Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mabel Opening Gifts

My sweet girl came over and kissed me after each gift she opened. (You'll see her do this between gifts.) This video is gifts #2 and #3.



Now, here's what happened to gift #1 - a stuffed toy:



Audio translation:
00:02: We have a sure fire sign she liked her toy because she's trying to hide it!
01:22: We're doing the "sniff" test to see if it's too close to the surface. (Mabel turns.)
01:26: Yes! Mommy's watching.
02:12: Miss Belle, Show 'em your nose! Show 'em your nose. Mabel! Show 'em your nose. Yes, that would be the evidence right there.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Best Thing About Winter



Actually, the best part is when I lay by the fire with her, roasting marshmallows. Mabel moves even closer to the fire, watching...waiting patiently for her marshmallow.




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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Wishing You a Little...


Christmas Chair!

This chair, dressed in holiday finest, belongs to my best friend. I'm not certain if it's her way of saying, "Come on in, sit a spell!" or if it's just her being so "punny," but I knew I had to share it.


As we were posing the chair and I was holding my breath before clicking the shutter, the BF whispered to her chair, "Smile!"


Hope your day is filled with joy!



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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Worst Part of Fall (Updated 12-25)




California most definitely has different seasons. My mother in Louisiana has been marveling about the 40 degree weather we've had while things are much warmer there.

We are in the heart of fall. The few Christmases I've been lucky enough to stay home have always found me Godsmacked at the sudden beauty of trees that decide to decorate themselves for the holiday. Every street is awash with brilliant gold and red leaves.



The winds come and force leaves still clinging to their brethren on the vine to fall, creating a luxurious carpet of color.

And while I love the crunching sound underneath my feet as I hike along the area known locally as Walden Pond, the absence of leaves on the shrubs saddens me and makes me feel exposed in an area where I normally love feeling hidden from the world.

This spot runs parallel to the Angeles National Golf Club - Hole #3, to be precise. And why does it matter if the golfers can see me? Because it takes away the fun I have with them when they don't know I'm there.

A golfer will swing a mighty drive, trying desperately to get his ball across the arroyo to the hole and yells at the top of his lungs, "FORE!!" And I, hidden from view by my precious poplar shrubs, simply cannot resist... I yell back, "FIVE!!!" and I wait. Laughter always ensues.

But alas, this is a pleasure that must wait for Spring...




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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Creekhiker Philosophy

Advice given to a friend:

Some days, life is like when you wear fuzzy pants and forget about them and go hiking off trail. It's just gonna stick to you for a while.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mad Enough to Spit

The thing that pisses me off more than the incessant parties every group I belong to seems to think we need to have this time of year is ...Christmas cards.

You may think this strange as I work in the paper arts field. Heck, I used to hand make around 150 cards each year. And in each one, I included a hand written note detailing the last year.

But I'm not knocking Christmas cards in general. I don't even mind receiving mass produced holiday "newsletters."

No, the thing that pisses me off is finding an envelope in the mail from some long lost friend. One I really don't keep in contact with. I rip into the fancy envelope all excited and skip the store bought sentiment on the front, looking, hoping, praying for some juicy detail of my friend's life. And then, I'm crushed. The only thing in the card is "Love, Susie Q."

So, you take the time to shop, spend the money on a card, and time to address the envelope and all I get is Love, Susie Q???? WTF???

Other than knowing my friend is alive, yet another year goes by when I know nothing of her life.

This is the very reason I stopped sending all those cards a few years ago. Just let 'em wonder if I'm even alive to read the stupid things. They don't even go on my mantle or my card wreath that I keep year round in the hall. Nope, they go straight in the recycling bin where they can't piss me off any more!

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

When Trees Talk

I had an amazing experience in the creek today. Mabel Lou and I were over in the runoff admiring how big our flock of mallards has gotten lately (40+). The weather had been terribly windy - 70 mph gusts - since around 4 in the morning. We had snoozed most of the day away before our late afternoon romp.

I was trying to cross a newly washed out ravine and hanging onto a eucalyptus trunk for balance, when I had a thought that the trees were "talking."

Nah...couldn't be. But I heard it again. And Mabel was now staring up. It must be a chipmunk or a squirrel. I arched my back and scanned the three trees that were clustered there, looking for this critter that whined then chuck-chuck-chucked. I moved to the center tree and felt the noise but still couldn't see what was causing it. I moved to the third tree and after staring upwards, I realized the center tree had a long branch that had grown around a large branch on this tree. And when the wind blew, it made this amazing sound. I stood there listening for the longest time.

Mabel took off as we returned to the jeep. As I started to fuss her, I realize she's stopped by a familiar truck. The Rhodies were somewhere in the creek. We start back in and run into them immediately and decided to hike some more.

As I relayed my talking tree tale, their mom, an artist who really "gets" me asked, "Were you aware that trees talked before?"

"No."

"More importantly, did you understand what they were saying?"

"No. I don't speak their language...yet."
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What a Man...

I just had an encounter with one of the most terrifying members of the species I've ever met! I'm shaking as I type.

It was a busy day in the shop. I had planned to torch all morning and then run a few errands... an easy day...sales have been slow. But, we had a t.v. show air and suddenly, I was swamped. One humongous order and several smaller ones. So I was on my feet all day.

I have two holiday parties to attend and after quitting around 7:30, I drove to Smart and Final. It's like a restaurant supply / much smaller Costco. I picked up a frozen lasagna and a few other things and went to my car. I had parked in the handicapped spot because I was limping pretty bad after all that work. After loading my car, I realized someone had parked their big, blue Ford at an odd angle. They had turned into a west facing space while driving east. There was no way to back out without hitting the car.

I went back in and asked the clerk make an announcement. No one came forward. I went back out and got the license plate. As I handed it to the clerk, a lady says, "That's him over there." She pointed to the last check stand.

There was a guy coming toward me - a short, rotund man. I asked, "Are you in the blue truck"

"Who?"

"You...are you in the blue truck?

"Who?"

"YOU! Are you driving a blue truck?"

He had been walking toward me the whole time and now we were belly to belly. Intimidated, I asked, "What are you doing?"

"What're you doing?"

"I'm trying to find out if you're driving a blue truck." I'm backing up now. He moves toward me.

"Sir, I'm handicapped. I just want to l..."

"SO AM I!"

"Well, I just want to leave but I need the owner of the blue truck to move."

"Well, you don't have to get in my face!" {??? Just who got in whose face???}

At this point, the lady comes over and says, "That guy." She points out the true owner of the truck.

I start walking away from Mister Wonderful and ask Guy #2 if the truck is his. He apologizes and says he'll move it just as soon as he's finished paying. Very nice.

As I turn around, I realize half the store is staring at Mister Wonderful in amazement, now over by the exit. He looks back and repeats his last line about me being in his face....

And I just couldn't let it go... "Well, you didn't have to be an asshole." I was still also talking to the truck owner and turned my back, thinking Mr. Wonderful was headed out the door.

I turned to find him back in my face again!

"WHAT did you call ME?"

The whole store heard me... there was no point in lying. I looked him straight in the eye and said, "An asshole. That's what you are when you bully a girl!"

"Well, maybe I'll just go get my wife and let her take care of you."

"Well, maybe I'll call 9-1-1 and let the cops take care of you."

"Well, maybe you should. You walk in here all attitude and get in my face..."

"Sir, it was a yes or no question. I didn't have an attitude. I simply thought you couldn't hear me or understand."

At this point, Mr. Blue Truck is ready to go and Mr. Wonderful is strutting around still muttering threats. I decide to kill him with kindness.

"Merry Christmas!"

"Arg...YOU TOO!"

"Why, THANK YOU!" and I blow him a kiss!

I've become aware that the gutless wonder of a store manager has been standing nearby, watching. I asked the clerk, "Was I rude???"

She shook her head in disbelief, still staring out the door after the guy.

I told the manager, "I don't have a cell phone and you need to walk me to my car and watch me leave."

He agreed. As Mr. Blue Truck pulled out, I could see Mr. Wonderful, pointing at me!

I took a meandering route home.

I have to wonder what kind of woman this man is married to... she must be so proud of him. My gut tells me, he probably bullies her too. I hope she got a kick out of me calling him an asshole. I think she probably has wanted to call him that for a long time.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mind Otherwise Engaged

So I hopped out of the shower and went about getting my freshly laundered hair under control. I have thick, auburn, shoulder - length curls and more than enough hair for two people. It basically looks better dirty so I have to "dirty it up" after shampooing. First the hair honey, made for African American hair - my curls, if twisted tightly will stay in place for a few hours by themselves... great for when I'm too hot and too busy to come in from the shop and put my hair up.

Next, leave-in conditioner followed by mouse and, if it's been a really bad hair period, gel.

So I finished the hair chores and got my unmetionables on and piled a big dollop of mandarin mango body lotion in the palm of my left hand and...my mind took a detour:

Where did that little paint pot come from? Must've been in that mini travel kit I unpacked weeks ago. That looks just like the paint pots we used in class this weekend...no, it's made better! It's far easier to open. I wonder who makes these? Oh, look! They're right in Van Nuys! Maybe I could drive by and see if they have the bottles we've been looking for to put sanding sugars in... that would be great to buy them locally and see what I'm getting...OH! What WAS I doing?

I came back to the task at hand - putting lotion on my winter dry skin only... Where is the lotion? I KNOW I put some - a lot - in my hand. I checked my skin... no, still too dry and kinda itchy. Then I looked in the mirror. There were tale tell streaks of peach in my HAIR! I had put the lotion in my hair! And there was no time to take another shower.

The sad part is that I actually resent my mind... it gets to go on little mental trips and My body never gets a vacation!



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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Suspicious Mind

Sometimes I'm really annoyed by my suspicious, distrustful nature. I really criticize myself for being too quick to judge.

But then, just what was I supposed to think today when I saw a car coming out of a national forest with a Christmas tree tied to the roof?


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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ms. Crotchett in the House

Just fine...Except for the kids. That's how I would describe my Thanksgiving. It's official, I've become a crotchety old woman!

We typically spend the holiday with my best friend's in-laws and have a rather quiet and elegant day. This year, the in-laws all had other plans save for the Mom, one of my favorite people in the world.

Normally, my best friend's siblings and mother all gather at her sister's house about an hour and a half away. We never go there because, for some strange reason, my BF's ex managed to get "custody" of her family in the divorce. Seriously, my BF feels it's more important for her son to be with his cousins than it is for her to be there.

But, through a strange series of events, her family all ended up here in Sunland and we even got my Godson for the day.

As usual, the BF chided me for making too much food. She made a Tur-duck-hen and had several Sam's Club chickens, mashed potatoes, shrimp bisque, green veggies, Hungarian Apple bars and chocolate cake. Her sister brought ambrosia, Hungarian poppy seed pastry, and a pumpkin cheesecake birthday cake for two of the nephews. I made sweet potatoes w/ pecan topping, gingerbread, the gravy, homemade cranberry relish, and a huge pan of my mom's cornbread dressing. As usual, I chided her when we actually started running out of food before everyone had even arrived!

The food was great and the company was wonderful. We haven't all been together -this wonderful Hungarian family that adopted me my first year in California - since a funeral in the beginning of the year.

But the kids just made it miserable for most of the adults! All of the grandchildren are almost grown. My Godson, 16, is the youngest. Some of the older cousins have kids now. After watching these "kids" interact with their offspring, I think it's a shame we don't require parenting classes.

These little ones... aged from 2 - 10 were so horribly behaved. Running, jumping on furniture, screaming in the house. They ran in and out constantly even though it was in the high 40s outside. Their little hands were on the very door they opened. Couldn't they simply close it? And my favorite... all of them were fascinated by a half wall that separates the living area from the dining room and actually tried to climb the wall!

I was ready for home after cooking two nights and all day. I was in no mood for this. But as I sat lingering a bit with my BF's mom and mother-in-law, I had a most interesting example of mothering gone a muck.

The mother of two of the cousin's arrived. I've had much disdain for this twit since I met her precious infant daughter almost 20 years ago. This twit was never much of a mother to this girl or her brother. Their father raised them alone. To this day, she hardly sees the kids and has made two more with some other baby daddy. The thing I most despise about this woman is her inability to see how her own actions affect her life. It's always someone else's fault. I couldn't be with my kids because their father took them. Her lying, cheating, drug addiction and leaving the children with virtual strangers for days on end had nothing to do with it. I can't get a job because nobody will give me a chance. Not showing up for work is a sure way to lose a job.

She walks in and sees her two eldest and starts crying, "My babies, my babies!" to the great embarrassment of the kids. She finally gets some food and joins us at the table while her two five-year-olds run wild.

As she turned around for the third time in two minutes to get one of the her girls off the wall, she offered up this bit of parenting philosphy:

I can't control them. They just have no respect for me. Do you know what {Little Girl} said to me last week? I was correcting her for ...something and I told her, if you don't stop that, I'm going to spank you. You know what she did? She went running to {Baby Daddy} and said, "That bitch told me she's going to spank me!"

She paused to acknowledge the shock on all our faces.

It's his fault. If he didn't call me that, the girls wouldn't. What can you do... you just have to let it go.

The older women at the table said nothing... I think they were just as shocked as amused. But I couldn't resist.

"No one can mistreat you if you don't allow it."

But that's what he calls me.

"Yet, he still sleeps in your bed..."

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Regression Obsession

I know I've posted quite a bit lately about Mabel's behavior and I've complained to friends that I think she is regressing back to puppy-hood.

And now, I have MORE proof. Yesterday, she did something she hasn't done since she was about five months old. She stole my food!

I should explain here that, in some ways, I'm still five years old. I still, grownup, arthritic soul that I am, prefer to eat sitting on the floor in front of the t.v. I've always trained my dogs to leave me and my plate alone while I'm there.

But, back to the thief. When Mabel was a pup, I was prepping three steaks to cook on the grill. I always take the meat packaging straight outside to the trash. I pushed the plate back near the stove and went outside, knowing that Mabel was very tall puppy, capable of placing her head on the counter. Maybe because it was a blazing July day and I shut the wood door, she felt a little safe in stealing.

When I came back in, not even a minute later, there was one steak on the plate, one hanging off the edge of the counter and one was MIA. Mabel's tail was disappearing into the den as I entered. I followed and discovered the other steak, "hidden" under the edge of her bed!

She never tried to steal from me again... until yesterday.

I had fixed a plate of leftover orange chicken, brown rice and chicken satay. Only, the Godson had shown up to do some yard work and clean the pool. I stepped out on the porch to talk to him for a moment. And when I walked back in, Mabel had eaten a satay skewer, including the stick!*

I'm trying my original punishment - not a morsel off my plate for a long, long time.

I'm almost afraid of what's next...submissive peeing, incessant barking or chewing the spine off every book I'm reading.

*Mabel regularly ate sticks as a puppy so I'm not worried.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Party Trick


Thinking of Maggie and kitty cats reminded me of one of our best party tricks. Maggie was a very smart girl but, honestly, I think Mabel is thismuch smarter.

Maggie could never discern between the words "kitty cat" and anything that rhymed with it.

So, when we had company, I would look at Mags adoringly and say, "Maggie May, you make my heart go pitty pat."

Maggie would take off racing for the nether regions of the back deck, patrolling for kitties.

My audience would be a bit perplexed and then I would add my punch line: "Funny, that's the same reaction I get from men."

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Post Mortum

This is the face of a murderer!

Today, I'm still shocked over my little murderer but she's been SO sweet and downright loving.

I just hate that this has happened. I keep hoping Mabel will have a kitty encounter that will freak her out. Like when the Rhodies' mom was walking her old dog and a big mean kitty just attacked him. My own Maggie May had a similar experience with a cat behind my old house. She cornered it behind the a/c unit. I tried to get her to budge... she wouldn't. As I pondered which hose was the closest, Mags pawed the cat. The cat tore into Maggie! From then on, she was interested in cats but, from a distance. I want Mabel to have an experience like that.

But no... her negative behavior keeps hitting the payoff button for her.

This is her fifth kitty encounter since this summer. All have only served to reinforce her prey drive. The first I mentioned in the previous post... she had the kittens stranded on top of someone's trellis and was on top of their grill, leaping in the air. Then she had a run in with a cat at Melvin's house near the creek. It was a Mexican standoff on their porch with the cat inside the sliding door. We cleared their porch of furniture. Next, she treed that same cat.

Right before my trip to Baton Rouge, Mabel and the Rhodesian's took off on us the minute they got out of the cars at the creek. This isn't usually a big deal. They run down the block to see Chalo, their pit bull friend. As soon as they realize he can't come play, they run back to us and off we go. But this time, they ran into a yard near where we park and managed to scare the dickens out of some poor cat. The only reason it got away was it jumped through a wrought iron fence and the dogs would have had to go all the way around the house to begin chasing it.

And now this...After all this reinforcement of her "fearless pack leader" status, I'm terrified of what's next.
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Not My Girl

WARNING: VIOLENT POST TODAY...NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH.

Something awful happened today. The video in my head will not shut off. And worst of all, it has changed how I feel about Mabel.

Mabel is a murderer. I am witness to her crime. I blame myself really.

As we were leaving to pick up some lunch and show off some beads, a kitten ran into the shop yard. Mabel went berserk in the back of the jeep. I pretended not to notice and figured the kitten would jump the wall before we returned home.

I didn't see her when we came back. We went in the house and ate, then back into the shop to press more rubber for my class tomorrow night. When I finished, I decided to nap. I whistled for Mabel. She didn't come. I whistled a few more times heading into the house...no Mabel. Thinking she was being a jerk... she has issues with listening, clearly showing no respect for me as a pack leader... I went into the side yard by the shop expecting to find her snoozing in the sun.

When I didn't see her, I knew and started screaming, "NO, MABEL, NO!!!"

She was practically on top of the wood pile... so high I was afraid she would clear the fence! Then she wormed her way behind the pile... between the wood and the cinder block wall pushing the neatly stacked wood all amok.

As I approached her, still screaming, I saw the grey kitten in her mouth. It was trying to claw her. I grabbed a piece of firewood and tapped her on the spine...trying desperately to get her attention. Knowing I would hurt her, I ran back around the shop to get the hose, knocking over trashcans and nearly dislodging my clothes line. By the time I got back to the murder frenzy, Mabel was off the wood pile and still had the kitten in her mouth, shaking her violently. I sprayed her in the face full force with the hose and she dropped the cat. I grabbed her and ran her around the house, locking her in the yard.

I ran back to the cat. It was shaking and trying to lick. Screaming and crying, I dashed to the neighbors. They have tons of cats. I was terrified it may be one of theirs. They came over. The cat was still in the throws of death. They asked me for a bag.... I was confused. "How can we get her to the vet in a bag??" But she was gone...

If only I would've checked for the kitty when we got home...The neighbors thought she was a stray. She was just looking for a meal of the rats in the wood pile...doing us a favor.

It's just so shocking to know your animal can kill another.

I haven't written about this but a few months ago, a friend in Baton Rouge was brutally attacked by his Akita. He was trying to get the dog to move over in the bed and he must have startled his sleeping dog. The Akita bit him repeatedly in the face and arm. Thank goodness a family member heard the commotion and got the dog off him. It really made me wonder about the safety of sleeping with an animal. But that was months ago and she was not a vicious dog in my mind...then.

But tonight, I'm not looking forward to climbing in my bed. I'm feeling like I should sleep with one eye open, watching the murderer beside me.


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Oh? Oh...

While hiking with the Rhodesian buddies yesterday, their mom told me that Mabel has taught Sue how much fun it is to sneak under the fence and into the kitty's yard - the one I wrote about here.

She went on to tell me that whenever she encounters a stranger at the creek and the Rhodies go running toward them, instead of her usual mantra - "They're just friendly, large puppies!!" - She now says, "We're friends of Mabel's!"

To which said stranger typically replies with two words. The same words with much different meanings. The first is high pitched on the end, a question. The second is much deeper implying recognition. They are, "Oh??? Oh..."

Now just what does that say about my dog??


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Sunday, November 11, 2007

What a Girl Wants

I was snoozing away at 7:15 this morning when I felt Mabel jump off the bed. A few seconds later, she was playing with my hand hanging off the edge of my bed. Strange... she had gone out to potty at 3:30. As I got up to let her out, I realized I needed to take care of my own business first.

I rolled across the bed to get out on the bathroom side - I guess I should tell you just how tiny my bathroom is. While every home I've had in California has had tiny bathrooms, the master bath in this house is exceptionally small. I've been on boats with bigger bathrooms!

Still, the tiny bathroom has had its advantages, like when I had surgery and was in a wheelchair. I simply rolled across the bed with some force, tucking my left knee in so I could land on my right foot and grab onto the doorway. Hop, grab the sink. Twist my right foot inward toward my left, pivot and sit down. Roll, hop, twist, pivot and I'm on the throne.

Thanks to the mirrors on my closets and the decorative mirrors on the opposite wall, I can see every square inch of my bedroom from the john.

As I sat down there this morning, Mabel's made her true intentions known. No, she did not want to go outside to potty. There was something else she desired.

It was a warm spot in the bed on a chilly morning with 600 thread count sheets next to her furry little bod she craved! She woke me up to have my spot in the bed!

After I opened the back door for her, did she budge??? Nooooo! I checked email - a sure fire way to get her attention. Mommy is not allowed on the computer before the princess eats! Did that rouse her??? Noooo! Only the sound of her morning kibble hitting her bowl got her out of bed.

Hey, what can I say. It's her house. I just pay the mortgage.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Light Envy

I haven't been in the South for the fall time change in well over 20 years. Last Sunday afternoon, I was desperate to get my mother and sister away from the sale rack at Dillard's so that I could get home and take my laundry in. I had to pack and I didn't want damp clothes.

My mother and sister casually strolled out of the store, not understanding what had me so upset. As I walked outside well past 6 p.m. and saw daylight, they laughed at my amazement. I started to think I was a little nuts because I expected it to be dark so early.

It wasn't until I returned to L.A. and realized that here, it does get dark way too early after the time change. By 5:15, it's very dark.

No wonder I have such issues fighting my dark mood this time of year. It gets dark more than a hour earlier here!


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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Shake Shake Shake

I've received several emails and one comment about my breakfast shake from this post, so I thought I would write about it.

The Recipe

1 Scoop MRM's Whey Pumped Protein Powder
About 1 tsp. Cinnamon 1
1 tsp. Vanilla 2
1 cup skim milk 3
Handful of fruit 4

Add milk and protein powder to blender and mix for a few seconds. Add other ingredients and blend well. Enjoy!

Why It Works for Me...

A few months ago, I started feeling dizzy after eating. As diabetes runs rampant in both sides of my family and I'm overweight thanks to my foot issues, I was worried. I got a blood test... I'm fine. But why the dizziness?

I called my good friend Libi who works at a wellness center in Reno. Libi is one of the most knowledgeable people on health I've ever met. She told me that women have issues processing carbs as we age and that I needed to get some protein with every meal. It is crucial to to set your sugar point at breakfast. And most of us eat something way too sweet first thing in the morning. This shake is a good way to get in some protein and fill up in a healthy way and it tastes good too.

A few weeks after this, I saw a female doctor on Oprah... she said the identical things about carbs and not eating sweets in the morning. Here's a link to that part of the show.

Libi also emailed a diet. Surprisingly, it was easy to follow. The shake helped cut all my sugar cravings. I found I didn't think about sweets. I lost 11 lbs. in one week BUT... it took three more weeks for me to lose another pound. In all, I'm down 15 lbs... would be more but my trip to Louisiana got me out of my lunch and dinner routine.

The Commercial

More info on the product.

What Libi has to say: It has a full amino acid profile meaning that after workouts, there is full muscle recovery.

Non-GMO and SUPER LOW CARBS! LACTOSE AND CASEIN FREE!!!! (Which means people who are normally lactose intolerant or have a problem digesting milk proteins can use the product [when mixed with water instead of milk!])

Libi and Dr. John Burton are offering my readers 15% off the product which makes it $26.00 if they get it through Burtons!! It is not on their website; you have to call them. For those of you who don't mail order, it should be available in better health food stores.

Libi also has chocolate flavor.

The Footnotes...

1. Cinnamon is believed to help control blood sugar.
2. I use vanilla bean paste when I travel...more expensive; less messy. Makes the shake sweeter without adding carbs.
3. I find the milk fills me up longer. If you are lactose intolerant, use water...the shake tastes fine that way.
4. I love using frozen fruit in summer to make it thick and icy; extra ice too. But apples are great too and lots of fiber. Avoid pineapple & mango...too much sugar. Different fruit changes the flavor and keeps it interesting. Buy fruit frozen without sugar.

I really feel like a new person since starting this and at least I know I've done one good thing for myself every day.
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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ain’t It Good To Be Back Home Again?

I got up and torched today – before unpacking. I was afraid I had forgotten everything! Then, I took Mabel on the longest hike. The creek is flowing and so full. Even the upper creek has water.

Mabel was just stir crazy from only having left the house once for a play date while I was away. We followed the creek upstream and then down, taking the rocky path beside the water instead of the steady inland path.

We went to the waterfall where Mabel ran down some great smell and I sat a spell on one of my favorite boulders and just listened to the water. Since many tiny streams converge at this point, I love to sit and stare at one and try to isolate its sound based on the rhythm of the water falling. It’s a mesmerizing game. And peaceful…

I lingered, pondering how long it had been since I spent any restful, quiet time with my dog. With God. With me.


The Trip

The trip home was fairly nice. There were the usual family squabbles… We all sure know how to push one another’s buttons. It’s really sad that people who love each other can’t really get along for any length of time.

So, while I was overwhelmed with Mama drama, Mabel decided to be a brat. The coons were coming in my yard at night and apparently, Miss Piss barked all night long for two nights before the neighbors weigh-laid the babysitters and gave them an earful.

We ended up locking her in the house at night. The Rhodesian’s mom gets off late and would bring the pups over for a midnight romp and then lock Mabel in my room. The morning crew would let her out around 7:30. That seemed to be working but when I arrived home, I found she had been peeing on my carpets in there.

I tried to show no negativity as I cleaned up the mess but Mabel would not stay in the room with me as I cleaned!

But back to my visit home…. There was something fun to do every day. A craft fair at Oak Alley Plantation (with more good food than my brain could process!) and another at the casino. I got to visit with one of my favorite cousins and her three-year-old twins.
My sister turned 65 while I was there and she and I had a great dinner, just the two of us (Mom got side-tracked at the casino.) and then I spent the night with her.

I also got to meet my personal blogger hero, Velvet. I know I quote her here often but she is such an inspirational person to me. I wish I could write like that! And she’s just as wonderful and eloquent in person.

Boo

Trick-or-Treating with my cousins in Watson was a highlight. I’ve never seen anything like it. People would pull a hay trailer with a four wheeler. The trailers were all decorated with lights and pumpkins and hay. They would pile on the kids and dogs and make the rounds… and this is not a rural neighborhood!

The streets were packed with people. And everyone giving away candy was usually sitting at a decorated table in their front yard. Trick or Treat is only two hours long there but people were telling us they had bought $350 worth of candy and were running out!

I got to spend several blocks of time with my cousin and his kids. One of the best was the night before Halloween. There is an all you can eat pizza buffet in Denham Springs we all love. The food is wonderful and a steal at those prices but… There is one of those game rooms for kids attached. My sister had handed me a $10 for the kids to go play and I thought it would be strange to hand two kids one ten. So I pulled out another $10. That has to be the best ten bucks I spent all week! My little cousin just adores the Sponge Bob game there. He’s quite good at stopping the wheel on 125 points… the max.

He recruited me to be his assistant. “When I hold my hand out, you put another token in it, Aunt Holly, OK?”

Every time he hit 125, he would throw his hands in the air and scream “JACKPOT!!!!” Which I had to do as well…

And when he didn’t hit a high score, we would swing our arms and scream, “DOH.” Everyone was staring! We didn’t care!

The Bad News…

I did return home to some bad news. My friend Kat’s son was in a horrible brawl at USC’s homecoming Saturday. He never saw the attack coming. They just jumped him, took him to the ground and stomped and kicked the crap out of the boy.

This boy – (it’s so funny, but he was on my mind all day Sunday. I kept thinking of the day he was born and getting to hold him – something his mom allowed very few to do.) – is one of the most peace-loving people I know. He is kind and gentle despite being 6’6”. And while he does have a black belt in judo… he was never one of those boys that loved to fight. He deplores it.

His mom had spent the day at the huge apartment he rents (7 roommates) near USC and had a wonderful day. The boys got ready to go to the game and she drove the 20 minutes home. The phone was ringing when she arrived. Her boy was in the hospital.

He apparently fought the firemen, nurses and doctors helping him… thinking he was still being attacked. And while unconscious, he kept screaming, “Get off me!” and “HELP! Somebody, help me!”

But there is good news. This boy who started accumulating concussions before the age of two managed to get through this beating without one! Lots of bruises to his rib cage and chest and his face is a mess but no concussion. He does have severe damage to his eye and we are waiting to hear what’s next… He needs surgery; it’s just a question of when.

And while his parents had the most acrimonious, drawn-out, nasty divorces I’ve ever been a witness to, Kat, her ex and his girlfriend have been an amazing team. The girlfriend is a nurse at Cedars and has put some of the best eye doctors on the case. Kat stays with her boy dealing with day to day medical and keeping ice on him to help with the swelling. The ex is all over the legal end. No two ways about it – we all want somebody to pay for this!

I’m just so sad that this could happen to such a gentle 19-year-old. I hate to see someone so young become afraid of the world.

Wrapping it up…

So I have a lot of blogs to catch up on and a ton of stuff in the shop to get done. Not to mention, I sold a bunch beads from wearing my own stuff around Baton Rouge and got home to orders for those. My best friend’s mom is in from Hungary and I know I’ll need to spend some time with Kat and her boy but hopefully, I’ll get back into t he swing of things soon.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pleasant Surprise - Hike Minutia

We were in the creek before the sun this morning. I was trying to give my girl one last romp before she's housebound for a week and a half.

Mabel was thrilled when a runny babbit jumped out onto the trail right in front of her. A good chase ensued. I was quite happy as I know she won't get much running in while I'm gone.

We wandered down to the runoff and were headed up the levy. Mabel in front, as usual. Suddenly a flock of Mallards took off from the creek bed parallel to the girl. She had startled them even though we were up on top of the levy.

This made no sense to me. Why would there be so many mallards in a dry creek bed? I worked my way through the shrubs near the levy wall... and I heard it before I got to the edge. Water in the creek!!!! I started running back to the end of the levy as fast as my pitiful feet could carry me. What a wonderful surprise.

Mabel dashed right through it at first...not even noticing??!!! She always visits with a homeless man in this area and she ran right into his tent, waking him up. In reality, I think she was trying to tell him about the creek. They both emerged and she led him down to the water's edge. I guess both of us Piscean girls get really excited when out old friend returns to town... we have to tell everyone!

I found a tennis ball and Mabel frolicked and dashed through the water, retrieving the ball. Since I had to get back and leave for the airport, we had to go... but not before doing one of my favorite things.

We chased the water to the downhill edge, watching, listening to the creek filling up. The sound the parched earth makes when it's finally quenched. The musical notes each crevice and dip in the rocks makes. The water was moving so fast, I stood on a giant rock, mid empty stream and watched it flood all around me.

Rock hopping back to the edge, my soul was flooded like my creek. Joy and gratitude overwhelm me.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Packing My Bags & Photo Update

I'm FINALLY getting around to uploading the fire pictures. This first one is from the first day of fires. The smoke is coming from the Valencia fire. The following day, the smoke was coming from the left side... the Malibu fire.

Since the second day, the air of full of ash. It makes the sun glow a really intense orange. This photo was taken in my backyard around 3 in the afternoon. Now, the sky is so full of ash... It's so grey you can't even see the mountain behind my house. We are in dire need of rain or a gentle ocean breeze to get rid of all the muck.

Below is the photo of where the little red sports car went through the barricade. The car was in this post.



And finally, in all fairness to my mother, I decided to describe what's going into my bags:

- a huge tin of crackers from the Philippines... left behind in August by my college roommate.
- a tub of psyllium for same roommate.
- gigantic warehouse size pills for Mom: Mucinex, Nyquil, Vitamin C, Airborne, Multi Vitamins for Seniors, Tylenol PM.
- a large baggie of cinnamon (for my breakfast shake)
- vanilla bean paste (my breakfast shake again)
- two pairs of pants for Mom to take in or repair.
- an old bedcover of Mabel's so her Granny can put in a new zipper
- two very large gummy snakes and two gummy lizards (Halloween presents for little cousins)
- Almonds, a protein bar and an apple (lunch on the plane).
- bookkeeping for the business (Like, I've got something planned for every day so I'm really going to get around to that, right?)
- laptop for bookkeeping (see above)
- sudafed and chewing gum (to make my ears behave on the flight)
- my camera (photos of my cousins' kids)
- a photo of Mabel...I'm gonna miss my girlie!



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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Fire Inside

I've tried to post all day but kept getting interrupted. But here's the latest.

I know several evacuees. A horse acquaintance lost their home and barn but every one including the animals made it out. I know evacuees from both the fire in Lake Forrest and San Diego. My buddy Kris is still hanging in there and can no longer see flames from her backyard. School is still canceled so her kids are quite happy.

The closest fire to me is ten miles...Northridge / Porter Ranch area. But that means nothing with winds. Most of the fires have been caused by construction or power lines...totally innocent. A few were caused by idiots.

The weirdest thing these last two days has been all the ash and smoke in the air. Yesterday, my eyes were so full of toxic crap, I was convinced I was coming down with the flu. After chatting with several friends, I realized we all had the same symtoms and decided we were all suffering from "Smoke in the eye." Still, I went to bed at 8:30, exhausted.

Today, my eyes were better but my mind was not. There was so much ash in the sky, it covered the sun, lending an orange cast to everything. Just walking through the house, I would see an orange spot on the floor near an window and become convinced my house was on fire and go outside to check! (Everything smells like smoke, so that's no help.) I did this about eight times!

It also doesn't help that our media (radio, t.v. and newspapers) have all named this "Southern California ON FIRE" and all are doing 24/7 coverage of the various fires. (Thank God, I get East coast channels on my DVR... it's just too much!) Add in the constant sound of fire engines and helicopters going to and fro and maybe you'll understand my jangled nerves. But, considering how many families are now homeless, I'll take this fire inside my crazy head anytime over the real deal.

There was one bright spot today. Because the sun's rays were dulled by all the soot and ash, our temp only reached 90 instead of the 103 promised.

The winds will hopefully dissipate by sunset tomorrow and then our wonderful fire teams will get a handle on these infernos.

Check in later and I'll add some pictures. I'm just too tired right now. Oh, and THANK YOU to all who emailed to check up on me! I appreciate it.
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Devil Winds - Update 10 pm


Photo credit: Kristine Dery

I awoke at 4:30 this morning to shop door being slammed. The Santa Anas have arrived.

I certainly am not the first writer to try and explain this Southern California phenomenon, nor will I be the last. For the record, Janet Fitch's White Oleander is one of the best.

The winds blow in at hurricane force from the desert, earning the name "Devil Winds" for the hot, dry air that follows. They are devilish in more ways than one.

Of the four Los Angeles seasons known to Angelenos, Wind has earned his rightful place as one of them - the other three being Fire, Earthquake and Flood. There are rules about these seasons and when they occur. For example: Fire is a sneaky one, usually riding on one of the other three season's coattails. While Earthquake season is the least predictable, within days of a major quake, (which is quite often followed by Fire), there will be a rainstorm which often brings on a Flood. While Wind season typically occurs here in what's known as Fall and Winter to the rest of the country, it actually can appear at any time.

The last serious wind event did this to the tree in my front yard. I loved that tree. It was the only interesting thing about the front of the house. I had just returned from dragging two of my trash cans home from almost a mile away. (That's the other thing about Wind season - It always happens on a trash day!) I had found one of them around the corner early that Monday and walked a few more blocks looking for the other two. Returning home from an errand in the car, I noticed two cans in the middle of the street... everyone had gotten their cans in early, so they were mine. It was an uphill battle literally but I was hiking into 90 mph gusts. As I secured the cans, I looked at my beautiful tree and thought Well, she's hanging in there.

Not two minutes later, my next door neighbor was knocking frantically on my door, yelling that my tree had fallen on a car.

The Devil wind wreaks its havoc on everything. Patio furniture is tossed about as are automobiles and tractor trailers. Leaves that hadn't had a single thought about the oncoming of winter suddenly loose their will to live after being blown to bits and rapidly find their way to the bottom of the pool. Doors, windows and nerves rattle. Animals, human and otherwise, are on edge...waiting for the next gust and the damage that it brings. Sleep comes in fits and spurts. And then there is the heat. We are to hit 102 by Tuesday.

And sure enough, that pesky Fire has followed the Winds. This morning, there were two. Now, there are seven. [10p.m. update: Now there are 12 fires!] One is so close to my beady buddy, Kris' house, her hubby found warm embers in their yard. When we spoke this afternoon, she said the sun was mostly blocked by smoke and the air was hideous orange. The above photo was taken from her backyard.


It's going to be a rough couple of days. It's starting to make Baton Rouge look good...
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Thursday, October 18, 2007

How Do I Explain This?

I've been licensing a stamp line created by one of the most twisted, humorous designers I've ever met -- JK Beard. I'm slowly getting all her products added to my computer products database. Which means, when I sell something that's not in the database, it gets entered.

With the last minute rush of Halloween stamps I've been selling, I'm just wondering... How am I supposed to explain to the accountant that I now sell "Pickled Brains?"

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Sweetest Admirers

I've been at a loss for a subject lately partly because of my schedule and partly due to the pressure of my upcoming trip to Baton Rouge. Closing the shop for 10 days is really stressful.

I decided to post a short story about a certain nameless hiker and her crazy dog being chased by the police. I wrote is several years ago and am very distressed to say I can't find the darn thing and have spent way too much time looking for it.

Leave it to our dear Velvet to provide me with inspiration for this piece with her love letter story.

When I was in high school, I worked summers in our Mini Park system. It was a program of sports, games, crafts and organized activities designed to keep kids off the street. No one ever seemed to want the little kids, ages 4 - 5, and, since I was low man on the totem pole, that job fell to me. I could never understand why no one wanted to supervise them...they were easy peasy.

The little kids preferred to hang on the swing sets which were far from the rec room and the a/c. But other than making sure the big kids left them alone, my job basically consisted of pushing them on the swing or allowing them to push me.

In my group were two little boys, age 4 and first cousins. Dixon and Dylan were both blond with blue eyes - the epitome of cute. Both had a massive crush on me. Each was the complete opposite as far as their courting techniques.

Dylan was my favorite because he was just so sweet. At break, he would return to the swings with soda and candy. He would also bring a cup to share his soda with me and offer up his candy willingly. The boy would seem downright hurt if I refused to partake. When he found what kind of candy I preferred, that became his favorite. He would pick flowers and bring them to me. Dylan would tell me I was pretty and compliment my outfits. Boy, did I wish he was another dozen years older. This went on every summer of my employment there.

On the other hand, Dylan's cousin Dixon, did his best to get my negative attention. He would stare at me until I glanced his direction, then look away. If I spoke to him, he would simply ignore me. Once, as I was headed to the rec room, Dixon was coming towards me on the field. He looked up, saw me, turned sharply to his left. He walked about ten feet, turned to his right and once I had passed him, he made another left and continued on his way. Sometimes he would call me names and yell at me. I really thought the kid hated me.

But the boys' grandmother lived across the street from me. She told me Dixon really had a crush on me too. He just didn't express it as kindly as his cousin. Apparently when he would visit her, he would sit on her swing, never going inside, hoping to see me.

Years later, my mom ran into the boys. They were both around 14 at the time. My mother teased them a bit about their crush on me and was floored by Dixon's starry-eyed response.

"Yeah, that {Creekhiker} is gonna sure make some man a mighty fine wife. Too bad she's just a little too old for me!"

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Sunday Hike Minutia

Well, I guess from the lack of comments, no one is enjoying my hike minutia but me!


Snipes spotted: 2
Hawks: 1
Lizards: 1
Runny Babbits: 1
Snakes: 0 (thank goodness)
Best moment: Watching the sun come up
Most creative moment: Using the front of my sweatshirt for a scarf when the Santa Ana winds kicked up after sunrise. I pulled the front back over my head so the collar was around my hairline and the body of the shirt protected my ears.
Things I carried: A dalmatian "paw sized" rock
Did I bring it home: Nah
Most exciting moment: Noticing a red sports car down a ravine.
Most dreaded moment: Realizing I had to hike down and see if there was a body in it. (It was empty. WHEW!)
Most frustrating moment: Explaining to the LAPD where it was.




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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Saturday Hike Minutia

Even busy girls have to hike:

Snipes spotted: 3
Bats: 2
Lizards: 3
Runny Babbits: 2
Snakes: 0 (thank goodness)
Canine friends seen on the trail: 3
Two legged friends seen on the trail: 2
Things I carried: Not a darn thing for once!
Peacocks seen on the way home: 11


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Friday, October 05, 2007

The Hike Minutia

I have a really hectic several days ahead: Huge cookie bouquet class on Saturday which means huge prep today; Sunday / Monday lampwork class with Leah Fairbanks out in Yorba Linda; Tuesday, I will be playing catch up in my regular jewelry class thanks to it being canceled due to traffic issues yesterday (three hours in traffic and NO class...yeah, that was fun!) and I'm teaching glass fusing Tuesday night. Wednesday, I'm staying in bed!

So, I won't be posting for a bit and I thought maybe you'd be amused with my daily hike stats for today.

Mallards spotted: 11
Blue Herons: 1
Egrets: 1
Lizards: 1*
Runny Babbits: 1*
Snakes: 0 (thank goodness)
Snake sighting total for the year: 2
Things I carried: a nice oval shaped slice of Eucalyptus
Did I bring it home: yes... Hope it'll make the fire smell nice.

*Lizards and runny babbits are the ones I saw. Mabel Lou would probably disagree but you'd have to consult with her on that.


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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Mother of the Year

Velvet wrote a great post tonight about a strange courtroom scene that occurred during a contested adoption. It reminded me of one of the worst stories about adoption.

I had a friend in college name Marie. Marie was ancient at 30! I couldn't believe a woman her age was in college, living in the dorm with all of us 18 year olds. She was back in school to start a second career.

Her first career, one she loved, was that of a social worker. Her first week on the job, she had been assigned the case of boy who was in a loving foster home. He had been there since infancy. His foster parents wanted to adopt him more than anything. He wanted them to adopt him.

But the law stated that there was a certain amount of time that must pass without contact from his birth mother before parental rights could be terminated. Every year, it would come down to the last possible hour on the last possible day and his mother would call and want to see him, thus resetting the clock.

After almost ten years of this, Marie had had enough. The last time that mom called, she resigned.

I've thought about that boy so many times over the 20 + years since I left college. Every time, I pray that some judge somewhere figured it out and let him be adopted.


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Monday, October 01, 2007

Engineering Problem

Sometimes, when I ponder God, I am certain S/He is an artist. The colors and sounds I see on my daily hikes constantly reinforce this. But, in reality, He's probably more of an engineer.

Think about it. Our bodies are an engineering marvel. The miles of veins and arteries that carry oxygen from the lungs to ...everywhere else. The fact that relatively tiny feet can not only hold up the rest of the body, they can actually move us around too.

That being said, I do think there are a few things that could have been made a tad better.

For example, why is that so many of us cannot control how much we eat? Is it that our mouths were made so sensitive to taste and texture that we don't hear our stomachs saying , "Enough already!"? And if we were made to stop eating at the the exact moment of satiation, would food taste good at all?

What about tears? I know so many people who have no control over their tear ducts. Mine are leaking uncontrollably as I type thanks to fall allergies. I could hardly work today because I couldn't see. And then there is the uncontrollable crying that comes with deep grief. The ugly cry where the nose scrunches up and the whole face distorts and the back ratchets to and fro as the tears fall. If we could control that, would we still have the wonderful, exhausted relief that comes after a good cry?

The worst bit of engineering in the human body is the sinuses. Even scientists debate their function. My own are either completely stopped up or leaking so much, I've taken to storing clean tissues in my bra(finally a good use for a bra!) - and dirty ones up my sleeve. And the sinus' are worse when I need to be sleeping. While every opening in the body seems to emit some type of fluid, the sinus' seem to run rampant.

So I've made a decision as I sit here struggling for every breath. When it's my turn to be God, I'm going redesign those puppies!

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