Thursday, August 30, 2007

Just a Fast Check-In

Just a fast Thank You to those who have e-mailed me. I'm fine.

Last Tuesday was the day that I take one of my meds... I am suffering some side effects, but nothing to worry about. I'll be back and posting in no time flat.

Monday, August 27, 2007

"Making" Progress

My Chive Plant is finally starting to bloom.

As the Tibetian Bells that I finally fixed (after being broken for four years) ring above.

I am finally back on track with my diet (+6 pounds; 3 of which are probably obstruction) and invented a new recipe. Pound chicken breasts flat, brush with oil, season with salt and pepper.

Put on George Foreman Grill. Top with Tomato Slices, Onion, Basil, Parsley, & another Chicken Tenderloin.

Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese on top, and grill.

I wish I had been smart enough to remember to take a picture of the finished product, but alas, I was hungry! I'm going to make this again on Wednesday for Eric; hopefully I'll remember to get a shot then.

Finished a set of jewelry...

And got another started.

And now I'm going to bed early so I can get an early start tomorrow. Good night!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Counting Dogs

I discovered that Sunny could count a number of years ago. He was very insecure about his position in our home long after I thought he was settled in and comfortable. I'd dealt with all sorts of rescue dogs in the past, but Sunny was the first one who's affect was aggressive when he was frightened. Everyone, to the dog, before him would cower. So I assumed that Sunny just had a nasty streak and it took me years and years to figure it out. Once I understood him, he became the most delightful and accommodating and gentle boy. Except when we are on walks when, of course, he's always on the lookout for small dog appetizers. But I digress.

We have a nightly ritual of both boys receiving dog biscuits. Cosmos is incorrigible when it comes to food, so he always goes first. I generally give him more than one at a time because he is such a pain once he starts eating. If I give him two - or three - biscuits at a time, he waits longer before bugging me again.
The night I realized Sunny knew numbers was over dog biscuits. We were all at the pantry. I got three medium biscuits out for Cozie. I put them in a small pile and handed them over. His mouth, as usual, opened almost as wide as a hippo's, and clap!, down over the food it hailed, awkward, in danger of piercing my fingers. Then he was off at a dead run to his spot to eat. In the studio in front of the spinning wheel. And as he ran by Sunny, Sunny gave him an intense and calculating look, to which I paid no heed.

Now it was Sunny's turn. Back into the pantry, but instead of giving him the three biscuits that I fed to Cozie, I pulled two. After all, the kind that the Sun-Sun likes are much bigger, and he was getting more food over all. Sunny accepted them, but instead of going into the bedroom to devour his goodies, he stood there looking at me, a very hurt expression on his face.

I told him to go on and eat, figuring that it was insecurity holding him there, but he didn't budge. I swear that if dog's eyes could tear up, a single drop would have run down his face. And then it hit me, came to me whole... I bet he knew that he received fewer biscuits than Cosmos!

I went back into the pantry, pulled one more small biscuit for him, removed the pile-of-two from his mouth, and gave him back three. He looked so happy! He ran with his treats to his place to eat them, and I thought "Oh my God! He knew. He knew that Cosmos got three and he only had two. He knew."

I was startled at the realization; I had no idea that dogs had a concept of numbers. But Sunny is an exceptionally bright boy, so I figured that it was just him. Laughingly guessed that he could count up to at least four because that's how many legs he had (maybe five if you counted his tail), and left it at that. That is, until the past few days.

Cosmos is really showing his age. He is extremely arthritic in all of his joints now, and has a hard time jumping into our bed. When he wants to get up, he will stand in front of it and cry pitifully until I hear him and react in the appropriate manner. That is, I come to help him in.

He is quite the chunky boy, and hurting as much as he does, I can't just lift him in. Instead, we have a system. I take my position by the mattress facing the head of the bed. Cosmos comes and stands in front of me. I help him to put his front paws up; he's now standing on his hind legs. I count one-two-three, and scoop up his rear end onto the bed. And he walks in his doggie circles and digs his doggie nest, and quickly quiets down; settling into his canine slumber.

It occurred to me that it should be harder for me to help him into bed than it has been, as of late. That although it was difficult to get him into position, the scooping and lifting of the behind seemed to be effortless. And I wondered if he was somehow flexing his back and helping me help him in. So I watched closely and didn't see anything obvious.

It still seemed too easy, though, and I thought about it a little more. Could it be that Sunny wasn't the only dog who could count?

I used to think that Cosmos was the 2nd dumbest dog I ever had. (He was only outdone by Achilles; the sweetest thing but so dumb that he couldn't figure out that his big body wouldn't fit in where my Tibetan Terrier would sleep... he'd try and then stand there and cry, and then try again and stand there and cry again...) But as I've seen him develop wonderful eccentricity over the years, I also realized that I had been wrong. He was and is very bright and was just uneducated when he came to live with me. So did I have two counting canines on my hands?

I put that theory to the test this evening. Cosmos was crying for me to help him into bed. I stood by the side, facing the head. Front legs on the mattress... one-two-three! But instead of scooping him up as he expected, I waited. And saw him take tiny hops up and down on his hind quarters. Yes, he knew the significance of three!
I've known, like forever, that dogs were much smarter than the general population of humans give them credit for. Emotional, feeling beings, they can also boast of being bilingual. Most of us cannot say the same.
Their attitude is different than ours. All they really desperately want is to please. Because of that, we dismiss them as lesser beings. But who are we to discount the feelings and intellect and understanding of other species? Maybe we're the dumb ones because we don't give them enough credit.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pod Invasion

I really enjoy my spice garden. I've also looked at gardens of friends who grow their own vegetables, contemplating how I could make it happen in my own small patch of dirt. Given the size of my "yard" sans patio is only about 6 x 8 feet, it's unlikely that I could get much out of it. Especially since the dogs are there on a very regular basis. A Container garden, on the other hand, is something that is do-able.

At the beginning of summer, I visited my friend Elena, who was recovering from some surgery. She gave me a tour of the various plants that were growing in her back yard. Spices, tomatoes, corn, lettuce. Lettuce?
It was beautiful. Mixed varieties that she had grown from seed. She said the seed was from an internet company called "Seeds of Change." When I queried if it could be grown in containers, she said that P- did it; it was ornamental and functional at the same time. And the seed of an idea was planted in my brain.

After exercise class today, I decided to run over to Bristol Farms to pick up some more "Orange-Chili-Garlic Sauce." And the proverbial seed sprouted. There, right in the front of the store, were packets of seeds for $1.99. And what was right up front-and-center? Mixed lettuce, of course! I bought one, and have since perused the instructions. It seems that I have purchased enough lettuce for a family of six. But the good news is that you're supposed to plant it either in the early spring or late summer. I have plenty of time to put this plan into action. It will be a grand experiment.

Of course, if I want to experiment with something on a scientific level, I only have to go as far as my Chives. Planted in an old watering can a couple of years ago, it was right out of a 2" pot from West Valley Nursery. (The best nursery in town!) It's done very well at times; at other moments like when I forget to water it or when I over water it, not so well. But I was surprised and pleased when it sent a shoot off a few weeks ago with a pod on the end. "It's about to bloom." I happily confided in Eric. "It blooms purple flowers. I understand that when a spice plant flowers, the flavor decreases, but I like the idea of the flowers, so I'm not going to do anything about it." (Note to self: I really need to look up chive flowers and see if they can be eaten before putting one in my omelette.)

Since that day, the plant has sent off numerous pods. They are growing taller and taller, the highest now approaching 18". But not a one of them has bloomed.

This has me a little concerned. Do I have a Chive Plant or do I have an alien invasion? Neither of the dogs, not even Cosmos, seem concerned about it. Does that mean that there's no reason for fear, or does they're just mean that they're dumb? Or uninterested in vegetables? Cosmos, during a diatribe in one of his e-mails to his good friend B-, commented that vegetables do not exist. Is that true of spices too? Because if it is, I shouldn't be relying on the boys to protect me.

And what of my other spices? They have all doubled in size in the past week since Ian and I transplanted them. Are they about to shoot off pods too? Should I be worried?

Finally, do spices and lettuce intermix other than in my salad bowl? Should I be afraid if they do? I don't know. But one thing that I do know is that I really like salads. And fresh lettuce right from my patio seems like a great idea. If it is from outer space and makes me glow in the dark, then I can save on the electric bill.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cut it out, Cosmos!

One of the most amazing things about my dog's prolific use of the computer is the fact that I don't have a clue what he is thinking before it gets typed. Last week, I thought Cosmos would disapprove of his friend M-'s wiggle dance at Slimmons. Instead, he wholly endorsed her.

This week she led the class again, to this comment by my boy:

Dear M-:

I heard that tonight at Slimmons, instead of wiggling for joy, you were jumping up and down. That can only mean one thing.

Somebody was offering you dog biscuits.
Your salivating friend,


I should have known that he'd go there. After all, to Cozie, the entire world revolves around food. But until he wrote the e-mail, I couldn't have guessed.

Then was his very first post on the Richard Simmons Bulletin Boards, in response to B- getting a good report from the veterinarian:

Dear B-:

This is the first time I have ever posted directly into this forum. I usually send e-mails to people that I either like because they feed (send) me dog biscuits, or to people that I disapprove of. Sometimes the same people fall into both categories.

I understand that your Mom and your family made you socialize with the Awful Medicine Person today. I don't like those people; they usually make cracks about my weight like "It wouldn't hurt him to miss a meal." and the like. What do they know? Yes it WOULD hurt me to miss a meal. It even hurts to miss a biscuit. 

I heard, though, that your Awful Medicine Person says that you are feeling fine. That you may be slowing down because of some age, but that she did not have to do anything horrible like give you a shot. You lucky dog. 

I had to have two shots on Monday and another this morning. The only good part of the whole thing is that I got to go for car rides before and after the terrible experience. And, of course, they have dog treats at the Awful Medicine Woman's office. That makes up for some of it.

B-, I warn you, stay well. You don't want to make your family worry about you. When they do, they will call the Awful Medicine Person over and over and over again until something bad happens. Trust me; I know about this.

I'm glad that you're feeling well and are just a little spoiled. I approve of spoiled. Not only is it fun, but it tastes good too.

Your friend,


This post got all sorts of responses through Richard's site by both people and dogs, but I'm not sure what the rules are regarding my quoting from there, so I will refrain. On the other hand, he also received some private e-mail as a result, starting with his friend B-.

Cute! I saw !! I love you Cosmos!!

Hugs and lots of love -


To which Cosmos replied:

Dear B-,

Show me the dog biscuits.


He also heard from his Cousin R-
in Florida:
Hi (((Cosmos)))

Mom and I saw your post today.You are so right about the awful medical people. I hate them too. I know you have been around the block so I will take your advice. I am proud to call you my cousin. You know, you have always been my role model. :) Do you know why Mom got so mad today when she found me eating her Shell Oil Co credit card? 


Cousin R- aka The Criminal

Cosmos thought that R- might be confused, and responded as follows:

Dear Cousin R-:

Maybe your Mom was mad about something else. I can't imagine that she would be mad at you for eating Shells. After all, they're a good source of calcium, and the seafood contained inside is high quality protein at a low calorie cost. And if you ate the black stripe, you could say that you are full of animal magnetism.

If you want to see your Mom get really mad, eat a stick of butter. Be sure to get the grease in your chin hair and rub it on the carpet. After you do that, she won't get angry about sea shells any more.


Cousin Cosmos

Cosmos loves to counsel his fellow canines. But I do think it's going too far when he starts talking to cats.

My dear Cosmos,

My name is C-, but I believe Mother already mentioned me in an email to you earlier. I tried to email you then myself but she insisted on hogging the keyboard to herself, a particularly annoying human trait, I find.

I am a long haired black and brown tabby male (I insist that I remain a male despite the humiliating procedure Mother deemed in my best interests when I was but a child--what does SHE know!!!) Anyway, I'm pretty fast on my feet, so I guarantee if we ever meet, we'll all get an aerobic workout. And I daresay it would be more entertaining than that jumping about Mother does in front of the DVD player. The music isn't bad but she looks a bit foolish with all that sweating and flailing around. I prefer not to sweat myself. I enjoy frequent naps, preferably in Mother's computer chair when she vacates it. 

It appears Mother is planning to visit you and your human and your bro Sunny, whom I'm told enjoys tormenting small white dogs. So do I when I can find one, which unfortunately isn't often since I am compelled to remain indoors at all times. When the time comes for the packing of the travel bags, I shall see that copius amounts of treats are included for you and Sunny. You can depend on me!
I remain, your new feline friend,


Cosmos is never lacking for words.

Dear Charlie:

Do you spit? I enjoy making cats spit. Especially when they are trapped in cat carriers at the vet.

I went through that humiliating procedure too, however, it was way before I ever met Mom. Awful Medicine Person.

It doesn't slow me down a bit. I still insist on humping Mom's leg whenever she changes her clothes.

Does your Mom exercise to that Richard dude? I enjoy watching him on my television.

But I have to admit that he just wears me out.

I prefer dog biscuits to dancing.

Your new friend,


The world is going to the dogs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Veggie Tales

Today's Blog Post is dedicated to my webbie friends who don't know - yet - that they like vegetables. This morning, I awoke early and decided that I needed to make a special Root Vegetable salad. First, I cut the tops and roots off of Beets and Golden Turnips that I had stored in my refrigerator. I did not peel them before cooking.

I peeled some carrots and cut them into chunks. Then I put them into Richard's Steamer (along with some potatoes for another purpose) to cook. Note: You do not need the Steamer to steam vegetables. All you need is some kind of rack suspended over about an inch of simmering-to-boiling water.

Then, it was time to address breakfast. I sliced down some Onion,

and Tomato.

I broke two eggs into a frying pan that had been sprayed with non-stick spray. (I personally favor Trader Joe's Olive Oil Spray, but anything, including Pam, will work. Also, if you're not ready to use non-stick spray yet, use a dab of reduced-calorie margarine.) I sprinkled them with salt & pepper to taste, and also Tabasco Sauce. Then I dropped the Tomato & Onion slices on top of the eggs, along with some sliced Mushrooms.

I covered the pan, and cooked over medium-low heat until the eggs were done and the vegetables were sweating.

In the meantime, I dropped some fresh strawberries on my plate.

When the eggs were done, I added them to the dish.

Then, I pulled my Trader Joe's Papaya-Mango Salsa out of the refrigerator...

And put it on top of the eggs. Yum! I've also, on other occasions, used regular salsa, Parmesan cheese or another grated cheese in great moderation. And sometimes I eat this meal without a topping at all. I do confess, this morning, to feeling like a slice of toast too, so that was a part of the meal that you don't see.

After the Root Vegetables had cooked and completely cooled I removed them from the steamer.

I removed their skins by just sliding them off with my fingers. (Note: Richard likes to use gloves during this process because the beets do bleed; I don't bother.) Then I cut them into chunks.

I did the same with the carrots, although I do confess to having peeled them before steaming 'em.

I coarse chopped a sprig of parsley.

The easiest way to chop parsley and other herbs is to leave them in their bundle and start slicing them down from the leaves back towards the stem. You can chop them as coarse or as fine as you like according to your taste.

Then I pulled a bundle of green onions and chopped them too.

Everything cut and in the mixing bowl, it was time to add the dressing. If you use a Vinaigrette style dressing, it will cut the earthy taste of the vegetables and leave them sweet. I personally favor the full fat Wishbone Red Wine Vinaigrette although you should use whatever you prefer. Some people also like to add Parmesan cheese to this mixture altough I find it just a little too much for my taste.

The end result is about the most colorful salad you will ever see that tastes good too. I strongly suggest making this ahead of time and chilling it in your refrigerator. That way, the dressing has time to permeate the vegetables.

I've stored this salad in my refrigerator for as many as five days without issue; I'm absolutely sure it would last longer if I didn't eat it up first!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Will the Real Laura Silverman Please Stand Up?

I am Laura Silverman. Laura R. Silverman. Laura Rebecca Silverman.

No, I am not her.

Yes, I am just in an irritable enough mood today to finally address the subject. After receiving yet another piece of fan e-mail through this site that was intended for her.

When I bought this web domain and site, I had a rather intense conversation with Eric. The pressing matter was what I was going to call it. He wanted me to use my name. Laura Silverman. But I explained to him that there was an actress/comedienne out there of some moderate fame with the same name as me. That I was sure that the domain name was taken. And to prove my point, I did a web search for Laura Silverman. And there she was. Everywhere.

It was not a big deal to me. After all, I am not an actress. I don't need every single iteration of my name to be purchased to protect my domain. Yet, there was an underlying purpose to me buying a web site which is not going to be disclosed in this fun-and-games section. Family and close friends are aware of the real reason, as are the professionals who help me in critical moments of my life. There was and is reason for me to want use my name as my domain; and not for publicity or the confusion. I finally settled on buying And here I am.

Since buying this site in the beginning of May, my readership had slowly but steadily increased. I've received enough communication meant for me to know that there are people out there who enjoy what I have to say. Who are actually listening. And who write me out of concern for my health when I don't update my blog for a few days. And I thank every one of you. My health issues are no secret and the fact that you care means the world to me.

But then there are the periodic other e-mails. Her emails. Fans. Old friends from before-she-was-famous. People who are clearly confused. Because her middle name - I believe - is Jane. Not Rebecca.

I've come upon a policy of just deleting those e-mails without reading them through. I struggled as to what to do with them for a while before deciding on this course of action. Should I respond and gently correct the misinformed? Should I ignore them? Should I enjoy the attention? Since the communications were not intended for me, I finally decided it's a matter of privacy for the sender to delete them. I hope that they figure it out when they get no response; not even the obligatory 'fan e-mail' automatic system response.

But having come home today and receiving yet another fan mail, I decided to actually look the other Laura Silverman up on the web. Actually peruse through a few of her sites, and see who she is. I have seen her sister's show once or twice; if I could figure out what cable channel it was on, I'd probably tune in because it was pretty darned funny. And I really liked her in "Dr. Katz." What could it hurt to take a looksie? I can tell you what.

When doing the internet search, I found one web site who's brief Google description declared that she is the real Laura Silverman and anyone else who laid claim to the name is clearly out to exploit her.

Excuse me? EXCUSE ME!!!!!?????

First of all, I am older than her. She stole my name if it was up to be stolen. But the fact is that there are about a bazillion Laura Silverman's in this world. In this country. Even just in Los Angeles. It's a common name amongst Jewish people, and L.A. is a Jewish town.

In fact, when I go to visit my doctors at Cedars, they have to figure out which Laura Silverman I am in their computer by birthday because there are just so gosh-darned many of us.

Additionally, there are a number of us who have also done work that is of some small note. If you look on the internet long enough, you will get past the actress stuff and find them.

As far as I go, I am a published author of a number of magazine articles. I have participated in a Richard Simmons exercise video after losing - at the time - 149 pounds, and now over 200. I have been on TV and in the news papers and in magazine articles a number of times, and not only because of my association with Richard. I will be in a magazine article in October in the Los Angeles Times. I will be a feature segment on HGTV's "That's Clever" in Spring, 2008. (We filmed the segment a few months ago.) I don't need to steal somebody else s name for the fame. I already have been recognized publicly and privately more than I am comfortable with. I never asked to be associated with her. All I want to do is live my life as best I can, using my own name. Because my father named me. After the movie "Laura" which he saw just a week or two before I was born.

For those of you who thought you had found a pipeline to the actress, I'm sorry. Rest assured that your e-mails are dust. They were deleted immediately, and not shared with anyone.

For those of you who come here because you want to read what I have to say, I thank you! I love writing in my blog, and love even more that you care to read. You inspire me.

And to the actress, Laura Silverman, if you stumble across this web site and this post. I am not you. I am not trying to be you and never tried to associate myself with you or your persona. I just want to be me with all of my attributes and faults and everything in between. Because that is good enough for me.

I Hate the West Side

Los Angeles is a big place. A really big place. You can divide it into zones for reference. I live in the Valley, i.e. the San Fernando Valley. On the very north end of the city, it used to be known for being a quiet bedroom community. But it's grown up and has all sorts of entertainment options now.

There are the beach communities. Laid back, artisans mingle with the rich business crowd without much concern about the class differences and materialistic outlooks. They're all bronzed a golden brown and are proud to show their athletic bodies off while walking or jogging on the beach.

There's downtown; not much of a place in my opinion. And "Central Los Angeles," which used to be known as "South Central." The residents there insisted on the name change several years back because of that zone's reputation as a haven for gang violence. They thought that the name change would make a difference. Sadly, they were wrong.

And then there is the West Side. Westwood, Beverly Hills, Century City, West Los Angeles. Trendy, fashionable, just filled-to-the-brim and overflowing with restaurants, shopping, theater. A hang-out and residential zone for the rich and famous. And wannabe's. When I was growing up and even into my 20's and early 30's, I wanted to live there. As did everyone. And those who could afford it did. And those of us who couldn't lived in the Valley. And secretly resented our oh-so-much-more prosperous and trendy and fashionable friends.

But something has happened over the years. Whether it's the maturing of the valley, or the maturing of me, I couldn't tell you. But I've come to realize that the West Side isn't all that and a bag of chips too. Yes, there are all sorts of amenities, but you can't get to any of them. The traffic is just horrible!

Today, I had a doctor's appointment at Cedars Sinai at 3:30 pm. I tried desperately to make it on time, but getting there was awful. Here are a few views from my windshield.

You get the point. I made it only 20 minutes late, and given what I had to face driving down, it wasn't so bad. A little over a 90 minute drive-time.

But when the appointment was over, I had to deal with rush hour traffic getting out of the city. Here is the view that I had for almost two hours.

TWO HOURS! And I wasn't even home yet. All I achieved during all that time was getting out of the West Side.

We were literally at a stand still almost the whole time!!!!! I spoke to Eric by cell phone a number of times during the drive. He had arrived at my home for dinner; I wasn't there. Fortunately, I had prepared everything and just asked him to pop it into the oven. An hour later, the chicken was done, and I asked him to turn on the stove to cook the corn. I arrived home at 6:30. He had to leave for a meeting at 6:45. Oy.
There are things on the West Side that I would consider worth driving for. My doctors. Slimmons. But all-in-all, I'm glad I'm a Valley Girl.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Lugnut" and other Tails from the Veterinarian's Waiting Room

Cosmos needed to go to the vet yesterday. Normally,I would take both boys, even if only one was being seen, but with the daily temperature in the San Fernando Valley topping at around 106 degrees, I didn't feel right subjecting Sunny to the ride unnecessarily. So, despite his howls of protest, I shut Sunny in the condo and drove off with Cozie.

Our vet has two waiting rooms... one for dogs and one for cats. Sunny has a tendency to be a bit dog-aggressive, so we are normally ushered to the cat side. The boys don't realize what is in those pet carriers, although Cosmos actually did figure it out during our last visit. He sniffed at the bars, and was delighted at the angry hissing and spitting emanating from the interior.

Today though, since I only had Cosmos with me, we went directly into the dog waiting room.
We could not miss the first 'patient' awaiting his turn. He was a Saint Bernard, 180 pounds as his proud dad later boasted. He was spread out across the bench by the front door and also draped over Dad. He looked a little nervous, but Cosmos quickly approached him with friendly intentions, and the two dogs sniffed noses.
I looked around. There was a small herding-dog variety across the room. There was a Chihuahua just finishing up paying for her visit, and leaving. (Imagine the contrast in sizes between the St. Bernard and the Chihuahua!) I made a comment about how, now that we had arrived, dogs of all sizes and variety were represented.

The doggie parents were soon engaged in earnest conversation about the wonderful qualities of their respective children. One of the girls came out from behind the counter to pet the Bernard. "It's ok, Lugnut." she reassured him.

"Lugnut?" I repeated, almost convulsed with laughter!

Dad - a very tall, skinny 20-something who was trapped in his seat by the sheer weight of his son spread across his lap, at first looked a little worried about my response, but as soon as I assured him that he had picked the perfect name for his boy, dissolved into laughter too. "He's a lug and he's a nut." Dad explained. Lugnut was there to have his lungs X-rayed.

The girl also stopped to pet Cosmos, and Molly (the herding type dog), and then Lugnut was summoned into the back room. He did not want to go. It took two vet's assistants pulling him from in front and his dad pushing him from behind to move him through the door. A resistant dog that size is quite a challenge!
That just left Molly and Cosmos in the waiting room, but that state of affairs did not last long. A very old lady with a medium sized mutt came in. The dog clearly had his mom over matched and outwitted. He pulled her all over the waiting room. She protested, but he paid her no attention. Since he was friendly, we all laughed. We knew who the boss in that relationship was!

She complained about how big he was, but when I told her that he was nothing compared to Lugnut (who she had not seen), the room burst into hysterics. Then, the vet's assistants - like they had timed their appearance - came through the door. Lugnut didn't want to be X-rayed. Would it be ok to give him a light seditive? The room burst into laughter again. We could all just envision what was going on back there. "Dad" gave the O.K., and they disappeared again.

Cosmos was called into the back to see his Dr. Florio. We were back there for quite a while, and then I was sent into the waiting room while he was taken further back for an injection and to have a lump asperated. Molly was still waiting out there; the old lady and her dog had been called in back. But there was now a very nice woman with a rescued Silky Terrorist, "Gigi," who she was brushing. I looked, laughed, and quipped "It's not easy to be beautiful."

At that moment, an Australian Shepard Puppy burst through the front doors. She was way too young to realize that she was supposed to be scared, so she quickly engaged Molly in play. Soon, our eardrums were bursting at the high-pitched happy barking. But the puppy wasn't satisfied with just Molly. Almost before I knew it, she came bounding over to me and jumped into my arms! Then she started kissing my face. Yes, she got her tongue into my mouth before I knew what was going on (Oy) and she also licked one of my eyelashes off! Then, bored with me, she traveled down the bench to visit Lugnut's dad, and then back to me and Molly again. Gigi wanted to play too, but her mom wouldn't allow her to be involved in the maylay.

It was definitely a busy afternoon. A father and daughter team came in, each holding a small terrier in their arms. (Think Jack Russell, but smaller.) The dogs wanted to join in the fun and were not leashed; they had to struggle to keep them under control. I knew that terriers could jump really high, so I asked them what the limits of their dogs were. (The dogs were 9" at the shoulder.) "Well," the father replied, "We had a six-foot wall around our property and the dogs went sailing right over it. We just raised it to eight feet." My kind of people.

A woman emerged from the back leading a poodle. Another pair of women had their dog - another mutt - delivered. A man took receipt of his dog who had had surgery. And Cosmos was delivered to my waiting arms.

We hung around a little while, waiting for them to process us and pay our bill. After 40 minutes, we realized that the staff was out of control. So since Cozie has to go back for another injection on Thursday, I asked the staff if we could just pay them then, and they quickly agreed. Lugnut's dad was still waiting for his son, Molly was called back, and the waiting room was awash in dogs. We left. To Cosmos's relief.

As for Cosmos, he has severe arthritis in both his elbows. Couple that with his badly-healed broken hip, and right now, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. But the injection series that we started him on today was something that I had used on my old boy, Achilles (long gone). It worked very well for him and I hope that Cosmos will be fine over time, too. Keep your fingers crossed for him.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Alpaca Spit and Other Slimy Matters

Last Saturday after exercise class at Slimmons, I headed directly down to the Santa Monica Civic Center Auditorium. There, I found Mariko's annual Fabulous Fiber Fest. It's a very upscale crafting show with an emphasis on luring fiber artists into trying new disciplines. Bead and Button vendors are next to Quilting Booths who are next to Spinning and Weaving Suppliers. Because Mariko is very careful about the artisans she allows to sell at her show, people from all around Southern California come to buy goods without worrying that the quality is anything but the best!

One of the wonderful features of the show is that there are animals who's fibers are used in our crafts in front of the building for all to admire and "love," if the animals will allow it. Before even going inside, I was all over it. The three alpacas got my immediate attention, but they were aggitated, humming their low hum that's so pleasant to the ears.

They are so delicate in features and their eyes are so big that they look like something out of a Disney movie. In fact, they are dromids, members of the Camel family. They can easily be identified from that lineage from their shapes, but also by habit. You see, when they are upset, they spit. And spit they did on Saturday!

That's actually a rather rare event. They are very docile and quiet as a rule, and I found out later that there had just been a group of kids teasing them. That would explain their overall manner while I was visiting them. Rather than being curious about me, sniffing my face and emitting a low undertone of a hum, they were pacing the corral, humming loudly and looking outside, like they were expecting someone. Except for "Mystery," who lay in the center of the corral with an angry look on her face. And Mystery didn't just look angry, she was. I snapped a couple of pictures of the group; she did not approve. (She also didn't approve of her 'roommates' squeezing by her to get drinks of water.) The next thing I know, it happened. I had been slimed!

Alpaca spit is slimy. It's green with a high viscosity. It smells of alfalfa. And just like the slime in Ghostbusters, it covers everything and sticks! Fortunately, I love animals. I was pretty amused. A long time ago when I first started spinning wool, I visited a Llama farm. I asked the owner how far they can spit. "They're accurate up to around 10 feet. Why do you ask?" she inquired.

Because I wanted to know how far away to stand from them when I teased 'em.
There were other animals in front too. Angora Bunnies. (Yes, where angora comes from.)

And Chinchillas!

Apparently, chinchilla fur is now being incorporated into hand spinning fibers. I was very surprised because it's a short staple, but they showed samples of 70% Cormo (a very soft staple wool), 20% Silk, and 10% chinchilla fiber, yarns, and a knitted swatch. The chinchilla lent a lovely bloom to the sample, something akin to angora.

Once I finished playing with the animals, and buying a raffle ticket for a chance to win a hand-made quilt,

I went inside. The show was amazing, as usual. I was actually attending, specifically to meet Michael and Sheila Ernst and buy some of their handmade buttons to use in my jewelry. I not only got a gorgeous set, but I also got a handblown glass bead which was absolutely incredible. I will use it as a center piece in one of my necklaces.

I suppose that if there was a Fiber Fest. every weekend, I might grow used to it and not realize how extrordinary a show it really is. Or maybe I would, because the event of my weekly Farmer's Market has not grown old yet. But sadly, Fiber Fest is only once a year. Ah well, I still have the Southern California Handweaver's Guild annual Show & Sale in Torrance this November to hold me over. It is a different emphasis, but I enjoy that too.

I am so lucky. I don't know what I would be doing now had I hadn't joined forces with the artist and crafting community in my area.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Beady Eyes

The thing about doing what you love as a business rather than a hobby is that you can't just do what you want to do. You need to keep records.

This morning, after seeing Dr. V- at Cedars Sinai, I had planned to go to a couple of bead stores in the neighborhood. First stop, King's Beads.

I don't particularly like that store, but they carry the 18 point nylon cord that I use to make my jewelry. I discussed the fact that I now had a resale license that needed to be registered with them; they told me that their policy was that a $50 minimum order needed to be placed before they would honor it. That's illegal in California, but instead of pointing that out to them, thereby souring an already tenuous relationship, I reminded them that I have spent a lot of money at their store in the past. Amazingly, the minimum requirement immediately vanished.

One of the issues that I have at that store, though, is checking out. I have to watch everything they do. They've overcharged me and short changed me in the past. Today, they failed to provide a detailed receipt. Of course, when I call them on it, they fix the issue, but it happens too often for me to assume that the mistakes that they continually make are by chance.

Once finished there, I went across the street to International Silks and Woolens. That is one of the premiere fabric shops in Los Angeles, and has a large wall of buttons. They're helpful, cooperative, and honest. Just in case you don't get the drift, I fully endorse them and hope that anyone that sews or does crafts pays them a visit.

Next stop, JB Buy Lines, a bead store across the street from Paramount Pictures. In fact, I originally discovered them while I was working for Paramount. Their attitude towards me has always been indifferent, but they're easy to work with and their inventory is a specialized niche which I enjoy.

My errands done, it was time to come home where it's necessary to record all of the expenses in my spreadsheet. I have a system. It's a simple system that's easy to follow. But working in spreadsheets is too much like all of my other jobs over the past 20 years and I don't enjoy it. It's a necessary evil.
Then there is the actual construction of the jewelry.

Everyone who knows me knows that I rarely can sit still. I need to be knitting or spinning yarn or weaving or doing something all the time. If not, then you can assume that I'm really feeling bad. Yes, my health is declining right now, but it's nowhere near enough to stop me from crafting. I have a large order to be completed and it's a very special order at that. Inability to sit still combined with product that I enjoy making is a pleasure. But there's paperwork associated with that, too.

You see, I figure out how much to charge based upon both the materials used and the time spent making the piece. My jewelry is very labor-intensive. Because of issues of health, I cannot spend more than an hour or two at it at a time before I need to stop for a while. So I can't just charge for a day's worth of labor. I have to keep close track of the actual time spent on each item so I can fairly estimate what it should cost. So I am now keeping my desk calendar in my studio with me and writing down when I start and stop working.

There are multiple entries on each day that I work. Start, stop, start, stop. It's weird to look at it. I remember when I was capable of working a corporate job. I'd get into the office at 7 in the morning and go straight through until the end of the day. 5:30 pm on Slimmons days, 7, 8, or 9 pm on days that I didn't have exercise class.

No way could I do those kind of hours now. My health issues are pervasive and I just wouldn't hold up. In fact, while in the traditional work force, I didn't hold up. I was out on disability at least once a year, generally for about three months at a time. I'm surprised that I wasn't let go over it, but when I was able to work, my work was exceptional and also there's the matter of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Just like with other laws against discrimination, employers run scared of it. I've rarely even mentioned that I fall under the spectrum of it's umbrella within the workplace, but they would have to be fools not to realize it anyway. The people that I used to work with were very, very smart...

Now I struggle financially. And wouldn't make it if it weren't for periodic infusions of financial help when the medical bills pile up. It's estimated that the greater part of American filings of Bankrupcy are because of medical bills. I have great insurance, but am still liable for thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars every year. Money which I don't make anymore.

But still, I have the innate sense that everything is going to work out well in the long run. I'm circling something... I'm not sure what yet, but something. There are many things happening in many areas of my life; too many not to think that something is going to come to fruition and both make me happy and support me. Jewelry, weight loss, writing, and media coverage (more to come on this at an appropriate time). Something is going to pop, and soon if my health does not give out. I can feel it.

In the meantime, my calendar is a mess, but my days are full.

* * * * *

Cosmos has been at the computer again, e-mailing with his best friend M-.

M- writes:

well cosmos i saw you with your choice hat on. and you look very debonair..LOL now you are watching tv. i think if you apply yourself you too can make beautiful jeweled belts with leather found in a warehouse somewhere in santa monica ca.

:) M

To which Cosmos responded:

Dear M-:

Thank you for your kind words. I did make that hat look rather good, didn't I? It's one of Mom's favorites. It says "Shaft. Still The Man" on the back. Of course, I think it should say "Cosmos. Always the Man."

I enjoy when my cousin Ian comes to visit. He knows where my dog biscuits are kept and dispenses them liberally. He also brushes me and pays me the attention that I so richly deserve.

What do you mean make jeweled belts out of leather? Leather is for chewing on.

Your friend,


M- responded:

leather is for chewing on. i agree, but if you add some really cool beads it will be a crunchy chew.LOL

Cosmos, never at a lack for words, replied:

Personally, if I am looking for crunch, I like bones better than beads. But nothing beats 'Captain Crunch.'


M- wrote back:

yummmmmmm i agree
Which perplexed Cosmos. He queried:

You bit Captain Crunch too?
M- responded:

many years ago I did , but Cosmos all of those sweet memories came to vision after your email.

Cosmos always has to have the last word. His last e-mail read:

Ah, if you knew he tasted sweet, I suppose you really did bite him. I knew that I liked you.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme

When Ian and I returned from our adventures yesterday, I asked him to help me immediately plant the herbs that were destined for the new pots. He thought about it for a moment, agreed, and started singing Scarbourough Faire by Simon & Garfunkle. (Mommy and Daddy took him to a concert by them last summer at the Hollywood Bowl.) He was very happy when I showed him that I actually did have Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme in my garden.




Ian is not one for getting dirty, so he was the "hose man." I showed him how the herbs that needed transplanting were not only outgrowing their small pots, but also were dry from the 106 degree daily temperatures that the San Fernando Valley is currently enduring. In a 4" pot, you just can't keep plants alive in this kind of heat. We finished up the job-at-hand, then went on to other business. (Like Ian dressing Cosmos up in hats.)

This morning, I stepped outside and surveyed our work. I am a combination of a couple of lucky traits when it comes to gardening. I am somewhat lazy in my approach, but also actually prefer a wild and unkempt look when it comes to plants. But I realized that I had let things go way too far out there, and could not resist grabbing my pruning sheers and going at it. I quickly had piles and piles of overgrown rose branches, thistles, basil, mint, and assorted other dead stalks trimmed from here and there. It took four trips to the dumpster, my arms overfull, to carry it all out!

Of course, my plants now look pathetic instead of lush and full. My basil plant by the front door is sparse.

My poor roses look like stumps.

At least my other herbs look happy and healthy.


Malcolm, the Geranium

When I look at my patio garden as a whole, instead of chopped up bits and pieces, it still looks just fine.

And the best thing about keeping plants is that no matter how much you trim them, they always grow back.


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