Monday, July 30, 2007

Friday Night's Massacre

I itch. Badly. I have the most giant bug-bite on my back that I've ever seen.

The story is odd. In fact, when I think about it, I wonder if I've lost my marbles. I'll probably tell my therapist about it at our regular appointment this Wednesday, and he'll assure me that I'm completely sane. Like his opinion's to be trusted?

It started late last Friday afternoon. The boys were home, still fresh from their surgeries. They were only 24 hours post op, so there was no way they were going for a walk.. Sunny might run into a small dog and feel that he had to fight his leash-and-collar to try and eat it, bursting his stitches. They were restless and in some slight pain. They kept asking to go in and out and in and out our front door onto the patio. In desperation, despite the heat, I opened the front door and screen, giving them free access as they pleased.

Afternoon turned into evening turned into night. Busy working on my jewelry, I didn't notice, and the door was still open against the dark. My fan was running in the corner of the living room; a continuous wind that assured air circulation through the condo.

It must have been around 8:30 pm when I walked into my living room, well past sunset. There, it was a creepy scene right out of a horror movie. At least a dozen Japanese Water Beetles (think 2" long cockroach) were entering my condo through the front door. At least another 10 to 15 making their way across my living room towards the fan. And another dozen of them were gathered directly in front of it, facing it and the breeze.

I'm not one for girly panic. Quietly making my way into the kitchen, I grabbed my can of Raid Earth Options Roach Killer. Thus armed, I made my way to the fan and sprayed. It was cockroach pandemonium, but most of the spray disbursed into the wind. Note to self: Turn off the fan before spraying an aerosol can.

Stopping only to turn it off, I ran in pursuit. Water Beetles were covered in spray, dropping in death throes. I went to the front door and sprayed all of those just entering, stomping on a couple too. Then shutting the door, I walked around, killing all the others that were to be found. And then it happened. With a sputter hardly worth sputtering, the can of bug spray ran out!

The vast majority of the bugs had been sprayed; it was just a matter of time before they died. They were all disappearing down cracks and crevices. I figured I was ok.

Later that night I went to bed. And woke up in the morning with an odd sensation on my back. Under the stealth of night and darkness, some kind of bug had bitten me. You probably don't realize what an oddity this was. I don't get bitten by bugs. Ever. Not even mosquitoes. My theory is that I take a lot of drugs that alter my body chemistry and they are either not attracted to me in the first place, or if they are, I don't taste good. So the fact that I was bit on this night, of all nights, has left me with a cold pit in my stomach.

Could it be that the Japanese Water Beetles bit me? If yes, was it coincidence, or do they have enough intelligence to be angry that I killed so many of them all at once? And exact retribution?

I don't know. I haven't been bit since Friday night, but it's really hard now, to turn off the lights and go to sleep.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

So Long, Old Friend

I've been despairing that I would never be rid of my old refrigerator. It worked; I just couldn't see throwing it out! But I posted again on Freecycle, and with no response. I even built a web link just in honor of the refrigerator. Giving it a name and imploring that it needed a new home. No response.
I made a post to my spinning guild's yahoo list. Nobody wanted it, but Kathy H. suggested that I post it on Craig's List. Having never used it before, I was a bit suspicious, but what the hell? I made a post. Within 5 minutes, I had five offers to take it.
"Steve" just picked it up. He has a business having something to do with Bee Pollen; he will use it for that business. He was a very nice man and he arrived very promptly. Thank you Steve!
I locked the dogs behind the puppy barrier for his visit. They were not in favor of it but although Cosmos was quite vocal about his disapproval, Sunny felt it worth only one bark. And a half-hearted bark at that. He's clearly hurting a little today, but that's his own fault for refusing to take the pain pill I tried to give him this morning.

So now, it's on to the next step. Contracting a handyman to increase the size of the hole and getting the new refrigerator settled into it's space.
It's weird. I know it's only a machine and I certainly didn't want the small refrigerator here any more. But at the same time, I feel a little sad about it's leaving. That was the refrigerator of my first apartment. With it left the last material item of substance from my youth. I certainly have no problem wtih being 50 and wouldn't go back, even if I could retain the knowledge that I have now. But I feel like an era has officially passed.
* * * * *

Eric and I went to an Indian Pow Wow today. Held at the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, men and women of native heritage came in costume to sell their wares and demonstrate dance.
Native Americans who are obese should not dress as naked as the Indian in the Village People.
No, I did not take a photograph to share. But the picture is indelibly burned into my mind.
Village People - Y.M.C.A.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The First Bark, and Other Topics of Interest...

Today was my Spinning Guild Meeting. The Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild (GLASG) meets the fourth Saturday of each month in Saint Andrews Lutheran Church in West Los Angeles, a gorgeous facility with a lovely staff. In fact, Joshua, their new pastor, came to visit and greet us today and ended up spinning too!
I love our members... they are creative and passionate, and it's all about what we do and create, not about appearances. I loved them when I weighed 358 pounds because they didn't care. I love them just as much now, or maybe even more because when other circles of friends had a hard time with my changing body and attitude, the stellar people at GLASG did not miss a beat. Those that liked me then still like me. (Well, for the most part anyway.) Those who didn't still don't. Because their like and dislike was not on a superficial level.

I got to use the "Fart Machine 2" while I was there. I used it on a woman who used to be my "friend," but I don't suppose she thinks much of me anymore. (Her opinion hardened well before the Fart Machine.) She did not respond in a positive manner.
I used it on Dave Larson, but he was busy demonstrating how to use his new gigantic drum carder, electrified, so he didn't even notice.

I do have hope though, as Ruth Schooley was taping him when I pushed the button so she could post the demo on YouTube. Yes, she knew what I was up to and she assured me that her camera had sound!

I also used it on Randall Hayden. Randall is truly a rennisance man; I don't think there's any subject that he doesn't know about. And his knowledge isn't bluff and bluster, either. He really does know. Randall sells wonderful Navajo Looms and teaches weaving.
Anyway, he was sitting right next to me, and the result of the sound was entirely satisfying. He knew, of course, what it was and who was pushing the button. I set it off just after our "formal" meeting started. He smiled at me, giggled a little, and kept on spinning. I adore Randall.

* * * * *

The refrigerator saga continues, although not at the same intensity as when I had only 1 1/2 refrigerators. The new one works beautifully since repair, and I've moved all of my food over. My condo has lost that refrigerator that's not working smell.

I've even almost completely scrubbed out the old one; it will be ready for a new home shortly. But what of a new home?????

When I listed it as available on Freecycle, I only received one response, and then I had to delay the gift because the new 'fridge didn't work. On Thursday evening, when it was clear that the new one was now fine, I contacted K- and offered it to him again. He said he would get back to me on Friday, but didn't. So I suppose he doesn't want it and I will proceed accordingly. But how to proceed?
I am thinking about posting signs in my condo complex, but it's unlikely that anyone will respond in a positive manner. After all, grown ups live here. And whether they own or rent their unit, they are likely somewhat affluent. This place, even as a starter complex, isn't cheap.
I could also go up and down my street, sneak into different apartment complexs, and post signs there. After all, there are quite a few buildings here that have singles and junior one bedrooms. That is exactly what this size refrigerator is meant for. But I want this taken care of quickly.
I may call the Jewish Charity out here that sets up living accomodations for new Russian Immigrants. I know that Goodwill will not take it, but maybe they will.
Or I can just have it put in the alley behind my complex with a sign that says "I work, take me."
I don't know... I'm not going to miss the refrigerator, but it's served me well, still works, and is now clean. I hate to just trash it. Not when I know for sure that somebody out there could use it.
* * * * * The dogs are recovering from their surgeries.
Cosmos had a traumatic evening when he realized that our refrigerator - the old one - didn't have any food in it. I was scrubbing it out when he noticed; his reaction was to stick his head completely inside, then turn to me with a look of disbelief on his face. When I finally closed the door, he ran in little aggitated circles in front. Where did our food go? This was just unacceptable!

I tried to get him to look inside of the new box. He wouldn't go near it. Sunny, on the other hand, was willing to view it. But only from a distance of about two feet.

He finally took the couple of steps forward necessary to give it a sniff. And then quickly backed off again. This was not the way that Sunny was used to, either.
Then it happened. Some kids walked by, and he was so focused on the refrigerator that he forgot himself. Sunny barked. Several times! I think it may not have hurt him as much as before, because he almost danced with glee after the final issue. Of course, he did not try to jump up and look from where the noise came. But from his point of view, the circumstances of life have vastly improved.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Yesterday, I took both of my dogs to the vet for surgery.

I'm happy to report that they are both home and doing well. Sunny is oddly silent; his surgery was on his tummy and I suspect it may hurt to bark. They're both still on pain medication so they are doing nothing but sleeping. "What's the difference between that and normal?" you ask. Not a whole lot.

After dropping of the dogs, I returned back to my condo.

It was odd to be there by myself, but it wasn't long after I arrived that my refrigerator repair man "Andy" turned up. He repaired my new 'fridge post haste and I'm happy to report that it's working beautifully. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a very expensive machine. Worth close to $2000. Again, I wonder at the old owners who had put it on the curbside for trash pick-up. I guess money doesn't mean much to some people...

After my boys came home and I settled them in, I worked on my jewelry until it was time to go to exercise class.

I completed the piece that I started yesterday just a little while ago, then took a shower in anticipation of Eric coming for dinner around 5. But imagine my horror when I realized that I did not have one clean bra on hand. So I quickly hand washed a couple of them, hung one in the bathtub to drip dry, and then used my trusty speed-dry method to make the other almost immediately wearable.

The fan. It works every time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I just re-read my posts for the last week and realize that I have not updated you on the refrigerator fiasco. When I last posted on this saga, I had two refrigerators. I'm sad to say that I still do. Or, ahem, should I say one and a half.

After the delivery men left, I was very excited. I called the tile people to have my counter fixed. And I plugged in the new refrigerator. It hummed almost immediately, a sound that was my song. Or so I thought. The motor has run continuously since that day, but it hasn't cooled down much. Uh oh. So now what?

I talked to Eric about it. The "owners" had insisted it ran. They were actually planning to leave it for him. It's fairly new, and it's an Amana. A good name in the appliance business. So we both figured that it would be well worth my while to at least get an estimate to repair it. I checked the Amana web site and found a company locally who I contacted on Monday. They promised to call me back "between 3:30 and 5 pm" to set up an appointment. $59 estimate fee which they would apply to the repair. Did they call? No.

I checked the internet; there are quite a few suggestions on how to fix a refrigerator by yourself; most of them look fairly easy, but I'm not strong enough to remove the screws from the part that I think needs to be cleaned out, so that was a no-go.

Well, since I have another refrigerator, I wasn't in a rush. But by this morning, my condo was starting to take on the slightly pungent scent of turned off refrigerator. So I called "my" repair company back. The woman - the same one that I talked to before - actually got very annoyed with me. "I was going to call you soon." she said. But refused to set up an appointment even then. "I need to know what other appointments I have tomorrow and I'll call you between 3:30 and 5 pm."

Well, I've heard that tune before, so after I hung up with her, I called another company who will be here tomorrow morning between 10 am and noon. They made an appointment on the spot. And the cost? $59 estimate fee which they will apply to the repair.

In the meantime, I have not heard back from the tile guy. That's ok by me; if the refrigerator cannot be repaired for a reasonable amount of money, I will cut my losses and keep the old one. How I will get a refrigerator that big to the trash is beyond me, but I'm hoping it won't come to that. But until I know, I'd rather not have the expense of reworking a tile kitchen counter. I've learned my lesson from the refrigerator repair people, though. I will call somebody else when I know; somebody who is interested in actually doing the tile work and will call back.

I also heard from my ex air conditioning company - Air King, aka On Time Heating & Air yesterday. I had a long and happy relationship with them until last fall. Between me and my parents, we had availed ourselves of their services for some 30 years. They had replaced my parents unit; they replaced mine 18 months ago. I had had a service contract with them for years and years. But they blew it.

It wasn't because they just lost my dog-walking keys, which actually was pretty traumatic because I had a key on that chain that operates the back gate into the alley and it's the only key for that lock I had. It wasn't even that the service guy gave me a long song-and-dance about a $4000 upgrade that I "definetely needed" to do to my conditioner with no explaination, and then when I asked him to send literature, he never followed through. But he not only lost my keys and failed to follow through about the literature, but he also lied to me about it. Then, when I called their supervisor over and over and over again, but got no return call, I canceled the contract which I had just renewed for about $200.

Anyway, "Sharon" from Air King/On Time called yesterday (she left a message on my phone machine last week too), letting me know that it was time for me to have my air unit serviced and could they renew my contract and send somebody out? "Don't you have records?" I asked. "I cancelled my contract with you last fall..." and I explained the situation to her. She asked me if there was anything they could do to get my business back; I replied "I don't know but try me," and she said that she would have her Customer Service Manager call me back in 15 minutes. Of course, I never heard from anyone.

So I am here, a little bit frustrated although I am still hopeful that things will work out. I actually have the name of another air conditioning company that received glowing reports from my neighbors "The Sky" and his wife, Josie. Since Air King was so kind as to let me know that it's time I had my unit serviced and then not call me back - again, I'll give the other people a call.

Tomorrow, I'll know what's up with my "new" refrigerator. And will be able to move forward from there. It's also the big day for my dogs. They, too, will be getting "repaired"."
And between the activity of having both of my dogs operated on, getting my refrigerator repaired, delivering a consigned piece of jewelry to the woman who ordered - and hopefully will like - it,

and attending exercise class at Slimmons, I will start another necklace. Because I'm about two necklaces short of making my first contact with a designated retailer. (I won't name names but they're located in the heart of the Beverly Hills Triangle. And yes, I know exactly what each piece-to-be-made will look like.) As much as I feel like the proverbial hamster on a wheel, i.e. the more I run, the more nowhere I get, the truth is that I'm making progress. I'm sure of it.

* * * * *

Ian had quite a bit to say about his San Diego weekend tonight. It was his first trip away from home. We talked for almost 45 minutes; no small feat for a 7-year-old boy. Conversation does not come easily for him.
I was curious about what he thought of "Motel 6." He had taken the Internet video tour before going and was really excited about it having 19" TV. He didn't quite understand what 19" meant. "Maybe it's a Plasma!" he had suggested to me during that dialogue.

I didn't have to wait more than 15 seconds into tonight's conversation to find out.

"Aunt Laura, do you know what they have at Motel 6?" he asked.

"What?" I answered, fully expecting to hear about the television.

"A view of the 5 freeway. How cool is that?!?!?!"

Ian is not hard to please.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dog Day Afternoon

It's a safe bet that 100% of the dogs surveyed really enjoy car rides. Never mind that the end destination, this afternoon, was the vet.

Sunny beams at the idea of going out.

Cosmos can't even stand still!

Both dogs are getting old, but it was a surprise to see Sunny have a little trouble jumping into the back seat of our car. But don't worry; nothing was going to keep him out.

Cosmos required physical help, but he has always struggled more, given his broken hip that never quite healed. He does enjoy a car ride, though, and settles down into his place.

Surprisingly, initially, Sunny settled quietly in the back. That didn't last long, though.

Cosmos really enjoys that hole in our dashboard that blows cold air on him.

Sunny, back to his old self, takes up his position in the car. That would be with his front feet on the console between the front seats. It is mandatory, according to Sunny, to obscure about 90% of the drivers vision during the trip.

Cosmos takes in the view. The building in the far background was where my father's medical practice was.

Cosmos is very nervous about the examination.

So is Sunny, and for good reason. Both dogs require some small surgery; both dogs will be getting this Thursday.

I was quite upset by the result of the visit. No, not about the surgeries - which are very small, but about the fact that they could not pull urine from either of my uncooperative dogs. They sent me home with specimen cups, and actually expect me to collect it. Yeah, right. Do they not know which dogs they are dealing with?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Motivate Me

Richard Simmons hosts a weekly chat every Monday in his internet Clubhouse, I always attend; even when the subject is not pertinent to my needs. When I am bored, I may sit at the computer for a while, get up and do other things, and then come back. But I know that this chat helps keep me focused on the big picture, no matter what the subject. Tonight, however, was not one of those evenings where I got distracted.

The subject? "What's On Your Mind." And we talked about, amongst other things, motivation.

So I am the queen of motivation, right? So you would think from my weight loss story. But truth be told, I cannot think of a single moment during my journey where I felt motivated. At least in the classical sense. I never had that rah-rah-I'm-gonna-do-it feeling. In fact, I have always been aware of the futility at even attempting to lose weight. I rarely made an effort, and when I did, it was knowing full-well in advance that I was going to fail. Setting myself up to fail. By eating too few calories within a group of unrealistically restricted foods. By, when I ate contraband, figuring that one breach of ettiquete made the entire process a failure, a built-in excuse to abandon the effort..

So what made this time so different? How do I define motivation? I picked the stream of thought up with Eric over Ramen dinner.

We agreed that it certainly isn't a charged up feeling. That can't be sustained for long. Certainly not long enough to lose the 200+ pounds that I've shed. That feeling could be better defined as enthusiasm. I'm still mulling it over, but I think that motivation might be more of a quiet desperation that forces a life change; I knew that I couldn't live much longer going down the path that I was traveling on. Figuratively. Literally. And in between too.

When I found Richard in 2003, it was quite by mistake. I certainly didn't intend to associate myself with him. In fact, I kept it quite the secret for over a year. At the time, I thought I was just embarassed amongst my peers to be associated with the sparkly tanks and the persona. But now I realize that it wasn't that at all. It was more like I knew, once again, that the attempt to exercise and even worse, lose weight, was going to be a failure. I didn't want them to know because I didn't want them to know when I wasn't capable.
Now, I'm very proud to know him. And to know that he knows me. Because there is a depth to the man that does not come across on television. And he, along with my therapist, saved my life.

Later this evening, after Eric went home, I thought some more about the whole topic. And re-entered the chat room where I found a number of Richard's webbies; none of who have reached goal yet. The conversation was rather heavy because I spurred it in that direction. Re-hashed some of what I had been considering. And the difference in me between now and 200 pounds ago. It comes down to the following:

1. I used to be unwilling to acknowledge my faults and issues because I was convinced that mine were worse than anyone elses around me. Now I don't magnify my percieved faults; understanding that I am neither better or worse than the next person. I'm just different.

2. Because I was so afraid of being found out for my faults, I would isolate myself. I had no friends, not because they were not there, but because I would not acknowledge them.

3. I equated accepting help and support with being unacceptably weak. I could not understand that nobody does anything in a vaccum. That everyone helps and is helped by everyone else and that's how we all get by.

4. I was angry because I was the different one. I didn't understand that being different, rather than a flaw, was something that I should embrace.

A couple of months ago, I attended Richard's "Lighten Up" radio show on Sirius. The second hour was about people who dealt with medical issues. I lost it. Fell apart because the women who called in seemed so happy to have medical issues; happy not to be helping themselves; happy to almost brag about all the medications they take. This was only a few weeks since I had been taken out of Slimmons by paramedic and had not been released to exercise. (Technically, I'm still not released, but it's a don't-ask-don't-tell scenario.) "Why was I crying?" Richard asked. "Because these people were squandering the opportunity they had in being physically able to affect change in their lives while I was truly a victim - at the time - of my body." It was so hard to listen to.

After the show, a couple of the other gals there who are struggling with their weight, came to talk to me. Not as concerned about how I was doing - although that's what they professed and I truly believe that they believed it - as how I must see them. And I realized, during that conversation, that I was the lucky one amongst us, even given my struggles. Because I hadn't even given them a thought while I was talking to Richard... had not looked down upon them or used them as a comparison. And I realized, I think for the final time, how far I had come. That the comments that others might make, even when they seem directed right at me, really aren't. Everything everyone says or does ultimately is really about themselves, isn't it?

The way we relate to others is through sunglasses. Some people wear rose colored glasses. And they are very popular. Others were dark gray ones. And are sad and depressed and can't fully take advantage of opportunities that come their way. I am somewhere in between the two. And working on it. Hard.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Bling Report

Today was focused mostly on "building the business." I went to a bead show in the Santa Monica Civic Center. There, I made some contacts and maybe even a friend. I also found the following:

An interesting Asian Dealer who carried some very nice beads.

An extremely nice lady who not only had a plate of Hershey's Kisses at her booth, but had lost 150 pounds, and sold me some pretty irridescent buttons which I will incorporate into my jewelry.

Most important of all, I made contact with a Jewelry Display Vendor who sold me a couple of cases in which to carry and display my jewelry when visiting retailers.

Eric, Gabby, & Miles were on this trip with me. After we shopped, we all went to Buca de Beppo restaurant. Not low calorie fare, but they have a table physically located in the middle of the kitchen that we requested and got to sit at. It was really fun!
We also made a stop at Home Depot on the way home in search of an automatic door closer that will work on a sliding glass door. We did not find it, but it seems like it should exist. If anyone knows where one can be obtained, I'd appreciate it if you'd Contact Me with that information.
When I got home, I partially undid (made a big mistake which had to be fixed), and then completed a bracelet. "Irridescent Silver."

I now have almost everything I need to go out and sell my product. The only thing I am missing is a backbone. Has anyone got one to spare?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Chillin' Out

Well, sort of...

The best laid plans can go awry. And this refrigerator scheme of mine was not as well thought out as most. But let me tell you right here and now that I really believe that everything's going to be ok. EGBOK, as they used to say many years ago on Ken & Bob at KABC Talk Radio. I really have a feeling that it will be fine in the end.

We left this saga yesterday as I was agonizing about whether the new refrigerator would fit in it's slot or not. I was also worried about the moving company I'd contracted; "Low Cost Movers" from the Tarzana Pennysaver. They were wonderful. They called me during the middle of exercise class; I whipped out my "Bra Phone" to talk to them. (Yes, when I don't have pockets, I put my cell phone in my bra. It's big enough for me, a cell phone, and a picnic for a family of four.) They were running right on time and would see me at 1:15 this afternoon.

Exactly at 1:15, they called. They were in front of my complex, the refrigerator already removed from their truck. I let them in; they found my unit without a hassle. But then when they tried to get the 'fridge through my patio gate, the first inkling of what was about to happen occured. It wouldn't fit through! They quickly solved that dilema, though, by simply popping off the handles.

I had locked my boys behind the puppy barrier. Let's just say that they were not happy. It's really offensive to dogs to have strange men walking into their home with a large white box while locked up, unable to defend their territory and/or generally be a nuisance. They survived, but they were not happy.
We moved my small refrigerator to it's temporary home in the living room.

They took the new one off of it's trolley and tried to slide it into place. Oy! No go. We were only about 1/2 inch shy and they thought if I allowed them to take the moulding off of the floor, it would probably make it, so I allowed them to. Oy! No go.

We discussed them taking the tile overhang off of my kitchen counter, but I didn't like the way they were talking about going about it; basically rough-sawing it and leaving it like that. "Nobody will see." they advised me. Oy! No go. I own this place and am not going to destroy it like that.

Did I mention that they accidentally knocked off a couple of tiles from the counter during this process? Oy!

So I paid them - they did an exemplary job moving me - and I am left seething in refrigerators!

I called a tile company... "No job to small" was their motto. They also advertised that they were inexpensive. Yes, they will be happy to help, but not today. Obviously. But they promised to call me on Monday Evening and let me know when they could come around. "This happens more often than you would believe," they confided in me. Yeah, probably true.

So now I have an excess of refrigeration in my unit. I figure that I will be properly installed sometime next week, so I went ahead and started cleaning out the unit.

It's not really all that bad, but there's something about cleaning up somebody else's grime that's disgusting. Just that I don't know who they were and why they were so stupid as to give up a beautiful refrigerator. There's egg gunk stuck onto the door... that's proving a little harder to deal with than the rest.

And that's why I am posting so early in the day. I needed a break! So at least my standard moan about not having enough refrigerator space is quelled for the moment. I have an excess!


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