Friday, December 29, 2006


*I have an acquaintance from the creek who is moving to the South. Her
husband, a rare native Californian, has a deep fear that no one will
have teeth. I have done my best to assure him that many people in the South care about dental hygiene and do in fact have teeth.

I thought I was been forced to eat my words when I got off the plane in
New Orleans. The first six people I saw... yep, no teeth.

*Mabel Lou is a very jealous girl. But she really shocked us all two days ago. I was feeling very under the weather... probably a combination of Mom's attitude and the fact that she really has no clue how to operate her wood burning stove and her house was filled with smoke... Anyway, Mabel & I trekked to the drug store for some sinus meds and decided to check on my nephew, Bailey - a corgi, who was home alone.

He had thrown up in his kennel and pee was everywhere. So I called mom and asked if it was OK to bring him home with us (not taking any chances on making her any madder.). When we got to her house, I was horrified to find a blood vessel had burst in her eye. The white of her eye was entirely red. I freaked and tried to reach a college buddy who is a nurse. When that failed, I decided to drive back to my sisters and jump on the Internet. Turns out this is rather common and nothing can be done.

While I was gone, Mother gathered Bailey into her lap to rock him. Miss Mabel - who is very "pawsy" - reached up and slapped him! Then did it again and again! She made it clear that Granny belonged to her and no one else. Mom had to put Bailey down because Mabel was so upset. Mabel really loves Bailey but we now know where she draws the line.

* Sometimes I fear I am becoming my own miserable mother. She is so quick to speak out and so am I. Last night, my college room-mate (the nurse) drove down from Poplarville, MS to visit and we went to Sonny's Barbeque for a little quiet time away from my mom. As soon as we parked, a guy in a Mercedes pulls into the handicapped spot. No placard, no symbol on his plates.

Not only did I feel and uncontrollable urge to give him my best "Smith Look" (I come from a long line of people who have a very jarring death stare.) I proceeded to tell him he was evil and that I sincerely hoped he would actually need a handicapped spot one day may there always be someone like him parked there.

Just why do I feel the need to confront??? And why do I think it's better to say something than just stuff it???

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas update

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I've read a few posts tonight - all seem to be about the wonderful Christmases everyone has had - and it reminds of the thing I have prayed the most for since I was a little girl... a family that actually liked each other and hopefully, liked Christmas too.

My mother has been in exceptional "I hate the world" form and just making everyone miserable. If I had $400 bucks extra I would've been back in LA before Christmas. But I don't, so I'm sleeping a lot and trying to keep my head down.

I have no idea why she hates Christmas. My sister's theory is that mom is always alone and there are more parties and dances this time of year. But dang, it's been 40 years... Get over it already!

At times like this, I realize why I so desperately wanted children... to have an acceptable excuse to be elsewhere at Christmas. Alas, I think God knew what he was doing...this kind of dysfunction should not be passed on.

I do wish everyone a very Happy Holiday! Have some fun for me!!

P.S. Mabel seems to be the only one Mom isn't mad at...she's getting platefuls of roast and ham and turkey! I'm really afraid she may not fit into her kennel for the trip home!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Snow on Cactus

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Hi, I've written a least ten posts in my head in this frantic week... not exactly the same as actually posting. Suffice it to say, it is very difficult to shut down a business for 2 1/2 weeks.

So, I'm off to Baton Rouge, hopefully with the pup in tow. She still has not been in the crate. So, I've got drugs and little steak.

I'll leave you with a photo of snow on one of the plants near the creek called "Our Lord's Candle." (There is a picture of the top bloom of this plant in Creek Photos.) This was taken after a freak snowstorm we had in late January.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Hypnotizing the Dog

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Just how do you hypontize a dog??? I am seriously getting worried about Miss Mabel and the crate.

None of my dogs have ever liked being locked up and all of my girls have had a history with the doggie criminal justice system. Poor Maggie was in doggie jail for a bit and then in rescue for over a year because the rescue lady wouldn't give her to just anybody because she liked her.

When I brought Maggie home, the first time I left her alone, I parked around the corner and ran back home. Maggie was beating her head against the gate to try and break it. I scared her and it stopped. I learned that scaring the crap out of her was a great way to to train her instantly.

Mabel is a little better at being shut up than Mags was. My guest bathroom has the scars to prove that. We had lived in this house about a month when I was headed out to dinner with the host of the t.v. show I was working on and made the mistake of using the guest bathroom on the way out. Maggie had never given the room much's small and narrow. The dogs always seem to know they have my undivided attention when I'm sitting down in bathroom and take that opportunity for a little lovin'. So I petted her and left for dinner.

I was stunned when she didn't greet me in the living room. I noticed the door on the way to my bedroom. That door isn't level but it was never shut all the way. I threw the door open and found a very traumatized Maggie... and a destroyed bathroom. Blinds shredded, wall paper peeling, custom paint job scratched to bits. The door has a "kick stand" now. (And, can I say that in six years of visitors to this house, when I explain what the door blocker is for, only ONE human being has had the courtesy to put it back in place after using the restroom!)

Between hating to be locked up and having a tummy that didn't digest properly, Maggie May was not the best traveller. The first time I took her to Baton Rouge, the nurse told me, "Give her one ACE (knock out pill) when you get up. If she's not woozy when you leave for the airport, give her another. If she's not woozy at the airport, give her another." So I did...three pills.

Cut to 7 hours later in Baton Rouge. I get Mags out of the crate and she races out of the airport, me in tow. Runs around the grassy area that was there at that time, sees my family, jumps in the car, doesn't sit down all the way to Mom's, checks out the yard, chases squirrels. Finally everyone leaves and it's Mom and I talking. Maggie walks into the foyer to peer out the front door, turns to come into the den and...SPLAT. All four legs in four directions and she's unconscious! She slept there for nine hours! My mother was screaming the whole time, "Your gonna kill my baby with those drugs!"

Mags never travelled on drugs again. But she did travel.

The time I remember the most was a Christmas when Maggie did not want to get in the crate. It is this event that I think is freaking me out about Mabel and the crate this year.

We were in LAX and it wasn't terribly crowded. We had our tickets and the baggage guy had come for Mags. It was time to get in the kennel. And Maggie wasn't going to do that.

She took her powerful head and swung at the crate. She managed to knock the thing 20 feet away! I marched with her in tow over to the crate and drug both back to the ticket counter, feeling every eye in the place on me.

I tried to get her in again and again, she put on the brakes. I whipped her body around so I could look her in the eyes.

"Look, here's the deal. Six hours in the crate and two weeks at Granny's all-you-can-eat buffet or two weeks in doggie jail. Your choice Tuts."

She hung her head, walked right in and the ticket counter erupted in applause!

I don't think Miss Mabel will be as easy. I've been hiding treats in there. She leaves them alone. Which reminds me, both Maggie and Mabel have a very subtle way of letting me know they don't like this.

I always attach a Ziploc bag to the top of the crate with Velcro. Inside is really bad poetry containing the name of the dog and any instructions for the ground crew and a few cookies for them to give the girl. When we are all set at the ticket counter, I will give the pup one of the cookies and I always pick the most unusual one... say if there is one red cookie, that's the one I give her.

Inevitably, when I get to Baton Rouge, that is the ONLY uneaten cookie. Both Mags and Mabel traditionally eat that cookie after breakfast on the the second day at Granny's! I think they're trying to tell me something.

So, I'm trying visualization. While lying next to Mabel, I picture my mom at the kitchen table, Mabel under her arm and eating off her fork. Mabel running around with her cousin Bailey, the corgi. Mabel playing with my little cousins. Mabel chasing squirrels in Granny's big back yard. Mabel curled up in the dog bed by the ever-burning fireplace. Mabel loving Granny's extra large bedroom where she has about 15 feet to get a running start to jump on the bed. Mabel opening all the Christmas gifts her Auntie gets her.

I don't think she's buying it, but I hope, I hope. Seven days til lift off... wish me luck!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Pity Party Continues

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Don't worry, I'm not in too pitiful of a mood. Just frustrated and feeling small.

My cell phone, a Cingular Go phone, is no longer up to code with Cingular's equipment. So I must replace it. They offered a free one but, we have a new law taking effect that means we cannot use hand-held phones in the car. The free phone is not hands-free. Which means I have to buy a phone. And the phones I can find that are hands-free only work with month to month plans.

I really don't understand those... I have had my phone for two and a half years. It has cost me just over $200 TOTAL. I just don't know where people get all this money. I certainly don't have it and don't see the point in giving even more to the phone company just so I can feel safe driving around LA LA land in my old jeep.

So, 9 HOURS later, I bought a Blue Tooth Razor with head set for $200 bucks and still have to load it with minutes. But that's still about $500 less a year than most folks blow on a cell phone. Thank you T-Mobile and

My other source of frustration came a couple days ago in dealing with my Christmas travel plans to Baton Rouge. Since American flies Burbank to BR, I found a good deal online (heaven forbid I need to speak to a human for another $20 bucks!), bought the ticket and called up to reserve a spot down below for the fur-child.

I was absolutely shocked they no longer take dogs and kennels over 100lbs. The lady on the phone says this has been going on for "quite some time." Mabel flew American last Christmas and she's got the "wings" the ground crew left in her treat bag to prove it. (Maggie has several sets in her scrapbook.)

I spent another 8 hours calling every airline that flies from Burbank / LAX / Long Beach / Ontario to Baton Rouge / New Orleans / Jackson. Basically, if you have a big dog, you're screwed. Finally remembered my cousin always raved about the direct flight from LAX to New Orleans and called United. They are the ONLY airline willing to fly a big dog... for $200 each way. (Used to be $50).

The nice man at United explained it's both weight (over 100 lbs) and kennel size (series 500) that earns that ticket price. I bought my ticket ($300 + $20 "human fee"), made the $400 reservation for the pupster, and said a few choice words to the manager at American who didn't want to give me my money back.

All these phone calls and run-around just have me exhausted. I'm going to couch it and watch some t.v. while eating the delicious barbecue chicken pizza I have in the oven. After weeks of eighteen hour days, I need a night of nothin'.

Oh, I should mention that since Mabel had a series 400 kennel, I splurged and bought her the bigger one. Anyone have any ideas on how I can get her to go in it?

Have a restful evening.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Having a Pity Party. Join me, won't you?

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Ring, Ring.

"Creekhiker can't be reached right now. She's out taking a class on how to say no."

That's the message I wish I had the guts to put on my answering machine. But I don't.

I'm just feeling very taken advantage of. A woman I barely know...met her hiking... has talked me into dog sitting for a week. And though I've tried to tell her no in my spineless ways... "Twice a day, that's a lot!" - "You want me to play with them too? That takes a lot of time." "Can't make it Friday, I'm teaching. Can you get someone else?" "Could they do it the whole time?"

I've tried every's my busy season in the shop (very true); I'm working on a HUGE wholesale order plus the restaurant has me shipping international kits and Valentine kits this week (true). I've been working 18 hour days (truer than I care to admit); I only leave my shop once a day (mostly true). No matter what I said, this woman just barrelled through.

In the end I fell for it. "But my dogs don't like anyone the way they like you." ARGHH!!

But the thing that really pisses me off... she PROMISED to come help me in the shop to make up for the time I'll lose caring for her animals... and didn't.

I'm 42 years old and I still get so disappointed off when a human being says one thing and does another. I should know better by now. But still I believe. If she just would have said "Thank you" and nothing else, I wouldn't be so mad. But don't promise something and not deliver.

I guess I have no one to be pissed at but me... anyone know where I can buy a spine?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Did She Know?

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For days now, Mabel has been wanting to head over to the big creek {Big Tujunga (ta hung ga)} on the north side of the valley where we hike. This is actually the area I prefer to hike. I get more of a workout and, when the water is flowing, it's so pretty there.

Mabel usually prefers "dirty creek." It is actually a run off from behind our house and flows along the south side of the valley. There are lots of critters: a blue heron, an egret, plenty of mallards, lizards and lots and lots of "runny babbits." There is also mud and lots of trash. But, in addition to the many breeds that fill Miss Mabel Lou's pedigree card, I'm am almost certain she is also part pig because she loves to wallow in mud. The stinkier, the better.

This time of year, when there is no water in Big Tujunga, it's dirty creek every day for us. The dogs just play better when there is water. And for the past few days, when we reach the shortcut to Big Tujunga, Mabel has headed down the path. It has be me who insisted, "No, Dirty Creek." She hesitates and then follows.

Today was no different. I usually allow Mabel to decide where we hike most days but the past few, we've had friends along. Today, I warned her, "There's no water and Mom's busy in the shop so, you're just gonna be hot, Missy. No complaining."

She started to turn around but realizing I was going to follow her, she dashed ahead.

When we got to the top of the levy, I could see a dark brown stain where the creek usually is. This is often an indication that the damn released water in the past few days. I stood there trying to process it...that's sort of strange this time of year...and then I heard my favorite music. WATER!

It's been a month since the water was there. The last time was also a full moon. Here's a few pics:

We dashed down the levy to the shoreline, water, water everywhere. And I started to wonder about my pup. How long has the water been here? Is that why she's tried to come here for three days? Did she know all along?

We hiked to the end of the water about a 1/2 mile down. I plopped on a boulder in the middle of the dry stream and waited. The music of the water over the rocks is just mesmerizing. The high notes of shallow water being forced over two rocks. The low notes that happen as the water gets deeper.

Within minutes water was flowing on both sides of my boulder. Mabel busied herself with a few lizards and kept coming up to me happily and checking on the progress of the stream. We left our stream and pray it's there tomorrow.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Scrooge Lives Here

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I am my own neighborhood Scrooge. Not that I'm cheap or selfish or don't want others to enjoy Christmas. I just don't decorate.

In my old neighborhood, that would not have been a problem. But add to the lengthy list of things the previous owner of this house did not tell me: I live on freaking Candy Cane Lane!

Every house around here doesn't merely decorate. They go over the top, trying to outdo each other. Lights hanging from every possible position, elaborate yard displays. There is a constant parade of traffic and pedestrians from Thanksgiving to New Years. Except in front of my house.

It's not that I don't want to decorate. I just have a litany of excuses. I'm not able to get on my roof or hang from a ladder. I don't know where my decorations even are. I work in my shop until 9 or 10, come home and fix something to eat and allow myself a few minutes of television only to find myself startled awake at midnight and needing to stumble off to just when would I plug in the yard display? Or turn it off?

Furthermore, I usually travel during Christmas and tend to stay gone for quite some time. If I start lighting my home and then suddenly stop, isn't that a fairly obvious invitation to theives??

Oddly enough, this is the first year I've wanted a tree in probably 10 years. My sister too. She already has hers up. We used to have such a large extended family full of kids - my sister and I never had any. But now those kids are all grown and it's just us four old foggies: Me, my sis, bro-in-law and mom. It seems like too much fuss for just us.

The need for a tree and some effort this holiday is probably due to my sister finding a new tumor in her back ( non-cancerous...but, it has a high sugar rating). So pretty soon, I will be in Baton Rouge and in charge of decorating Mom's house. We'll get out the tree and lights and tinsel and make it really warm and merry.

Just don't tell my neighbors. I have a reputation to uphold.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Confessions of Coffee

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It's all Randy's fault. Or maybe the fault lies with my own inability to listen to the warning bells set off in my teenaged brain, wise beyond my years at the time. Regardless of fault, it's a fact. I have an addiction. Coffee.

I never drank coffee - for the most part - until I was in my late twenties. I did acquire a taste for the stuff as a teenager camping with my mother and step-father at Percy Quin Park.

We camped in a travel trailer - not much privacy. Every morning at the crack of dawn, my mother and step-father would get up to drink coffee and talk. As my bed was on top of the dining area, it was kinda hard to sleep. I'm a pretty smart girl and very easy to train. I was outnumbered so I decided to join them.

Every day for two solid weeks, I had coffee with the parents at 6 a.m. We returned home and I was looking forward to blissfully sleeping in until my summertime usual of 7 or 8. I was really angry that Monday morning to find myself wide awake at 6. I rolled over in bed burrowed under my pillow. That lasted for maybe 10 minutes. I sat up in bed and realized I was shaking. I felt queasy and weak. When I finally made it to the kitchen in the back of the house where the folks were having their coffee and told my mom how I felt, she announced, "Oh, you just need your coffee."

"NEED my coffee?"

"Yeah, your body got used to having it everyday. You're having withdrawals."

"After two weeks, I'm addicted to coffee?? No, way!"

And with that, I decided I never wanted to taste anything that made feel like I NEEDED it ever again. It took me a month to get over my two week habit and finally not wake up at 6, shaking.

I stuck to my guns for a good 13 years and would've made it further except for taking a job on the worst movie ever made. It was one of those nightmare jobs I had built my reputation on - taking over in the middle of a job for a fired crew. This particular movie, "Blood In, Blood Out" (that would be a gang reference, not a horror movie) was a few days into shooting when I was hired. I was allowed to hire a couple of my own people as per usual. I hired a secretary and my old buddy from film school, Randy.

Randy was new to Hollywood and had every thing I was looking for in a good p.a. He listened, followed directions and understood the basic rule of Hollywood: CYA. That stands for Cover Your Ass. And if you are really good at your job, it means cover the ass of the person who hired you. I trusted him and I knew he would take care of me.

The shoot was brutal and getting worse. We were shooting in East L.A. A no-man's land of warehouses, dead end streets, gang turf and homeless people. Not the kind of place I wanted to be in broad daylight, forget about dark. We were on an endless string of 16 - 18 hour days. Food was brought into our office from the set due to the lack of restaurants in the area.

One day, Randy, being the ever friendly Mississippi Chinese boy he still is struck up a conversation with a location guy and discovered there was a Cafe / Art gallery a mere two blocks away. He checked it out and returned with cappuccinos for everyone along with cookies. I took the cookie and declined the coffee.

The cookies from Cafe Vignes were a work of art. A basic chocolate chip dough with "sweep of the kitchen" nuts, dried fruit and chips. Literally, whatever the chef felt like throwing in on any given day ended up in these delectable goodies.

So every day around 3, just as the afternoon slump was hitting, Randy would take coffee orders and return with cookies and coffees. For weeks, I would comment on how good the coffee smelled but would only take a cookie.

Daily, Randy would implore me to order a coffee. By 3 p.m., we had all been at work for a good nine hours - and most likely had another nine to go. I was always exhausted and Randy - in true CYA fashion - was just looking out for me.

And one day, he approached with my cookie and placed a cappuccino on my desk. "Try it, you'll like it."

Randy, having known me since college seemed to know just how I would like my coffee. Here comes the big confession - I've never grown up. I still take my coffee the way all small children drink their "coffee milk" - milk with lots of sugar and splash of coffee.

Now that I've grown up (on the outside) I prefer to say that coffee should be like a fine lady, fair and oh so sweet.

And so, my daily habit returned. When I left that show, I bought myself a Krups Cafe Presso Espresso coffee machine. And today, she sighed her last drop of steam... 15 years of great frothy cappuccinos. Her replacement is sitting next to her on the kitchen counter. I can't quite bring myself to toss her yet.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Conversation with My Civil Libertarian Self

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After reading Velvet's comments to my last post, I gave a lot of thought to why I write. I really do it for me... so there. But that being said, the above will appear at the top of every blog.

Velvet's recent posts on Microchipping Me reminded me of a conversation I had with myself last week.

O.K. before you start laughing too hard, I live alone, I work alone and there are days when I speak to no human at all. So I have to talk to myself. And for the record, I usually answer - unless I'm mad at myself and giving me the silent treatment. (Kidding!)

I was hiking the creek which is mostly dry and was very angered to find our local graffiti artists have been very busy on the levy wall and on my favorite "sofa" rock.
It was just a few months ago, I spent days negotiating between the city and the golf course which oversees the city-owned land. The golf course places huge boulders in the paths to keep golf carts (which are street legal in my town) from sneaking onto the course and illegally playing. It took a solid week of phone calls to get the boulders moved and then arranging times to meet the city graffiti crew to show them where all they had to go.

As I was looking at the levy wall full of racial hatred, swastikas and pot symbols I had the following conversation. I will refer to my two selves as CH (CreekHiker) and CL (for Civil Libertarian).

CH: (angry) Oh... we should just fingerprint everyone at birth.

CL: What? Are you nuts?

CH: Well, it would make is so much easier to catch the little punks that spread this kind of hatred and venom in the world. And, send their parents a bill for the cleanup!

CL: (Appalled) I, I, I just don't understand why you don't have a problem with that...fingerprinting everyone? What about personal freedom? What about the government abusing power?


CH: Well, I guess I don't have a problem with it because I trust that I'm not going to do anything wrong. I have a moral compass and these little punks don't. They are going to end up in jail someday anyway. It's perfectly fine with me if they get there sooner.

And then I had nothing else to say to myself (for the moment).

Now, I don't really think that should happen but sometimes I just get so frustrated with those that destroy public property and place such hideousness in an otherwise beautiful place.

And I loved Velvet's follow up post and completely agree: Who is watching the watchers???

Monday, November 27, 2006

Critical Biticle

I was perusing Velvet's page the other night - She really has the best links - and found a link to Little Bald Doctor's site. I was most alarmed by the Oct. 9 (and apparently last)Post.

Bald Doc explains how a website in Spain is stealing content from Blogger and posting it on their site to make ad revenue. I checked for my own site and I'm not there yet. But...

Velvet, if you are reading this, I apologize for you finding out this way. I didn't want to add a comment to your birthday celebration post. But, you have been hijacked! My stomach dropped when your posts started coming up on this website. I couldn't look around any further.

I have been a writer for years. I've spent my entire career around artists and I am deeply offended by such blatant theft.

There are all kinds of links in Bald Docs post but I'm just left feeling confused as to WHAT to do about this. If anyone has any ideas...let me know. My personal email can be found on my business website linked to this page.

(P.S.) - I chose not to put a link to the .org I am writing about... more links to their website only lends to their credibilty. I refuse to help them in any way.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Packing Her Bags

Since helping my mom unpack the other day, I've been really wondering what goes through her head while packing for a visit.

Could I possibly have the only mother who travels 3000 miles and thinks she is expected to provide lunch, Thanksgivng dinner and household supplies?

Just a few items in her ONLY bag:

-A ham
-A plate lunch from a casino in Baton Rouge
-3 packs of cookies
-A "pone" of cornbread (trust me, the word pone could be another blog entirely! LOL)
-"Storebought" stuffing mix (to be used for flavor only)
-a large package of nice table napkins
-2 rolls of toilet paper
-fat off a chicken (for Mabel)

She also managed to fit some clothing and 7 pair of shoes in that one bag.

Wouldn't you love to see the face on the TSA agent that screened that bag?

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The trick is this:

"Shin Shin? Laissez les boudin? Moshi Moshi? Sin jamon?"

This made up phrase became my mantra after DAYS of frustration trying to reach a human being on the postal services 800-ASK-USPS line. I uttered this crazy concoction of words in my oh-so-syrupy-sweet voice. Not the yelling, vile, obscene voice I usually resort to after pressing every combination of numbers I could think of and screaming "Human Being" over and over.

O.K., I'll admit to being a terrible listener...and I'll blame that on my mother! My dear mother likes to talk... a lot. We joke in our family that she would talk to a stump. I learned as a little kid that if I were to have any time to think and just be, I had to learn to block out noise.

Add that to the fact that I'm BUSY! I run a very busy business that has grown extremely fast pretty much by myself. On top of that I teach and make and sell jewelry. Let's just say that there is always something I NEED to do.

So, when I'm on the phone, unless there is a sweet human voice talking to me, I pretty much block it out. Then I start pressing numbers, followed by yelling, and then cursing at the top of my lungs words that no Southern lady should hear, much less say! (I worked on movie sets for 20 years... forgive me!)

The whole reason I needed to call the post office began months ago when I found a gorgeous set of candle holders I just knew my sister would love. I had just returned from Baton Rouge, having gone there expressly to paint my sister's living room. She was redecorating for the first time in 20 years.

My sister has collected angels since a fellow cancer survivor gave her one the first time she was diagnosed with breast cancer. These candles were about three feet tall and very dramatic.

Knowing my sister was on fire to decorate... she's the type that doesn't give up when she's on a mission, I bought them even though it was months before her birthday and UPS'd them to her. They broke.... UPS crushed them. No problem, UPS sent me the 150 bucks and I bought another set.

Since I use the post office all the time in my business, I decided to use USPS to ship them. I took months preparing the layers of boxes and peanuts and the new angels arrived in Baton Rouge on my sister's birthday, Nov. 2nd. Broken.

Since that day, I've been calling and calling, every day, every chance I get only to end up screaming at the phone.

Finally, I called my local post office. I know almost everyone there thanks to living a tiny offshoot of Los Angeles. The person I spoke to (I don't want to get this person in any trouble) gave me some great advice:

"Just pretend you speak a foreign language. It'll get you right through to an operator!"

I was astonished and gushed my many thanks.

As we were hanging up, this person added. "Yeah, that's what we do when we really need to get through!"

I tried it and got right through! And since then, I've tried it with my credit card company... yep, got right through.

So, repeat after me all you dear friends stuck on terminal hold, "Shin Shin? Laissez les boudin? Moshi Moshi? Sin jamon?"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mudflaps needed

Miss Mabel was extraordinarily excited after finding a ball in the creek today and this is what my legs looked like after we returned home! On days like this, I certainly think I need mudflaps or some kind protection.

Mabel ran and jumped and frolicked - she's alway very happy at the creek but today, she was quite something. We ran into our friends Hank & Sue, Rhodesian Ridgeback siblings and their friend Sascha, a German Shepherd. The four of them had a grand time. Then they left (with their moms) and Mabel and I had our favorite creek breakfast: a chocolate croisant and a hazelnut latte from Coffee Stop. I dunk the chocolate in my coffee and Mabel gets the bready outside. She LOVES those buttery layers of bread... in fact, it's the ONLY bread she eats! Then, she found the ball.

Maybe my silly girl was excited because her granny is flying in from Baton Rouge today. I'm am certain she "knows." I'm equally as certain we are going to have a huge argument when I leave for the airport to go get her. Mabel likes being the greeting committee. But I don't like taking her to LAX. I'll let you know who wins...

In the meantime, I need to hit the shower. I guess they do make mudflaps for legs...they call them pants.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hometown Find

Have you ever gone somewhere in your own town ...someplace you've never been??? And discovered something really cool?

This happened to me recently. I had a meeting in Glendale and as usual wanted to head to Portos for lunch. Portos is an amazing Cuban bakery full of pastries savory and sweet and amazing garlic roast pork sandwiches on Cuban bread (soft inside and crusty outside). Portos began as a small family run bakery... very tiny. It quickly grew into a restaurant with seats inside but still there were lines. They were lucky enough to take over the building next door... and the lines just got longer. So they opened another custom built location in Burbank... and still the lines.

On this particular day, I just wasn't up for the lines but still wanted something fast and healthy. Remembering I have wanted to visit Whole Foods Market ever since they moved locations a year ago, I stopped there instead.

OH MY! What a foodie extravaganza. Hot soups of every imaginable variety, a fresh pizza oven, a flowing chocolate fountain, gelato bar, coffee bar, fresh deli, sandwich shop, hot lunch counter, Panini, cheeses... you name it, it's there! They even have a masseuse! An hour and half later I was leaving with a hundred bucks worth of groceries and prepared foods.

I am just in LOVE with Broccoli Crunch salad. Made of broccoli, bacon, raisins, cashews and dressing. At night, I find myself craving it! I've been eating so many veggies from there... Let's just say, I have no need for vitamins and leave it at that! Their kale salad is also incredible with lots of dried cranberries and pine nuts.

I became so obsessed with the store, I went to their web site and was hoping to find one in Houston or some other "big city" my sister (in Baton Rouge) might travel to. I was amazed to see Louisiana on their list. I thought, "OK, the one in New Orleans must be closed ... maybe there's one in Shreveport." I just squealed to find one in Baton Rouge. It sits on a road I travel frequently.

I called her so excited. Her response, "Oh yeah, I shop there all the time!"

I'm so glad she knows the treasures in her home town better than I know mine. And best of all, I can have Broccoli Crunch when I visit for Christmas!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cleaning King Tut's Tomb

They say the average home has more stuff than King Tut's tomb. Based on my experience this week cleaning out my closets, trying on every single item and deciding what is worthy of donating has made me realize I could probably fill a tomb with any single room in my house or shop. I tossed anything that does not fit, or look good or was picked out by my mother.

These boxes filled the back of my jeep (yes, that's Miss Mabel working her way into the shot). In them were some terrific outfits from my producing days. Some things I had trouble parting with even if it didn't fit. And a few lessons... example: no matter how terrific a floral print skirt may seem in theory (in the store), I never seem to wear them once I get them home. There are several in these boxes with price tags still on them!

In these boxes are a few dreams: size 14, size 16, size 10. They all died when I injured my foot. And WHY was I hanging onto the clothes??? If I woke up smaller tomorrow, would I reach in the back of my closet for some old frock from years ago??? Heck no. I'd go shopping!

Another dream in these boxes is high heels or cute shoes that have no arch support... My terrific shoe days are long gone.

And the amazing thing is that I had trouble getting everything back in the closet! Eight boxes of junk and it's still a tight fit.

On a happier note, yesterday was my friend Ivey's birthday. Her neices had mailed her a necklace (Ivey LOVES turquoise)but it did not fit. I added the back portion of the larger turquoise and silver beads. And reworked her earring to match. Hope she likes them.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Creek Pictures

I've been swamped in my shop dealing with a 6500 unit stamp order so I thought I would share some pictures from the creek. One of my favorite sunsets.

When the creek starts to get to shallow, this moss grows everywhere. It doesn't stop Mabel from wading though.

This plant is called "Our Lord's Candle" and it is a glorious site when the entire valley floor is has these popping up.

I'm off to press rubber and maybe settle in for the East coast Ugly Betty on DVR while I cut stamps. Have a great evening!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sissy 's Promise

Carmon's comments on last night's post gave me the idea to tell you about the last time I saw my aunt.

My Aunt Louise was my other mother. She was not judgmental and always listened and simply adored me. She never had kids of her own but managed to have three nieces that she mothered... all of us were about 10 years apart in age and felt blessed by her presence in our lives.

Louise was the only girl of six kids and, as is typical in Southern families, was called "Sister" by her whole family and even my cousins. When I was born, my older sister, who was 22, had always wanted a baby sister to call her "Sister." After I was a year or so old, I couldn't quite work out how there could be two people named "Sister" so I re-christened my aunt "Sissy."

In December 2000, my aunt was not doing well. Her husband had died and my cousins put her in a nursing home. When I drove up from my mother's in Baton Rouge, I found that she had worsened and was in the hospital.

I go to her room; she's not there. I find her at the nurse's station, flirting. This would become one of the strangest visits we ever had.

One minute, Sissy was lucid: "Child, hand me my lipstick... that orderly is CUTE!"

The next she was reliving a traumatic time from my infancy. My father (Sissy's little brother) had a heart attack when I was six months old and was demanding someone bring me to him but the hospital had rules. Seeing me must have brought this memory back and she was rambling on and on: "I swear I didn't bring the baby. Tell them it wasn't me!"

She was back and forth like this all night. They brought her food and she could barely feed herself. So I took over. Afterwards, I was cleaning her up and she was back.

"Honey, I'm not long for this, don't interrupt me. My time is coming and I'm O.K. with that. I miss your Uncle Henry and I really want to see him. And I want to see Jesus. But, you're my baby. I need you to be O.K. with it."

I fought back tears. "When it's your time, you just go. I'll be O.K."

We sat there holding hands for a minute and I got an idea.

"Sissy, would you do me a favor when your time comes?"

"Of course, honey. You name it!"

"Come see me! Come see my new house! I've always wanted you to visit me in California...please say you will."

Her eyes showed her confusion wondering how her feeble body could make the flight and then I saw the twinkle of recognition. She knew full well what I meant. She started nodding her head yes.

"All right, I will. If it's possible, I promise I will be there."

Visiting hours were over and I walked the hike to my car in the Mississippi sleet simply numb. I knew I would never see Sissy again.

I drove the few blocks to her house. My cousins had cleaned everything out. The only thing left was a plaque on the door - a little bit of cross stitch someone at church had given Sissy. It read, "Bless this House and All Who Enter." I took it and when I returned to California, I hung it inside, over my front door.

Sissy recovered and went back to the nursing home. She lasted another eleven months when we talked, I never said another word about her promise.

One night in November 2001, I was awakened by my doorbell... it was really annoying. Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong nonstop. I glanced at the clock: 3 a.m.

I ran to my door and opened it. There is stunning, bright, golden light stood my Sissy. Only she was young...younger than I had ever known her. She was about 24 and dressed to the nines as was her style. The manicure, the coiffure, the high heels and clothes were all high fashion and immaculate. And oddly enough, I could "feel" my Uncle behind her.

"You came! Come in, come in!"

She never spoke but seemed to communicate without words. She took a few steps into my house and turned, looked up and over her shoulder at my - her - plaque. I hung my head in shame at having stolen from her. She took my chin in her hand and just shook her head. I knew it didn't matter.

The three of us visited for about three hours and were in my garden having tea and looking at pictures, when my phone started to ring. I excused myself and said, "I'll be right back."

I dashed through the living room door and reached for the phone, only I was back in bed and reaching for the phone on the nightstand. Confused, I looked at the clock. 6 a.m.

It was my cousin. My heart sank.

"I've been waiting for it to be late enough to call you. Sister passed away three hours ago."

We talked for a bit but I couldn't get off the phone fast enough to run out to the garden. Gone was the bright light that had bathed us just minutes before, replaced by a grey California dawn. Sissy and my uncle were gone too.

And while this visit only reinforced other things I have seen regarding the hereafter, it made me feel so special. Sissy had been the glue in her family. She loved everyone so much. But it was me she came to see, even before Jesus! How many are lucky enough to have someone love us so much, they would cross time and space and 3000 miles just to keep a promise?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hotline to God

I am a very spiritual person and hope this blog does not offend anyone. I am puzzled by atheists... I've seen so many things in my life that I just have absolutely no doubt God exists.

Setting that aside, I'm a practical person. If I live a good life and find out there is no heaven, oh well...I lived a good life and was good to others. But to not believe and then find out there is a heaven??

So my post One Good Turn had me thinking about other times I prayed and BOOM, it was answered.

One was rather simple. I was shooting a t.v. show. We were five weeks into a six week run...which meant I was tired. Lots of long hours. It was 6 a.m. and I was driving on the 101 fwy in heavy but fast traffic. Only I was so exhausted, I couldn't hold my head up. I was drifting in and out and realized I was going to hurt myself or someone else. After pinching myself, trying to sing loud and slapping my face, I could not seem to snap out of it. So, I prayed... God, I need to wake up NOW! And just that fast, I was WIDE awake.

The other story is far more impressive. The dog trainer I frequently hired has a party for producers and other industry friends every summer at their ranch in Lake Hughes, about an hour north of LA. I had driven up, had some barbeque, played with may favorite critters and started to head home. Rob, my host, reminded me to stop on the drive down the mountain and check out the views of the lakes (Hughes & Elizabeth).

I'm a sucker for a great view especially where water is involved. When I reached a turnout along the mountain road, I pulled over to the edge parked the car and, out of habit, locked it. I hadn't seen another car in the 20 minute drive from Rob's and there was nothing around... why lock the car???

And immediately I knew my keys were inside. I start having vision of being raped or killed and drug off into the wilderness. I was so upset, I was shaking. So I started to pray. It went something like this:

"God, I'm in a pickle here. And I'm terrified. I need you to send your angels to me. I need your protection and guidance. God, I'm going to have to flag someone down and there aren't too many cars on this road. So, I'm asking that the person I flag down be someone I'm comfortable with and can trust to help me and get me home. I love you and thank you."

My prayer had made me still and calmed me slightly. As soon as I stopped praying, I heard a car. I looked around for a stick or some kind of weapon just in case and decided sand in the eyes would be a good option if I felt threatened. I walked closer to the road to be seen and started waving my arms. My heart sank when I realized there were two men in the truck. I'm pretty feisty but wasn't sure I could handle two bad guys.

They rolled down the window and I explained what I had done. They chuckled and parked their car. The driver said he thought he had a coat hanger behind his seat. As the two men opened their doors, they were talking about a movie and I knew immediately they were in the business. I asked where they worked. It was a post production house in I used all the time. I quickly realized I had talked to the driver on the phone the day before! He was editing the sound on my last commercial!

My car door was quickly opened and I was on my way in minutes and marveling at how fast and how specifically my prayer was answered. (And by the way - that was the wrong view of water, just more mountains!)

But, not all prayers are answered with such speed... there was one I prayed for 37+ years. Don't have much hope for that one!

Coons & Possums

Sandy asked for pics of coons and possums. As the camera is the last thing I think of when Miss Mabel is tearing down the door in the middle of the night AND I'm not the best night photographer, I'm posting a few links.



Sunday, November 12, 2006

Love for Sale: $8

Velvet asked for more doggie info, so here's a little bit about Miss Mabel Lou. I got Mabel from the pound about 6 weeks after my Maggie died of cancer. I was grief stricken and Mabel was really confused. At four months old, she had been adopted out five times and returned pretty fast. But since Mags was only eight, I was hell-bent on getting a first. They wanted to be rid of her... she was "on sale" for $8.00! (including micro chip and hysterectomy!)

It was a rough start. She was so happy to be leaving "doggie jail," she burst out the doors and immediately starting trying to read my face for recognition of one of the many cars. I wanted her to potty first. As soon as she realized which was my car, she whimpered and scratched and refused to walk one step further. O.K., so maybe she doesn't need to potty.

We got on the freeway and headed to my old neighborhood. I had an elderly friend there and had promised to do a little shopping for her. I got a whif of a very unpleasant odor... she had pooped IN THE CAR!!! Most of it was on a magazine but some of it was not and with the stop and go of the LA freeways, a lot of it was getting on her!

I stopped at a local Petco. They wouldn't bathe her without vet papers but they did sell me carpet cleaner and give me paper towels and some water for the pup.

I finally got the little stinker home and it only got worse. Every book I was reading at the time has the spine chewed. The remotes, my shoes, her bed and logs of firewood were also on her hit list. And she HAD to sleep with me! I'm used to stand-offish rottweilers. They are my favorite breed. But Mabel is a mix: rott, lab, greyhound and I now like to add woodchuck, bedhog and heart-stealer to that list! But none of the other rotts would go near my bed. Maggie would sometimes nap with me in the daytime but come night, she wanted her bed. She slept with me four times in 6 years: 1) the night she had hip surgery, 2) the night we moved to the house I live in now, 2) the first night she spent in my mother's home in Baton Rouge and 4) the night before she died. Those were all traumatic events in her life and perfectly understandable.

But a dog in my bed every night??? No way! But little Mabel was very persistent. She would wait until I fell asleep and then "ask" to get in my bed. She would lay her clunky paw on my bed and scratch and whine a bit. I would wake up groggy and say "NO!" She would groan and lay down beside my bed, not in her bed. 5 minutes later, repeat. So, I'm trainable. Take away my sleep and I'll give in!

Only that was not the end of my sleep disorder. Setting aside the fact that this skinny little dog took up MORE than her fair share of my queen sized bed, we have a yard full of critters. Miss M has a huge prey drive! Between the family of raccoons that come to drink from my fountain, the possum that favors the mulberry tree, the family of squirrels that always took great delight in teasing Maggie, the next door neighbor that feeds around 18 stray cats, and the rats the come up from the canal behind the house... there's lots to chase.

Every night I would awaken to what sounded like my back door being beaten down accompanied by a deep growl. Only it was being beaten down from the INSIDE. Once, she knocked the screens out of the side panel windows on the French doors. This went on for THREE YEARS! Last year, it finally occurred to me to shut the bedroom door. It worked! Most nights, we both sleep through the night. But every couple of months... she just won't settle in at night.

I spent the first year absolutely hating her, wondering what I had done to ruin my life. I knew I couldn't return her... the cute puppy was wearing off and LA pounds kill dogs way too fast. Plus I believe in commitment. I realize that it was grief talking. Now, we're madly in love. She's quite a character and I'm sure you'll be reading more of her antics real soon. Here's some puppy pics.

Mabel's legs are too long for her body and she cannot sit properly (typical greyhound trait). Being a mix, she can sit for a few minutes but it hurts. When she does sit, she looks for a way to extend her hind legs so the bones don't poke her belly. As a pup, that meant straddling the console, right paw on the passenger seat for balance and left paw hanging over my right shoulder. This was taken around that time.

Mabel playing ball in the creek with my best friend's dog Sarah. Sarah passed away last summer and we really miss her!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

One Good Turn

I was reading Sunflower Optimism's post about making a difference in the world by starting with those around you which made me think of this story.

A few years ago, I was walking my dog Maggie. We were new to this neighborhood. I had found a few streets I liked to walk (this was before I discovered my creek.) but Maggie, as always, had her own opinion. She preferred to hike up the street and down this tiny road full of snarling big dogs.

I just don't like to work that hard walking the dog. My daily walks are a spiritual time for me. I get lost in my thoughts and yes, I talk to God.

This particular day was no different. Maggie had won that morning's "argument" and we had made it down the tiny road with very little fuss. Knowing that the rest of the walk would be easy, I was praying.

I asked God for the opportunity to help someone that day. As fast as I said that prayer, whizzing around the corner comes this car making a horrible racket. It was being driven by a very small, older woman with a look of sheer terror on her face.

I knew immediately that she had no idea what was wrong with her car...but I did!

As she drove toward us, it was very plain to see...she had a paint bucket stuck under her car. And the metal on concrete was making a horrendous noise.

I held my hand up for her to stop. She rolled down her window, talking a mile a minute. I asked her to put it in park, tied Mags to a fence and crawled under the car and removed the can. This lady was SO grateful.

And that has to be the fastest one of my prayers was ever answered!

So-- we all have opportunities every day to make a tiny difference to someone... It may be a tiny thing to us but it might mean the world to someone else.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dog Hero

I set out for a sunset hike the other day. At the moment, my greatest concern was that the pupster and I may run into Challo (pronounced Cha low). Challo is a pit bull terrier, very strong and powerful. But mostly he is full throttle puppy!

Challo is owned by a young man of Mid-East descent who occasionally is out and about with the dog. But, almost every night, a man that I presume is the young man's dad walks Challo. This gentleman speaks exceptionally little English and laughs at everything I say:

"Look at the Challo kissing Mabel."

"Ah hah hah hah!"

"I found a cat head in my yard."

"Ah hah hah hah!"

I actually enjoy walking with him because there is no need to make conversation. But the last time the pupster and Challo ran into each other, they ran and jumped and frolicked so that my little drama queen limped and cried for days...unless she was at the creek.

Little Miss M is a mix of Rott, Greyhound and Lab ( and a few other questionable things...but that's another post). Her rear is higher than her front and she is frequently in pain. Years ago, when I made more money than I do now, I thought nothing of dropping 5K on a new hip for my Mags but can't even dream about that for this girly.

Back to the hike: We made it round the levy with no sign of Challo and to our great surprise; there was water in our little creek. Thinking back while hiking today, I have to wonder if it was a mirage, because now, it's bone dry in this particular area. But the other day... lovely, clear water everywhere.

The pup raced for the water, turned three times before settling in for her daily baptism, preening her neck to feel the last few minutes of sunlight on her face. I stopped walking to watch her and enjoy the silly grin she gets when she's found a good swimming hole.

We hiked up stream a ways - each exploring on our own until I became aware of a strange feeling - like I was being watched. My eyes darted up on the levy. There 15 feet in the air, standing ON TOP of the levy were two coyotes. They were oblivious to me but they were staring intently at my baby girl.

I thrust my walking stick and arm high in the air and gave them my best deep, low, constant yell all the while walking toward them. They bolted down the other side of the levy and were gone.

Then I did something stupid. Instead of heading home, I continued my hike. Only when I reached the pup's current favorite swimming hole and looked back down stream, I noticed the coyotes coming down the levy and crossing the creek. Now, they were between me and the car. And it was getting dark fast.

I suddenly wished we weren't out there alone. I headed back downstream, cautious. All of a sudden in the grey dusk, I realized a figure was stalking us. He crawled slowly, then charged, dropped to his belly and crawled some more. As he came closer, I realized the shape is not that of, it was too stocky and short. Yes, Challo had found us.

I heard his grandpa calling him in the distance and boy was I ever glad we were not alone. Challo escorted the ladies safely to our car.

I had to laugh. I started my hike specifically hoping not to see this dog and ended it so grateful that he was there.

Thanks Challo. You'll always be my hero!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Do you drive like you love Jesus?

Driving to get on the freeway to go visit my friend, a black truck cut me off, but this is everyday occurrence.

He throws garbage out of his truck on the on ramp and guns it.

Once on the 210, I survey my surroundings: my lane has a slow truck edging up the mountain as does one lane over... where my friend in black truck is. Lane #3 has a horse trailer coming up fast. I take my foot off my accelerator because it's painfully obvious that I'm going no where fast.

To my surprise, the black truck cuts off the horse trailer. Maybe I'm overly sensitive. It's true, I'm an animal lover but I'm always aware that a horse trailer most likely contains a very large passenger that doesn't like getting tossed about.

I eventually pass the trailer in the far left lane and manage to pass the black truck....he's moving like molasses and is not on the cell phone (the likely cause of fast - slow - oh so fast driving on an LA freeway).

He suddenly speeds up and jumps in front of me...and slows way down. I move and pass. He passes me and cuts off another driver. We do this dance several more times when I notice he's got a Jesus fish on his rear bumper.

And I wonder, is this the way you drive when you love Jesus???

I guess I just better keep driving like Jesus loves me!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Art of the Apology.

Have you noticed, no one seems to know how to apologize anymore? Well, I guess that would mean actually admitting to doing something wrong.

This morning, I had to drive my godson to school --Which means I had to be up and out of the house earlier than usual. And, as is typical when I leave early, some lovely parent was blocking my driveway - I live near an elementary school. Unbeknownst to me, I apparently didn't receive full ownership of my driveway when I bought the house. No, it belongs to every lazy, late, loser parent whose kids go to that school.

When I opened my gate, she moved further down the street. When I drove past her car, I stopped and motioned for her to roll down her window. She just stared. So, rather loudly, I asked, "Could you not block my driveway in the future?"

She just waved me on shaking her head.

"Ma'am, I just wanted to ask you..." She starts blasting her radio.

At that point, I called her a few choice names I wish I had not screamed in the presence of elementary kids!

But it got me to thinking about apologies.

OK... I know this is a sore subject. Literally, at least 3 times a week, I simply cannot come or go to / from my own home without someone being in my driveway. A few years ago, my neighbor returned from work one evening to find two cars in his driveway. He pulled in behind and went inside. About an hour later, a couple of rather sheepish, embarrassed parents knocked on the door and asked him to move his car. They did not apologize...just asked the homeowner to move his car! He informed them that he was on long distance and they would have to wait. He watched his favorite t.v. show before moving the car an hour later.

My favorite is Election Day. Then you get every voter who is "only going to take a minute to vote" also blocking my clearly marked driveway. A few years ago, I used a cane to walk. (Prior to this, I was in a wheelchair for many months, which was followed by months on a walker and then to the cane. It never once occurred to me to block someone's driveway so I could park a few feet closer. ) Anyway, I returned home to find an errant voter in my driveway. I hobble into the polls and loudly announce that the driver of the silver Lexus needs to move the car NOW.

On the way back home, I mumble something about everyone thinking they're special to which this dimwit would-be voter replied, "I AM special."

I replied, "Lady, I'm special too and in case you haven't noticed, I'm handicapped. It HURT to walk over here. And that's MY driveway and I really want to just go get in bed. "

Only then did she apologize.

All anybody wants in this world is to be heard. That's all I wanted from that woman this morning. All it would have taken was, "Oh, I'm so sorry. It won't happen again."

But then that would take her admitting to doing something wrong in the first place. It seems that is a hard thing to do. And it really makes me wonder what these people are teaching their children. At this point, I think their primary educational objectives are: you are the only one that matters; you can do no wrong; Never worry about how your actions might affect someone else.

Now that's something to be sorry for.