Pondering, Photographing, and Writing about Wild Places

Earlier This Week

            “California, huh?”

            “Yeah. To see my aunt.”

            “What part?”

            “Los Angeles area.”

            “Oh, yeah? Say ‘hi’ to all the famous folks out there.”

            “Well. I don’t know all of them, but I will be having breakfast with Julie Andrews.”

            “Yeah, right.”

            “No. Really. I know her.”

            “You do not.”

            “I do. My Aunt was a Broadway singer. She knows a lot of famous people. Well, mostly ex-wives of famous people, but she’s good friends with Julie Andrews.”

            “No way! I can’t believe you never told me this. All the time we’ve known each other and you’ve been holding out on me. I love Julie Andrews.”
            “Are you kidding? Raindrops on roses? The hills are alive with the sound of music? Red paper kittens tied up with string! Julie Andrews rocks!”

            “ I never would have thought…wait, did you say, red paper kittens?”

            “Yeah. Tied up with strings. You know…these are a few of my favorite things.”

            “Yeah, I know, Jim, but it’s not red paper…”

            “Look Christie, you have to ask Julie Andrews a question for me! Besides…you owe me one.”


            She knew I was right. She did owe me one. I could hear the curiosity-bordering-on-fear in her voice as she wondered what I could possibly want her to ask Julie Andrews. “I don’t know her that well…” she started. “It’s no big deal,” I said. “She’ll get a kick out of it, and it will make my week.” I was insistent, unwilling to accept anything but an unqualified “yes,” and she knew it.

            “Alright. I’ll ask her.”

            Six days later I got an e-mail: “Cuban cigars, horseshoe crabs, soft pretzels you buy from the guys at a New York intersection, dirty martinis with a twist of lemon, men named “Cyril”, free lollipops at the bank, matching tweed suit and hat sets, spooning, extra butter on the movie popcorn, the smell of freshly cut grass…”

            Be still, my heart!

            I called my brother and left a message. “Hey Jeff. Listen to this.” After reading the email, I said, “Think about it, then call me.”

            An hour later I answered the phone.

            “Hey Jeff.”
            “Hey Jim.”


            “Well it could only be one thing.”


            “Julie Andrews’ favorite things.”


            “So…what is it really?”

            “Julie Andrew’s favorite things.”

            “No, really.”

            “Really. It’s Julie Andrews’ answer to my question, ‘what are your favorite things?’”

            I read the remainder of the e-mail to him: “Oh, and she also said that brown paper packages tied up with string still hit the spot every time.”

            “You’re serious?”

            I went on to explain the story about Christie, her aunt, the famous ex-wives and Julie Andrews. Jeff seemed to be equally surprised that I was able to get that question answered and that he guessed it right. I was definitely more surprised by the latter.

            A couple days later, Christie was back home and gave me a call.

“I still can’t believe you got Julie Andrews to answer that for me. Was that exactly what she said?”

            “Word for word.”

            “This is so cool. You know I’m gonna have to work it into a story.”

            “A story?”

            “Of course.”


            “Well what?”




            “You made it up!”


            “Christie! I’ve been bragging.”

            “How could you think that was the truth?”

            “How could you lie to me like that?

            “What did you expect?

            “What will I tell my brother? He is such a big fan that he actually keeps red paper kittens tied up with string in the glove box of his car.”

            “Jim, there are no red paper kitten.”

            “You haven’t looked in my brother’s glove box.”

            “Well…don’t tell him.”

            “You owe me one.”

            “What do you want?”

            “Put me in touch with Julie Andrews. This story isn’t finished yet.”





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