Thursday, August 8, 2019

Pet Rocks at the Pool

Sometimes a pet rock just needs to take it easy....

Here's Rocky, relaxing in what used to be a floating pool beverage holder. Now it is his favorite place to hang out. Pet rocks often like to swim at dusk so they don't have to worry about putting on sunscreen.  They like to spend about an hour at the pool. They call this "swimming".

When Rocky floated to the side and asked for a snack. He wanted crackers and cream cheese with a garnish of fresh dill on top of each one. And a Slurpee from 7-11.

When Rocky's mom got seasick - her pink flamingo kept tipping from all the tiny waves

 When they both got scared after an orange butterfly flew overhead...

Our pet rocks always get distracted by fluffy clouds, especially when they are hanging out at the pool.

Our two pet rocks - just floating under the blue sky, taking in the wonder of it all, and then asking for two tiny towels so they could dry off and go back inside.

(c) 2019 writing and pics by Chloe Koffas (with help from my daughter!) - all rights reserved. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

When Pet Rocks House Sit for Retro Fisher-Price Little People

Our pet rock, Rocky, and his mom, Roxanna, were asked by a family of retro Fisher-Price Little People if they would house sit while they went on vacation. It's a house with a lot of amenities, so they happily agreed. When the rest of the little family was packed up in the car, Fisher-Price Mom gave a few final instructions on picking up the mail. Then, she put on her favorite red outfit, and headed out the door....

If you are ever going to house sit for someone, I would highly recommend doing this for retro Little People circa 1969. Their houses have double ovens, and as you can see here, they left a roasting turkey for their guests in the lower oven and baking bread in the top one. The only reason Rocky was sinking behind the table was because his mom told him he was going to have to eat some asparagus with his dinner.

After dinner, Roxanna went upstairs to see about unpacking her suitcase. When she turned on the light, she realized the closet was already pretty full of late 1960's styles clothes, including some Jackie Kennedy style hats in boxes up on the shelf. She decided just to keep her clothes in her suitcase.

Meanwhile, Rocky was upstairs checking out the kids' room where he was going to stay. He had so many questions in his mind...was it okay to play with their toys? If so, did the sailboat need to go back to the exact same spot on the shelf?

Just then, he remembered he had left the garage half open. Any good house-sitter knows, you have to close the garage.

It was the end of a long day. They decided to relax by the fire as the sun went down. Every day is an adventure when you are a pet rock, especially when you are friends with retro Fisher-Price Little People....

Happy 50th anniversary to the little blue Fisher-Price house that so many of us Gen Xers played with in our pre-school days! My earliest childhood memories of the late 1970's are full of the images on the walls of these rooms.

(c) 2019 Chloe Koffas  


Note! We recently stumbled across some info about how certain retro Fisher-Price toys are toxic. Be careful about letting kids, especially little kids who chew on things, play with your old toys. Some of the pieces have been found to contain mercury, lead, arsenic and other toxic substances. Link here to Tamara Rubin's blog: Lead Safe Mama. She sends in toys to a lab to get them tested and blogs about it. We're all about the new Fisher Price vintage toys that have been made in recent years with the same style and graphics of the older toys. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Meet the Pet Rocks

The list of Gen X things loved by the Gen Z kids in my life is pretty extensive - Atari, Rubik's Cubes, fiber optic lights...and one thing they really love is pet rocks. We've decided to bring out the pet rocks for the summer and maybe adopt some new ones.

Last summer, we took some photos of Rocky (my daughter's pet rock) and Skippy (my Godson's pet rock). We'd like to share them with you now....

Skippy, who is always smiling, and Rocky, who is often in a state of surprise, talked about going for a swim. They brought out the pool toys, but then got concerned about sinking. They decided just to sunbathe instead. Then, later, they decided they did want to swim after all and got onto a tiny inflatable raft.

Rocky and Skippy, on their skateboards, hanging out on a hot summer day. The plan was to do some cool tricks, instead they starting zoning out, and stared straight up at the big, fluffy clouds passing by....

Rocky, after Skippy flew back home from his visit. As you can see, he wants to be flung from the launcher to score points. He's all about arcade ball, and he's a big talker, but he doesn't really know how to play.

Pet rocks like to give hugs, but they don't have arms, so they just snuggle comfortably on your cheek.

More pet rock pictures on the way's going to be a very fun summer!

(c) 2019 photos and writing by Chloe Koffas

Rosebud Entertainment currently holds the U.S. trademark rights to the Pet Rock. 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Visiting the Wonder Years House

The Wonder Years created a brilliant parallel between generations and time -- it aired from 1988 -1993, yet took place from 1968 -1973. The story was set against the backdrop of that turbulent era, focused of the coming of age of late-wave Boomers in the suburbs and covered the life of Kevin Arnold, as he grew from age 12 to 17. Danica McKellar played his girlfriend, Winnie Cooper, and was born (in real life) the same year I was, and all the actors who played these characters were late-wave Generation X. By design, from the history to the soundtrack, there was a strong connection that Boomers had to this show. And even if also by design, there is something universal about teenage angst, and it created a bond between people my age and the show's characters. Fred Savage, a young Gen Xer, made the show even more relevant to both generations.

Here's The Wonder Years house in Burbank, CA as it is now. I took this photo in late December 2018 when we came to visit this house with a friend. It brought up a lot of coming-of-age, deep emotions for me, as it probably does for anyone who stands in this space. The mild Southern California weather causes this majestic tree to drop its leaves at each passing Christmas even as the early spring buds sprout out at the same time -- like some literal symbol of family trees, and time, and generations. This tree keeps its roots exposed above ground like it has nothing to hide. And what we know of the suburbs and the human situation is that each story is ultimately the same story. The broken souls of Vietnam came home to the suburbs of America, and their own scars often became the scars of their children, just as their fathers, the soldiers of WWII, came home to the suburbs and did the same a generation before.

The soft light of the afternoon sun shines on the front of the house, warm and gentle, as it came through Harper's Woods, a symbol of firefly-catching childhood innocence in the show in 1988 as it depicted 1968. As the last days of 2018 turned to the days of 2019, the last of the leaves fell from this tree.

Of history that would unfold on this street in real life, and on any suburban street in America, an enormous rift would take place between the Boomers and Generation X that, for the most part, has never really healed. When the final episode of this show comes to an ending, Kevin's older sister, a Hippie Boomer, has a Gen X baby in 1973. Sometimes I hear of a Boomer who bought into the Me-Era of the 1970's or sold out to the Greed is Good Era of the 1980's who later apologized to their Gen X children who were often left to raise themselves, but it seems pretty rare. The current of culture can be alluring, and life is hard for any generation; maybe this show was a pause that we took once a week, for a few years, where we could momentarily empathize with each other. In the episode where Kevin goes to work with his father and sees the depressing job that makes him the tense and angry middle-aged man he is, it is a reflection on understanding as a path to forgiveness that spans the experience of all generations. As a person who often finds myself in generational conversations, I have noticed a pattern in our lives: when someone can actually just say the words, "I'm sorry" it speeds the forgiveness process by a lot -- reducing it to months or years rather than decades or lifetimes.

To quote the end of the pilot episode about growing up in the suburbs that applies to the way the 1960's yielded to the 1970's, and the way the 1980's gave way to the 1990's:

"We know that inside each one of these identical boxes, 
with it's Dodge parked out front, 
and it's white bread on the table, 
and it's TV set glowing blue in the falling dusk, 
there were people with stories, there were families bound together in the pain and the struggle of love,
there were moments that made us cry with laughter, 
and there were moments...of sorrow and wonder." 


(c) 2018/19 photos and writing by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Visiting the House from E.T.

The house from E.T. backs up to the steep and extraordinary San Gabriel  mountain range in Tujunga, CA. We had the chance to see it recently under a blue afternoon sky which was more than exciting and a little surreal. This picture was taken the week of Christmas 2018.

Whenever I am visiting one of these iconic Gen X places, like one that I first saw on the silver screen in my most formative years, my heart speeds up and I feel like some kind of electricity is connecting time and space in the ground below my feet.

Below is me in my Atari shirt in front of the house rocking it like it's 1982. I was born the same year as Drew Barrymore, so I looked a lot like her with the exact same string-tied blond pigtails when I saw the movie. She and Henry Thomas became a part of our hearts the first moment we all saw them in this house.

Decades have passed and the house hasn't changed much. These trees were just seeds in the ground as the film was being made - this was a brand new neighborhood at the time of the filming. These trees grew up as Gen X did. 

When we arrived at this suburb, it looked instantly recognizable as the place where Elliott and company trick-or-treated all those years ago. It felt strangely and unexpectedly bittersweet, like I was visiting one of my old neighborhoods. 

After we went and saw the house, the kiddos watched a viewing of E.T. in our friends' Burbank home theater while we had dinner and wine. On their tree was an ornament that was bought right after the movie came out. Another little unexpected snapshot of history to end a perfect day.

This was the gift box I put together before the trip to thank our friends for inviting us over (and for the kids to snack on during the movie). I took an empty box that had been full of Hallmark Christmas cards, put in some Reese's Pieces, and small cans of soda. I put in some microwave popcorn and my daughter drew and colored a Speak & Spell and taped it to the front. I cut out a white piece of construction paper for the moon and used a black marker for the trees. 

Here's to every magical moment we experienced as a generation. Here's to the greatness of story and how our own stories are a part of a greater collective story. As the last light-filled moments of the holiday season linger on, and as a new year begins, here's to hope that at any given moment, between the flicker of the stars, the universe may reach out to us in a way we never would have expected. 

For M.B. 

As a fun tidbit: 

Later the same year the movie came out, the Atari game for E.T. wasn't exactly what everyone had hoped for since the programmer didn't have much time to work on it, and the overstock of hundreds of cartridges were buried for years in a landfill in Alamogordo, New Mexico. A few years back, many of the games were pulled back out and sold on eBay.  Read more here: CNN Article on buried E.T. Atari games

(c) 2019 all rights reserved, pictures by Chloe and Telly Koffas

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Pink Sun Over Northern California

In Northern California, when the fires tear across the land, the sun sometimes turns pink, even hours before sunset. It gives you this sorrowful feeling that colossal suffering is happening not so far away. It reminds me of when I lived in the Midwest - when the the eerie yellow-green light would fall onto the streets just before a tornado would touch down. Pink sunlight in the middle of the day is surreal - and you always view it with smoke-filled lungs. 

When I heard that the fire nearby was the worst one since 1933, I couldn't help but think of the turnings of time, the patterns of generations, and how much of what we have experienced through history as Gen X, is connected to the Lost Generation - like earlier this year when the unbelievable flu season we endured was compared to that of 1918. When you are traveling in open spaces in California and you look out at the fields under the power lines where the green vegetables quietly grow, it's like you can still feel the sorrow and exhaustion of the migrant workers who came to California during the Great Depression.

Many of us are rolling up our sleeves organizing help in small local ways, because that's what Gen X does, and we are bringing our resources together. People across the state are offering whatever resources they have - land for displaced horses to graze, free housing, they are using airport space to reunite people with lost pets, good people in food trucks are giving out free tamales. Goodwill is handing out clothes, blankets and other necessities. Sometimes what people need most is a toothbrush. Sometimes what they need most is a hug. There are countless ways to help people in both parts of CA, whatever nonprofit you trust, if you want to donate, they are most likely helping out.

In the midst of all the great suffering and tremendous loss that has gone on under this sun, there are heroes emerging every moment - paramedics, fire fighters, people who are reuniting lost loved ones with each other and lost animals to their families, and girl scouts stacking canned soup into boxes that will be driven north.

Sometimes we don't even realize the resources we have, and in a flash of genius we are able to offer something no one else can. Sometimes we pray and we don't even realize we are praying. Sometimes we give because we remember a time in our lives when our suffering was similar to the people we see suffering at this moment.

In this moment, there may be a way for you to give in a way that no one else can.

(C) 2018 Chloe Koffas 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Get Ready for the Great Pumpkin!

My daughter and I made a Great Pumpkin diorama in a wooden crate as part of decorating for Halloween....

Sally should be making an appearance here somewhere, though these are the characters of the lil' Peanuts set we have, so we'll just go with it. Frosty little pumpkins await the upcoming holiday while Woodstock leans in for a hug and Snoopy dances.

Charlie Brown is disappointed to find rocks in his trick-or-treat bag during this beloved holiday special, though this was only because of a playful argument between animators. Empathetic children from all over the country mailed candy to the studio for Charlie Brown for years each time the special was aired. Those were some thoughtful little Gen X kids!

When the world is not the kind of place we would like it to be, let's use our voices, and hold up our signs, and when we grow tired, let's find a way to quietly sit, and wait, and hope for something better under a starry night sky....

Watch It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown 
Thurs., Oct. 18th, 2018 
8pm ET on ABC. 

How we made the diorama: Green scrapbooking paper is the ground of the pumpkin patch, blue sparkly paper is the night sky. The moon is construction paper, the pumpkins are decorative vase filler pieces, and the white picket fence is from a miniatures store.

(c) 2018 Writing and photos by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved


Seven Facts You Never Knew About It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown

The PEANUTS characters and related intellectual property are owned by Peanuts Worldwide LLC/Iconix Brand Group, Inc.