Thursday, December 31, 2009

Better Days

January 1st of this year, I wrote this hopeful post. At the time, I had several new hiking trails and was feeling very excited that new and good things were coming. Here is the photo of the spot that I visit often in my mind's eye:

And here it is today:

All the lovely rocks and boulders we climbed on, rested on, conversed and frolicked on have been washed away or buried by silt from the Station Fire. The stream has changed courses into a foreign direction. And the smell. I told Kat, "I don't think I will ever get over the smell of charred creek."

Those trails I had such high hopes for? All taken from me for one reason or another. Whiting Woods? Mountain Lions. Alpine? Mabel discovered a horse barn at the base of the mountain and disappears. Angeles Base? Mabel realized the horse barn is nearby, runs into the highway, gets distracted by all the dogs in cars and wanders in the road. And then the Arroyo burned...

And that pretty much sums up my 2009. I'm poorer than I have ever been in my adult life....including my supposed lean and hungry years. And I feel as though most of my life as I knew it has been completely ravaged by this year

Like life stabbed me in a critical placeOn closer examination, I see that maybe all is not lost

Maybe it's just a little charred
There are parts of me that are willing to fight to stay the course

There are places inside where hope still lives

And somehow I know that even if I run a ragged course with no clear cut path, even if my journey is unpleasant, I will find my way.

And so, I want to leave 2009 and my 61 days of consecutive blogging (!!!!!!!!!) with the lyrics to one of my favorite holiday songs. These words often get me through the tumultuous days when I visit my family and they've been ringing in my ears lately.

Better Days
by The Goo Goo Dolls

And you ask me what I want this year
And I try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
Cuz I don't need boxes wrapped in strings
And desire and love and empty things
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cuz everyone is forgiven now
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again

And it's someplace simple where we could live
And something only you can give
And that's faith and trust and peace while we're alive
And the one poor child that saved this world
And there's 10 million more who probably could
If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cuz everyone is forgiven now
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again

I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this endless fight
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days

So take these words
And sing out loud
Cuz everyone is forgiven now
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again
Cuz tonight's the night the world begins again

So my friends, I wish us all Better Days in 2010. I'll see you sometime next year. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sneaky Sad Adventure

Yesterday, I was overcome with the feeling I HAD to see the arroyo that I fell so in love with this time last year... the one that burned in the Station Fire. Kat and I have hiked up the trail a few times since the fire but the trail has "no entry" signs posted just where the trail gets good and interesting. From that vantage, we knew the ranger homes had been saved but that meant the trail with it's rocky vantage points along the stream bed had surely burned.

I left Mabel Lou at home thinking that if I were alone, maybe I could slip past the ranger homes and onto the trail. I planned to ask Kat and Linguini to wait there for me to slip in and take some photos. But, as we approached the trail closure, we encountered a quarter of caballeros coming out of the trail and we could see more hikers up ahead.

So off we all went. We barely made it to the ranger houses before we found fire damage. Downstream, we had noticed flood damage - sections of fence missing; the creek bed moved - but we didn't give it much thought.

Upstream, it was clear that all the flood damage had been caused by the fire. There is a ravine just before the ranger homes that, prior to the fire, was barely noticeable. But now with the mountain up above burned, there was nothing left to prevent dirt and debris from washing down, completely washing out the ravine and revealing the underground pipes put in place to prevent just such a flood. And just as quickly, a new trail, trod by many was revealed and on we went.

The road beside the homes was covered in debris and just beyond, the road WAS the stream. The stream bed had shifted at good 30 feet to the east, probably due to all the ash, soot and burnt logs that had settled in the original stream. We had to hug the mountain base to maneuver around the new stream.

And finally we were at our destination. It was almost like attending a funeral for an old friend. While it only burnt in spots, so much junk has washed down from the fire raped mountains that all our lovely rocks were buried. Many of the trees that rested across the stream were...gone. And the canyon, so dark, it was hard to imagine it will ever be the same.

Uneasy Feeling

I imagine the producers, cast and crew of Two and a Half Men are sitting pretty uneasy this morning after the news of star Charlie Sheen's arrest. I've been there myself. Lost a job over a celebrity who just couldn't keep his $h!t together.

If Sheen had been arrested in LA LA land, I would tell them they have nothing to worry about. Everyone knows that juries in LA find it impossible to believe a celebrity could dream of hurting his wife with a knife (or even bullet).

But Sheen had the misfortune of being arrested in Colorado and could possibly do eight years, most certainly putting an end to the top-rate sitcom and all those jobs. Wait....Colorado??? That's where juries can't believe a celebrity would ever possibly rape a woman, right? Hmmm. On second thought, maybe they don't have a thing to worry about at all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chicken Liver Brownies (for Sick Pups)

I wanted to share this recipe from my brother-in-law because I have several friends in ailing pups. My brother-in-law raised dogs his whole life and has boarded and cared for show dogs my whole life. Many times, he would have a dog that refused to eat. He would make this recipe for them and most of the time, the dogs would eat it. Once they got a taste for it, he would crumble it in their regular food, getting them to eat more.

1 lb Chicken Liver
1 C. White Flour Plain
1 C. Corn Meal (or a whole meal flour)
Garlic Powder (leave out is your dog is sensitive)

Pulverize liver in blender. Mix flour and corn meal cover top with seasonings. I use about 1 t. but just mix the dry ingredients until they smell good. Pour liquefied livers over dry ingredients and mix well. Batter is very sticky.  Line cookie sheet with foil, spray foil with Pam. Bake15 minutes at 400 degrees til it bubbles on top. Allow brownies to cool. Cut in inch squares.

Store the cut pieces in the freezer. To serve, remove one brownie from the freezer and microwave it 20 - 30 seconds. A sick dog may prefer just a nibble or two at a time...the whole piece can seem overwhelming. But the brownies crumble easily. They also make fantastic treats for all doggies.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Still of Christmas Night

I got home from my trip on Christmas night - as Mabel has already shared. After spending some quality "rug time" with my girl, I leashed her up for a neighborhood walk.

It was brisk night and getting kind of late - almost nine - and the neighborhood was unusually quiet. But as we strolled past the houses, inside the warmly lit windows you could see all kinds of holiday happenings:

  • A drowsy little girl sitting in her grandpa's lap, reading a story.
  • Families gathered around the table, laughing.
  • A family playing charades.
  • A group of people outside barbecuing steaks, steam billowing off the hot grill.
  • A couple un-decorating their tree.
  • A man and his children helping his parents load their car for the trip home amongst whispered thank yous, goodbyes and hugs.
  • A group of smokers, standing on their porch, caroling to their non-smoking family on the other side of the window. The non-smokers would carol back louder and then the smokers would answer back, laughing all the time.
Originally, I thought I would be so sad to be home, especially once I learned none of my California adopted family could pick me up at the airport on Christmas afternoon. I was feeling very out of sorts when it took me almost three hours to make the ten minute trip home by shuttle van.

But a little quiet time with my pup and knowing that some families are actually happy at Christmas was a really nice homecoming present.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It WAS Tennis Balls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My mom got home last night while I was up at the Rhodie's house. My auntie brought me home and my doggie door was shut. It was cold so I ran around the back of the house and then I noticed the light on in the bedroom!!!! I got so excited, I ran back to the door and there was my mom!!!!!!!!! Yay, Momma's home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She hugged and kissed me and we rolled on the floor for a long time. I couldn't decide which end I wanted her to pet first so I turned in circles so she could pet me all over. I like my momma's pets!!! Then, she called me into the bedroom to her luggage and gave me some ham and some fried turkey sent by my Granny! Yum!!!!

And then she gave me TWO beef jerkies and we went for a neighborhood walk. I was so happy to walk with my momma!!! We came home and I GOT TO OPEN MY PRESENT! I got TWO tennis balls! I couldn't decide which one to play with first so we played with both.

Then we curled up on the sofa and played some more. It was a great Christmas night! But I have to go... We're going to breakfast but first.... WE'RE GOING TO THE CREEK!!!!!!!!

Happy Hollydays everyone!!! Thanks for keeping me company while my mom was gone!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - It's Christmas!!!

It's Christmas Day and Miss Mabel's dreaming of...

Christmas Gifts!!!!!

Momma's coming home today!!!! And I get to open my Christmas gifts!!!! I hope it's a new tennis ball!!!!! And did I mention my Mom will be home???? That's the best gift!!!

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mabel's Ten Days of Christmas - Ten

On the tenth day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's Dreaming of

a REALLY good run!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - Eight

On the eighth day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's dreaming of...

The Creek....Still dreaming of my creek... sigh....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - Seven

On the seventh day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's dreaming of...

Summertime in the creek! (Am I ever going to see my creek again! I hope my mom gets home soon!!!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - Six

On the sixth day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's dreaming of...

Playing in the ocean!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - Five

On the fifth day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's dreaming of...

a cozy nap by the fire.

P.S. - Today is my Uncle's birthday! Happy Birthday Uncle J!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - Four

On the fourth day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's dreaming of -

a ride in the jeep

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - Three

On the third day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's dreaming of...

Friends coming over to visit.

This picture looks scary, but Frankie and I really like each other!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - Two

On the second day of Christmas, Miss Mabel's dreaming of -

A nap after eating ice cream.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mabel's 10 Days of Christmas - One

Hey there! With Mom out of town, I'm a little bored being by myself most of the day. And since it will be ten whole days til she gets back home, I thought it would be fun to hijack the blog and post 10 of my favorite Christmas wishes.

On the first day of Christmas, Miss Mabel is dreaming of...

Ice cream.

P.S. I'm not sure I can figure out Mom's email so your comments may take a while to appear...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sad Girl

I'm not sure who is going to be the sadder girl over the next week and a or my sweetie. I know she's going to miss me and I'm surely going to miss her.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An Act of Complete and Utter Desperation

It's been a rough year and frankly, I'm hanging on by a thread. I need a job. I want a job. So, why not use my blog to advertise my skills?? I have a lot of them...


Wrote press releases, scripts, promos, product packaging, brochures, web content, news & magazine articles, ad copy & patent applications

Kept production staff, crew, Director, Agency and Client on task and on point with each project budget. Coordinated and met needs of all departments.

Constructed sales presentations. Wrote sales pitch letters winning contracts from 100K - 1m.

Purchased ad space / time for clients

Created year-long contest to generate interest / new business

Edited and approved intricate directions for web based magazine

Designed & maintained databases

Training personnel for on-camera & in-person appearances

Handled celebrities including travel accommodations

IBM / MAC literate – numerous programs including: Photoshop, Fireworks, Flash, Dreamweaver, Frontpage, Quickbooks, Access, Filemaker, Powerpoint & Microsoft Office Suite.

Instructor – various crafts and art classes


Responsible for job analysis and breakdown.

Created operating budgets based on job needs.

Managed costs and turned in reconciled budgets. Brought all jobs in under budget.

Hired / fired & coached personnel.

Tracked and reviewed job performance

Investigated use, negotiated price, & arranged for delivery of technical equipment


Reconciled budgets

Totaled crew payroll

Used & approved purchase orders

Managed large amounts of petty cash in several currencies

Event Planning:

Handled logistics for large film productions

Managed all aspects of remote locations: heavy equipment, food, transportation, lodging, per diems

Booth Design, set-up and teardown for convention events

Worked as both production manager and location manager

Career Highlights:

While working on CAROL DUVALL’S LIVE HOLIDAY WORKSHOP, I designed a massive database to keep track of thousands of Carol’s fans: their favorite guests, crafts, projects they create for the holidays, as well as all their personal information. This allowed the show producers to have “plants” in the audience creating a more interesting show.

Being asked to find a submarine available for filming in less than 8 hours! (I found four in three different price ranges!)

Getting an urgent message to a boat in the middle of Lake Powell before the cell phones were commonplace.

While working on HIGHLANDER 2 in Argentina, I had to keep track of petty cash in three different currencies as well as handle equipment and logistics for five different work units totaling 1200 people.
Handled daily security approval list while shooting in San Quentin Prison and at Boeing / NASA.

If you know someone who may be looking for a hard worker, capable of working alone or contributing to a team, please get in touch!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

How Very American

I was quite miffed the other day when I saw Aretha Franklin on The View. The hostesses inquired about that fantastic hat Ms. Franklin wore to the inauguration in January. The Smithsonian Museum wants it but has not gotten it.

Ms. Franklin stated, "I'm considering it. But, we haven't come to terms..."

Haven't come to terms???? What terms??? They want it. SEND IT TO THEM! PERIOD!

Maybe it's the two trips to Washington DC I took as a child, both highlighted by trips to various Smithsonian museums, that makes me feel this way. These places are living history.

And the thought that some petty music superstar can't come to terms with donating a hat...

She won't wear it again... does she want visitation rights? Can't be that... everyone can visit.
What other terms could there possibly be? That really leaves the issue of money. Does she want remuneration? While tacky, surely some donor will step up and reimburse her for the damn hat.

And I guess that makes Ms. Franklin very American.

Friday, December 11, 2009


With all the ash and soot in the air, I decided to change Mabel's bed covers in front of the fire place. As I put a fresh cover on each one, she would go tamp the bed down and watch supervise me with the next. In the end, she mostly chose the new fleece cover her granny brought her back in October but couldn't resist stretching out onto her outdoor bed.

Pup's got a hard life, eh?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Single Girl's Christmas Tree

It's hard to believe I used to LOVE Christmas. It's even harder to believe I have an attic chock-full of Christmas ornaments, Department 56 Christmas Villages, piles of wrapping paper... Santa could start a Southern North Pole with my attic contents alone!

Over the years, it just started to seem like so much WORK. My godchildren are grown. And most years, I'm traveling and it feels so anticlimactic to have to come home and put it all away. There's a million other things I'd rather do than unpack and pack decorations.

Still, I like to have some ode to the season somewhere. Usually it's a cypress knee painted like Santa. In 2001, my last season on The Carol Duvall Show, I had finally convinced the field producer to film in Louisiana. One of the artists I found there painted the cypress knee Santas and when we taped the studio wrap around, I was so struck by how beautiful they were in person. I ordered one. It was late September and I requested that Santa be cloaked in red, white & blue and dated. Now, all these years and wars later... he makes me kind of sad.

So, when I saw this tiny table top ( top) tree at Big Lots for the oh-so-budget-friendly price of $10 (and it was PURPLE!), I had to treat myself.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


That storm on Monday dumped the most snow I've seen since I moved here in the winter of 2000-01! And snow on the mountain means...more water in the creek.

This is the view from my front yard:

The southern part of Mt. Lukens got a light dusting too:

We were so happy to see sunshine after days and days of gray, we raced to the creek. We ran into one of the rottie-boy twins that we adore.

He and Mabel had a nice frolic in the water.

I've always said Mabel Lou was part pig because she loves to wallow in mud...this just proves my point! Look how happy she is!
We hiked down to the falls and the deer carcass had washed away down the stream. There was much more water than yesterday. I love seeing it flowing all the way down to the freeway.

Just had to add this one of the sweet boy! I just wanna kiss that "rotten" face! Note the eye goobers - every dog we know has had them since the fires! Poor babies!!!

With all this snow in the neighboring mountains, it's COLD! At 5:30 Tuesday night, it's 38 degrees on my covered back porch!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

2:46 and All Is Not Well

I have a rather unusual skill: a mental alarm clock. Not only do I have and uncanny sense of what time it is without looking at the clock, I can simply "tell" myself what time to wake up and generally do it! For really important days, I still set an alarm clock...would not want to be late for a job interview! But mostly, I can just think about what time I need to wake and then do it.

Saturday afternoon, I desperately needed a nap. And Miss Mabel desperately needed a walk. Not wanting to sleep til dark, I told myself, "I want to sleep for about an hour." Not wanting to contend with an unhappy pup, I set the alarm anyway. Exactly 58 minutes later, I was awake. No alarm needed.

The downside of this is, if I awaken in the middle of the night and stay awake for a certain period of time...I keep doing it. Last week I woke up at 2:46 and stayed awake until 4:45. And every day since... 2:46 and I'm wide awake.

And since I'm stressed with all I have to do before I fly to Baton Rouge next week... I've been getting up to get stuff done. It often takes weeks to break the habit but at least I'm productive!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Early Christmas Gift - Water!!!

The rain started sometime in the middle of the night and didn't let up until around 2. The girl and I dashed to the creek hoping...but so uncertain whether the river would be flowing, I didn't even take the camera. It was flowing!!! Muddy, charred water was babbling down the stream bed.

We were both so excited, we followed it down stream listening to the beautiful music our creek makes as it crashes, rolls and slides down all the boulders, rocks and pebbles. We climbed the high wall that parallels the creek and continued on down to just above the waterfalls.

Mabel ran into the water and found the deer carcass and dragged it to shallower water. I actually thought she was trying to keep it from flowing down stream! But, she was really just trying to flip it over and steal the ear! ICK!!! (Hey, I give her dried pigs ears... I guess a sun-dried deer ear is not really that different! ) She left the body in the edge of the stream and ran off. She sat under a thick tree canopy and munched in the rain as I continued on down to check out the waterfalls.

By this point, it was POURING again and we had a very long, wet trail hike back.

I hope the water keeps flowing... Mabel and I are both water babies and are kinda cranky when our stream is dry. Today was just sheer bliss!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hatches Battened...

I came home Saturday from my bead group's meeting and decided on a quick nap since I had been up at 5. I went to sleep on a lovely fall afternoon and...woke up in full on winter! In one hours time, our temps dipped and the storm clouds blew in.

This storm is not unexpected. It is anticipated to last for days. Regardless of my proximity to the fire areas, I ALWAYS have to sandbag my shop. It was built at a very odd angle on a down slope. Even though I've spent thousands over the years to prevent it, there is often a river of water running through the shop in winter.

I realized around 7 a.m. that if I were going to get fresh sandbags (they rot over summer), I had to do it right then. So I raced over to the fire station and loaded up my allotted 25 bags. Which meant vacuuming out the jeep when I got home.

After our nap and blustery evening walk, I positioned all the sand bags in front of the shop's big doors and cleaned up all the stray sand and ash in the side yard. I got in a big load of firewood too.

With a little luck, I can get some Christmas gifts (only homemade on this year's budget!) finished by the fire this week while the storms do what they will to our local landscape.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Efficiency of the Public Works Dept.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works maintains our local streets. They even take care of the plants along the streets.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Red Flag Day

Red Flag Days here in La La land are when conditions are ripe for a fire - Usually, hot, dry and windy. Other than announcing a really uncomfortable day, it really affects my hike more than anything else.

One of the places I park to enter the upper part of the Arroyo has been designated as a no parking zone on red flag days. If I haven't been paying attention to the news, I have to call our City info line to inquire on red flag status.

This past weekend, while not exceptionally hot, was very windy and it's still very dry here. To my surprise, Fire engines were parked in the upper lot...waiting. What's even more surprising is that just beyond where they've parked... is a moonscape, already burned during the Station Fire.
The wind was so vicious! When I looked out on Mt. Luken's first thing Saturday morning... it was a gray swirling ash covered mountain. I didn't venture out in it until later in the day when the wind had died down. But looking into the Angeles National Forest, you could still see the dust clouds.

And while Lukens was much clearer at this point in the day...look how much grayer this picture is near the mountain tops versus higher in the air.
On windy days, all the smog clears out and the sky is SO blue. It's the kind of day that makes idiots (like me) want to move here.

The other bit of good news??? Remember that ash that covered my patio??? It blew away!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

SUPASTAH in the 'hood!

I'm not one to be star struck... It's happened only once or twice. Lucille Ball, my childhood idol had me drooling into a cocktail at my very first ever Hollyweird party. And then there is the infamous job interview with Christopher Lambert. But that was more of a guttural, sexual reaction than simply being star struck.

But tonight (Tuesday, 12/1 as I type), I got a little giddy when I realized a SUPERSTAR is in the neighborhood.

I know this young, hunky, beef-cake(OMG! Did I really type that outloud???) graces Sunland - Tujunga with his presence from time to time. I know this because I know his mom.

She lives in a rather unusual distinct, I dare not describe it here, for a single word would give it away! (Although, her son has described it numerous times on Leno and Letterman.) I know her from swimming at the local Y where I went daily for almost a year, trying to build up my strength and learn to walk again after my surgeries. I was rather fond of her and, even though we don't really see each other any more, when I pass her house, I always see her little car in the driveway and smile.

But tonight when I passed, her little car was not in the drive; It was parked on the street. In it's place was the BIG MOVIE STAR'S SUV!!!

And I'm not so sure I'm giddy because a major box office star is in the ' much as it just warms my heart that a nice young man, who has a lot on his plate, still finds time to visit his mother.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Whew, I Did It

Yes, this is the self-congratulatory post for me writing something for 30 days straight (day 31, thank you!) .

It got me looking at the amount of writing I've done this year... a paltry sum for sure. So, I'm thinking ... Maybe I should try this on ALL the short months of next year. February, April, June, September, November - count on me. Should I make that a goal??? Seems a bit lofty at the moment, especially considering I have another blog where I "try" to write something four days a week. And somedays - there's nothing to say. And other days, too much. Hmmm...something to ponder for sure.

And for those of you who hung in there reading along, THANK YOU!!! Especially Janet and Rott... your comments meant so much!