Friday, December 30, 2011


Bailey is my sister's dog, a Welsh Pembroke Corgi. His predecessor was named "Huggy" and we quickly realized that Bailey should have been named "Lovey." He just adores pets and scritches.

Here he is playing with a toy I got him:

Shhh... The baby is sleeping....

Thursday, December 29, 2011

That's What I Like about the South

My trip home was ... filled with doctors and trips to transfusion centers and emergency rooms. And not just for my sister. I came down with the worst sore throat ever and, fearing I would make my sister even sicker, I went to the doc myself.

While I'm still processing so much of this trip mentally - how do you force a good time? How do you make a memory on command? One of the best parts of the trip was the joyful yet melancholy differences between the land that was my home and the one that is. I thought I would share a few.

  • Iced Tea - you never have to walk into a restaurant in the South and wonder if their tea is good. It's no question at all... it simply is. Here, even Southern fried chicken chain Popeye's has some of the nastiest tea on earth. And Panera Bread - an East coast chain - has the best. But in the South, every mom and pop to national chain has great iced tea. 
  • Warm weather - While Louisiana can have brutal winters, there always seem to be a sprinkling of mild or even warm days. Back here on our big old mountain, I'm warm for about 20 minutes around one o'clock.  Being cold seems to make my head cold miserable. 
  • Dogs - This is actually a similarity. Like my mountain community, I could always find a dog to love on. My nephew Bailey is such an intense little dude. He would stand with his heavy paws on my thigh and stare deep into my eyes for minutes on end. I felt like he could see my very soul.  He brought much comfort on my trip. There will be a post or two about him in the future.
  • Ghost Stories - I heard a few amazing ones on my trip home. California may be the land of the nutcases but people don't offer up their ghost stories here like they do back home. Or maybe the air is so thick back there that the setting is just ripe for them. 
  • Excellent Seafood - For excellent seafood here, you need a second mortgage. As always, I partook of some of the best fish and crustacean dishes in the world for no more than I would expect to pay for a regular dinner. Sadly, my favorite seafood restaurant burned down the morning of my arrival and another old favorite went out of business when the owners retired. But I found some new favorites.
  • My Mom - as much as I know we irritate each other, it's only because we are so much alike. I was pleasantly surprised to open her fridge and find a heart shaped potato. Could  she be the reason I collect heart shaped stuff on all my hikes?? Is my inner child really that different from hers?

Thursday, December 08, 2011


The last time Bessie the Jeep got a new tranny, she was gone for seven days and Mabel kissed her bumper when she came home. Mabel has been so distraught over Bessie's absence for these last 13 days that I offered to walk her to the "hospital" to visit the car!

Mabel as a big factor in choosing to repair the car... that and I simply couldn't afford the payments on a newer one. One windy afternoon recently when my hiking buddy had taken me for groceries, she asked if she should take Hank and Sue to the creek in such high winds. I advised against it. We started discussing bread...we were at the store too early in the day for the lovely loaves of soft French bread. I commented on how I hated it all hard and crusty. To which my hiking buddy replied... "Mmmmm just the way Hank likes it!"

"Are you buying crusty day old bread for your DOG???"

Defensive, she replied, "Yeah. What of it??"

"You don't have to get defensive with me! I'm repairing a 13 year old vehicle because my dog loves it! Hello Pot! My name is Kettle!"

We had a good chuckle over the things we do for our dogs...

Hope you enjoy the pics of Mabel and her reunion with her beloved ride! Did you notice the blurry tail???

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Occupy the Couch!

Mabel Lou here. I'm here to share with you a horrible atrocity going on in the dog world! I am in shock I tell you and I'm certain you will be too!

Mr. Pip has had his comfy couch taken away and moved to the basement! He's requesting all his K9 friends "occupy the couch" in protest until he gets his beloved couch back!
So here I am, doing my part. But you know me... I just HAVE to take it to the next level.  I'm urging everyone not to simply occupy the couch. No, you have to take control of the remote! My own mom is so upset over this, she's going to let Mr. Pip's pawrents know how important it is for him to get a couch immediately.

Now, THAT'S the power of the paw!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

If It's Not One Thing's 87 others! I'm wide awake at one a.m. - not that I don't want to sleep. We're having one of those infamous California wind storms.

I'm  cowering in my house listening to my inner fence (the tall one that makes me feel so safe) come apart banging against the outer fence  and wondering if I will have a roof (house?) coming daylight.

These winds are so violent. At 85 m.p.h, they are reminiscent of a Louisiana hurricane without the rain. I miss the drowns out the other sounds of a wind storm! I can hear dirt and debris sand blasting my windows. The limbs of my date palm are crashing to the ground with great thuds. What looks like a bed sheet is caught in the power lines up on the corner and snapping. My padlocked garage door lifts up an inch or so and thunks back. Mabel, stress breathing in the hallway, is happy to have an extra set of walls between her and the storm. Every plastic bucket in my yard is blowing...somewhere. And the ever present wood on concrete banging of my fences.

I wonder how on earth I will feel secure leaving my pup at home alone with much shorter fences in a mere two weeks?

Right now, it just feels like the problems keep banging up against my head like the wind in my fences. It's been a really stressful  five days.

::A fun trip the bestie and I planned the day after Thanksgiving went to you-know-where in a hand-basket when someone need to hang at her house until they could arrange a ride. My bestie, being the kind, generous soul she is, changed our long planned trip. I took the casserole I had made for the trip over to stash in her extra fridge... and barely made the 3/4 mile trip home!

::My beloved jeep - 13 years old would not shift out of first gear all the way up the hill home. I just kept going, running stop signs, further up the mountain to my mechanic. As suspected, the transmission is out.

::Since I had prayed and put out into the universe all year that both the bestie and I needed newer cars, (and the bestie just got one!), maybe it was time... I spent days on the phone, wheeling and dealing. I'm not a car person. My needs are simple: electric windows (in case Mabel sees a cat), air conditioning (middle aged femalehood is bear on fire!), and a plug for my ipod (I hate commercials!). And it should run... that's it! After days of negotiating, even consulting a professional broker, I just couldn't deal with the added debt. I'm dumbstruck that I could buy a new car (with very little interest) for about the same price as an used one! That's just wrong!

::I'm still in shock that a new tranny is coming just as Los Angeles' exorbitant property taxes are due. I just love how these damn things are due in early December, pretty much guaranteeing I never have a good Christmas. At least I can put the car on a credit card and deal with it in a few months... guaranteeing I won't have a good birthday either!

::There goes another palm limb! I heard a woman was actually hit by a falling tree walking to get groceries tonight!

::Who WALKS to get groceries in an 80 mph wind storm? Housebound carless people, that's who! It's so hard to live in LA without a car! I'm amazed at the things I normally have plenty of that have run out this week!
  • I'm down to 7 rolls of toilet paper. I usually have a case. The logical side of me knows that's 3 1/2 weeks. The not so logical side is freaked!
  • Every fire alarm in my house started beeping and I only had one 9 volt battery in the house!
  • I managed to run out of my favorite acid reducer during the most stressful week in ages.
  • OJ, bread... 
  • And the creek... I've managed to swing a ride here and there but Mabel has seemed grateful for neighborhood walkies.
::The last time Bessie the Jeep got a new tranny, she was away from home for seven days! It will be more this time thanks to the days lost trying to get a new Bessie. When I brought her home last time - 51,000 miles ago, Mabel raced into the drive way and kissed the bumper repeatedly! Since Mabel has spent the last several days wandering into the drive and loudly crying her displeasure, I wonder if Bessie will get a similar greeting???

::In the end, some part of me fears I will never make real money again...that it will always be a hard row to hoe. But, I am somewhat happy about keeping my old beast. It's Mabel's car. She loves that Jeep! They don't make them where the back seat flips up and creates a Mabel Lou seat any more. So many of the vehicles I have looked at have hard plastic and are slanted... my girl would slide all over and not be happy at all. Mabel and the Jeep were made for each other. I just get to visit in their world. It's much nicer there!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Duckpdate - Party for the Birds

This Duckpdate is brought to you because Sarge is hosting a Give Us the Bird posting contest this week.
The ducklings first swim in their new home

One summer evening, the dogs dashed into Dirty Creek and startled the ducks.. HUNDREDS OF DUCKS! Wha??? I started to count as they took flight and suddenly realized my efforts were futile.

As I got closer to the water and could see beyond the concrete barricades... My ducks were home! I counted...yes, they were all there. It appears, they were just having a party. And while some wayward dogs could easily startle newcomers, our little team stayed put. After all, it was getting dark...time for the party to end anyway!

Now that winter is here, the team in Dirty Creek has doubled...boy for girl! It seems they are pairing off, getting ready for spring. I just hope they forgot the way to my pool!

If you would like to join Sarge's contest, be sure to check out his blog!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Duckpdate - The Hunters!

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I took a nasty fall in my own backyard coming home from Costco Monday night. I'm really banged up. Mabel did come over and kiss me and curl up next to me while I was writing in pain!

This Duckpdate is brought to you because Sarge is hosting a Give Us the Bird posting contest this week.

A few months back, I was hiking in the Tujunga River... one of those quiet, lazy, summer evenings. I heard a strange noise and the ducks nearby startled and moved up stream just a bit. I looked up on the levee and noticed two brats with pellet guns aiming at the ducks... but Bart and Mabel right behind them!

And even though those probably weren't MY ducks...Once you are a duck mom... they are ALL MY DUCKS! (Not sure I will ever be able to eat a Turducken again!) I promptly told those little criminals that they shouldn't be shooting at hand raised ducks and certainly not firing so close to dogs and a human. That didn't work! So I called the cops and the little creeps ran...

Just one more battle that the ducks have to face...

If you would like to join Sarge's contest, be sure to check out his blog!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Duckpdate - Fall Habitat

I haven't really been posting on the ducks because... the ducks are doing what they are supposed to do...growing up and moving on. But Sarge is hosting a Give Us the Bird posting contest this week and when Mabel Lou heard there may be foodables involved... well, she egged me on!

So, I thought I would post some duckling pics and tell you a few stories of the goings on at Dirty Creek this week. The biggest adjustment the not-so-little team had to make was the annual fall raping of their habitat. They are living in a flood control basin which is improperly controlled. As you can see in the photo below, all the tall reeds the ducks were living in are on the right are now trimmed to the ground!

Yet right across the water, where most of the flood waters actually go, the city did not cut or trim. Nor did they cut the tree that fell this year. It's all a bureaucratic mess! The Dept of Public Works blames Fish and Game who claim rare species in those waters. Yeah? Well if that's the case, why did you allow a five foot deep pond to fill up with sediment to maybe one foot deep???

The government agencies also blame the golf course, who - per their contract with said governing bodies - are supposed to maintain the trails and creeks. They've done such a crappy job that this week, another government agency is taking over. Grrrr. Don't get me started... back to my ducks...
Mallory Mallard enjoying her bath in my pool's waterfall while watching her ducklings.

I check on the ducks most evenings and I was there the very day the trimming was done. The ducks looked somewhat confused and mildly panic stricken. But this little team is tough. The next day, they seemed much calmer. In some ways, it's good the city no longer trims the area north of the pond...that's where predators must approach from! And I'm certain they make quite a ruckus going through the thick growth.

So the team made it through another hurdle.

If you would like to join Sarge's contest, be sure to check out his blog!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Just Not Magic Anymore

What is it about the holiday season that makes it seem as if the days are barreling down a mountain chasing me as fast as my little legs can run? And why does it start sooner and travel faster every single year?
In all honesty, I planned to write this post in AUGUST.... when I took the blurry cell phone pictures to accompany this post... of CHRISTMAS TREES! My bestie - the shiny happy one - pointed out that these pictures were taken in a store that sells decorations to other retailers so, to her shiny happy point of view, the store I took these in was right on time marketing-wise.
Halloween trees

To my stop-the-world-from-turning-cause-I'm-dizzy point of wasn't the first store I had seen Christmas trees in... It was the THIRD! In AUGUST!

I was fascinated from a decoration point of view but I don't even understand that... I haven't decorated in more than a decade. There never seems to be enough time. It seems pointless to drag all that crap out of the attic to put it up for.. me... and put it back up again. Plus, I'm always going somewhere else... the lot of someone who doesn't have a family of her own.

Maybe it stems back to childhood - my mother always hated Christmas. My sister was equally determined to make it special. In the end, it always seemed to be a tug of war of wills and emotions. Once my sister's nieces and nephews grew up to have their own families and there were no kids around at all, it all got worse. 
I do love peacocks....
I've also come to resent the commercial factors of the season. It's hard work buying and wrapping all that CRAP. And really, most of it is stuff no one wants or needs. I'm trying so hard to clean out my house of all the superfluous junk I've collected that - while I appreciate the sentiment - I really don't need the soap / candles / sweatshirts that I seem to receive in abundance year after year. 

Have I just grown old and turned into a hermit crab? I'm just so sick of this family member not getting along with that one and the arguments over...nothing that really matters. I'm tired of giving and receiving gifts that have no real meaning. I'm tired of pleasing...

I need a little magic. But I'm not sure it exists anymore. I sure haven't felt it in a long time. To me, the most magical thing is feeling connected to someone I love. And yet, year after year, we gift some purchased token to one another and plan to have dinner "when things settle down." Then the very next year, we find ourselves making the same hollow promises. 

Shortly after I took these pictures, I found this photo circulating on Facebook. It was actually taken in 2009... But I like to think the classy Nordstrom's department store is still doing this. If not, I'm glad they had the guts to do it once. 

Do you remember going into the store the day after Thanksgiving (NOT Thanksgiving Day. NOT midnight the morning after!)? It was magic how the store had transformed! I wonder if kids today even notice... Or do they just expect trees in August?
Upside down trees - more room for all the gifts... yay that's great

I know a lot of parents struggle with kids who get too much.  My best friend from childhood comes from a Catholic background. She always told her kids, "Three gifts were enough for Jesus, it's enough for you!" Her list usually involved "something you need, something you want and something just because." And it worked. Her now grown children grew up valuing the things they received and being very generous and thoughtful themselves.

This year, I want the gift of time. Time to check in with friends. Time to really enjoy a moment with someone I love. Time to laugh, time to cry, time to just BE. That would be magic!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Need Some Help from the Bakers

I found these at our magical thrift store... the one I've composed a half dozen posts about in my head but never actually posted here...sigh.

They are baking pans of some sort... I thought they would make pretty little tea cakes for the niece's wedding showers. I brought them home and washed them and started searching for recipes for.... what? It would help if i knew what the pans were actually called! I've googled "recipes for vertical cake pans" and different variations... but NO answer.

They come in a variety of shapes: stars, trees, playing cards (spades, clubs, diamonds and hearts):

And they come with lids for each end. If anyone knows what they are and where I can find recipes, I would be SO grateful!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meet Baconhead!

No I don't have a new pet... As IF Mabel Lou would let me consider such a thing! I'm just having a little fun with the girl I have.

I tossed her a piece of bacon off my bacon cheeseburger from my favorite local Mom and Pop and it seems that burger was so juicy delish that the bacon stuck to her head... Excuse me while I try to stop laughing...

She looked and looked for it but couldn't figure out where it was! When she followed me to the shop with the bacon still on her head... well, I HAD to have some fun! 

I did finally show her where that yummy bacon smell was coming from... I'm such a mean mommy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Horse Corral at Angeles National

I may live near the metropolis of Los Angeles but I actually live in the boonies... Our little mountain town  has one main drag and is only 10 square miles. So a shindig at the golf course makes for a good Friday night!

The bestie and I went out to the corral opening at Angeles National a few weeks ago. She insisted we dress up. I do as I'm told even though some part of me suspected we would be grossly overdressed for a horse crowd. We were!

The golf course has built a corral for folks on horse trails that might want to stop into the restaurant or bar (or play a round?). I made a new best friend while we were there. Meet Dotty:
I had some serious bonding with her... she just kept staring at me. Finally, we met her owner who let me pet her and feed her carrots!

The golf course has water and carrots and apples for the horses.

For the people, they installed video cameras that feed to the tv screens in the clubhouse so they can see what the horses are up to!

After photo ops and speeches, there was a barbeque dinner. Fun times in a small town!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Autumn Guard

Rescue Me Week - Grumpy

Mayzie is hosting a Rescue Me week blog-a-thon in honor of her human Grandpa J who crossed the bridge recently! Since all my babies have been adopted, I thought it would be fun to play along.
This is our second entry in the contest! ;-)

We are playing for the Rottie Rescue of Los Angeles, where I've gotten most of my girls from. Today, I'm writing about a dog named Grumpy who apparently isn't... You know, you can change a dog's name. I often feel that I should... I want my dogs to think of their name as a happy song and I'm often concerned that their old name may have come to mean something negative. But back to Grumpy:
From the Rott Rescue site: 
Grumpy - he isn't - has a good temperament, very social dog. An outside dog in his former home, big, very handsome boy. Sold as a potential show quality dog, disqualified due to medical condition called cryporchardism, an autosomal recessive trait. Cryptorchid dogs are not candidates for breeding/showing because the condition is heritable. Click here to fill out our adoption application.

For those of you reading along (I can't wait to read what Mango has to say about this!)  Cryporchardism means... his 'nards didn't drop. While this makes him unbreedable... don't we have enough dogs in shelters anyway??? It doesn't require medical treatment. The boy just needs a good home!!!

If you can give Grumpy a home, please get in touch with the LA  Rottie Rescue.

If you would like to play along too, today is the last day.  Mayzie is going to draw names and choose FIVE winners and donate $100 green papers to the rescue organization of the winner's choice.