Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, to me!

Somehow birthdays lose their appeal after the first 21, but today I am 39 again, plus 9. Unfortunately, I will spend it in at work, where I expect to be pretty swamped all week.

Fortunately, I have a couple upcoming vacations - Maui the end of May, and NYC the end of June. It looks unlikely that my niece will be coming to Maui, since she got a new job. That is good news, but her plane ticket is non -refundable. Still, I'll have to spend some time on the phone with United and see if I can get some sort of credit for it.

This past weekend, I dog sat Louie and Lola, the next door neighbor rat terriers.

If you've never slept with 3 dogs under the covers with you, it is best described as warm, but rather squirmy.

As you can see, Sam is thrilled to have company.If you're wondering where my bedspread went, it was in the wash after Louie threw up on it after apparently eating a rock. Lola is tiny, but she gives as good as she gets. Her and Louie would wrestle non-stop, and run through the house in a blur. Louie can get Lola's entire head in his mouth, but doesn't use this to an unfair advantage.

I've been trying to finish up some unfinished knit projects - UFOs - and did finish up a sock this weekend.

Alright, I'm off to start my birthday by drinking more coffee, and reading a chapter or two of the Turnaround by George Pelecanos in the bath tub.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My favorite rose bush has its first bloom. The scent is lovely.

Yesterday I got a telephone call from a lady who used three names and was calling on behalf of Alzheimer's Research. After I quickly informed her that while I support their work, I never give money in response to telephone solicitations, my standard and accurate line, she GLEEFULLY informed me she was not calling to ask for money. She was calling to ask if I would send out pre-written letters to friends and family asking THEM to donate money.

I don't mind fundraising. In my most successful effort, I raised $2,600 for breast cancer research. The difference is that I was asking people for money while I was walking 60 miles to earn their support. On what basis would I be asking friends and family to donate money to Alzheimer's Research? Because I'm special? Because Ms. Three Names wants someone else to do her job for her?

This reminds me of the letter I've received the last few years around the holidays from a woman I went to school with, with whom I had a falling out 20 years ago, with whom I have not spoken in 20 years, soliciting donations for a law school scholarship - in her name. Why would I give her money, so that she can make some semi-magnanimous gesture and pretend that she is generous?

Or the time I received an invitation to a bridal shower being (allegedly) thrown by the bride's mom and sister, only to learn that I and the other bridesmaids were expected to supply the food. (We did bring food, but also smuggled in bottles of champagne, which got mom in trouble with the senior center where the shower was held).

Ok, so basically I'm in a bad mood this week because while I thought I had paid my property taxes a day early, I had actually paid them 4 days late, and now owe a $341 late fee. Maybe I should be soliciting donations to pay for that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I have a bunch of amaryllis coming in bloom, and my bird feeders remain popular. Some how I caught this bird in flight, and I'm happy that I did.

This weekend I finished up this Noro Striped Scarf, and I'm happy with it. (Granted, I won't be able to wear it for 6 - 9 months). My goal for the next month is to finish up some "UFO"s, or unfinished knitting projects. This includes 2 pairs of socks, a Noro sweater, a Quant head band and sewing up 3 sweaters that are largely completed knitting wise.

I also finished reading The Downhill Lie by Carl Hiassen, and laughed out loud. The book chronicles his return to golfing after 30 years. If you like Hiassen, and if you have ever golfed, you'll love this book. I'm also reading "Are you There, Vodka? It's me, Chelsea" by Chelsea Handler. Chelsea's book is a series of somewhat ribald short stories about her family and sexual escapades. Maybe I just have too many formerly slutty friends, who all have better stories than the ones recounted here. The book is somewhat amusing, but not laugh out loud funny.

Sam and I went for our first lengthy walk in a month yesterday. I held up better than Sam, (I pretty much had to carry her the last block home), but we both took a nice nap after lunch.

I'm dogsitting the neighbors' two rat terriers this weekend - one year old Louie, and six month old Lola, or "Monkey Girl" as I prefer to call her. Expect Sam to be in a bad mood, and me to hope that one or both of them can rid me of the one remaining rat that keeps terrorizing my back deck.

It's hotter 'n hell here in the OC today, and my car AC is largely on the fritz. Something else to add to my to do list, and asap.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The garden continues to come back, with a pretty, orange rose
and my bouganvillea.
We're slowly making progress with Freddy; however, he still won't let my hand any where near him, so as you might guess, we're not bonding while he rides around on my finger or shoulder. My bevy of parrotlet and parrot books are not much help except to advise being patient instead of sticking your hand in and making a grab for him. (No sh*t, Sherlock, thanks).
I fill his dishes with a fabulously nutritious mix of enriched pellets (which the books recommend should be 60-70% of his diet), dried fruit and mixed seed mix. Freddy picks through this, and eats sunflower seeds. Keep in mind, I'm supposed to limit his intake of sunflower seeds because they are high fat and not particularly nutritious.
Sigh . . . I've kept him alive for four months, he's not obese, nor are his feathers falling out, so I figure it must be working out some how despite my ineptness.
Since I really enjoyed Nick Hornby's High Fidelity and About a Boy, I picked up To be Good. In To be Good, the narrator of the story, Kate, has a tough time adjusting when David, her angry, negative, sarcastic husband is transformed by a guru into someone who is too good to be true, and definitely, to good to live with. David unilaterally donates the kids' computer to a shelter where it is needed. As they're sitting down to a Sunday roast beef dinner with Kate's parents, David is moved to pack up the entire meal and take it to the park to feed the homeless. (Kate convinces him to just take them lasagne after the meal.)
Kate is struggling with her inner self; she considers herself to be a good person (she's a physician working in England), but where do you draw the line? Can you be too good?
I like Hornby's writing, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this is resolved.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some helpful tax tips courtesy of The Onion:

  • When beginning your tax forms, make sure to do that thing where you make your calculator read "BOOBS" upside down right away so you don't get sidetracked later.*

  • Pay your owed taxes in pennies. That will get you on the Yahoo! News front page, and it will most certainly make the IRS feel foolish.

  • Not putting that little dash through all of your sevens will result in a prison term of up to three years.

  • You will save significant time between now and the filing deadline if you complete all of your forms in a blind, sweaty panic 12 minutes before they are due.

  • If you are Yngwie Malmsteen, you can write off your subscription to Guitar World.

  • Screw over the IRS and save time and money by making less than $8,950 a year.

  • Be courteous and include a sheet of scratch paper with your forms for the IRS to do math on.

  • It's not widely publicized, but now that all taxpayers are part owners of Merrill Lynch, you can use their bathrooms.

      *psst - I can spell out my last name upside down on a calculator, too!

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Spring flowers are back . . .

    I hope everyone had a nice weekend. We did brunch at a local restaurant, and I ate and drank way too much. On a lighter note, my brother's girlfriend's 7 year old son did manage to vomit between the salads and the entrees!

    Upon returning home, I hung out with Sam, worked on my Noro Striped Scarf, and watched the Masters and Angels baseball. You'll note Sam's new collar and matching leash.

    Have you seen the Obamas' new dog, Bo? The wingnuts are complaining that he is too "girlie" of a dog. I'm not sure a canine companion for the Obamas 7 and 10 year old daughters can actually be too "girlie", but if the GOP wants to play "quienes mas macho" over White House pets, I'll put Bo and Buddy (Clinton's chocolate Labrador), up against Barney (W's Scottie), and Millie (George Sr.'s springer spaniel).

    In another case of they just can't win, Dow Chemical and other chemical companies are complaining that Michelle Obama is giving people the wrong idea about chemicals by striving to keep her new White House garden organic.

    Dear Dow -

    You do realize that this is a home vegetable and herb garden and not 1000 acres of corn? And that it will be tended by the family and by local school children? Ok, just checking.

    Thanks, Diane

    p.s. lady bugs are a wonderful, natural way to control aphids.

    This week promises to be busy, in part because I was working at half speed last week. Did manage a couple of decent walks with Sam this weekend, and I'm feeling pretty good today. Hope your week is shaping up to be a good one!

    Friday, April 10, 2009


    First week back at work has been a bit rough. I can hang in there until the afternoon, when I suddenly find that I am dead tired. I pack up for home, bringing some work with me, but all I'm capable of doing is lying flat on my back. I've managed to knit a bit, and twit a bit, but that's it.

    Came home last night to find TWO mourning doves in the house. They were fairly friendly little buggers, but one of the two was hard to catch and release. Mourning doves really are the dumbest animals on the planet, so opening wide doors and windows adjacent to their location is generally not enough to chase them back out again. The also are surprisingly resilient, even when they keep crashing themselves into walls, ceilings and windows. Here one perches on the hood above the stove.

    Sad news this week for Angels fans - rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver a few hours after his first start of the season. Adam over at The Hater Nation raised an interesting point - even though Adenhart's life was cut short, even at age 22 he had realized his dream of being a major league pitcher.
    If you were able to choose the manner of your own natural death, what would it be?
    I read a few years ago about an old duffer who shot his first hole in one, and then promptly dropped dead on the golf course. I wouldn't mind being 86 and still out with my old lady friends playing a round of golf. If it was my time to pass, dropping dead after hitting a hole in one isn't too bad a way to go. Granted, you would miss the bragging opportunity, but you know there are some golfers in the after life who would be willing to listen to your tale. And you'd get out of buying everyone a drink in the clubhouse . . .

    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    Another day, another scarf . . .

    The weather in so cal may not call for a lot of scarf wearing, but I will be prepared!

    The Angels won their home opener against the A's, but I refuse to be too optimistic. 40 years as a Halo fan has taught me to expect the worst. I do look forward to my first cold beer and hot dog at the Big A, though.

    I did manage to drink a couple cold beers with my neighbors. It was a gathering of beer drinkers and their dogs. TJ with Joey, the rough coated Jack Russell, Al with Harley the smooth coated Jack Russell, Christina and Ken with Louie and Lola the rat terriers, and me with Sam.

    It's a different read for me, but I'm reading Boys will be Boys by Jeff Pearlman. The book is subtitled "The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys." Here's my 10 second review:

    • Jimmy Jones - a-hole
    • Troy Aikman - dull as dirt, but a pretty classy guy
    • Charles Haley - should be a registered sex offender
    • Emmitt Smith - not nearly as charming as he seemed on Dancing with the Stars
    • Michael Irvin - parties like it's 1999 - every day of the week, but shows up for work the next day

    Pearlman writes well, so the book is pretty entertaining, but I'm not sure I'd want a son of mine to grow up to be a pro athlete.

    Tired out early the first day back at work, but I'm hanging in there a bit better today . . .

    Saturday, April 04, 2009

    It's been a good week of recuperation. I haven't even checked my work email accounts for ultimate relaxation, but back to work this Monday.

    I made this scarf with yarn my neighbor brought by, and also have some lovely sock yarn from LA. Everyone has been really helpful and kind.

    Finally really back on my feet. Today, Sam and I went did some errands - car wash, gas, pedicure - and then came home to enjoy a gorgeous day. Made some scones from a recipe on the back of the self-rising flour bag, but added some orange zest and craisins. Success! They are really, really good.

    Sam and I are sitting on the back deck, soaking in the sun, knitting and listening to Exit Music by Ian Rankin. Now that I'm off the pain pills, am thinking about enjoying a nice glass of pinot grigio. . . .

    Here are some things I've learned this week -

    • there is a James Bond movie on some channel, every day
    • there is an episode of Murder She Wrote on every day
    • there are a million Encore channels, and they show a lot of good movies
    • afternoon naps can be very refreshing
    • Sammy is a good sick bed companion
    • your heart rate will go down 30-40 bpm when you get to go home from the hospital
    • your blood pressure will go down 20 points when you get to go home from the hospital
    • it means everything to have good health
    • I need to lower my cholesterol
    • it's difficult but worthwhile to learn to accept help from others
    • the latest MC Beaton Hamish Macbeth novel is a good one
    • I don't know where I put the books I bought at Barnes and Noble
    • Twitter is addictive and silly

    How have you been????