Friday, October 31, 2008

Howl O Weeeen!

We interrupt this regularly schedulee "tree" post (more on that in a few days!) to bring you aHowl o weeeen photo.

My Maggie May LOVED Halloween and she loved dressing up! Mabel hates it but Mags seemed to "get" it! She loved the kids coming to the door and was so jazzed on Halloween night.

The first year I had her, I dressed her as an angel. I'll never forget a little girl who came to our door. She didn't want candy. She wanted to hug Mags! To my and her parents amazement, she walked right past me to Maggie and rolled around my living room floor. After their embrace, she kissed Maggie and looked up at me and explained: "She's a doggie dressed as an angel and I'm an angel dressed as a doggie!" Smart kid!

Anyway, this is the only photo I can find of my favorite ghoulie partner, the dog who loved Halloween.

Pumpkin "Carving" Challenge

Velvet posted a photo and asked her readers to "carve" the pumpkins for Halloween. I deliberately worked in Paint... a program I know nothing about and don't use. Here's my pathetic attempt.

Check out her site for links to others taking up the challenge!

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am finally ready to blog about my lack of posts in October. I was down - very down. Why? Because, all of my trees are down as well. I had them all cut down and as they came down I realized I am my mother in so many ways.

These are some before shots:

The Mulberry & Pine

The Ash

The Palm

When I was a child, we had a very large yard with 23 pine trees and a huge oak. And my mother had them all cut down. She had her reasons. Too close to the house; too close to the garden; too many leaves, etc.

I loved my trees and reveled in the privacy they provided. But there was something wrong with each one. The mulberry was growing between too fences and knocking down both. The pine was destroying my phone lines. (Since it came down, I've had the best phone service I've had in eight years!)

The ash near the shop was placed on the ground next to a fence in a nursery bucket. My BFF and I tried valiantly to dig it up to transplant to her house eight years ago to no avail; the tap root and grown straight down through the bucket and it was in the ground firm. It was leaning on the fence and it was only a few feet from my office.

And finally, the little palm on the west side of the pool was growing around power lines. What kind of jackass plants a tree under power lines on purpose? (The previous owners.)

When the workmen left, I felt such a wave of emotion and vulnerability. I didn't realize how secluded I felt. I didn't realize how many of my across-the-canal neighbors burn porch lights all night long!

And I felt sad. That mulberry was Maggie's tree. She would lie in it's shade and dare a squirrel to eat its fruit! Even when she was dying, she had spend a few minutes under that tree. I couldn't look at it without thinking of her. Now that it's gone, it's like I've lost Maggie all over again!

And finding something to grow there is a whole other story.

During the slaughter

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eight Ain't Straight

I hate politics. I hate the name calling and the not dealing with the issues and I hate that someone has to lose. But the hatred and vitriol of this particular election season really has my dander up. And no, I'm NOT talking about the two bozos running for president.

I'm talking about Prop 8 here in California. Prop 8 would revoke the right of homosexuals to marry.

The ads the Yes on 8'ers have run on television are vile and nothing more than hate mongering. The thing that amazes me is, if you replaced the word homosexual or gay with "black" or "Mexican," all those civil rights groups would be so up in arms. Are gay people the last frontier of people we can hate?

In addition, Yes on 8 folks have even stooped to extortion! They sent letters to business who donated to the No on 8 campaign and basically told the business owners they "had" to donate an equal amount to Yes on 8 or be "outed" in the press! When did we take away people's right to choose to support a bill or not???

You may think it strange that a straight conservative woman would be on the No on 8 side. I have my wonderful mom to thank for that.

I watched my mom struggle with the racism she was taught as a child; her parents were farmers that came of age in the 1900s. But, her big open heart and generosity shocked me when it came to gay people. My grandmother had a homosexual brother and while they never talked about his situation, he was loved. Maybe that's where my mom learned what she has taught me...

As a kid, there were a couple of "funny" boys in my high school. We secretly made fun of them and I know our actions were hurtful. But, in high school, you just try to fit in. There is very little thinking for yourself.

My senior year, my mother took a job on the road and I was on my own. There were two young men that worked with her in their late 20s. One (I'll call him Randy) of them was gay. That summer, they were stationed in Biloxi for a few weeks and I went down to hang in my mom's beach side hotel room and sun by the pool. That grew old after a day and I decided to go to Ship Island. Neither Mom nor I were concerned about me being on a very public island by myself but both of "the boys" were rather worried about me. They each took a vacation day to escort me around Biloxi! Randy and I spent the day on Ship Island together. I was impressed with his quick wit and kindness.

Shortly after I moved to California, Randy died of AIDS. Randy's parents had disowned him years before, but when they learned of his impending death, they showed up at the hospital. Randy had been with the same partner for more than a decade, but now his partner was not welcome at the hospital. Randy was comatose and his family spoke for him.

After his death, his parents laid claim to his home. In spite of the partner having lived there for years, he had no rights. In spite of a will leaving everything to this man, he had no rights.

My mother spent many long hours on the phone with this man who she had only met in passing. He would call her crying as Randy lay dying. My mother offered to let this man move in with her to get on his feet (he had left his job when Randy took ill.)! She offered him money; he refused it.

Years later, he would tell her that it was her kind voice and support that kept him alive after losing Randy. When I tell her how much I admire the way she handled this situation, she brushes it off: "It takes so little to be kind to someone."

After witnessing firsthand someone lose their home, be removed from their partner's deathbed and made to feel powerless; after watching my mother open up her heart, wallet and home, there is no way I can support this proposition.

I will never understand how what goes on in the privacy of someone's home hurts another couple's marriage. The yes group is also resorting to fear tactics stating that schools will teach gay marriage. I was never taught squat about marriage in school and I doubt it's different today. And, you see gay people everywhere! Do you think the kids don't notice? have questions? need to feel comfortable talking about it?

Proponents are claiming the real issue is that Californians (not me) voted against gay marriage and then three judges threw out that vote. And by voting yes on 8, we are telling judges they can't do away with the people's will.

But when the people are wrong, we need somebody willing to tell us that. I would imagine back in 1863, there were still plenty of plantation owners who voted to keep slavery. Thank goodness, someone told them they were wrong. Thank goodness these judges saw the light and I pray that, this time, California voters will too!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just a Big Ole' Baby

With my fair skinned, Irish complexion, I will bruise if someone looks at me too hard! I've finally trained my hiking buddy not to hit my arm when she's talking. It hurts and frequently leaves a bruise.

My mom stayed mad at me for ages after she realized I suddenly had some errand to run every time a certain friend of hers came over. She didn't realize I was black and blue every time I was within touching distance of this woman.

I constantly keep some kind of bruise on my body. I ran into the key in the back door; bruise on the arm. Digging in the garden; bruise on my leg.

But even I was surprised at the welt left by my flu shot. I've never gotten one before. Years ago, I had a boss get one and she became so ill, she nearly died! I swore them off.

But, two bouts of bronchitis and one pneumonia in the past year and a half has changed my attitude! So last Friday, I got both the flu shot and the pneumonia (dosage: once every five years under age 65). Guess I'm growing up from that kid who would freak at the sight of a needle!

After two days, this is the area around my flu shot:

Pretty freaky, huh? The dark red point is the needle entry, followed by a huge (larger than a silver dollar) oval, raised puffy area which is hot and tender. And those blue veins are new! My sister reassures me that this happens to her every time and I'll probable be fine in a day or two.

And, sorry for the blurry image but you try taking a discreet photo of your own posterior!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Belief Unsuspended

The suspension of disbelief is a theory that describes how a person will willingly accept far fetched or the impossible as true in order to be entertained. It's how you can believe that a human could interact with a cartoon in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

For someone who works in the film industry, the suspension of disbelief can be a hard thing to find. I'll never forget working on my first show in Vicksburg, MS. I had gone to see some movie with producer Mark Wolper (son of David, mini-series king) and his then - girlfriend (now, big time producer) Mary McLaglen. I was getting into the movie when the lead character walked out of L.A. landmark, Pink's Hotdogs (see fifth photo here). The camera did a fantastic boom shot up La Brea Avenue as it zoomed in to reveal the actor putting coins in a pay phone. Mary and Mark simultaneously started spewing coke and choking on popcorn. By way of explanation, they said in unison, "That pay phone doesn't exist."

That's all it took for me. I couldn't wait for that movie to be over.

And while I see tons of movies and watch way more television than I care to admit, there are certain things that send me over the edge and screaming for the door.

1) Complete and Utter Contradiction - This makes me think that the writers of this drivel assumes we are all stupid. I blogged about The Unit the other day. The thing that happened on last Sunday's show that drove me nuts occurred as a drug lord and his men walked into a lab. The drug lord did not know that instead of top scientists, his lab was being run by an the elite military unit, aka the good guys. As he enters, the drug lord starts to light a cigarette and one of the good guys screams and grabs his lighter.

"No, these chemicals are highly flammable. You'll blow us all to bits."

But not 45 seconds later, the same character lit up a blow torch to show the drug lord what they were working on!!!

Now obviously, the first bit of action was to put the drug dealers on guard with their guns to add tension to the scene but with the blowtorch coming on so close afterwards... I have to wonder, does The Unit even have a continuity person on staff??? ARGH!

2) Does Anybody Pay Their Electric Bill??? I blame The X Files for this one but every show and movie seems to do the same thing. A good guy walks into a room and searches it with a flashlight. Every time I see this, I want to stick my hand through that proverbial fourth wall and turn the damn switch on!

But again, the flashlight adds tension...Can't somebody think of an original way to add tension and turn on the lights?

3) Trace That Line! This one has driven me nuts since I was a child. My mother worked for the phone company on one of her jobs was trap and trace. Even back in the 70s, I knew that the minute someone dialed a number with a trap on it, the phone company knew instantly where the call came from. Does anyone remember what the old phone bills looked like back when they billed for every call? Do you really think they waited for two minutes before knowing what number to bill? No, they knew it the second you dialed.

My mom always explained to me that the police and FBI didn't want the bad guys to know how easy it was to trace a number. This had me bewildered. I mean, if I could figure it out and I was a kid, just how dumb were these bad guys???

OK, so 30 years ago, maybe people didn't think about such things but why, why are there still scenes like this in movies today??? We all have caller i.d. Are the bad guys still that dumb?

4) Girly Cops - I understand it's good film making to have a pretty girl with the hero cop but why do they have to make her so darn girly? I've known plenty of female cops. They never wear their hair down or in a ponytail... it gives their opponent an advantage in a fight. And they never wear high heels on the job. Would you want to chase a bad guy in high heels? Well, maybe if you only had to run 10 feet before someone yelled, "Cut!"

5) Girly Girlfriends - If I had a significant other and he were getting the tar beat out of him, I know I wouldn't stand there squealing. I would grab a lamp and swing. Without fail, I know all of my friends would too. They clearly need to hire some more female writers.

6) The Hose Down - This is a fact of film making there is no way around. Asphalt photographs a weird gray. Have you ever taken a photo of your street? Every thing in the photo looks fine but the street will look weird and unnatural. It has to do with the way the asphalt absorbs light.

The solution is to wet down the street to make it photograph darker. Have you ever noticed the streets in films are always wet? That's why. When I budget for a film, if they are outside and there's a street or a parking lot visible, I bid for a water truck.

But still, there's nothing like a wet street to say to me, "A film crew was here."

7) Doesn't Anybody Have a Guest Room? Why is it when one character has to sleep at another's house, someone is always on the couch? Same thing with married couples fighting...couch. I find this strange. I've owned a guest bed since my first apartment! And what's even funnier, is they'll often show an outside shot of the house and it will be HUGE. What's in those other rooms? Seriously, a seventeen room house and you have one bed???

I understand from the writer's point of view, it's easier to have the two characters run into each other in the night if one is in a "public" room. But couldn't they both get the munchies at the same time??? Or one hears a noise and actually wakes the other up? Or both need to use the ONLY bathroom in that seventeen room house at the same time? Com'on! A little creativity, please!!! ARGH!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cop Out: A laugh, a Smile and a Tear.

I was thinking about the time I really starting following blogs and one of my favorite bloggers, Velvet Sacks, blogged every day that November. She has vowed to do that again and I'm hoping to do the same. That being said, I had already started this post which is a cop out of sorts!

I was feeling a bit guilty over my lack of posts...only four for October! And I thought I would point you to a few of my favorite quick posts.

Becky put up video I almost didn't watch thanks to the title, something along the lines of Korean baseball players fighting. I HATE fighting in sports and if I were the [insert pro sport of choice] commissioner, one punch would have the player suspended for two weeks without pay + $10,000 fine. The 2nd punch would double it and the third??? Banned from the league!

After watching this hilarious video, I think instead we should start teaching American kids to handle their anger in this way. Check it out! I promise, you'll laugh!

If you don't have time to watch a video, check out this photo over on Daily Coyote. I absolutely adore the way the grown coyote is on guard while his puppy girlfriend sleeps. I'm certain it will make you smile.

And, if you have a little more time and don't mind an emotional post, check out this one on my bead blog. It started out to be a breezy little post about my Lest Beads Group's breast cancer promotion on Etsy. I ended up pouring out my heart about my sister's illness and I'm terribly proud of the post. You may shed a tear or two but you'll certainly know me a bit better.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Jumping the Shark: The Unit

I absolutely hate it when I can feel a favorite t.v. show slide downhill. That is definitely happening this season on The Unit. Yes, this season, they have jumped the shark!

Jumping the shark means you are aware of the precise moment a favorite show has peaked and is on the way out. Example: I used to love Cold Case but the minute they took Kathryn Morris' hair down and made her look more girly, I lost interest. (Kudos to Mariska Hargitay for being the only female cop on t.v. trying to keep it real. You deserve those Emmys!)

The Unit was created by writer extraordinaries David Mamet... although I feel I must be totally honest and credit him with the ONLY movie I've ever walked out of and demanded a refund! (Glengarry Glenross - five minutes of grown men doing nothing more than shouting "F*&( you!" "No, F*&( YOU!" does not exactly move a plot along in my book. I got my refund, leaving my friends in the theatre and spent my time at Pink's Hot Dogs reading a book!)

The show got off to a promising start. Starring one of my favorite actors, Dennis Haysbert, as the leader of a top secret Special Forces unit based on the book Delta Force. The storyline contrasts the issues of the wives with those of the men who are often away on "save the free world" missions.

The men of the cast include are rock solid and believable and most are known (such as Scott Foley and Robert Patrick) or at least known faces. The women, less so, with the exception of the always classy Regina Taylor, wife to Haysbert's character. The one actor underutilized is Michael Irby. He's very talented but with no female counter-part on the show, he doesn't get as much screen time.

The Unit has been exciting in the first three seasons but this last one really blows! I blame it on the women. I'm sure portraying life on an army base may not be that exciting but the story lines only touched on a few of the problems real women in these positions may face - like how to pay for food for your kids when your husband's check is lost or how to make friends when you can't talk about your husband's job.

From a production standpoint, telling the women's stories is probably way more cost effective. Shot on sound stages, no location fees, no special effects. If the show were all about the men (which would be fine by me), it would cost significantly more to make.

This season (#4), they've created a ruse to get rid of the youngest children in the show and move the women across country under the guise of great danger and every episode has them stretching the truth and getting into more and more perilous situations. Ah, ah, ahbull shitchoo. Excuse me!

If real "terrorists" were after the women of the most elite of our armed forces, I'm certain the powers that be would not ship them across country, off- base and leave them to their own devices. And what of those poor little kids shipped off to grandma's??? Would they really be safe there??? Come on!

And as for plausibility... one of the things I hate most is contradiction. Don't say one thing and do another. Last night's episode had an all time classic - but I'm saving that for another post on things that drive me nuts in films! I'll use another show for an example: Friends. I love that show - for the most part. I try to see at least part of an episode before falling asleep... what's better than going to sleep happy??? But the whole Chandler / Monica love affair thing makes me crazy. While the character of Chandler was never the Lothario that Joey's character was... he slept with plenty of women in the show's early days. But suddenly, he hooks up with Monica and he's some dweeb who's only slept with two women and Monica is one of them! What the f*&(????

Watching The Unit last night really made me sad. They've taken a thrilling show and they are turning it into drivel and there's plenty of that already!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Simple Math

Wind storm + fires nearby = Blowing Ash.

Wind storm + fall leaves + blowing twigs = Debris Everywhere.

Pool + Blowing Ash + Debris Everywhere = One Big Freaking Mess.

One Big Freaking Mess + Overly sensitive pool equipment = Too much of Creekhiker's Time.

Impending Art Show + Smaller booth = More time needed to consolidate beads = One stressed out Creekhiker.

One hot day + One stressed out Creekhiker + Work on pool + make & organize beads + look for a "real" job = one really bad mood.


One hot day + One stressed out Creekhiker + day spent goofing off at horse jumping show followed by lunch and shopping (for art booth materials and dog food) with girlfriends and our favorite Chihuahua = one relaxed Creekhiker ready to take on challenges of the weekend.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fire On the Mountain - With Update 8 am 10/14

Updates below. It's going to be a loverly fire season in LA LA land. After fighting insomnia for a few hours, I turned on the news which is hard thing to find on our local stations on a Sunday. I was surprised to learn of a local fire. I decided to get up and take a peek at our mountains but went to grab the camera first. I could see this blaze - just one ridge line from my creek - from my office window. These were taken from the back porch. They are a bit blurry...It is pitch black at five a.m.

Gee, our impending wind storm has really shown up for the party yet! We're expecting those later in the day. It will be a tension filled Sunday in the neighborhood.

7 p.m. Life goes on in our canyon. Mabel and I even got a mid-day hike in as the winds were blowing SW toward Burbank. It wasn't even smoky where we are. The fire is about 5 miles away and the fire department has a web site they update if anyone is interested. This fire is named the Marek Wildland Fire.

This morning, the BFF and I were headed out to run a few errands for my upcoming show and we spotted seven fire trucks on the freeway headed toward the fire. It's nice to know the calvary is on the way. Still, our wind storm is predicted to last for two days with sustained winds in the 20-40 mph range and gusts of 60 mph. That will make fighting this fire very difficult!

10/13 - 10 am The fire is actually about two miles further up the canyon than I originally thought but with all the smoke and 65 mph winds... Everyone in this valley is on edge. The freeways are all closed and traffic along our one road is moving slow.

When I went to bed last night, I could no longer see fire on the mountain. But after the winds kicked up, I kept hearing sirens and by 4 a.m. the orange glow was back. Sleep was intermittent...kept having to get up and secure stuff blowing around the yard and banging on the walls. When I woke, I DIDN'T hear the sound of choppers...NOT reassuring when fire is nearby. It's was too windy. Now they are flying but not as much as yesterday. And the fixed wing tankers are a no-go in this wind. We're all on standby in case the winds change...

10/13 - 6 pm I'm sorry about the fire link. Yesterday, they updated about every 1/2 hour - hour... today: Nothing! And once the Sesnon fire broke out at Porter Ranch with all those Chi Chi Poo Poo homes, the local news, which had been covering Marek all morning, moved there. What's a few trailers burning when million dollar homes may go up in flames?

Hiking buddy and I went up Alpine tonight to see if we could spot anything other than smoke. We were pleased to see white smoke over Marek but the Sesnon fire (17 miles from here) looked HUGE! I did find an update on the news just now (on the crawler tag) that Marek is back down to only 5% contained and over 3200 acres. And with the winds expected to gust 65 mph until around noon tomorrow, it's going to be another tension filled night.

Tuesday 10/14 - 8 am - Last night, actual flames (instead of the ominous orange glow) were visible on the mountain. But the winds were not horrendous and the smoke plume seems thinner today. The Inciweb site says the fire is 70% contained. Last night they posted to say only 5% - so that's a great improvement overnight. So things seem to be getting better.

I'll be happy if the winds die down as predicted this afternoon. Knowing how far burning embers can travel scares the hell out of me. Last night, watching the all important Sesnon fire (praying for news on Marek), a house caught on fire a couple of miles from the closest fireline. And the stupid news anchors were all "How did this happen. This is very suspicious." Do your research a-hole! Did you learn anything at all in the Griffith fire last year???

During that fire, the battalion chiefs all thought they had either multiple arsonists or one very quick one. The fires were breaking out miles apart. When they finally realized the park was locked down, then they knew the arsonist was the wind (after the initial blaze).

Don't even get me started on these stupid news people. I love the little girls with their goggles, respirators, fire jackets and manicures. But the dumbest of them all has to be KTLA's Eric Spillman. Dude, if I wanted to "listen to the wind," all I have to do is open a window. Tell me some real news!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Baby Lou - 12/25/07 - 10/03/08

Baby Lou a.k.a. Baby, passed away last Friday afternoon. Her death was untimely and vicious. She was murdered by her caretakers - Mabel Lou and, yes, myself.

Baby was a gift to us from Santa Claus last Christmas. Mabel opened her and, as she does with all extra special things, she promptly buried Baby in the dirt by the compost bin. I duly reported that here and one fervent reader insisted repeatedly that I must make some effort to save Baby's life. So I dug her up after a week...but only because a rain storm was coming in. Baby could (and did) survive being buried alive but the mud would have surly killed her.

Mabel promptly buried her again as soon as the storms passed. Not wanting to confess this publicly, I gave Baby a bath in the washing machine and put her in my our bed. And thus began the "Baby Game."

Mabel gleefully posing for photos with Baby.

Mabel's relationship with Baby was contentious at best from this point on. Whenever Mabel would not listen, I would go get Baby and have Baby show Mabel the correct way to do things. Baby was especially good at getting cookies, giving Mamma kisses and taking naps when Mamma needed one. Basically anything I wanted Mabel to do, I could get Baby to do it better. Praises and kisses and pets and cookies were heaped on Baby. Mabel did not like this! She didn't like it at all!

When I would leave and return, I would find Baby in the back yard. Sometimes I wouldn't even notice until I found myself settled in bed at night.

"Where's Baby Lou? What did you do to her?" I would admonish.

Mabel only looked guilty.

But I would leave Baby outside until Mabel stopped listening.

"Mabel, come take a nap with Mamma."

"Grurumph," says Miss Piss (a.k.a Mabel).

"BABY! Where are you!???! Mamma needs a nap buddy!"

I would go and get Baby and suddenly Mabel was ready for a nap too. Funny how that worked.

Back and forth we went all summer. We tore her head almost off in a game of tug of war. I gathered up her guts and sewed her back together. After Mabel was particularly mean to Baby, I would make them kiss and make up. Mabel would kiss Baby, but I could tell, she resented it. The games continued on...

But then I had to push things too far. I am as guilty of a party to Baby Lou's death as if I had ripped her apart myself. I am so ashamed.

Mabel was not listening yet again and I told her, "You are so bad, I'm not taking you to the creek today. I'm takin' Baby!"

I went and got Baby and ceremoniously put her in the car on Mabel's seat! This horrified Mabel. When we finally did leave to go to the creek, I put Mabel in the back. She made a beeline for Baby, picked her up, gave her a good shake and placed her in my seat! I put Baby in the passenger seat (up front!) and off we went. Sensing I had pushed a few buttons, I left Baby in the car for our hike.

Later, when we got home, Mabel reached up front and took Baby out of the car. We had a good game of chase and I went in to work. When I came out, I found poor, dead Baby.

Her bottom had been ripped off....

...and her innards strewn about the shop yard and driveway.

I found her bottom nearly under the electric gate.

and her heart and soul (squeaker) were on the hearth in the house. Was Mabel trying to cremate Baby???

I cannot blame Mabel. It was me that pushed her to her crime. We both should be punished. I am certain we are not on Santa's good girl list this year.