Friday, February 27, 2009

Love Connection

Anne's move into the retirement apartment is going well. We've arranged a lot of her furniture, and today we moved a good deal of her kitchen essentials. Yesterday afternoon, I got my first look at her next door neighbor. A man.

There are a lot of men where Anne is going to live. I've already started teasing her about making a love connection. But in fact, "Jessica" told me during our tour (before signing on) that there are quite a few connections made, and some of them even result in marriage. Some in shacking up. And some of the men are like high-school boys looking only to score. The bottom line is just because you hear moaning coming out of a senior apartment, you should not assume anything is wrong.

Anyway, after getting a quick glance at her man-neighbor, I ran back inside to tell Anne, suggesting that she might want to start tapping seductive messages to him on their adjoining wall in Morse Code. I don't know if she was amused or not.

But I thought the whole thing was very funny and at exercise class last night, told Amy about it. She agreed that it was funny, and had a "good for them" attitude.

"But of course," she pointed out, "Anne's next door neighbor is probably some old geezer who's 80 years old."

"Anne's 87." I retorted.

"Ah. That's different. She's be robbing the cradle." Amy said. "Tell her to go for it!"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Find A Penny, Pick It Up...

Find a penny, pick it up, and all day long you'll have good luck.

It's amazing to me that in this time of economic crisis, I seem to be finding more and more change everywhere. I'm not talking about inside of my home either. My change is relegated to either my wallet, the bottom of my purse, or in the quarter-pouch I keep for doing laundry. (Oy... don't ask. I may own my condo, but I don't have the right to install my own machines inside of it.)

It seems to be on the ground everywhere. And on Saturday when Miles found another penny on the ground at the zoo, it occurred to me that I never keep track of what I find, but it is sometimes significant. It wasn't that many weeks ago that I picked up a whole dollar's worth of pennies strewn on the pathway of my complex between the garage tunnel and my unit. So I decided to do something about it.

Instead of just throwing the money found into my pocket and later into my wallet, I've pulled out an old antique bank that I remember buying in Ojai when I was a kid - it was an antique even then - and put it on my kitchen counter. Every time I find change, I'm going to drop it in there, and see how long it takes to fill it up.

I'm betting that it's full in a matter of a couple of months. What will be interesting is how much money it contains.

Call me thrifty, call me cheap, or call me a glutton for toe touches, but I will not walk by any money without making some kind of use out of it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Do the Zoo

WARNING: In the springtime, a young man's fancy turns to love. But if the man is young enough, he is not aware of love, but only of his private parts. If direct quotes from boys ages 7 and 9 about this matter offends you, I'd suggest you stop reading now and come back another day. Now that I've ensured that each and every one of you is going to read this blog post to the very end, welcome to my Saturday.

As if there weren't enough animals in my home life, Adele & I decided to take Ian and Miles to the Los Angeles Zoo . Miles, by his own admission, had never been there. Ian was incredulous, asking Miles (aka Kilometers per Adele) if it was really true? Was Miles only aware of Zoos through books and school. Miles assured him that it was true.

I picked Miles up from Eric at about 7:30 in the morning. He and his older boys were scheduled to attend a family seminar of some sort in the Santa Monica Mountains; Gabby was away at a Girl Scout weekend. That just left the seven-year-old, and I was happy to agree to watch him rather than have Christina babysit him. I conferred with Adele who seemed pleased at the idea of this play date for Ian, and we ultimately decided on the zoo as our destination. But driving from Eric's home to mine, Miles only had one thing on his mind.

"There will be two penises on this trip today. There will also be two vagina's." he declared. I assured him that he was absolutely correct. (No false sensitivities on my part; I don't believe in hiding facts.) Miles went on, "A penis is a power tool. The men will be in charge. Men are always in charge."

"Oh yeah?" I challenged him. "Who has the money on this trip? Who do you think is in charge? The one with the money, of course." When I told Adele about this conversation later on, she told me that she had had the same conversation with Ian at some previous time. She, of course, had explained the money aspect to Ian. But she had also pointed out to him that women were in charge everywhere. His teacher was a woman. His Principal is a woman. His doctor is a woman. Mommy is in charge of him and is a woman. I wish I had thought of this angle for Miles, but then again, I don't have the "Mommy" classification, so I guess I did just fine.

Anyway, we arrived at the Zoo, and our first stop (other than Miles pointing out that the Flamingos - which he thought were peacocks - were really stinky) was the system of caves that they have set up near the petting area. Adele was quick to point out to both boys (who had had an extended conversation on the way down about their penises) that the mortar and pestle at the very first diorama looked like a penis. The boys were pleased.

This is not a camera trick. The lighting in the cave at one point was blue. But it was safe to say that only the coloring was blue, and not their moods.


Behind the waterfall.

Playing on the garden sculpture.

Participating in the Prairie Dog exhibition. You can easily tell that Ian is a couple of years older than Miles, who was barely tall enough to peek out of the farthest hole.

But fortunately, the zoo had prairie dog holes for kids of all heights.

The boys were very pleased that, at the bird show, Adele & I let them go to the top of the bleachers to watch. In this picture, it is not what it looks like. They are just checking out how high they are.

Enjoying the show!

After the show, lunch, and a trip to the playground, we headed over to the Primate exhibits. "Do you know what a Primate is?" I asked the boys. We had a rather detailed discussion about monkeys and apes both being primates (as well as humans), and the difference between monkeys and apes is that monkeys have tails and apes do not. They were fascinated.

But not as fascinated as when we hit the first monkey house. There, the monkeys were swinging across the top of the cage, hanging by their hands from the chain-link ceiling. One of them stopped, just hanging there suspended and exposed, and surveyed us. But Miles was absolutely fascinated by the sight, more mesmerized than the primate. "Whoa!" he said. "That monkey has a penis! And it's black!!!!!"

Adele & I giggled quietly between ourselves and assured both boys that it was true. Some monkeys had penises, some had vagina's. Just like people.

"But," Adele quietly told me, "not as impressive as the ones owned by Giraffes." We did not have an opportunity on this trip to test her truthfulness.

After the Giraffes, it was time for French Fries or Ice Cream. There was a moderate line, but the boys were undaunted. They entertained themselves by first Ian picking up Miles, then Miles picking up Ian off of the ground. They compared weights (Miles had weighed in at 65 pounds that morning, Ian at 80), then decided that it would be fun if they lifted each other off the ground at the same time.

Adele and I quietly looked at each other. Then we told them to keep trying; that if they were successful, it was a feat known as levitation.

Eventually they realized that it wasn't going to happen on this trip, but agreed to keep practicing, and that with practice, they would get it right. They even shook on it.

Miles was quite happy with his choice of an Ice Cream cone. Ian - who's picture did not come out - was much neater with his fries and catsup.

And here is the only "animal" picture of the day. Ah, mother love!
It was clearly a successful day. After Adele & Ian went home, Mile & I made and ate dinner, put a movie in, and just like men in every walk of life and in any position, Miles quickly fell asleep.

I went about my business quietly until Eric came to pick Miles up. And thought to myself:

"...and men think they're in charge?" :D

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Picture Perfect

I need to take a photography class. There's no question about it! As I position and shoot my jewelry to add into my Etsy shop, some of the pictures are crystal clear and beautiful; others are muddled, or the beads glare, and the images don't do the pieces justice. Without a doubt, every single piece I've photographed looks much better in person.

Ironically, New Year's Resolution # 4 for 2009 is "I will take at least 4 classes or workshops." I'd been looking at some beading classes out at the Creative Castle in Newbury Park and considering whether I have the strength, fortitude, and finances to go, but now I think that I need to contact a photography shop first and learn what I can do to improve my skills in that department. For whatever reason, the idea actually excites me a little.

Cosmos is holding his own. As my skills are getting better, infusing him this morning was easier. I still feel terribly guilty about the process, but there's no question that he feels better than last week. We even went for a short walk today, and later, he took great offense at a commercial on TV where the woman was calling "Boys! Boys!" He KNOWS that "Boys" is the name that I use when I want both dogs to come, and he did not approve of some strange woman on his television calling them.

I've figured out how to give him his compounded medication. It comes in horse-sized pills, and he was not fooled by me wrapping food around them. (You'd have to be pretty dumb not to know what was happening with the size that they are!) However, if I take some shredded cheese, melt it in the microwave, then open up the capsules (he needs 3 a day, all at once) and mix the powder up in the cheese, he doesn't seem to realize that it tastes bad. And I'm relatively sure it tastes horrible. The pharmacist warned me about that when I picked them up.

I guess in the battle of cheese vs. medication, the cheese comes out on top. Especially cheddar.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another Day, Another Dollar

Another day has gone by, and one more infusion done on Cosmos. He cries, but this morning was a little easier than the previous two to administer. I think Becky was right... as time goes on, both Cosmos and I will get better at it. It's like getting (or giving) immunizations to a child. It breaks your heart to cause them pain, but on the other hand, it's saving their life. There's a trade-off that can't be ignored.

On another front, in the past several days, I've received two SSI checks from the Government. It's official. I am now living a subsidized life.

I have mixed feelings about this, and expressed them today during therapy. This is not the way things were supposed to be. Had my body not failed me, I'd be working and be productive and certainly have more working capitol with which to live. I have a sense, even now with the economy being horrible, that if I were able to go back into the workforce, I wouldn't have much of an issue finding or keeping a job. In fact, I am very impatient with myself and updated my resume earlier today. But I have to remind myself that I've only been feeling better for six weeks, and to resume a career only to repeat my track record of not lasting more than a few months before physically failing would be the end of any future working possibility. I just know that to be true. So I need to sit tight until I know how I really am.

On the flip side, this is not just the classic Welfare hand-out. I am receiving these payments as part of the terms of maintaining my disability insurance; something that I signed up for and paid out-of-pocket for many years before coming into the state I am now. I shouldn't feel guilty. But I have to tell you, every time I see that Aaflac commercial with the guy laying on the hammock next to the duck, happily boasting about how his life hasn't changed since going out on disability? It makes me cringe. That's not what Disability Insurance is supposed to be about either. Or is it? It certainly isn't working that way in my life.

I now have two items listed in my Etsy shop and there's a link on the sidebar of this blog. I put up a banner there too! Over the course of the next few days, I'll take (better) pictures of the work that I already have on hand at home, and get it all posted.

I'm going to start on a commission piece of jewelry tonight, so I'm pleased at how things are currently working out. But that pleasure is intellectual in nature. As always, I don't feel like I'm doing things fast enough or well enough.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Twenty Four Hours

I've learned a lot in the past 24 hours.

I've learned that great friends and family do stick by me. I've had some responses to my last two posts that have brought me to tears. Moral support. Financial offers (I'm not accepting them, but thank you!). Ideas how to obtain IV tubing for lower cost. A couple of ideas on how to generate revenue. I'm almost in tears at all the wonderful advice that I am now sorting and figuring out how to put into action.

In addition to advice, I've heard about a number of pets - mostly cats - who have also dealt with kidney failure and have lived for a number of years. I don't expect Cosmos to live forever, but this is not a time that I think he's ready to go.

I've learned that it's really hard to cause someone you love physical pain, even when you know it's for their own good. Cosmos screams and crys when I put the needle in. He makes sure I know that he is not enjoying the process. I get it done too, I don't enjoy it either, but I know you get used to it in time. But in addition to needing to get used to it, Cosmos always has been overly emotional and is a big baby.

I've established my Etsy account, not that it's really ready to go yet, but there's one piece of jewelry listed, and when I feel a little more settled, I'll get more in there.

I'm a little confused at the process (I'm not good at Paypal either), but I know I can do it. After all, in my working life, I managed an over-a-billion-dollars-a-year business all in Excel. How can I not understand a canned program? I can.

I'm battling momentary feelings of being overwhelmed and panic, but in my brain, I'm starting to formulate a plan. I need to write all the action points down, maybe tomorrow or Thursday, and move on them. For today, all I wanted to do was to hydrate Cosmos (done!), finish the neclace pictured (done!), open up my Etsy Account and list the one piece (done!), correct S-'s necklace so I can bring it to class tonight (next), and go to Exercise Class (tonight). Truthfully, a full day.

Twenty Four Hours. I'm still in a funk, but I've survived so far.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cosmos Update

Saline IV Solution costs much less at Costco than I ever imagined. IV tubing is expensive and separate from the solution, but I've had more than one person suggest that I can use it more than once, just changing out needles, and I'm going to run it by the Vet. Apparently, reusing tubing, being careful to maintain a field of cleanliness, is a standard practice in people-medicine in other countries. And considering that the Vet doesn't even expect me to clean Cosmos's skin off before inserting the needle, I have a feeling that it will be fine.

Also, I will do an internet search over the next week or so, and I bet I can find tubing at a very effective price if I buy it from out of the country. I'm thinking India...

I'm sorry if my last post sounded as if I were looking for free monetary handouts from my readers. That was not my intent; rather, I was blowing off steam. However, to those of you kind enough to offer help, I do thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And what can you do, beyond emotional support which is what I really need at this moment? When I announce that the Etsy site for my jewelry is up and running, please spread the word. Tell your families, your friends, your work associates. I will start by showing jewelry I already have made and on hand, however, I am putting together a more price effective line and will list it as quickly as it is made.

I will announce it in this blog first and foremost, then in other places which I have internet access The good news is that I have a product which is of value and saleable, and I intend to sell it at a good price.

Thank you again for your support.


Laura, Sunny, and especially Cosmos

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beading for Life

I've been beading all day today as if life itself depends on it. In a sense, it does.

Cosmos has been ill. Very ill. After stalling as long as I could because I knew the news would not be good, I finally took him to the vet a week ago. After initial consultation and more testing, it was concluded that he is in "moderate to severe kidney failure." He spend a couple of days in the doggie hospital, and now is home with me.

I've been financially ruined by being on disability for over five years. Mom has intervened for me on more than once occasion when medical bills became too big or numerous to deal with (don't even ask me about SSI and Medicare which wasn't finally awarded until about a week ago, even though the Judge in the trial said it should have commenced back in 2003, and apparently it is not retroactive). And this time, she intervened for Cosmos so that he would have a chance to live. He rewarded all of us by bouncing back from grave illness not only better than the vets anticipated, but "in a way that they've never seen before."

Of course, he is still very VERY sick, and kidneys do not regenerate. He will be on medications and home IVs for the rest of his life, for however long that will be. The vet says that he could potentially go on like this for a very long while. A year. Or two. But a lot of it depends on me.

I called Mom yesterday to tell her Cozie was home and express my gratitude. Believe me, it's beyond words. But her response - as usual - was a kick in the gut. She told me that she was "done with me now, and that if I couldn't afford it, then I should just take Cosmos in and have him killed. (Yes, she said "killed.") That she could not go out to dinner now for the rest of the month and that his life was the cause." Not that a lot of it's not true, but why does she always have to be so horrible and mean and put things in the worst possible way to be sure and dispense even more misery? No wonder I'm the only daughter who will have anything to do with her, stupid me.

Anyway, I've been feeling better for six weeks. It was time, anyway, for me to get off of my duff and start to produce again. I'd only completed one necklace since being able to sit up and work. I need to get going. New Year's Resolution # 3 for 2009 is to get my Etsy Shop open and running. #8 is to clean up Chapter's 1 through 3 of my book and find a representative or publisher. All of this is do-able right now; all of it must be done.

I've never had to put an animal down just because it was inconvenient or I couldn't afford it before. It's horrible to contemplate, and I don't know that I will survive it if I have to go there. It would have been so much easier if Cozie's problem had been a return of his cancer (which was what I thought was going on) for which there would not have been a treatment, not that I'm wishing that on him by any means. I love that dog; he's been through so much history with me.

So I'm beading and writing and trying to figure things out. It's a matter of life and death.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Beading Anxiety

This is a necklace I completed last week for a client who also happens to be a friend.

I was commissioned to use heirloom beads that her family has been collecting since the early 1900s and "make whatever comes to my mind."

It's a task in which I am honored to take part in.

I hate to fail. Even when my failure is minor, I have a hard time accepting that I made a mistake. But upon delivering the necklace, the woman accepted it joyusly, but came back to me a few days later and wanted to know if it could be shortened. I almost went numb with shock. It wasn't good enough? How could I accept that out of myself? But I regrouped quickly and told her "Of Course!" Bring it back and I'll take care of it.

She returned it yesterday and, as it turns out, she would like about six inches taken off. Again, I graciously assured her that it would not be an issue and that I really wanted to make sure that she was happy with everything I delivered. Completely the truth. I'm sort of over having made it too long in the first place. At least kind of. My leg is still softly twitching with the desire to kick myself more, but I'm done with it. I took my best shot at the length, and that was it.

Now I have to consider the task at hand. The "chain" of the necklace is done in a modified herringbone stitch, and that is where I am going to have to redress the issue. Each stitch is made out of three beads... two Czech seed beads out of my stash surrounding a very sharp cut seed bead from hers. It was necessary to use mine because her beads pretty-much cut all threads on contact.

Additionally, this necklace is interesting because I made the chain in a tube. I thought the beads themselves would provide enough structure to sustain the tube, but in the end, it was collapsing on itself; not a pretty picture. I considered how to correct the problem; perhaps stuffing the tube with silk or wool or something. Then I thought that aquarium tubing would probably work better and be more durable. Then, inspiration hit. Why go out and buy aquarium tubing? From all the IVs I've received at home over the past year, I have tons of that tubing - still fresh in the package - sitting around in my condo. Using that would really put a piece of me... of my own life... into the necklace. And so it was threaded, and it worked well.

But now, I need to consider how to actually shorten the piece. When I first assured S- that it could be taken care of, I had no idea how to address it. All I could envision were tons of beads rolling around on my table and floor, and the necklace unraveling in an uncontrolled manner, never to be whole again. A nightmarish thought.

But of course reason took over within 24 hours. Of course it's do-able. I can meet pretty-much any challenge of making things given a little time and thought. So I thought and thought and thought, and I think I've come upon the method that I am going to use.

It's like when I make something knitted and I decide it's either too long or too short. First, I thread a safety yarn through a row of stitches above and below the selected point of extention (or reduction) to be sure the piece does not unravel beyond my intention. Then I carefully cut between the two rows. I knit (or unravel) until the piece comes to it's desired length, then I use Kitchner Stitch to bind the parts back together again. I've done this several times in the past and unless you know the issue was there and really look for the evidence, you'd never know anything happened.

I'm thinking that the same approach will probably work with the necklace, modified of course. I am going to double my stitching through the already-in-place beads up to the point in question, knotting regularly to be sure that the thread does not come out. Then I will cut the piece and unravel back to my thread. Re-sew the ends and the clasp back on and the necklace will hopefully be better than new.

It should probably work. I can't think of a reason that it wouldn't.

Of course, I did tell S- that I needed a week for the process when in fact, the whole thing can probably be accomplished in an hour or two. But that does not account for the several days that I will need to agonize over the project before just doing it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Aye, yii, yii, yiiii

This is Richard Simmons. He is wearing his work clothing.

This is the Frito Bandito. He is wearing his work clothing.

This is Richard Simmons again. This is what he wears when he is off duty.

This is the Frito Bandito again (click this time to see the Frito Bandito sing his trademark song). He has removed his guns, spurs, epulatettes, and sombrero because he is off duty.

Hmmmmmm... Do you think I can be sued for this post, or are they both public figures and therefore easy targets?

Choosing who I love the best is almost as hard as when I was deciding whether I loved Richard Simmons or George Foreman more.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where's Waldo?

It was a beautiful 83 degrees yesterday. Sunny, with barely a puff of breeze and not a cloud in the sky. I left my front door open so that the boys could wander in and out of the patio area and enjoy the day while I worked on some indoor projects.

Come around 2 o'clock, it was time. Time for our short dog walk. It's short because I can't be away from a bathroom for more than a few minutes at a time, Cosmos is getting dangerously old and fragile, and Sunny? He'd go on for much longer if I could take him, but his gentle nature (except around other dogs) and happy disposition allows him to be grateful for the outings that we have.

I gathered up Cosmos. He's a Momma's boy and always at my feet. "Sunny!" I called. "Sunny? Sunny Delight? Sunnyshine? Sunnyshine on my Shoulder? Sunny Side of the Street? Want to go out for a walk?"

No answer.

I walked into the studio, thinking he'd be in there, but he wasn't. I looked in the living area and the kitchen without any luck. I walked out the front door, but he wasn't in his position on the brick with his nose poked out under the gate where he normally is. So I repeated the search process. Nothing.

My stomach, as it does when I am unable to locate Sunny, started to tie up in knots. I quickly walked out onto the patio thinking "Oh Shit! He's gotten loose and who knows what's happening?" You see, Sunny is a runner and doesn't come when called. He's also not street smart, and because he's large and a mutt, people are generally afraid of him. But when I looked at the patio gate, it was locked. "Whew!" I thought. He wouldn't have escaped and locked the gate behind him.

Then I looked across the patio.

I looked at the rocking bench on the other side of the garden. The brown rocking bench that isn't colored all that differently than Sunny.

And there I found him.

My old man, sleeping the afternoon away in the garden, without a care in the world.


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