Mahan lived with us for about 6 years. When we decided to get out of Los Angeles for good, we had a 5-week stopover in Ojai, California.   As my faithful readers know, Bobby the Crow, Billy “The Bullet” Mahan, Vito and Vinnie the cats, Tomas and myself relaxed and gathered our wits in Ojai, and began prepping for the trip one year ago this month.

The Bullet was old, and he did not make it past the first stop over in Ojai.  He enjoyed being there for a month, and had built up quite a little fan club when people would walk by and see him in his big round pen, relaxing under the trees outside, before we would bring him in for the evening.

Local Ojai folks liked to stop at the little wooden fence and talk to him.

At dusk one night, I went out to bring him in, and he was not feeling well.  He died very suddenly about an hour later, to my shock, disbelief, and tremendous sadness.

He is buried under two huge, beautiful oak trees on the land of Lisa and John Adair.  We miss him every day.

There will never be another Bullet.

Lady? I could arrest you for hitchhiking......

"Lady? I could arrest you for hitchhiking....." .photo: Kelly Mahan Jaramillo, The Bullet

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I started a post on my old friend and employer, Mrs. C, full name – Dr. Marjorie Carpenter, and managed to accidentally delete it. Twice.  I have a feeling I was being too maudlin, and her ghost would have none of that.

Where to start?  She was unique in her wrath and tenacity, long after it mattered.  She knew how to be a friend, yet never seemed comfortable with affection.

She was educated long before it was allowed.  By her mother, from what I gather.  Mrs. C. kept personal information close to her chest, unless she was on her third martini.  That, however,  did not guarantee information, generally, she simply waved a knife in he air and bellowed profanities at whomever was in her path.

She loved to lie about her age, generally rounding up, so I do not know if she was 95, 98, or 102 years old.  I believe I am in the ballpark there.

For those of us who worked for her and had a love/hate relationship with her, she mattered, so much.

Her best friend and confidante, JF, had a poem that was Mrs. C’s favorite. It involves daffodils.

A long time ago when I was broke, my mother, clueless, asked me if I had ever considered being a maid.  I laughed, hard and long.  I asked her if she had ever cleaned houses as her job.

I was met with my mothers classic brand of stumbling word salad that deftly manages to change the subject.

Mrs. C. treated me with more respect than any employer I have ever had.  And yes, I was a “maid” a “House Keeper” an employee.

I have been dreaming about the house on Bonvue Ave., it is a recurrent dream, and I wake up sweaty and sad. In the harsh morning, I am tired, I feel old.

ACK!  2008 there were so many people who are no more. We go on until it is our time, whenever that is.

Just because I am able to acknowledge it does not mean that I accept it with dignity, or even resignation.

Death makes me angry.  However, for those who are out of their failing bodies and minds, I imagine Death is a welcome friend.

I believe it was for Mrs. C., and for her to be free from the limitations of old age and being bedridden, I am happy for her.

For myself, JF, Rover, and a number of others, we will miss her terribly.



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For the handful of folks out there who read this blog, I am assuming you might be animal lovers.  You probably have figured out that we are animal lovers.  For those of you who also follow my other blog ‘What Happened?!‘, you are aware that I intensely dislike Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, and the many heinous laws she has passed, in particular, the aerial wolf hunting law.  I was going to post a video of what the aerial hunting looks like on this blog, but it is so disturbing, I could not bring myself to do it.  I just privately e-mailed it to everyone I knew.

However, there is a petition I would like to post here – in the midst of all the Palin comings and goings, this petition is getting overlooked, and it is going straight to Palin, protesting the legality of aerial wolf hunting.  

If you have a moment, and have a heart, please take just a few minutes to sign the petition.  No money, just your signature.  You do not have to be from Alaska, either. Go to:

Care2 petition site

Thank you very much.

Kelly Mahan Jaramillo

Posted In Memory of Colleen May Mahan 

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It is a cold, rainy day here, it is supposed to snow tomorrow, and I am feeling sad and low.  It is not the weather, I love this weather.  It is probably the news from the comment section of the last post, and it has left me with a more in-my-face awareness of death than is usually hanging about.


Without denying the sadness, or running from it, I am looking at pictures of life, the life all around me, and try to reconcile the enjoyment of life with the fact that it is impermanent.  


I have a secret weapon – Kayla the Wonder Dog.  My friend Carol Johnson’s dog, who is possibly the greatest dog known to mankind.  I got to spend almost a year at Carol’s house in the Hollywood Hills almost every day, doing work there, and part of this fabulous job was to walk and brush Kayla.  It was so much fun, really, that I should have been paying Carol, not the other way around.  

So, I pull up pictures of Kayla when I feel low, and it helps get the ball rolling to sit with my own crew and enjoy them while they are here, and not cry now for something that has not yet happened.


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Last night Tomas and I were up pretty late, working on the house, writing, etc.  I suddenly had a salt craving, but I was not hungry.  As I passed through Bobby’s room, he barked “Hello!” at me and I thought I would give him a few sunflower seeds as a treat.  Sometimes he likes one or two roasted, salted, unshelled ones.  As I doled them out, I ate a handful, which only intensified the craving.

Nothing but a pickle would do.  Thank god we had some thinly sliced dill pickles in the ‘fridge.  I dove in, holding myself over the sink so that pickle juice would not drip all over the place, when my long ago friend Lali Lugassy popped into my head.

As I had written a post on my other blog ‘What Happened’, Lali was by best friend from 6th grade until I was around 30 years old.  We did not get into a hassle, we just started drifting into different worlds.  

I received an e-mail from her daughter a few weeks ago informing me that Lali died in May.

I have been grieving in my own way, not only for her, but for whom she has left behind, and I am full of regrets for not picking up the phone when I had thought about her, which was so often, in the last ten years.

Last night, as I was chowing my pickle, I got hit with a hard jolt of memory – – and non-memory.  The non-memory part really bothered me.  I, for the life of me, cannot remember what she craved when she was pregnant.  We hung out quite a bit when she was pregnant, and I saw her daughter being born, but this particular memory eludes me.


I remember her insisting that we home dye her hair, even though pregnant women are not supposed to dye their hair – she was determined.  It was the late eighties, and we all had to hang on to our jet black punk dye job, even if a comet was hurtling towards the earth, we had to have our hair right.

I remember her sitting in a chair in the kitchen in the apartment in Venice where she and her husband Joey lived, carefully applying the dye, waiting the required 45 minutes, only to have her scalp turn jet black and her hair not take the color at all.  We were horrified, but still hysterical with laughter.  She kept screaming, “my HEAD!  My WHOLE HEAD is black!!  What are we going to do??”

There was no Google back then, so we could not just jump on the computer and type in the question, we did not have enough money to go to a professional and have them fix it, besides, it was a Friday night at about midnight.  We called Mundo, a hairdresser friend, and he was stumped, saying, “I guess you are just going to have to wash your hair alot until it fades….”


I remember coming over one day, and Lali was busy putting up a crib, or a changing table, placing all sorts of baby items around the small apartment.  She was being very efficient and bustling about, a bit of a departure from her usual laid back self.

“What are you doing?” I asked, a bit taken aback at the pregnant tornado that roared by me into the bedroom.

“I’m nesting,” she said firmly.

“You’re what?”  I looked at my seven month pregnant best friend, with whom I had cut school with, road around on a motorcycle with, raided her parents refrigerator with, sat in detention with, blazed on acid with, too many things to recount that did not fit in with, ahem, “nesting.”


I started laughing uncontrollably, and she stopped buzzing about, fixed me with her classic Lali stare, folded her arms, and snapped “What? It is what all the book say happens in the seventh month.  I can’t help it.  Since I am the one who is pregnant, would you like to shut up and help me?”

That just made it worse – I had gone to the sink to have a glass of water and stop laughing, but for some reason, her new and rather sudden mother lion attitude just killed me, and I wound up spewing water all over, out my nose and mouth.  My best friend was being possessed by hormonal nesting syndrome, and frankly, I didn’t and still don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies, and I certainly was clueless on how to “nest”.


But, I pulled myself together, and let her be a drill sergeant, and we “nested” the day away.  A rather atypical day for two hellraisers.

When that memory surfaced, I had a physical recap of the day, started to laugh, and pickle juice spewed out of my nose.

But for the life of me, I cannot remember what she craved.

But I am going to keep trying, because when I try, memories like those above come up, and I feel Lali close to me, and we are our young fool selves, laughing until we wet our pants, all over again.

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