Friday, December 31, 2010

Not a Shiny Happy

This post is not a shiny happy one... so, you've been warned.

Every year about this time, I write some saccharine poetic piece about my hopes for the future. But this year I just can't. There is no grassy knoll in my burnt forest. There is no imminent change. And no, I don't feel hopeful. And just the thought of the future seems insurmountable.

In trying to recap this crappy year...(Velvet said 2009 was Spectacular for its Suckitude. I think that sums up 2010 nicely!).. I thought I would do something a little more thoughtful. Alison started the Thirty Days of Truth project and I thought of joining in but in the end both of us decided it was just too negative. Then I found Reverb10, but it seemed to require more effort than this crapfest deserved. So here it is:

  • I still have no job and no prospects. I'm starting to question if I will ever make any real money ever again.
  • A 23 year friendship bit the dust because I got tired of doing all the rowing (Old Southern adage: If you want to know if a relationship is working, stop rowing the boat and see if it moves. It didn't; so I did.)
  • I had a spider bite that nearly killed me.
  • Mabel finally got a boyfriend - and he moved away. She still lingers when we pass his now empty house.
  • January brought floods and debris down from our burn area. And allergies to all dogs and this person.
  • I lost my cell phone on the way to the airport.
  • Owed money to the IRS for the first time in decades - all for robbing my OWN retirement account to keep a roof over my head!
  • My left elbow went numb in April. In June I developed excruciating pain in my right one. I spent most of the summer and fall in severe pain and too broke to go to the doctor after paying for my Blue Cross insurance every month. 
  • In July, I went in for a pain in a front tooth. Thousands of bucks, a root canal, a cap and 8 visits to dentists / endodontists and six months later, I'm going to lose said tooth... but only if I can come up with the money to have it pulled. Won't that make me look oh so cute in job interviews?
  • My desktop computer died.
But in all honesty, it wasn't all horrible: 
  • I have about the same amount of money in the bank this year as I did last. Guess I did something right. 
  • Excellent hikes after the storm was over.
  • New Years Day was one of the best days of the year. I went on an amazing hike with that friend of 23 years. It's how our friendship was on this day before all the strain that forced the break that I prefer to remember instead of all the nothing that came at the end. (I really don't think she even cares we're not friends anymore.)  
  • I got my cell phone back!
  • Saved all the files off the old desktop.
  • Bart joined our pack and the BFF comes to the creek!
  • More new friends at the creek: Ruby and Choloe the dobie. 
  • My sister came out for the first time in ages and we had a blast.
  • Road trip with the bestie, full of giggles. 
  • I sold more glass beads than ever before... still not enough to call it income, but progress!
So there it is. It feels like way more bad than good. And, in my own mind, I've already kicked 2010 to the curb days ago. Good riddance!

As for 2011, I stopped dreaming of any more than the basics: roof over my head, food in my pantry, gas in the car. Anything more feels ... frivolous! But my sincere hope that in 2011, we all get a hand (or a foot) up in the new year. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Disturbance in the Force

First the ducks fly:

(highlighted for your viewing pleasure:)

Then Mr. Crane gets all upset:

And WHAT do you think is creating such a ruckus???


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My Favorite T-shirt

My favorite t-shirt was given to me by my sister. She bought it at the Westminster Dog Show. It features pink paw prints and reads:

When I look at a paw print, I see an upside down heart with four arms reaching out to love me. 

Every time I see Mabel's prints by the shore of our creek, I think of that. I hope when you see paw prints now, you will too!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Inside Jokes?

My BFF and I make each other laugh a LOT. I swear she's my daily medicine (along with the creek).

I don't know if anyone will find this remotely amusing but us... but this is the highlight reel from our recent road trip:


I know this photo is awful on many levels, but, to me, it's also great on many levels. My girl never poses (unlike her predecessor - you would think Maggie May was a supermodel in another life!). Her motion and that of the wind in the grass and the flare caused by the sun lends much to this picture. It has not been retouched... only cropped. This was the first sunny day we had seen in over a week.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Savory Cookie Recipes

I don't know what came over my sweet tooth this year but as I was surveying my piles of cookbooks and cookie magazines, the only cookie that seemed appealing was not sweet but savory. As I was baking the last few days several friends on Facebook requested recipes and I thought I would post them here so I could find them again.

I got both of these from some Christmas magazines but since neither prints their tag line on the bottom of the page - and I'm notorious for tearing apart magazines - I cannot give credit where credit is due.

Rosemary Pecan Cheddar Cookies

These remind me of cheese balls I cooked once ages ago. They are just wonderful and I can't wait to make a big pot of chili to go with them! I would add a bit more the chili flakes for more warmth. I also want to try these with a smoked cheese blend!

16 oz sharp cheddar grated fine *
1 cup butter melted
1 cup pecans (Orig recipe calls for 3/4 but it didn't seem sufficient)
3 c. all purpose flour
2 t. fresh rosemary
1/2 t.  sea salt
1/4 t ground red pepper. **

  1. In mixing bowl, combine cheese, butter and pecans and combine well. 
  2. In small bowl, combine all other ingredients. Slowly add to the cheese mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours. 
  3. Preheat over to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment. [or Silpats]
  4. Roll dough into 1" balls. Place 3" apart on baking sheets. Spray a flat bottomed glass with Pam and dip into flour. Use the bottom of the glass to flatten the dough balls. ***
  5. Bake until browned 18 - 20 mins. 

*I only had 12 oz. of cheddar and grated 4 oz. of Trader Joe's Cottswald Cheddar with grilled onions into mine. I'm certain this was a tasty addition!

** Despite my Louisiana roots, I don't like food that is hot in flavor for no good reason. I don't keep red chilis on hand as a general rule however this summer I discovered ancho chilis from the Temecula Olive Oil company (no longer on their website but it may be seasonal). I bought them for their rich warm smell but found the heat too strong. For this recipe, I had just finished chopping my rosemary in my MezalunaJ.K. Adams HB-1010 Maple Herb Bowl with Mezzaluna Chopper chopper and decided to give it a try on the tiny ancho seeds... it worked like a dream! I chopped the hot spicy seeds into minuscule bits and it worked great. In the end, I thought they could be spicier so next batch, I'm going to up it by 1/8 t.

*** I couldn't be bothered to roll them my hand...I was in a hurry. I used my tiniest ice cream scoop and then flattened them with a fork.

Goat Cheese  Parmesan Wafers

These were the BFF's favorites. I couldn't get them to slice as thinly as the recipe suggested so mine were not that pretty.

8 oz. goat cheese
1 stick butter  softened
1 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. Parmesan grated
1/2 c. cornstarch
3 T. chopped thyme
1 T. chopped sage
1 t. sea salt
1 t. ground black pepper

  1. In a food processor, combine goat cheese and butter. Add Parmesan, mix. Add remaining ingredients. Divide dough into thirds. 
  2. Place each portion on parchment and roll into logs about 7" x 1.5". Freeze (Can be frozen for 6 weeks.... great for gifts!)
  3. Preheat oven 325. Line baking sheets w/ parchment or Silpats. Slice into 1/4" slices and place on paper.*
  4. Bake until edges are light golden brown ~ 12 mins. Store in airtight container for up to three days. 

*The frozen dough would NOT slice neatly. I ended up defrosting and hand pressing patties!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Won't I Do for My Dog?

The rain! The RAIN! The rain is a PAIN! We don't get rain like this. California has two kinds of rain. The "it POURS" variety makes the news. It's the kind that comes suddenly in voluminous amounts and proceeds to move mountains.

The other kind, I call "Pissy Rain." It's kind of like the heavens are spitting on you. When I moved here, it gave new meaning to the old saying "run between the rain drops" because I could! My Jeep's slowest wiper setting is 10 second intervals. I wish it were 30! Ten is way too fast! I drive around turning it on and off, on and off. One more thing to worry about in L.A. traffic!

But the rain we've had since last Thursday night is not common. It has been slow and steady. This kind of rain can also move mountains if you get enough of it... which we have. It reminds me of a rain back home in Louisiana save for the fact it has stayed so long.

And all this being shut in... drives active pups CRAZY! Mabel's shut in days started Wednesday morning when I took a whirlwind road trip with the BFF to see her (our) niece in Nevada. Our hiking buddy fed the girl and put her to bed and fed her breakfast as well. I was hoping to get home Thursday in time to walk her before our storms hit. We were an hour north of home when the rains started.

Steady rain and exhaustion from my trip kept us in on Friday. By Saturday, we were looking for the break that our storms always have to make a mad dash for the creek. Even if we end up getting soaked, it's always nice to start the hike with an illusion of being dry. But it was not to be.

Sunday, we were both nuts! I drove to our favorite breakfast haunt in the pouring rain. I took towels to dry off the picnic table and another to sit on. I also took Mabel's big fuzzy softie and placed it as close to the windows as I could. We were damp but so happy to be out!
Mabel at our favorite restaurant on a dry day. 

Mabel's favorite waitress, Miss Lori, had Christmas gifts for the girl and the eggs and pancakes lifted our spirits. Fortified with lots of hot coffee, I bundled up and headed for a wet hike. Even with multiple layers and an umbrella, I got soaked. 

Mabel is so funny hiking in the rain. She seems to relish it. Unlike being at home, where she looks up at me with her best "Do I HAVE to?" look when I tell her to go out and potty - at the creek, she never minds the rain. But once we are home, she waits patiently on the porch for a towel dry.

So every day since, rain or ... rain, I've grabbed her - and Bart - and taken them out for a very wet hike. And I don't mind a bit. Their smiles keep me warm. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I drove by that house again today, determined to take a picture of that shepherd in the rain. Our rain storms have been nonstop since Thursday night and he has been on my mind for days. I was pleased that he was not on the porch. As I looked around, I noticed a tarp covering what appeared to be an old dog he has some kind of shelter.

Even this makes me mad. The idiots that live near the creek have three unaltered males that are never allowed in the home and all they have for shelter is a camper shell - open on both ends! No bedding and just each other to keep warm. And our local officials think this is a fine shelter.

I was not feeling too great; a stomach bug had me feeling low. I took a long winter nap, cuddling with Miss Mabel on our heated mattress pad in our heated and dry home and just felt so grateful and sad for all those pups that aren't so lucky.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I Hate People

Err... maybe that title deserves a bit of clarification because, yes, I'm a loner. I don't like the company of many people. But that has more to do with my own perceived inadequacies. I guess what I mean to say is... I hate people who are mean to animals.

As I was driving to the creek this morning, pondering a blog post to be entitled "What Won't I Do for My Dog?" - I saw something that made me sad and then MAD!

It's been pouring rain for days and I drove past a house - one of our many "cabins" in this area that has the poured concrete four step front porch. And on that uncovered step was dog bedding, soaked to the core. And on that bed, also soaked to the core, was a German Shepherd, curled with his nose tucked under his hind leg so that at least one part of him was dry.

I drove past the house slowly... hoping to see a dog house, a lean-to, a canopy, something ANYTHING to keep him dry. But there was none.

I tried to rationalize that the dog was merely on a pee break and was waiting so patiently for his humans to let him in But when I drove back by an hour later, he was still there.

And so I hate people. I hate people who don't know enough about dogs to understand their pack mentality -That to shut them out from their people who they pack with is to cut them off emotionally. I hate people who view their dogs solely as an accessory. I hate people that don't understand their dogs need shelter just as much as they do. I hate his people.

It makes me want to open their gate and put him in my car and never look back. But that's not reasonable or practical. I can barely afford the dog I have... you know, the spoiled princess? The one who would never forgive me for bringing another into HER abode?

But I'm watching. I have to wonder how much good groups like the ASPCA can do... Our shelters are overcrowded and the dirty little secret of L.A. animal control is that they put thousands of dogs down every year because they can't place them. Is this dog better off because at least he is fed? It would kill me to know I made a phone call that ended in his death. 

I have no answers...just anger and sadness. 


Miss Mabel is pawing at my chair to remind me to please please wish her real life Uncle J in Baton Rouge a HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Special Announcement - Beads of Courage on Sunday Morning

I putting this on both my blogs. Please set your VCRs / DVRs tomorrow to check out CBS News' Sunday Morning profile of Beads of Courage.

I know many of my readers were voting back in the summer to help Beads of Courage win a $25,000 grant from Pepsi (which they are putting to use by starting a new BoC program in Anaheim, CA. I will be helping with a workshop there in April!). I thought you might like to see what it's all about - you are sure to shed a tear.

And... if you are a glass bead head - you can see some glass beads being born!

Communicating with Dogs

Mabel's level of communication never ceases to amaze me. Maybe it's the fact that we are together nearly 24/7, but she gets me. And I get her. 

I've often impressed our hiking buddies with my ability to "read" Mabel's body language and know what she's after.  While I don't think I could put it into words, she has different postures for cat, rat, lizard, squirrel, ground squirrel, bird, deer and coyote. Possums and coons share a similar posture but are different from the rest. And there is an extra delightful body language for balls with tennis balls getting special recognition.  I once saw Mabel go into her tennis ball posture at a round pile of rocks. I thought this was exceptionally strange; how could a tennis ball be in a pile of rocks? I moved a few rocks and... tennis ball! 

While I am limited to reading body language, Miss Mabel "reads" my colorful and varied language! This dog is smart, I tell you. Scary smart!

After retrieving her from the middle of our street yesterday and having a meltdown, I jokingly informed her that there would be no creek for her. After all she put me through, she didn't deserve it. I also told her I would be taking Bart instead. 

I left her home alone for my trip to physical therapy and returned hours later, NOT smelling of the creek or Bart.  Not wanting to take any chances, Mabel decided to jump into the jeep and wait while I packed orders - for two hours!

I had to take Bart anyway as his people were really busy yesterday. I picked him up and explained all about how Mabel did not deserve a trip to the creek. Bart was not impressed; he has his own free range car issues. In all of the craziness of just getting there, I forgot to demand my "payment" for the trip. I have both dogs trained to give me "kisses for the creek."  

Shortly after we all arrived at the creek, Mabel stopped and held out her left hind paw. She had stepped on something sharp. I ran to her - it was a sticker and I removed it and seized my opportunity. 

Me: What? No kiss for that? I remove your owie and I don't get a kiss?

Mabel:  Eye roll.

Me: Come to think of it, I didn't get a kiss for the creek. You know, I think I deserve THREE kisses:  one for the creek, one for the owie and one for saving your dumb a$$ life from the middle of the road.

Mabel was just up the hill from me. She turned and licked the wind!

Me: NO!!! AIR KISSES DO NOT COUNT!! You have to make contact for them to count! 


Later, after Mabel had a swim in Dirty Creek, she came over for some lovin'. 

Me: Hey, where's my THREE kisses???? 

Mabel kissed me. 

Me: That's IT? I need TWO more. One for the owie and one for saving your dumb a$$.

Mabel kissed me a second time and started to walk away. 

Me: HEY! I think the kiss for saving your dumb a$$ ought to be REALLY big. Pay up Missy!

She gave me thorough face "cleaning!" 

You will never convince me that this girl doesn't understand what I say. But I swear, knowing how smart she is really ticks me off. The reason? If she understands, then all those times I give a command and she shoots me that sidelong go-to-hell look, she's CHOOSING not to obey! Brat! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Heart Beat So, It Scared Me to Death

Miss Mabel (aka Naughty Naughty Bad Dog) sent my heart a racing this morning!

I was on my way to the shop to pack some orders when I decided I needed some coffee. It was a rough morning. My arms are sore from physical therapy. My back was aching from my new sleep position (part of PT). My feet and knees were hurting; Basically, I was a mess. I rarely walk around without shoes- but for that fateful need for coffee.

It was a warm morning. I had opened the doors and widows to suck the cold air out of the house. Mabel walked to the security door as I was unloading the dishwasher. And then she was GONE!!!!!!

I could see the reflection of the OPEN security door in the glass paneled wood door! The adrenalin kicked in! I dropped the dishes in my hand and was out the door in less than a heartbeat. Panic set in as I heard a car race by. I raced to the street in my socks and freaked again when I still didn't see the girl. I realized cars from both directions had come to a halt near the corner and I seemed to float there where I found Mabel dumbstruck by all the cars (more likely, it was all my screaming that brought her to a standstill - and she lost track of the cat that I'm certain she was chasing!)

I grabbed her with both arms and had a breakdown in the middle of the street. I went into the "ugly cry." I got the girl into the house and sobbed some more. Miss Piss was quite jazzed from her adventure while I was freaked at all that could have happened. I finally realized that, thanks to the adrenaline aches were gone! They should bottle that stuff!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Her Happy Place -

I was going to make this a Wordless Wednesday post... but it's Tuesday! I stopped into Panera last night after a day of running from doc to doc with my arms and tooth and got snippy with those nice folks because "You ALWAYS have Black Bean Soup on Tuesday."

"But Ma'am, it's MONDAY."

How's YOUR week going???

Me? I wish I was here:

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Sunland Tujunga Locals - BEWARE

Local folks... just so you know where your money is going: The Christmas tree lot operating at the former K-Mart site is issuing  Home Depot receipts when a tree is purchased. The staff is wearing shirts that say Noble Mountain tree farm but the signage and SKU numbers are all Home Depot.

Please support local tree vendors that will keep the money in the community!