Good humor makes all things possible.
-Charles Schultz-

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Shakespeare-The Merchant of Venice-

Friday, December 23, 2011

In 2012

Can I be mindful and loving of whatever arises?

If I can't be loving in this moment, can I be kind?

If I can't be kind, can I be non-judgmental?

If I can't be non-judgmental, can I not cause harm?

And if I cannot not cause harm, can I cause the least amount of harm possible?

I will try if you will try

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Love, Jenny

~ thanks to dear J. for finding my thoughts and handing them back to me ~

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I'll be home for Christmas

Christmas is right around the corner.  

When my kids were really little,  they wanted to have Santa come before they left to spend Christmas break with their Dad's family, and I'd spend the 25th with my friends or take my Mom to see my siblings.  Some years were a little dreary and blue because I felt like I couldn't ever get ahead or feel secure.  After I bought the house  and started making better money at the blood bank, the holidays weren't so stressful, but this year I can only think about being unemployed and worrying about what the future holds.  What about my little house; my home?  Should I make another batch of fudge?

In my town are a pair of bald eagles, Patriot and Liberty.  Rather than being shy and reclusive, they chose a tree in a swamp right next to a busy freeway.  "Look, honey, prime riverfront property with great restaurants and a short commute!  Let's live right here!"  So they built a giant nest out of sticks. When CalTrans decided to widen the freeway, with noisy equipment and glaring lights night and day for a year or two,  they wired a giant plastic cone over the eagles' nest to convince them to move elsewhere because they were too sensitive to handle the commotion.  Mr and Mrs Bald Eagle, as any homeowners might, tried unsuccessfully to pry off the cone until their (human) fan club convinced CalTrans to remove it.  The birds promptly laid more eggs and ate salmon and waved at drivers on the freeway.  They are celebrities with their own website and a book; so after this year's annual vacation they decided that their messy old nest was outdated and built a fancy new one a few trees away.  I think Liberty told Patriot that she was looking on Facebook and saw intrusive videos taken with the webcam aimed right at their bedroom.  Over the years, the eagles have hatched a dozen adorable eaglets in their public nest, including two very rare sets of triplets.  They seem to be living happily ever after.

I suspect there is a parable here; I'm just not entirely sure what it is.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane

I, the reluctant adventurer, will be away from home for two weeks.  Two weeks!  An eternity for someone who feels like a trip to the mall is a major undertaking and two nights in a bathroomless cabin gives me blind spots in my visual field.  

My forever friend Dr L lives on a horse farm out in the boondocks beyond Los Angeles.  I haven't been in her neck of the woods since we were both in college, so I'm long overdue for a visit.  We have both reached the age where the occasional bit of repair work is necessary, here and there, and it's currently her turn.  Her grown daughter managed to schedule her wisdom teeth extraction on the same day and so will be indisposed (and probably either loopy or cranky or both,) and her dear husband is, well, a husband and not especially well suited for the role of Cherry Ames, RN.  So under the very democratic system known as "who can be slightly less under-qualified?"; I rocket straight to the front of the pack.  You advertised for a smoothie maker, dog-petter, tv remote finder, and toenail painter?  Maybe throw a load of towels in the machine?  I'm your candidate!

Remember when you were a little girl (excuse me, all former little boys, but you might as well log off right now) and you loved everything about horses, played with horses, pretended to BE a horse, dreamed about horses, and fully expected to grow up and be a horse vet or a horse trainer or just have a bunch of horses?  Dr L is living the dream.  She IS a vet and HAS a bunch of horses.  Although at one point in my past I actually had my very own horse [dearly departed Buttons], that wagon rolled decades ago and all I have left of my childhood devotion is a box of Breyer models (not including the classic beauties I  foolishly gave away to some little kid who probably broke them or lost them--sometimes when I don't have anything else to kick myself about, I like to torture myself with that.)  I suspect Dr L's real live horses will see right through me.  Hey, don't hate me, horsies.  It was a really long time ago.

This trip also includes Thanksgiving which means cooking and eating, two of my favorite things to do, and also a hit-and run visit with my niece.   I have a whole armload of nieces but this one shares that special one-of-these-things-is-not-like-the-others gene with me.  

And speaking of travel anxiety, I'm off to plan the rest of this adventure while trying not to picture my house being broken into and robbed and my cats all cold and hungry.  See you on the other side.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You say potato

Here is the perfect stone tablet! rock to paint my house numbers on.  I am sorry to say that I inherited a genetic obsession with rocks, which I will someday explain.  I found this one while jeeping up in the mountains.  

Another day, another jeep ride.

A little while ago I had two dying trees taken out of my front yard and the raw empty space reveals more of my neighbors' ghetto tin-roofed side yard than I wish to look at,  so I decided to fill in the hole with a Western Redbud, which I have always loved.  When I was a child we had a beautiful redbud in  the front yard and also, they are hardy natives which shouldn't require much water after a few years; which is important  because the drip system doesn't go that far.  I showed the newly bare spot to the Jeepster and told him how I had decided on a redbud as just the right size and shape for the space.  Several times he said "redwood" and I said "no, redBUD", and then I forgot about it.

Like this

When we were jeeping up in the hills I pointed out many pretty wild Western Redbud trees and he agreed it was a graceful and lovely plant, and then I forgot about it.

Tuesday was my birthday (I know, right?) and I celebrated by accompanying Lillian to the dentist and doing a little organizing in the garage.   The birthday fairy has jury duty but dropped by with a gift and imagine my acute surprise when wedged in the front seat of the Jeep I found a four foot high redwood tree.  

Maybe not so much

Any of you remember the Bob Newhart Show?  It was one of my all-time favorite series.  Well, remember when Bob gave Emily a blenderizer for her anniversary present?  Uh-oh!  They built a half-hour episode around his failure to understand that a blenderizer is not what she had in mind as a romantic gesture.  Sure, I covet diamonds but deep down I'm really a blenderizer girl--some of my most loved gifts have been a lawnmower, a Meyer Lemon tree, my MacBook Pro, and for this birthday, a very timely gas water heater.

Because my little house sits on a fifth of an acre in the middle of town.  Where you just might expect to see a pretty little Western Redbud Tree.  The other option might solve the ghetto tin-roofed side yard problem, though.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spider redux

I suppose it was just a matter of time.  I needed to replace a lightbulb out by the garage, but being too short to accomplish this chore without a stepladder, I asked Lillian to do it.  While she was busy being tall and useful she came face to face with, ah yes, a really big spider, crouching on an eave, no doubt waiting for one of us to leave a door or window open to the pleasant autumn weather so he could sneak into my house.

Faithful readers will recall that I have a Hatfields-and-McCoys relationship with the creatures who share my property.  Here's the deal, nature: I pay the mortgage, so I get to decide who comes in and who stays out.  My cats come in; their cats stay out.  My kids come in; traveling salesmen stay out.  The occasional burglar comes in without my permission; and so do random spiders, lizards, snakes, and bees. [My grandma kept a little window open year round so her cat Scrapper could come and go and at one point a large, nasty--and evidently unwell--opossum clambered in and subsequently died in her back hall.  Gaaah.  Maybe because her house was fully paid for?]

Anyway you will also recall that I described my children as weenie cowards afraid of spiders.  They all are.  After much discussion, and providing Little Miss Muffett with a flyswatter, flipflop and broom, she managed to gently nudge the spider into a crack, annoying him (and me) in the process and convincing him that his next move should definitely be straight into my house so he could bite and paralyze us while we sleep.  It took another twenty minutes and threats of fetching the stepladder so I could dispatch him by myself, but she managed (while screaming) to knock him to the driveway where I sent him straight to hell with the flipflop.  I have almost no sense of balance and stepladders and I are not friends or I would have done the whole operation without help.

When it comes to swatting spiders you can't overthink it.  See it--kill it--apologize to Buddhists later.  I Googled spiders just now and decided that this beast (a homeboy of the monster who came in last winter) was  probably an innocent-sounding "house spider" which certainly sounds like he is genetically designed to live cozily in my underwear drawer but makes me sure that Darwin was wrong about one or two things.  And if you want to creep yourself out entirely, spend a few moments googling "spider" so you can see hundreds of pictures of spiders on the computer screen and can spend the next hour trying to get all your flesh to unclench from around your neck.  Sweet dreams!

Post-mortem:  In all fairness, Lillian has a skill far more valuable than spider slaying.  She is an unsurpassed sparkly thing finder.  This morning I discovered one mortgage-payment, girls-best-friend earring was not in its ear-hole--and of course I had just been outside stuffing tree branches into the green can (yes I know better and am generally very careful about those earrings, but the urge to stuff just came over me when I went out to get the Sunday paper.) As I was digging desperately through my pillows and blankets she pounced right on the earring, twinkling on the carpet by my bed.  My daughter the magpie.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Divine intervention fail

Early yesterday I discovered that tomato hornworms, the terrible swift sword of the gardening world,  had eaten all the leaves off my yellow cherry tomato plant.  That plant represents fifty percent of my tomato crop, or more accurately, all of it.  The other cherry tomato plant is just, well, a plant.  No tomatoes.  The yellow one yielded about twenty fruit this summer.  We bought baskets of delicious tomatoes at the farmers market all summer to actually eat, while I religiously watered my crop but harvested almost nothing.

This worm is a model.  My worms are scrawny and not photogenic. You see the part on the right that looks like a little pony face?  That's his arse.  He's destroying my dreams with his other end.

I have poor luck with gardens.  This year, I prefer to think the problem was not enough sun.  I used a half barrel on the back patio, on the north side of the house, where it is shady too much of the day.  Of course I know vegetable gardens like sunshine (although even when I planted in full sun I only got a handful of produce all season. )  The red cherry is in one of those ridiculous Topsy-Turvy planters which by design has to hang from something and thus is also in the shade.   I planted a zucchini too but each little infant squash turns yellow and shrivels up when it gets about two inches long.

Some people hate vegetables--but it appears that vegetables hate me.

 The farmers market folks have the knack; I am not one of them.  Yet.

I do get lots of basil by trimming about half the leaves every week and laying them out on newspaper to dry; with plenty left to put in everything I cook except coffee.  I also have a very happy thyme plant (happy thyme; haha) that generously provides fragrant thyme leaves all year long, and more oregano  (a rampant weed) than anyone could possibly use. How much Italian food can anyone eat?  Herbs are less fussy than vegetables.

Google Images helped me out here.  But mine looks almost this good.

When the basil gives up and the planter dries out, possibly making it light enough to move,  I'll drag it over to the sunnier side of the patio and maybe next year something will decide to produce.  All I want in life (well, that's not really all I want, but you know what I mean) are the sweet wonderful tomatoes my dad grew and we ate all summer long.  He made it look so easy.  But how?

Late yesterday the phone rang and when I answered, a familiar voice said, hi, it's your dad!  For a brief moment I thought it really was my dad, calling from Heaven to explain how to grow perfect tomatoes.  But then I realized in horror that he might be calling with less desirable news, like maybe my meter had run out and it was time to...ahh...go home.

 Hey wait--no tomato advice?  Is this how it ends?

Here I am discovering that I might never grow decent tomatoes.   

After a quick metaphysical adjustment, I reminded my ex-husband that he was not my dad, Lillian was in San Francisco and to call her cell phone.  Tomato season officially came to an end.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How I spent my summer vacation

Each time I did something bloggerific this summer I'd feel guilty that I didn't peck out a snappy little essay about it.  Now summer is pretty much over, and a blog post with a numbered list is about as enticing as it sounds. So I'll hit a few highlights and call it good.

In a momentary lapse of good judgment,  Lillian signed the two of us up to model clothes for a store we like in the mall.  We suffered from almost immediate remorse; fearing that we'd be forced to stroll the store, frightening unwitting shoppers with "Do like what I'm wearing?  Would you like to buy it?", or worse, strutting on a catwalk.  (You've been to a mall, right?)  Turns out we each had to step up onto a little platform while someone described what we wore, and rows of creaky mall walkers, resting in chairs, clapped politely.

Lillian was the youngest model by decades and looked spirited and adorable but I, gray and uncertain, was awkwardly forgettable except that almost everyone but me colors her hair.  Someone thought it was a good idea for each of us to climb into the store window after we finished our stint.  That part was pretty creepy as many husbands (I hope) with cameras snapped pictures of us captive in the window.  But it was over in an hour; we had a piece of candy at See's and went home to blog about it,  promising to consider all boneheaded ideas more thoroughly in advance.

Right after Labor Day the Jeepster and I decided to go up to  Mount Lassen, a majestic old volcano about fifty miles from here.  We stayed in a rustic little cabin at a charming campground at Manzanita Lake (, I think, Google it) perched on the hip of the mountain.  It was cool and peaceful and the cabin was darling but the bathroom was a couple of blocks away, which is only for scale as of course it's the wilderness and there are no blocks.  A more accurate measure is,  much further than you want to walk at 1130 at night or four in the morning.

Dozens of cute ground squirrels (mountain lingo for "striped rats") scampered up and down the tall pines, dropping hard green cones on us while we tried to read and drink (coffee or wine, depending on the clock).  At high altitudes the blue jays are as big as crows and have stiff black mohawk hairdos. They loomed menacingly a few feet away while I tossed out bites of my breakfast or lunch or dinner.  All God's creatures, including numerous deer which crowded around like pushy WalMart shoppers, reminded me that it's a good thing there was a case-steel bear box to keep our food in while I turned my back to throw another log on the fire and not get complacent about who is really in charge.

A few weeks before that my high school home fries came to town and we all drove up to our other volcano, Mount Shasta.  (I'm no Fraulein Maria but I really do live near several great big craggy mountains, complete with glaciers.  It's easy to forget they are more than just a nice view out almost any window in town.)

We were only one buddy short this year and filled up a nicely-appointed (two bathrooms; soft beds) vacation home in the unlikely town of Weed.  (There actually WAS a Mr. Weed who never learned that much later Northern California would become famous for something other than logging and tourists would snicker at his namesake town, poor old Weed.)

Not too surprisingly; we ate [incredible amounts of] heavenly food and drank wonderful coffee and later, plenty of wine, from the moment we got up until we fell into bed.  I am sorry to admit this but there was also some dancing and lots of singing, which might or might not have been connected to the wine.  You may not have guessed but one denominator common to all present (except those fortunate enough to have married one of us) is prior enrollment in some faction the school music department.   It's funny how easy it is to grab a spatula and dance around in a roomful of old classmates, but merely standing upright in front of a mall full of strangers causes me to briefly lose consciousness.

Lillian and I are trying to take walks in the evening, carrying hand weights,  and limit our ice cream intake which is working great for her, but I remain lumpy and slow.  We've done a few projects but I have plenty of items on my list--including landing a job, but am not making real progress on anything.  The specter of unlimited time doesn't help--I used to paint a whole room if I had two days off in a row.  Maybe all my furniture and cabinetry will get painted when I finally do find work and have to squeeze it into my calendar.

Another summer has come and gone, reminding me that nobody bought me a big bag of new underwear and shoes and a winter coat to signal the arrival of fall.  (The only thing about back-to-school season I miss, by the way.)  For a long time my kids have been giving me Apple bucks for Christmas and birthdays and I finally got my very own MacBook Pro.  You can't tell from reading this post but believe me, Apple is the cheese.  Yet another reason to never get up off the couch and if  Mr Mac would just pour me another cup of coffee, I never would.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This post is dedicated to my high school Advanced Biology teacher, Doug Gordon, who with wisdom and unlimited good humor taught me absolutely everything I ever learned about the wonderful world of science, some of which I still remember, and for which I will be eternally grateful.  Doug passed away a few weeks ago.  Thanks, Mr Gordon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jury duty

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

It's over. It was over five days ago but it's been too uncomfortable to think about, let alone write about.

Also--this is a long post.  You can get back to it.  I don't mind.

For three weeks we listened to testimony.  I know more about Medicare than I ever thought possible.  I also learned about Medicare fraud, and about conspiracy to commit fraud.  I was reminded that some people will do bad things, even though most people don't start out intending to do bad things but then something changes in their heads and they do bad things.  Being bad is a slippery slope.  Once you start, it can be hard to stop.  And legally, conspiracy is an incurable disease.  You can be rolling along, la-de-da, not conspiring for a long time.  And then you do something to aid and abet a conspirator.  Goodnight, Irene.  In for a penny, in for a pound.

Now that the trial is over I can say what happened.  First--yes, jury duty is hard.  You must listen to everybody and his uncle for days and days but not discuss the case nor look anything up nor form any opinions.  And then you and eleven other reasonable (you hope) citizens get a book of instructions, fifteen bankers boxes of files and exhibits, a white board and markers, a steno pad filled with (inadequate) notes and are locked in a room until you figure out if three physicians are guilty or not.

Second--jury duty is sad.  More about that later.

Here's the situation:   A handful of sneaky Armenians (nothing against Armenians, but that's what they were) had fake medical clinics in the LA area and decided to open up in Sacramento where nobody suspected them yet.  So they set up the first one, and it looked enough like a clinic to fool people, and started rounding up elderly Hmong and Laotian immigrants to be "patients".  Each one got a nice crisp Benjamin, charts were made, and test were done.  Expensive tests.  Medicare was billed.  Money -lots of money- poured in.

Of course, to make the whole machine hum, doctors or physicians' assistants were needed to "examine" the patients and order the tests.  And key to it all, doctors were needed to open bank accounts, sign off on the charts and provide their Medicare billing numbers.   Enter, one at a time, the three defendants.

First was Dr Popov  (yes, like the vodka) who was a Russian expatriate in serious financial trouble due, apparently, to unfortunate circumstances and weak planning.  It seemed like becoming the medical director of a new clinic would be a good way to get back on his pegs financially.  All he had to do was review and sign the charts. Indeed  it would have a been good way except of course, everything was fake, and if he didn't know that right away he surely realized very soon that he was dancing with the devil.

Next came Dr Prakash.  I can't help it if he looked like the worst stereotype of an elderly Indian neurologist, but he did.  We didn't get much information about his past except that he'd never been in trouble, and he didn't testify or have anyone testify in his defense, but there was irrefutable evidence that he, too, went along with the scheme.  He conspired to commit fraud, sealing his fate.  He lay down with dogs and got up with fleas.

The third defendant, Dr LeChabrier, had impressive European credentials but we never heard a single word from her so I'm still not sure if she was American or not.  All the charts from the clinic she was involved in went missing and she never testified nor had anyone testify for her.  We spent 75% of our time trying to determine at what point she understood that she was committing fraud, although we knew she was guilty of conspiracy (that even-one-day rule.)  It was almost impossible to agree which of three counts were fraudulent, but we needed at least one to make the conspiracy charge stick, so we ultimately elected to let the remaining two pass due to reasonable doubt.  I truly appreciate my wonderful, mindful fellow jurors who felt certain she was guilty but conceded to the convictions of those who were uncertain.  Like me.

We filed into the courtroom.  There were probably thirty people in the gallery, including some of the family members we had seen during the trial, there to hear the verdict.  It was tense and solemn.  One by one, the verdicts were read, and then we were polled individually, twelve counts in all.

We had been warned that the attorneys might be waiting outside the courtroom to question us.  The judge kindly invited us to tour his chambers so we could ask questions, and by the time we emerged, everyone had gone.  Everyone except Dr Popov's attorney.  And Mrs Popov.  She hurried over to four of us women--I was closest to her. She was as small as a ten year old girl with sad eyes and brows like little black thumbprints.  In a mournful voice with a Russian accent that gave away her Soviet childhood, she said,  "Please, could I just ask you why you thought he was guilty?  I was there for the closing arguments and I thought it explained why he was innocent.  Didn't you think so too?"

How could I tell her that it took us five minutes to agree that Dr Popov was unequivocally guilty?  (To be thoroughly fair, we looked up the evidence for each of the four counts against him.  The other defendants were much more difficult.) I could not say, your husband betrayed you.  He rolled you over, and your family, and old immigrants, and the government.  So I just said,  "I'm so very sorry.  There was just so much evidence against him."  Our eyes filled with tears as we looked at each other; perhaps she was seeing her whole life.  Two other jurors took my hands and hustled me towards the elevators.  I cried down  fourteen floors.  And then we walked out into the hot, bright afternoon, and my jury duty service was finished.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To tell the truth

Here's something I did not know.  That old courtroom symbol, the venerable gavel, has gone the way of the dodo bird.  Our judge, although very judicial  in his black robe, does not bang a gavel.  His Honor looks and sounds like James Earl Jones.  On Monday morning his deputy precedes him into the courtroom and says all rise and we all rise, and then she instructs us to be seated and we all sit.  Some legal maxims get tossed out and then off we go; but no gavel.  He has three computer screens and one or two electronic gadgets and an iPad in front of him and there must not be room for a gavel, or else it's so last century.  And you no longer have to solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. These days, the plain old truth will do.

We're in our third week of testimony and have perhaps three weeks to go.  The wheels of justice grind slowly here in the big tomato. The prosecution has called their last witness and now we finally get to hear from the defendants and their witnesses.  Some are more interesting than others, and though at this time it is not a federal crime to be tiresome, the jury can't help but think it ought to be.

It's not like television.  Well, parts of it are--both the prosecution and the defense look like central casting assembled them--but the case itself is rather dull.  Important, absolutely, but dull nonetheless. The other thing that's dull is my hotel room.  Today it rained and rather than explore the waterfront for a charming restaurant I waded over to Denny's next door, inspiring me to plan some provisions for my little hotel room fridge.  I also plan to remember to pack more than one pair of pants--I had to wear my jeans which is not forbidden but it IS federal court and I feel compelled to dress better than a trip to WinCo.  And speaking of Winco these last few weeks have been a little hard on my resolve to eat better, without much relief in sight.  I dream of chocolate to soothe my anxiety.  Oh, WinCo--you don't care what I wear, do you?

Any of you have jury stories to tell?

* * * * * * * * * * *

6-29-11 Breaking news:  Today, after several mysterious delays, His Honor explained that they had all agreed on a number of issues and that next Tuesday would be closing arguments and then jury instruction. We will then begin deliberating.  Although good news in the general sense, I personally am dismayed that I won't get any more information upon which to base my decisions.  I was really looking forward to having half the testimony come from the defense, rather than about ten percent. Two of the doctors have not spoken a single word--not even "I swear on my babies' heads that I am innocent of all charges".   Can't they come up with anything to make themselves look less guilty (Like, not sporting that criminally ugly black-and-white patterned leisure jacket--are you listening, Dr. P? )  That fact alone makes me feel much less charitable. I get the whole "reasonable doubt" rule--but if they were trying to send ME to federal prison you can bet I'd be arguing until they hit me with a hammer to shut me up.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

So help you God

What am I doing with my summer vacation?  I am a juror in a Federal Court case.  The big leagues.  How, you may understandably wonder, did I earn such a prestigious honor?  Easy: I registered to vote when I was eighteen.  If you also registered to vote, you too could receive a summons to serve in U.S. District Court.  For me, this means traveling to Sacramento three days a week for a few more weeks and then, when we begin deliberations, five days a week.  I hope we can come to a verdict quickly because I suspect that five days a week of arguing discussion with thirteen other grownups (I feel sorry for the two alternates; how exasperating would that be?) might be a little tedious.  Unless they agree with me; because I'm sure I will be right.  Then it will be a piece of cake. And speaking of cake the government reimburses me $160 a day for hotel and food, 51 cents a mile to drive both ways (330 miles round trip) and $40 a day salary for my stellar verdict-rendering skills (although that part is subtracted from my unemployment benefits which are now, coincidentally, being paid by the federal government because I've used up my state benefits.  Having never been unemployed this long, I was not aware of this wrinkle in the ledger sheet).   At any rate I can't say what the trial is about but when it ends, I will.

This is not actually my jury.  Mine has seven men and seven women who dress more casually than this group.

In other news--something I can talk about--I finally after months and months got my new teeth!  What do you think?  I know, right?  Now you can understand why I was so crabby about the expense.  When I got braces on the bottom teeth about six years ago (a relative pittance) I impatiently waited fifteen months to finally see the results, which were beautiful, and then the moment I walked out the orthodontist's door my teeth practically knocked each other out scrambling back into their familiar crooked positions.  He rigged a cable to the tongue side of my teeth to try to force them to stay where he put them, but it's a constant struggle to avoid anything crunchier than bananas.  I really had no choice--those teeth were determined to lie down on their sides like tragic dying animals--but the results were much less permanent than I had bargained for.  These new implants--the four front top teeth--are now an integral part of my skull and will last longer than my grandchildren will live.  If you are very wealthy I recommend getting all your teeth replaced with dental implants.  If you are a little kid with your fabulous original teeth I recommend never ever riding your bike downhill.  Trust me on that one.

And even more news:  Lillie has wrapped up her Chicago adventure and is home again and job-hunting.  I am ashamed that she has several prospective positions to choose from while I have none; but when the trial is over I'll put more effort into finding something.  We've been putting her room together and painting our toenails and having a great time. When I picked her up in Sacramento we went to IKEA and I bought this coffee table which is practically perfect.  I love IKEA.  We built this table (using instructions with no text, only line drawings) in about forty-five minutes.  After years of laboring for hours over Sauder's translated-from-pig-latin instructions and having the resulting bookshelf or TV cabinet still look wonky and home-made, IKEA  has ruined me forever.
Lottie the Carnivore has been busy.  Two large scrambling reptiles in one hour.  A week or so ago she captured two lizards which were each freed at least a hundred feet from the house, with the assumption that they would set up housekeeping further from Lottie's prowl zone.  It is difficult to determine if these are the same monsters who returned to their ancestral home or new creatures who have not learned (nor will ever learn) to avoid her.  All had had their tails amputated at some point and sported freshly sprouted new tails.  Our domestic catch-and-release program continues (even further afield).   Either way, ick.

Have a terrific week.

Hai! Git ur own lizerd dammot!#%$r

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If I should die before I wake

I don't mean to sound forlorn but I am tired of being sick.  Yesterday I rallied and felt game enough to paint a big oak bookshelf black (sanded/primed/painted, actually) and thought that surely today I'd wake up feeling good as new.  But instead I am quite tubercular with a side dish of bowling ball head.  When Lillian was in middle school she dragged around with actual pneumonia for months (another reminder not to leave me in charge of your children for more than a day or two) before I took her to be diagnosed.   Which qualifies me to know what pneumonia looks and sounds like. I'm not quite there yet.  (Which is probably what I told her.)

The convenient thing about not having a job right now is that I don't have to go to work sick, which is what I would have done because it's what everyone does, whether we admit it or not.  You might call in sick  for a day or two but then you surrender and drag your puny self in and try to appear well and not cough or sneeze on your unwilling colleagues, who wish you would stay home but come to work when they are sick too.  You know how exasperated you get when coworkers call in sick and you imagine them nursing a hangover or entertaining company?  They think that about you, too.  Unless you were like I was and only missed a few days in years and years of work.  She must really be sick, they would say.  Plus they knew I had a pretty dull social life and those other scenarios were unlikely.

So today I fiddled with my blog background and poked through the bloggers that MY bloggers like; even finding a few to add.  Who are YOUR favorites?  Kindly share; I've got nothing but time these days...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I totally get it

Its the one on the right

So, a little background.  Last week A and I went to Reno, where my sister lives.  All five siblings, my mom, and a few other relatives gathered for the annual ski n' fabulous food fiesta.  It was wonderful, but because I have to balance the bitter and the sweet, this morning I stepped out into what had been my garage but was now a bayou.  Water squished into my socks and I instantly determined that my day was going in a different direction than originally envisioned.  I saw an alligator.  My inclination was to take a shower right away because it was conceivable that there wouldn't be hot water for long.

But I really needed a plan.


Calling on my homeowner/McGyver heritage, I made a funnel out of a plastic bottle so the drooling water went into a bucket instead of soaking the plywood wall and the rug.  That bought me a little time.

I had to establish where the water was coming from.  Determine how fast it was coming.  Notify A who has more tools and fewer plumbing nightmares than I do. Go online and see what thinks the problem is and what to do about it.  Drag the sopping rug (a hand-me-down 5x7 that substitutes for a doormat, which is only practical when dry) out onto the sunny driveway to drain.  Make and consume coffee.  Wonder if I have a real cold or just rampant allergies like everyone else in this county.  Worry about what to do if it IS my ten-year-old water heater. Could I afford a new one? What about tankless?  Weigh my fears about exploding water heaters that rocket up through two floors and a roof, which appeared on Mythbusters as recently as LAST NIGHT.  Remember (from journalism class in eighth grade)  to ask Where, Who, What, Worry,  Wonder, and Weigh.)  I forgot When! It might have started while I was in Reno and been dribbling away quietly for days...But I think it must have only been a night or two.  Just long enough to swamp a big carpet.  cheerfully explained what to do, emphasizing how simple the solutions were.  It also said that sometimes a water heater could explode or scald me or render me penniless, but not always. So A and I gently drained and flushed the tank.  A tapped on some things with a hammer. We carefully loosened and tightened and squirted WD40 and made sure everything looked like the diagram only better.  And now it's out there, full and warm and dry.

Mocking me.

Perhaps because of the cold/allergies, I should feel triumphant, but I'm discouraged.  My worldly goods are crumbling; wearing out; wearing through.  My body gets lumpier and  slower.   I try to eat eleven hundred calories a day and I'm hungry from dawn until  Jay Leno.  I don't have a job and can't remember how to do anything anyway.

I have this. Except instead of being itchy, I'm wheezy.  

But tomorrow, as Scarlett insisted, is another day.  I have projects enough to last through infinity.  Someday, eating like a refugee will chisel off ten pounds gained from menopause topped with eight years of irregular meals and perpetual weariness.  Good things are coming, even if I don't know when.
Don't look for me.  I don't ski.  I eat.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I can see clearly now

Today I got a box from Amazon (the North Pole for grownups except they send things all year long; all you need is a list.  And a charge card; unlike Santa who only requires a chimney and blind faith.) Amazon sent me a five pound tub of food grade citric acid powder.  In the past, Amazon has sent me diapers, peanut butter, silver earrings, Bare Minerals, books, and more.  They always know what I want, and they send it to me.

You may not think that you need citric acid powder but you are wrong.  This is why.  Region by region, dishwashing detergent has been begun appearing on store shelves without phosphates.  I'm sure those demon phosphates are just terrible; Google will be happy to explain it to you.  But phosphates do one thing very very well.  They make your dishes and glasses and silverware sparkle.  Without phosphates, everything comes out of the dishwasher looking like you threw a cup of milk in the rinse cycle.  If you have hard water, make that two cups of milk.  Cloudy dishes are coming to your neighborhood soon.  It's not easy being green.

Then I learned about a product called LemiShine which is citric acid in an adorable little canister with a price like a Starbucks grande.  But Amazon, who has EVERYTHING, has plain citric acid powder in a big white tub for cheap.  I'll have sparkling glassware until I die of old age.  And I can make homemade fizzy bath bombs with epsom salts.  Oops--now everyone knows what they're getting for Christmas.