Monday, March 31, 2008

Miss Samantha Jane Noodles.
I don't know when Sam's birthday is, so I have decided that her birthday will be celebrated on April 1, because she is such a silly little dog. Some facts about Samantha:
  • when she is begging for food (and she is a TERRIBLE beggar), she sneezes to get your attention.
  • if you are eating something with a recognizable size - like a sandwich or a piece of pizza - she starts to seriously panic as it gets very small, and she realizes you may not be planning to share.
  • when we go for a walk in the morning, she keeps an eye peeled for worms on the sidewalk - she loves nothing more than to roll all over them. Sometimes, she digs them up in the grass to roll on them there, too.
  • she is a good watch dog (much better than Hanna), but she sometimes thinks we are being followed. One time, she was sure the autumn scarecrow set up outside the psychic's place was following us down PCH.
  • she likes to sleep under the covers.
  • she adores her big sister Hanna, and also likes to terrorize her by attacking Hanna as she runs by.
  • she doesn't REALLY like carrots, but eats them because Hanna does.
  • she doesn't snore very often, but she squeaks in her sleep.
  • her doggie boyfriends include Harley the Jack Russell and Jacques the French Bull Dog.
  • and finally, she is the best basenji-mix ever, and is one of my babies.

So, Happy Birthday, Noodles!

p.s. Since she shared equally in Hanna's cake, no cake for the girls again tomorrow.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One sock done . . .

Sunday night is my one night for must-see tv. Dexter, the Wire, and now, the return of the Tudors, the stylized history of Tudor England, with unbelievably attractive people in a day where lice, boils and bad teeth were de rigeur. In Season two's opener, Henry VIII continues his quest to divorce the saintly, but barren, Katherine of Aragon, in favor of that hussy, Anne Boleyn.

Baseball season opens tomorrow, and the Angels will at least look like a better team than last season on my HDTV.

Tuesday (April Fool's Day!) is jury duty for your's truly. Since I missed my designated report date, I have to show up and not just call in on Tuesday. Hopefully, this will be a good opportunity to catch up on some reading. I have twice been on juries - one criminal and one civil case - and while it is a valuable experience, I'm hoping to let someone else enjoy that opportunity.

Oh, and I joined the local gym yesterday, so no excuses!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cutest. Shoes. Ever.
And cushy and comfortable.
Yes, wearing red patent leather shoes today makes me feel like a princess. Well, a princess in an office buried in paperwork, but a princess nonetheless.
Thanks to everyone for the great book suggestions! I just placed an Amazon order for:
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne

King Dork by Frank Portman
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Plus, I already have In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner at home. I look forward to a month of happy reading!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My amaryllis is back, and with all those stalks to the right, it looks like a good year for my gladiola bulbs too.
I'm in the market for some happy, uplifting books. While the books I've been listening to on my iPod are good, they are definitely not happy. I recently completed The Colony - a history of the leper colony on Molokai, and then went straight into the Journey of Crazy Horse. (By the way, in the early 1980's, there was quite a bit of discussion about reviving the Colony, and sending AIDS victims to live there . . .).
Crazy Horse, is also a good book, but listening to tales of the American Cavalry gunning down villages of Lakota Sioux Indians isn't really a ton of fun. The only thing to look forward to is when that idiot George Custer loses the battle of Little Big Horn.
So, can anyone recommend some nice, light reading?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Please, please, let it be me . . .

The Obama campaign is running a win dinner with Barack promotion. Donors between now and the 31st are eligible to be chosen as one of four supporters invited to dinner with the Senator. And, dinner is on him. That's right - he's a class guy, no splitting the check. While you can give any amount, I donated fifty bucks just in case they are letting the campaign's CPA do the picking.

So in the highly unlikely event I am chosen, what questions would you want to ask a presidential candidate?

Questions I've considered and rejected:

Are my dogs eligible for cabinet posts?

If you win, will you wear this red, white and blue tie I knitted for you?

Would you like to borrow my lucky underwear?

Do you wish your parents named you Bob?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

One of my favorite authors is David Sedaris, and my favorite story of his, "Jesus Shaves" involves Easter. While living in France, Sedaris enrolled in a french class taught by a woman inspired by Attila the Hun, and one day, Sedaris and his and his fellow classmates attempted to explain Easter in french, with all the glory of their limited vocabulary, to a muslim student:
"He call his self Jesus and then he die one day on two . . . morsels of . . . lumber."
"Easter is a party for to eat of the lamb, one too may eat of the chocolate."
"The rabbit of Easter. He bring of the chocolate."
However you intend to spend the day, have a Happy Easter. It's a glorious spring day here in Southern California. And fingers crossed that my mother included some malted milk eggs in my basket.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Three sure signs of Spring . . .

The flowers are beginning to bloom again . . .

The girls got baths (and kudos to Noodles for being a very brave buckaroo) . . .
And thanks to Nanners, one more mourning dove bites the dust . . .

Thursday, March 20, 2008

I took everyone's advice, and ignored the news and instead watched 3:10 to Yuma on Movies on Demand. First off, I'm new to the whole DVR thingamabob, so the fact that you can pause and stop the movie seems like magic to me . . .

Anywhoo, I grew up watching westerns with my dad and brother, so I appreciate a good oater, and this is one. Russell Crowe is really good as outlaw Ben Wade, as is Christian Bale as good guy Dan Evans. Best line of the movie - Crowe to Peter Fonda's McElroy: "McElroy, I have always liked you, but you talk too damn much. Even bad men love their mothers.'

As a girl, my favorite western was True Grit, except I always had to close my eyes at the scene where the guy gets his fingers cut off.

High Plains Drifter is my favorite spaghetti western by far, and I've always been fascinated by the man with no name. For years I thought it was Marshall Jim Duncan's brother come to avenge his brother's death, but have come to see him as an avenging angel come to wreek havoc on the town of Lago. This idea is suggested at the end of the movie as the stranger leaves town and rides past Mordecai, carving the Marshall's name on a cross marking his grave. "I never did know your name" says Mordecai, "Yes, you do" says the stranger, as the camera pans to Marshall's name on the cross, and the stranger disappears into the horizon.

Apparently, Eastwood himself saw it both ways too: During an interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Eastwood commented that earlier versions of the script made the Stranger the dead marshal's brother. He favored a less explicit and more supernatural interpretation, however.

Eastwood uses the avenging angel/ghost imagery in Pale Rider as well, another of my favorite Eastwood westerns (along with Unforgiven). The idea that the Preacher/Pale Rider is a supernatural being is suggested early in the film when he is shown with six bullet wounds on his back—wounds that a mere mortal could not survive. On the other hand, when has any Eastwood character been a mere mortal? The character arrives riding a pale horse at the same moment that a teenage girl—who had earlier asked help from God—reads from the Bible in Revelations of the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse, Death riding on a pale horse. The movie ends with the girl crying out to the stranger as he rides into the hills: "Goodbye Preacher. I love you."

Will 3:10 to Yuma hold up as well as these other westerns have? Only time will tell, but it was a helluva good flick.

The headlines today say - "Dems leaning toward Clinton". I was sickened, I was panicked. Then I investigated. They base that statement - on one poll - Gallup. The headline ignores that every other pool has Obama leading . . .

Real Clean Politics Average
03/13 to 03/19
47.2% - Obama
44.2% - Clinton
Obama +3.0%

Gallup Tracking
03/17 - 03/19
43% - Obama
48% - Clinton
Clinton +5.0%

Rasmussen Tracking
03/16 - 03/19
46% - Obama
43% - Clinton
Obama +3.0%

CBS News
03/15 - 03/18
46% - Obama
43% - Clinton
Obama +3.0%

03/14 - 03/16
52% - Obama
45% - Clinton
Obama +7.0%

USA Today/Gallup
03/14 - 03/16
49% - Obama
42% - Clinton
Obama +7.0%

03/13 - 03/14
47% - Obama
44% - Clinton
Obama +3.0%
Ok, so that problem solved, but here is my dilemma. The presidential race is making me ill - I can't stand the stress of who will win the democratic nomination. I can't stand the stress of the idea of McCain as president. I can't stand the idea that this country may never recover from the damage done by Bush. These are thoughts that keep me awake at night. And I'm becoming addicted to keeping track of every blip on the screen about the elections.
How do I save myself from myself?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Fight the Power!!! I want to join the Knitting Grannies . . .

Grannies holding a knit-in to protest the war in Iraq clashed in a shouting match with pro-war activists in Times Square on Wednesday, the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict.
"It is the beginning of the sixth year of the war. We are trying to draw attention to the uselessness, the horror of the war, and the fact that we wise old babes know that it is a terrible thing," said Joan Wile, one of the founders of the group.

"We want other people to realize it and take action as we have done," the 76-year-old explained.
Wile said the grannies, who ranged in age from 60 to 93 years old, are concerned about polls that show the economy is upper most in the minds of Americans, not the conflict in Iraq.
"That upsets us very much because for us the war is number one and has been and you cant solve the problems of the economy as long as billions of dollars are being poured down the Iraq drain," Wile said.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Season Six of Dancing with the Stars premiered tonight. It's not a good sign that they are advertising this as the season with the oldest woman and the tallest man. Not to mention that there's a deaf person. Tonight was just the men dancing.

First up - Penn Gillette - he's very tall, and did more stomping than dancing, but is likable and funny. Teller was in the audience.

Next up - Jason Taylor, defensive end for the Miami Dolphins, and the designated recipient for all my votes for the season. (Yes, that's Jason, not Penn). Taylor won the NFL Man of the Year for his play on the field and his charity work off the field. Since he did an anti-animal abuse ad for the Humane Society, (take that Michael Vick), he won my heart. Not to mention, he's tall and handsome, and can actually dance.

Third is Cristian de la Fuente - a Chilean actor - he's cocky, claims he's going to bring sexy back to dancing, and I haven't heard of him either.
The unlikely dancer, Adam Carolla, is up next. He's paired with Julianne Hough, who won the last 2 seasons with Apollo Anton Ohno and Helio Castroneves. I can only assume they paired her with Adam because she has another obligation in April. (She has a country album to promote). In fairness, he gave it a good go.

R&B star Mario - the youngest competitor (age 21) ever on DWTS. According to Wikipedia, he was running with the wrong crowd in Baltimore but was scared straight when he was shot . . . in the buttocks. The over-under on when this injury gets worked into the show is the second week. He's got the most talent of the men, but needs to channel the hip hop into ballroom.
Is it really fair to follow Mario with . . .
Steve Guttenberg - what has he been doing since 3 Men and a Baby? Who knows, but my guess is he hasn't been taking ballroom dancing lessons. He comes across as earnest and nice, and he's likely hoping this will give his career a boost.
My predictions? Mario and Jason are the most likely to be left standing at the end.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The answers to your questions are:

1. Raspberry Cream Cheese Breakfast Buns from the "More from the Magnolia Bakery" Cookbook
2. They are as good as they look
3. You should wait until the temperature of the raspberry preserves is less than molten lava before you eat one. Trust me on this last one . . .

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Besides running a few errands this morning, I've been working today on a project that had to be done by Monday. I can safely say that it was excruciatingly boring and tedious. The good news is that since I was working at home, I could look out the window and watch and listen to the birdies, and I had the girls nearby to keep me company.
(Shortly after this photo was taken Noodles started whining incessantly because she wanted that bone on the far side of Hanna. Thankfully, Hanna finally acquiesced, and got up so that Noodles could steal the bone).
The bad news is that I still need to put in work on another project tomorrow, but that should only be an hour or two . . .

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Auntie Diane's Tour of Downtown LA, part two.

Work requirements brought me back to downtown LA again today, and that gave me the opportunity to visit historic Olvera Street. No one will be surprised to learn that my first stop was for lunch - a taco and tamale combination plate. The food and the salsa were very, very good. Next time, a cold beer would be the perfect accompaniment.

At the entrance to the "street" is this cross, and behind it is a series of shops, taquerias, and stands.

The highlight is Avila Adobe - the oldest house in LA, built in 1818. A review of the information provided at the Adobe reminded me how little I know about California history.

I imagine it is very crowded on weekends, but on a Wednesday, the area was filled with school kids on field trips. I didn't linger around too long, and then headed to the office. But I will definitely visit again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Besides Ravelry, my new most favorite website is Etsy, which describes itself as the "place to buy and sell all things homemade". My purchases (so far) include: hand dyed sock yarn, (a joy to knit with), a pair of collage on wood art pieces entitled "Tw0 Bitches", and a lovely burnt velvet shawl. (Click on the photo for a better view). These most definitely were not all purchased from the same sellers.

The site is a fantastic place to shop for gifts - you can find everything from inexpensive handmade jewelry, to note cards, bird houses and clothing. The prices are great, and the sellers are thrilled to have a place to display their crafts. Payment is by Paypal, and shipment has been prompt. Check it out!

My new favorite snack is edamame. I buy it frozen and shelled. Microwave for a few minutes, then saute in chili oil and garlic, finished off with some soy sauce. It's yummy, and good for you!

My new favorite audible books are those featuring Ian Fleming's James Bond. I just finished Casino Royale. They are short, fun, and packed with action. On more serious note, I'm also listening to the Colony - a history of the leper colony on Molokai. It's also very good, but not nearly as fun.

And finally, my new favorite activity with the dogs? Training, and practicing our manners. We had an ugly incident we don't discuss last Sunday when Hanna stole a stuffed lobster at the dog cookie store . . . we did return it, albeit somewhat covered in slobber.

What are your new favorite things?

p.s. my biggest complaint this week is Daylight Saving Time - instead of getting up at 6 and going to bed at 10, I'm getting up at 7 and going to bed at 11. I'm not sure what benefit I'm getting out of this time change . . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Happy Story for today . . .

A firefighter performed CPR on a dog, saving its life after responding to a mobile home fire.

When firefighters arrived at the scene Friday, a resident of the house approached firefighter Stephen "Odie" Odom and told him two dogs were trapped inside the burning house.
Odom put on his air pack and headed for the room where the two small dogs were kept.
After searching through a smoke-filled bedroom, Odom located the two terrier dogs in carriers underneath some blankets and removed them from the burning home.

When Odom removed one of the dogs from the carrier, he noticed it was not breathing and his tongue was hanging out. The firefighter removed his face mask and placed the dog's head inside so the oxygen could blow in its face.

When this didn't work, Odom began performing CPR on the dog by "cupping my hands around the dog's snout and blowing until I could feel his chest expand," he said.

"I then did chest compressions similar to that of infant CPR. After approximately one minute of doggie CPR, I noticed the dog trying to breathe on its own."

Five minutes later the dog began looking around and was given to the owner of the house, Linda Lewis. An oxygen tank was left with the pup.

Fire Prevention Officer Curt Meachum said he is glad the dog's life was spared.
"We do not know the dog's name, but we could just call it 'Lucky,'" Meachum said.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

This is my public service announcement . . .

Tonight was the final show of The Wire, pretty much the greatest drama ever shown on TV. Start with season one, and enjoy this Dickensian portrayal of inner city decay. I swear, you'll thank me.

This is my surreal conversation for the day.
Phone rings . . .
Me - Hello
Him - is this Mrs. X (not my last name but probably the one before it in the phone book)
Me - this is Diane
Him - I'm calling from the California Firefighters Association, and . . .
Me - let me just tell you that I never give money in response to phone solicitations and I'd like to be removed from your call list
Him - you can only be removed from the list in exchange for a ten dollar courtesy donation
Me - no, you have to remove me at my request
Him - no we don't because I'm not soliciting anything
Me - yes you are. You're soliciting donations
Him - well we don't have a list
Me - then how did you get my number
Him - you're in the system
Me - then I'd like to be removed from the system
Him - ok, thanks for your time.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I'm meeting with my CPA next week, so that means I have to get my paperwork together this weekend. . . . sigh . . . but I haven't been worried about this, because . . .

I've had a "problem" with my new TV this week. When I came home Tuesday night, the cable box was on, but the TV would not click on. Irrationally, I assumed my housekeeper might have been playing with it, but with the help of my brother the TV clicked on. For the rest of the week, some times it would turn on, some times it would not. A myriad of thoughts raced through my brain - was it a faulty tv? Did I need to program the remote? Was it really a problem with the tv or with the cable? The answer, of course was . . . .

The power chord was not tightly connected in the back, so how it was inadvertantly jiggled determined whether it went on last week.

Thank God, I had not called out a service person.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Earlier this week, Edit mentioned that she had ventured to Philippe’s The Original for a French Dip sandwich. It's been years since I've been there, but since I was in downtown LA this morning, I had to stop in for lunch . . . at 10:30 a.m. This year is Philippe's 100th Anniversary! They serve a hot mustard on all tables that makes the roots of your hair tingle, the bread is fresh, and the beef is lean. I was glad to find that it is as good as I remember.

I worked from home on Monday, and this is the view of under my desk . . .

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A light went on for me this week, and I now understand why most Americans despise Hillary Clinton.

Hills, can we talk? You will never, ever defeat John McCain for President of the United States, and every time you open your mouth, you remind me of why we need new blood in the White House. Next, you do not have decades of experience. You are a second term Senator; Obama is a first term Senator, but also served in the State Senate. He has more experience as an elected official than you do. You do not get experience credits because your husband was President. If women got experience from their husbands through osmosis, than Mrs. Favre could take over as quarterback of the Packers.

Third, please stop engaging in fearmongering. It is those tactics that keep me far, far away from the Republican party. I feel bad for you that what you assumed was your birthright - the Democratic party nomination - has slipped from your greedy little hands, but I hope you have enough sense to step aside, and work towards having a Democrat who can win as the nominee.

Finally, with your big wins in Ohio and Texas (whoops, except that you lost the Texas Caucas), you have failed to close the delegate gap with Obama by even a little. Stop talking about how the tide has turned. You were expected to win both states - by bigger margins than you did.

My fellow Democrats: why would we nominate a candidate who has ZERO chance of winning the election? Let's get this over with now, and focus on defeating McCain.

Obama '08!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Back in November, 2006, I submitted this photo to the LA Times for their "Your Scene" website, (or at least the part devoted to "Man's Best Friend"), and I entitled it "A Hard Day at the Office". I'd forgotten about it, but received an email notice today that I'd received a comment. These are the comments its received over the past 15 months:

Wilky says:
To rest my weary head - I could do with a cushion !
Posted November 15, 2006 9:35 AM

cece says:
Who ever said being a guard dog is easy?
Posted November 15, 2006 2:31 PM

DG says:
So a bad day on the porch lounge still beats a good day at the office.
Posted December 29, 2006 6:08 PM

Karthik says:

Pixie.... all these labs have same char da.. look at this pose... so pixie like da...
Posted March 3, 2008 12:44 PM

I understand all of them, except for the last one . . .

Monday, March 03, 2008

Whoo Hoo! I finally won one of the charity auctions on eBay to benefit the Los Angeles SPCA - a dog bowl designed, painted and signed by Timothy Olyphant, better known as Deadwood's Seth Bullock.
Sure, I could have bought a bowl for a lot less money at Petco, but it's for a good cause.
And finally, the longer the primaries go on, the less I like Hillary Clinton. People of Ohio and Texas - see the light! Obama '08!!!!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

This time of year, my garden isn't too impressive, but the pink jasmine is in bloom, and that means that this is one of the times I wish the internet had smell-o-vision - the scent is wonderful.
I haven't been knitting much, I did finally make some progress on one sock yesterday. This also gives me the opportunity to show off my pedicure. (Note to self - look into spray on tan.)
And lo and behold, I have received my first Sunday NY Times. The over/under on how many crossword puzzle clues I will solve is 3 1/2.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

OHMIGOD! My new Panasonic 42 inch HDTV might be the greatest thing ever! It was actually really easy to set up - connect the HD Cable Box to the cable, connect the Box to the TV with an HDMI cable (the Time Warner lady gave my the head's up to pick one up at Target), and call to activate the box! And in fairness, having complained about Time Warner, I also have to say that the gal on the phone activating my box was very helpful.

My brother, who is having a very bad day, helped me set it up. He woke up this morning to find that his Nissan Truck had been vandalized - they stole his catalytic converter and stereo, and vandalized the ignition. Even worse for him, they stole his work tools. Even worse for Noodles, as he was carrying an old tv downstairs, he accidentally nudged Samantha, who went flying off the staircase to the ground. She doesn't seem to be hurt, but has had her feelings hurt very, very badly . . . . Lots of treats, and a trip to the dog cookie store seem to be helping.

The girls and I are now hanging out watching Perfect Stranger - a movie starring Halle Berry and Bruce Willis - that I've never wanted to watch - just because it is broadcast in High Definition. Good times!