Thursday, July 30, 2009


I took another day-cation yesterday. Mabel Lou and I went up to my torch buddy Kris' house.

Kris has a new puppy, a Boston terrier named Bolt. At first, I thought he wanted to eat me alive... he growled and barked and not in a nice way. But her kids, Madison and Jordan, had asked me to bring Mabel and I figured if Bolt and the girl didn't get along, we could just put them in different parts of the yard.

So I leashed up Mabel and made the introduction. Oy! Not a reason in the world to be concerned! My girl played so gently with Bolt. He loved rough-housing with her! She would just stay on the ground and every once in a while pin him but she did it more with the side of her face. She clearly did not want to threaten or frighten her new bud. Mr. Bolt decided I was pretty cool after all, especially since I came with the ever-so-cool-new-bestest-buddy Mabel!

Kris and I torched while the kids and fur-kids romped. The temperatures were so cool that we got to stay in the studio for hours - a rarity this time of year!

Then Kris' hubby made us lunch...such a treat for me. When you live alone, someone preparing food for you is really something! Afterwards, we hit the pool. Kris has a kid-safe fence all around her pool and originally, we left the dogs outside it. But it became apparent that Miss Mabel HAD to be near the kids.

When my godson and friends come to my pool, Mabel paces round and round. She will do this for hours with no water break... she just keeps "counting heads" like some weird Momma dog! And she did the same thing with Kris' kids... she would not take her eyes off Jordan or Maddy! Mabel ran round and round that pool to get closer to them. Being a strange pool to her, she lost her footing and we had one very wet, freaked-out rotty! She panicked and swam toward me, eyes all wild with fear. She managed to get halfway out of the pool but was afraid to lunge forward because her face was in the safety fencing. I swam in behind her and shoved her booty higher and she was right back to racing around the pool, checking on the kids!

We were home before sundown but happy with our change of scenery, grateful for good friends that live so close!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Guarding Her Treasure

Mabel loves bones... but not just any bone. In fact, when I give her marrow bones, she buries them and never seeks them out again. Her favorite bones are ones that have been slightly used, (Eeewwww!) preferably by pack buddies, Hank or Sue.

We popped in at their house last night to share some cookies I had made and within minutes, I realized Mabel was no where to be found. This could be trouble as my hiking buddy feeds stray kitties at night. We went looking and found her curled up on the "bone rug" in the living room having a go at this really large bone.

After a few minutes, I told Mabel it was time to leave. Most of the time, Mabel will look longingly at a bone and then to her "Auntie," seeking permission to take the bone home. But not last night. In one swift movement, she picked up the end of the bone and tucked her though she were hiding the bone. Auntie did give Mabel permission but by that time, Mabel was at the gate. I let her out and she raced toward the car.

Then, silly girl couldn't figure out how to get in with such a long bone. She let me take it from her and I threw it into the car and she followed.

At home, she dashed out the back of the jeep and raced into the backyard. She curled up in the grass and stayed there working on the bone well past dark. Then she moved to her back porch bed.

Around eleven, I went out for a swim and she brought her treasure to the edge of the pool where she kept working on it while I swam. When I announced it was bedtime, she stood there looking at me and then at her bone.

"Well, bring it inside!" I said. I knew she was afraid some critter would come steal it!

She picked it up and dashed into the house and actually "hid" it by tucking it under the edge of her living room bed.

This morning, as soon as the bedroom door was opened, she raced down the hall to check on her bone.

And here she is, just a few minutes ago... guarding her treasure.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Star Struck

I’ve never been the type to be star-struck. That’s a good thing as I chose to earn a living in the film industry. I’ve had breakfast with Paul Newman, chatted up George Burns in the halls, and argued with Little Richard over the length of his limo. No problem.

O.K. There was that time that I nearly peed my pants meeting Lucille Ball… but she was a legend and my childhood idol. I wasn’t working with her; we were at a party – so that doesn’t really count.

Imagine my chagrin when, years into my career, I found myself completely star-struck during a job interview.

I was tired of constantly looking for work and applied for the job of “celebrity assistant.” These types of jobs are always kept deliberately vague when advertising in the trades. I was told to appear one July day in the 14th floor Century City office of said celebrity’s accountant. Upon arrival, I was told I was interviewing with Christopher Lambert, of Greystoke fame. (French pronunciation: Chris TOFF Lamb BEAR)

I was shown into a library with a wall of windows. The door opened; It was Christopher. Without really looking at him, I reached for his hand. Then I saw the most alluring azure eyes. I was only vaguely aware of him peeling his hand away from my death grip.

As he moved around the table, I checked out the rest of the package. Short, dark hair; tall, clean-shaven, tight legs, amazing ass, sexy French accent. Whew! I sat across from him and lost myself in his beauty. Yup. He is the most gorgeous man I have ever met.

“Oh, yes,, I work on sets.. not build them. . . erm…what was that question again?”

I am blowing this interview…. Get it together! Oh damn! He asked me something else…


He looks at me as though I’m some stalker. I am certain he wishes he had taken the seat by the door. We both notice a book falling from the shelf.

“Is that an earthquake?” I ask, the first sentence I’ve offered with any clarity since he entered the room.

He stands and grabs my arm, “Yes, darling, we must move to a doorway.”

He called me darling.

And just that fast, the earthquake and Christopher are gone.

“Thank you for coming in,” he shouts from down the hall.

I get in the elevator, still numb. The elevator vibrates hard against the walls, metal clanging on concrete as an aftershock occurs. I keel over laughing.

Oh what he must think of me… how unprofessional!

But then, fate does believe in second chances.

Eight months later, the phone jars me awake at 8 a.m. on a Saturday. It’s Amanda, my production manager.

“Hey, do you have a current passport?”

“Yes,” I reply, reaching for a pen.

“Can you be ready to leave tomorrow?”


“Here’s the deal. Meet me at Aerolineas Argentinas counter at 12 noon. We’re going to Buenos Aires to replace a feature production crew …Highlander something… a sequel. We’ll be there for 3 months. It’s fall there, winter when we come home. Pack accordingly. O.K?”

I am terrified to find out Christopher Lambert is the lead and even more afraid to “meet” him. It is uneventful… my humiliation remains secret.

I become involved in my work. This is a crew of over 1200, units all over the place, insurance claims up the wazoo. As luck would have it, I possess one of the only working phones on set. Christopher and his lovely assistant, Patty, regularly park at my desk.

We all become chummy. One night a group of us are out to dinner. Christopher suggests dancing. Many drinks and dances later, the group dwindles to Patty and me and like all good drunks I feel the need to confess.

“Icoulda hadyer jab, yaknow…if I onleeeeeeeee hedn’ta blernda innaview,” I shouted as I hug her on the dance floor.

I spill the beans and then my dinner.

The next morning, the realization sinks in. Nah, she was drunk too. She won’t remember. I try to reassure myself.

When I arrive at the office, Patty is waiting, grinning like a full Cheshire.

“You have to tell Christopher!”

“No – that’s the most embarrassing thing ever,” I plead.

She smiles and walks away.

I manage to avoid them both for days. Then, Christopher plops down in a chair across from me. I assume he needs my phone and end my conversation. Patty walks into the room… that damn, stupid grin still on her face.

“Patty says you have something to tell me,” he says.

“No, not really,” I beg off.

“You tell him or I will,” Patty laughs.

I relay the tale. He stares at me, searching for recognition in my face. I stare at the floor wondering if he could have me fired. The silence is deafening.

He finally speaks.

“I want to know one thing. You’ve always been professional, you know your job…you’re nothing like that girl I interviewed. If you found me too handsome to hold a conversation, how do you work with me every day?

“Oh, that’s easy,” I say, praying that I do know this man’s sense of humor. “Your hair’s grown out, you’ve got all that stubble and those blue eyes are awfully bloodshot with the hours we’ve been working. Basically, you do nothing for me looking like this.”

I both hold my breath. Maybe I will get fired, after all.

And then, he laughs. He laughs so hard, he falls out of his chair. Patty and I help him up. He spins round and hugs me, still laughing. He pushes me away and looks into my eyes.

“You really are full of crap!”

Ah… reputation redeemed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tag, You're It!

Meet Sam. Mabel Lou and I found him in the middle of our street on the way home from the creek one day last week. I jumped out of the jeep and leashed him up and he jumped right in with the girl.

We got him home and I wrote down the numbers on his tags...thank goodness he had tags! But the first number was out of order! The second was a cell phone. I left a message...and waited. I paged...and waited. I ever so s l o w l y texted, "I have Sam. Call ASAP!" Still nothing.

In the meantime, Sam had a romp with Mabel and then went for a swim in the pool! He sat for cookies like a pro. And he was so respectful of Mabel Lou's space... He wouldn't come on the porch because her bed was there.

I was starting to fall in I called that cell phone again. This time, someone answered. Mabel and I drove him home. He had wandered 3/4 of a mile and across the big five lane thoroughfare that runs up the mountain when we found him...during rush hour!

His teen-aged owner explained that he can jump their shortest (five foot) fence and that the shock collar that prevented him from jumping had a worn out battery so Sam had escaped three times in the past week. I dared suggest that maybe, just maybe, they want to purchase them two at a time.
Things like that really annoy me... Your dog escapes once; you get the new battery. PERIOD! Or maybe, you replace that fence with a taller one.

And as for tags: keep them up to date. Maggie started wearing a tag for our new place along with the tag for the old one before we moved! I also have travel tags with my mother's address and phone numbers. And always put your land line phone number on the tag... a savvy computer person can figure out your address that way. I have so much info on Mabel's tags, she has TWO!

For those keeping track: Her name is on both. One has my name, address, phone and cell. The other, has her city registration, her chip scan i.d.# and my phone. Think I want my dog back??? Hell yeah!

And while we're on the subject of keeping dogs safe, please check out this post by Alison . I see so many people leave their dogs in their cars this time of year. It's not safe people! In this dog loving town, I heard a little pup locked in a car at the local grocery. The windows weren't even cracked! And as I stood there, trying to figure out what to do, I noticed the parking lot was full of people staring at that car. Without fail, we all had dogs with us and, unlike the car with yelping pup, we all had our windows all the way down. The owner came out and got an earful!

I arrange my schedule this time of year around my pup. I don't run errands after 9 a.m. or before sunset with Mabel.

So take care of your fur-babies. It's up to you. You're IT!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Crazy Driver

Have you ever been cruising along, just enjoying your day, when suddenly some crazy-in-too-big-of-a-hurry is running up your backside? You speed up; they speed up. You slow down; they get pissed. And you wonder, Why don't they just go ahead and pass me?

It happens to me daily. Only that crazy "person" is my dog! Keep in mind that many of the trails I hike are wide enough for a car and most are wide enough for two large humans to walk side by side (Much less a large human and a skinny dog!).

But daily, the little witch will breathe down the back of my legs, audibly groaning at my pace, and yet she will not pass me unless, I step aside! Once I step off the main trail, she dashes ahead, happy as can be....until I catch up and suddenly, she's behind me, huffing her displeasure.

Kinda makes me miss rush hour traffic!

Monday, July 13, 2009

*#%^(-@$ Leash-walkers!

After reading the follow comment by Carmon on my previous post, I wanted to write a clearer explanation of my favorite curse word, leash-walker. Here is what Carmon wrote:

"As one of the loathed 'leash walkers' I thought I would explain that in some cases, like with sight hounds and greyhounds in particular, they must be on leash in open areas for their own safety. After thousands of years of genetic programming to chase, any running animal will turn off all reason with the only focus being on chasing. They will run until they are exhausted and have no idea where they are. They will run right through barb wire fences and directly into traffic. There are a few rare ones who can be trusted, Duffy, Vannie and Mikey were safe in our own history. But ones like Ellie proved over and over again that no amount of training would bring her back if she got out of the yard on a chase."

I'm starting to realize that Mabel's Greyhound roots are probably what sends her on such chases and makes it necessary for me to have a leash with me. I've never written about Mabel's deer incident. We've had several encounters in the creek with wild deer. But there was one in March of '05 that really stands out...mainly due to a nagging pain in my shoulder from that day.

I had just rounded the levee and heard a strange splashing / moving rocks kind of noise. I looked upstream and at first thought it was a really large rabbit coming downstream. Then I realized it was a deer with huge ears. Not having a leash on me and knowing it was too late to get Mabel out of there, I took her down to the shoreline and made a lot of noise. I started singing really loud and waving one arm to alert the doe to my presence while holding onto Mabel's collar with my right hand.

My actions worked to a degree. The doe took the lower channel which was blocked from our view thanks to an island in the stream. Mabel could only see the island and not the other stream, but she knew something big was over there. The doe took off up onto the land but kept heading downstream at a gallop. Fifty yards down, she decided to enter the water again. And then my girl spotted her.

I was screaming "NO!" and holding onto Mabel with everything in me. She pulled me down, ripping something in my shoulder (don't know what...crappy health insurance. I never went to the doc but my shoulder hurts all the time!). I ended up flat on my back and when I put my foot down, I was in the cold water. I made it up to my knees and saw that Mabel was gaining on the doe. I screamed and called for her...It made no impact. It was as if I wasn't even there.

They rounded the bend in the creek and I could see they were side by side. Mabel had caught up with the doe and they were having the best run! And all I could imagine was that they were about a third of the way to the freeway. I really thought I didn't have a dog anymore...which is when I learned another thing about Mabel. She loves me...and is somehow aware when I'm not around anymore...even when chasing.

I was hurt and sobbing and convinced I would never see my dog again. I headed back to my car. I had barely made the second bend in the trail when I heard her collar. Another 30 seconds and she was by my side.

This incident was one of the events that led me to carry a leash. The other, as mentioned before was a run - in with leash walkers.

A leash walker is not someone who leashes their dog to protect the animal from his / her own habit of running off into the wilderness. It is not someone who lives in a city environment and leashes to keep the dog out of traffic. A leash walker is one who is so afraid of everything and has no idea how to train a dog much less socialize one. They don't even get the dynamics of socializing an on-leash animal with one off-leash.

There are women who come to the creek, terrified of danger around every corner. They are terrified of snakes, water, homeless people, cacti, teenagers, and coyotes. They hold their leashes so tight, I'm afraid they are going to choke their pup! They are mortified of an off leash dog coming up to them or their dog. They start screaming the minute they see you. With a world full of safe sidewalks where dogs must walk on leash, I wonder what the heck they are even doing out at the creek!

One such woman saw me descending the mountain opposite the levee one Saturday. She and her friend had big white shepherds on leash. And even though we were a good 100 yards away across two creeks, they both started screaming, "Get your dog, get your dog."


"Our dogs aren't friendly."

Then why did you come here?....everyone here has friendly off leash dogs.

"Well that's not the law."

I proceeded to explain my law...that would be the middle digit... and hiked upstream away from them.

The fact is, I've so rarely encountered dogs off-leash that can't work out their differences as long as the humans stay out of it. But more likely, the humans hear a growl and take it for aggression, when often, the dogs are just boisterous.

When an on-leash dog meets an off-leashed one, the on-leash dog can feel threatened and become aggressive. The "flight option" is taken away, so fight is the only choice. But this can be avoided if the person holding the leash is a calming force. But so often, in the creek, I encounter people who are so terrified of other dogs, they tighten the rein on their dog, thus making him show aggression.

There is another dog at the creek, Dolly, who is outright aggressive. We've begged her owner repeatedly to keep her on a leash. I've seen / heard of several of Dolly's fights at the creek and she has attacked Mabel at least five times. My leash has proved vital in these fights... I've actually kept Dolly at bay by swinging it! (Her owner offers no assistance in these skirmishes!)

I firmly believe that Dolly's owner should have spent the time socializing her so that she doesn't see every dog she meets as something she wants to kill. And Dolly was an off-leash dog and only recently has her owner started leashing her.

So I guess what I mean by the term "leash-walker" is someone who doesn't take the time to socialize their dogs and teach them how to have fun with other dogs.

And that dear Carmon is certainly not you!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Running Scared

Last night, wanting to enjoy the almost fall-like July in recent memory, I decided to take the girl for an extra evening hike. But I was running about 20 minutes late, arriving at the creek at 7:50. There were no cars in the parking lot... a rarity on a cool night.

Feeling certain I wouldn't see anyone, I made a critical mistake. I chose the leave the leash in the car. I hate carrying a leash! Ninety-five percent of the time, I wear it bandolier style across my right shoulder drooping down to my left waist. It stays there until we return to the car. For years, I never carried one at all but after one too many encounters with "leash-walkers" (My favorite cuss word and greatest insult to a dog person I can think of!) I started wearing the leash myself... just to have it handy.

The other reason for my evening hike has to do with our broke state's water gouging laws. California now tells us when we have to water our lawns and mandated that we all cut back. Because they are gouging our water prices, I stopped watering all but one section of my back yard in March. When driving through my town, you can easily spot my house. It's the one with pretty roses on the dead lawn! And my dog longs for a nice expanse of green.
The golf course when the sod was going in 2003

Couple that with our local golf course upping it's day rate to nearly $200 a game which means, there aren't as many golfers. Since the golf course was built in the middle of my favorite trails, many dog owners sneak onto the course just before sunset for a good run.

It's heaven to see the dogs running on the that lovely, open green area and with runny babbits dashing in the distance.

Just as we neared the end of the trail and the beginning of the green, I noticed Mabel was tracking but I misread her excitement and thought it was bunnies. I looked up and saw a large male and smaller female coyote topping the hill on the green. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them headed for a trail newbie - a border collie mix named Attila (such an inappropriate name!). I yelled out to his dad, "Attila! Coyotes coming up on your 8!"

Attila and his dad reversed course and came towards us and the coyotes went on their way...or so we thought. Mabel played with the puppy a bit and then we noticed the big male was sitting on the other end of the golf course from us...watching.

Mabel saw him and took off. He retreated as she chased while we along with Attila tried to keep up. We came out on a really wide golf hole...several acres of green. The female coyote stopped at the far end but the sneaky male hid behind a hill with only his big ears sticking up.

We all caught our breath for a second when Mabel saw the female - but not the male in hiding. She charged the screaming the whole time. As she passed the male, he started chasing Mabel and she quickly turned on him.

But some part of me thinks Mabel sees them as "dogs" to play with and run with. I really don't think she means them harm but I don't like her charging off because who knows how many coyotes are out there? I've witnessed coyotes gang up on a older dog and I've seen a female try to lure a male dog sexually, while the pack watches close by!

The two wild ones took off in the distance and I saw Mabel headed back to us. She was full of herself. She was strutting for Attila! And then, through the brush, the male coyote appeared. He matched Mabel's stride about 10 feet behind her. He was closing in on her and she was clueless!

I was shouting, "On your 6! Turn around!" (Mabel knows "left" and "right" and since I never taught her those commands, I figured it's just the way we communicate. This girl astounds me with her understanding.)

She didn't get it and the male was getting closer. I started screaming at him. "NO! LEAVE HER ALONE!"

But some part of me was paralyzed! Luckily Attila's dad sprang into action. He, along with his pup, started charging toward Mabel and coyote. It somehow registered with me, RUN! I charged them too, yelling the whole way.

Mabel finally realized I wasn't yelling at her and turned around. The girl turned on a dime and went straight for the male and he took off. Knowing I would never get her back standing in that field, I said my thank yous and goodbyes to Attila and company and headed toward the last hole.

I could hear Attila's dad charging the male, yelling at him and I knew Mabel was in trouble again. I just kept walking away and calling to her, knowing she would come eventually. Within a few minutes, I heard Attila's dad yelling his name. I knew Mabel was headed toward me and that the puppy had gotten away from dad and was following. Within seconds they both topped the hill behind me. I stepped on Attila's leash and got him back to his dad.

This whole event has left me shaken. Just because I hike somewhere every day, I cannot take for granted it is safe. It's NOT my backyard, even if I think of it that way.

So many - especially the leash walkers - don't get why so many of us hike here. It gives our house bound dogs a taste of freedom. We can both explore without being tethered to each other. Mabel has a lift in her body as she roams that vast valley and I have a lift in my heart.

Regardless of how others see it, to me it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. But with Mabel getting older - she's seven now - I'm going to have to keep a closer reign on her. I know I can't take the golf course trail at night without a larger pack to back us up ever again.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Another Crappy Product: Sony icfipmk2 ipod Player

When I come across a product that is so poorly made AND I get NO results from the company, I feel it is my duty to warn my friends! And this Sony Ipod player is one such piece of steaming doody!

Model number icfipmk2. The problem is fairly simple: they are selling a clock radio that is incapable of keeping time. I was given this at Christmas. It has never kept the correct time, ever! I have phoned and e-chatted with Sony tech support at least four times in six months. Each time, I am referred to this web page explaining that the clock doesn't keep time. That page doesn't really explain what to do about it...

Tech support has walked me through resetting the battery... and the clock got slower. And that battery is pricey! I really don't get why I need a battery in my clock if it's plugged into the wall... So what if the power goes off?

After six months of this, I'm done. Sony wants me to pay $20 bucks to get a refurbished exchange model. Gee, when the new one didn't work? NOT!

Instead, the manager at Sam's Club is going to allow us to exchange it! Good riddance! And if you need a clock radio for your ipod, go with another brand!