Sunday, December 13, 2009

Puddle Jumper

We were just a few blocks from the video store where new episodes of Dora & Diego had become available. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were working their way through "Woodstock", when I turned to ask Bee if she wanted to go for a walk in the rain. Her head was slumped all the way to the side and she was snoring. I turned around and headed for the Glendale Freeway and the baseball fields of Scholl Canyon. 

By the time we made it up there, REM's "Green" was playing and the Bee was still sound asleep. I let the dog out and we pondered the post rain beauty in what until recently had been bone dry hillsides. Low white clouds of mist hovered about the tinderbox hills of brush and the higher mountains were completely hidden. All around the rain was working its magic as creosote, sage and eucalyptus gave thanks with their combined aromas. The ball fields were flooded.

And then Bee was awake. It usually takes her a while to come around, but not this day. Her eyes got big about the puddles, puddles as far as her big eyes could see. "Getta me down, daddy, getta me down!" Translation: "Get me out of this car seat right now you big boob!" She hit the parking lot running with the dog. Puddles over asphalt, and grass, and the red clay brick dust of the baseball diamonds all have a different quality that must be experienced feet first to be fully understood. It's safe to say that Bee knows all of them very well by now. It started raining again,  but she was not deterred and ran away from me as fast as she could finally covering all three fields. One can become soaking wet by falling into a swimming pool during an engagement party, say, but it is nothing compared to the wet that you get from walking in the pouring rain with a toddler in love with puddle jumping. Who knew?

Guest Blogger Sparky

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Radio Free Bedroom

It's happening again. It's been about seven years since we last heard it emanating from the ceiling light fixture in the bedroom. Back then it was a rap station, and we were held hostage to the constant thump thump thumping. Now it seems to be some sort of Japanese game show station. No music, just lots of people screaming and squealing in Japanese. I'm not sure why our bedroom light fixture is sometimes a radio transmitter, but it is very annoying. And it's not like we can pick the station. It started again last night. During the day you can still hear it, but not as well. At night, it comes in very clearly. And like I said, it's been seven years since it last occurred. 
Back then, Sparky even call the FCC to complain about it to no avail. And once, Sparky tried to take the fixture apart to bring an end to the madness. He thought the power was off, but as he touched the pliers to the fixture they flew across the room as he was blown off the chair. I saw him hit the ground with a thud and grunt. I was shocked, but not as shocked at he was. The pliers were melted where they had made contact with the light fixture.  Sparky had black powder burns on his fingers from the pliers and his hair was standing on end. Whew. 
I can't remember what finally happened to that radio station, but the problem went away on its own, and we spent a blissful seven radio-free years in our bedroom. But now its back, and we must find a way to stop it before it drives us crazy. In the meantime we may sleep in the backyard. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Cheer

Since we are going up to the PNW for Christmas, The Misers are not doing any major holiday decorations this year. But Bee is beyond excited about the holidays, therefore we had to do something for our little one. And so the other day I hung up a single strand of lights over the credenza. Voila! Instant Christmas Cheer.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Little Buddha

I swear Bee is such a compassionate little girl, she is like a little Buddha. The other day she ran some errands with Sparky, which is not exactly her favorite thing to do. Sparky was trying to load some groceries into the car, and evidently lost his temper for some reason - I don't know the details, but something set him off. Bee saw his distress and said to him, "It's okay, Daddy. No be mad. Be happy, Daddy, be happy." And she leaned over in her car seat and patted him gently on the arm, "No be mad, Daddy." Sparky laughed and agreed to be happy. Such is the power of Bee.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


It's been awhile since I've posted a blog, and my sorry, lame ass excuse is that I've been too busy. Which seems kind of strange to say since I don't have a full time job or anything, just a full time life, I guess you could say. I'm making most of my Christmas presents this year, and so I've been knitting like crazy. Also, since it gets dark so early these days the Misers have been hibernating. We spend a lot of evenings having an early dinner, then sitting around in the living room all cozy together. Here is a typical night at The Misers: I'm knitting, Bee is doing a puzzle or looking at one of her books, Glenn and Lila are curled up asleep, and Sparky is singing and playing guitar for us. I know it sounds really smarmy, but it's free and what else should we be doing? Then after Bee has had her bath and is in bed, Sparky and I usually watch an episode of The Sopranos (we're on Season Five now.) We've gotten pretty good at living on next to nothing. I've wholeheartedly embraced the whole foods thing - it's cheaper to make most everything from scratch, and it's healthier then eating a bunch of processed junk. We never go out to eat anymore, which I don't even really miss.
I sometimes think that we should make a board game out of our lives called "Miserland" which would be a combination of Life, Monopoly, and Candyland. All of the game pieces would be little hobos, and the board itself would look like the song "The Big Rock Candy Mountain" come to life. You could land on squares that would say things like "Property taxes due: lose five turns" or "Get into fight with health insurance provider. Go back to beginning and start all over again" or maybe "Car needs new tires. Cross your fingers and hope for the best. Go back fifty spaces". The person with the least amount of money at the end would be the winner. Now there's a game that I could easily win! 
But despite it all the Misers have been having fun, and are getting ready for Christmas and The Train Ride. We have splurged BIG TIME and are taking the train up to Seattle to spend the holidays with my family. We have a sleeper car on the Coast Starlight, and I cannot wait. It is one of the most beautiful routes that Amtrak takes, and it's Bees first time ever on the train. We are a train riding folk, and are eagerly awaiting this upcoming adventure, especially because it is the most Un-Miserly thing we have done all year long. Which would make us complete losers at the game of "Miserland."

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Last Friday the Misers checked out the permanent collection at MOCA for free! As everybody knows, the Misers HATE to pay for parking, and since there is no free parking downtown, we had to spend a little bit of time searching for the best lot. The MOCA parking cost about $20 every 15 minutes, so that was out - way out. We finally found a place around the corner from the museum on 2nd Street that cost $6 for the whole afternoon. What a deal! 
We met an old friend at MOCA and wandered around the museum, checking out the permanent collection. Sparky and I liked the Rothkos and Raushenbergs the best, while Bee preferred the fountains outside. MOCA is not as little kid friendly as LACMA, in fact most of the guards were scared of lil' B - I guess they were afraid that she was going to destroy the art.  Sheesh! Don't worry about it uptight guards, Bee wasn't going to actually ruin anything, just "kid handle" it. So much of the work there is hung really low, or just placed smack dab in the middle of the floor just daring kids to go wild on it. What do they expect? They should have a "You Must Be This Tall" to enter sign in front. But they don't... And sadly, much of the work there seems dated. I suppose that is the problem with a lot of contemporary art - it just doesn't hold up well in the long run. But it was free, and the Misers always enjoy looking at art, and it was great to see our friend who we haven't see in about 15 years. Fun was mostly had by all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oil Change Holiday!

The message could not have been clearer. CHANGE ENGINE OIL NOW, said the robot brain of our Ford Explorer. Firestone on Brand offered the best price & location. It was only one short block from the Americana At Brand, an indoor/outdoor mall perfect for southern California. Indeed, the sun was out, the weather threatened us with 80 degrees at noon, why not turn a tedious chore into something worthwhile? Misers ho!

After dropping off the truck we walked and skipped to the mall. Three years ago I could never have imagined myself doing something so gay - and I think I mean that in the right way. But there it is. Right as we reached the Americana borders, music from the bushes called out to us. Invariably it's Rat Pack music, not exactly kid music, and indeed Frank Sinatra beckoned the Miser Family into the alternative reality that is The Americana At Brand. The shimmering verisimilitude to the Prisoner TV show buzzed in the mild Santa Ana air. We rolled with it. Their 90 foot Christmas tree with ornaments the size of footballs swayed in the November California blue sky. My lips chapped just standing there. 
Right off, at Jamba Juice, they were offering free flat breads. One for each of us! So lunch was on the house and the Misers were feeling good. We sat at a fountain-side table to enjoy our "pizza" as the waterworks started dancing. This massive fountain is constantly in motion, but once an hour a musical theme comes on and it's no holds barred. The giant gold statue of a naked dude writhing in watery paradise suddenly looked as though he were being hosed by the LAPD at a May Day protest. The fountains went nuts, gushing far into the sky, far enough to be blown into our faces - and you know that Bee loved that! Barry White was the rocking soundtrack...

After lunch we boarded the Americana Trolley and took a slow ride around the Prisoner mall fantasy that beckons with shopping imperatives as strongly as it blocks out the reality bucking at its borders. Hence, I'm guessing, the reason they offer condos for sale at the mall. Just imagine: you'd never have to leave if you could afford to live here! Anything not readily available could be easily delivered. For $750,000 you too, could be a permanent role player on The Prisoner.
On the way back to Firestone, and yes, reality, Bee pulled into a couple of shops with kid sized displays luring toddlers like flies to the web. It was beautifully sick... And then at the last stop, Bee popped into a Mexican cafe and stood transfixed at the elaborate ceiling art. It just may have looked to her like the Sistine Chapel. The hostess smiled big. "Do you want a lollipop?" Well, F-yeah I did, but she was talking to Bee of course. (So much for the F-ing Prisoner.) She gave Bee a red colored pop, and she dropped it immediately. It shattered with a stunning disconnection to the fun we'd been having. There were tears, sudden, sudden tears! The hostess came running to offer another lollipop. Again I accepted, got a weird look, and did not get a F-ing lollipop.  But golly it was still fun.

All things considered, our oil change/Americana At Brand was easily as much fun as a day at Disneyland, and tremendously cheaper and more convenient. Perhaps they should consider offering free oil changes at the major amusement parks. After all, they now have competition.

by Guest Blogger Sparky

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pop Culture

I have to admit that I've not been keeping up with The Kardashians. In fact, I don't even know who they are. I asked Sparky. He doesn't know either. He told me that he admitted his ignorance to a friend who said he was lucky, and told him not to bother about it. 
I've always attempted to keep up with pop culture as I like to know what is going on in the world. I think it's important to stay current. But some things  are  better off  not known. Like The Macarena, and I'm guessing here, like The Kardashians. When The Macarena was popular years ago I refused to have anything to do with it. I still haven't really heard it. (It's a song, right? But also a dance? It was performed at weddings, funerals and sporting events as I saw on the TV, but I don't believe it was ever done on Broadway. Was it?)
And some things I know about but would really rather not. Like John and Kate Plus Eight. What the hell? There was no need for me to know about that train wreck of a family, but unfortunately I do, and have actually seen their show once, back before they got into their marital trouble. (I was at my parents and they made me watch it.) And I know about Octomom, but thankfully haven't seen her show, and hopefully never will. Sometimes it really pays to be a Miser and not have cable. But I like pop culture for the most part, and will continue my cautious forays into it. After all, I don't want to end up old and out of it, wearing velour sweatsuits and wishing Johnny Carson was still hosting the Tonight Show. He is retired, right?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Lately I've really been craving carrots, and so I've been eating a lot of them. Before carrots I was completely into lentils - red, black, brown - I just couldn't get enough of that lovely legume. Prior to my lentil phase I was gaga for Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra Ice Cream, there is just something about caramel. And before that I was in my cauliflower stage, especially cauliflower cooked in a spicy Indian curry, yummy. I was mentioning my queer food yearnings to Sparky the other day, and it reminded him of Sleeford. 
Back in the day when Sparky and Sleeford both worked at the Recyler they used to play tennis at night up at Scholl Canyon, where there are these well lit courts. Sleeford was a very competitive person - he always played to win, and it made Sparky become a better tennis player. Sleef was always a good sport, so it made his competitiveness palatable. Since they were playing at night they were both trying to get the edge on the other person by drinking carrot juice. They both swore that it improved their night vision, so they would buy some juice a couple of hours prior to playing. Sparky would show up after a break with a carrot juice, and Sleef would ask him about it. "Oh. Did you want one, too? I didn't know," Sparky would say innocently. Then Sleeford would go on break and return with a jumbo sized carrot juice and say; "They were all out of the regular size so I had to get a large." Then they would try to out do the other by sneaking off to buy carrot juice as close to their tennis time as possible in order to gain the upper hand. I don't know how much it really helped their night vision, but they both insisted that it did. And Sleeford probably won more tennis matches than Sparky because he wanted the win more. My recent carrot habit hasn't improved my eyesight as far as I can tell, but they sure are tasty.

Monday, November 9, 2009


We are still Misers. Nothing has changed, in fact we are now actually even more Miserly than we were before. Except for one thing: we have way too much stuff to be true Misers. To my mind, a Miser owns nothing! (Although we aren't the King and Queen of Stuff, we must at least be the Duke and Duchess of Stuff.  Or probably more like the Mutt and Jeff of Stuff. Regardless, we have... Too... Much... Stuff.) My plan is to get rid of a lot of this stuff by year's end. We are probably going to be moving sometime down the road. When? Don't know. Where to? Don't know. All I do know is that we've outgrown our small house and need some place a little bit larger, a little less funky, a little more solid. I do know that I'm not packing up all of this stuff that we've accumulated over all of the years that we have lived here. No way. I dream of a simple, austere life where everything we own is handmade, and everything we eat is homegrown. This is unlikely, but we can at least get a little closer to the ideal. And it somehow starts with getting rid of a lot of our stuff. Who really needs it?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Back Home Again, Again

Bee and I just got back from a trip up North to see my family. We went to meet the two newest members of our extended clan, my little twin baby nephews, and to see everyone else of course. Bee loved her new cousins and was very gentle with them - I have to say I am quite proud of her. I liked how she softly patted them on their tiny heads and sweetly cooed to them. The trip went amazingly well except for one minor-ish event which happened on Halloween. (But that wasn't nearly as bad as the multiple disasters we encountered last Christmas at my parents house which is something that none of us will ever forget, another story altogether.)
So Bee and I are back in L.A. with a million things we've got to do between now and Christmas. We are glad to be home and glad to be with Sparky, Glenn and Lila once again. We missed them! It's funny, but when ever I return to L.A. I am always so happy to see palm trees again. They are so exotic and quiescently Los Angeles to me, and seeing them is always comforting because it means I'm back in El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula, which I always seem to miss. Even though the Misers get fed up and exasperated with this town and are often ready to get the hell out of here, it is our home for the time being and we kind of like it here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

High Holy Days

There is a hint of crispness in the air lately, leaves are changing color and falling from trees, it has been getting dark outside way too early, all of which can mean only one thing - postseason baseball is upon us once again. Sparky loves this time of year, he is the biggest baseball fan I know. The Dodgers are his team, and luckily this year they are in the playoffs. They are playing tonight in Philadelphia, and for some odd reason the game is on cable only. That means that Sparky will be listening to Vin Sculley call the game on his trusty old transistor radio, which is missing its antenna and is held together with a rubber band. To Sparky the playoffs and the World Series are the High Holy Days, as baseball is his religion. Sleeford was also a huge baseball fanatic, and we spent many a night watching a game with him, either on the television or at Dodger Stadium. One time Sparky was out walking Glenn The Dog in Elysian during a playoff game, and Sleeford watched the game from home and called it out to Sparky over the phone. Sparky says he did a pretty good job - it was almost as if he was there. If Sleef were still around, we would be spending much of these playoff games with him, which is what makes this time of year so bittersweet. The Dodgers might actually make it to the World Series this year, for the first time since 1988 - High Holy Days indeed!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


About eight years ago Sparky rescued this Hibiscus from certain death at the hands of our friend and neighbor Aimee  (a.k.a The Plant Killer). There was a mate to this plant, but sadly it did not make it. Sparky says that they were both pretty much goners by the time he saved them, and he was actually surprised that one of them made it. Hibiscus are tropical plants and can be found in warm climes such as Hawaii, Florida and Singapore. They are a pretty hardy plant and apparently difficult to kill, so Aimee's talent must have really gone into overdrive. Red Snapper. I think that is the name of this one, but it's not really that red, more of a deepish pink. Anyway, The Plant Killer didn't even notice that her dead plants were missing, and was quite surprised when Sparky pointed the very much alive plant out to her one day. This Hibiscus seems to be in bloom all of the time, and I'm really very attached to it and am thankful that Sparky rescued it from an untimely death.   

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A friend of ours told us that playing with blocks helps toddler girls develop their math skill. Apparently, boys are better at math than girls. I'm not sure where she heard that or if it's even true, but I do know that playing with blocks helps kids with their motor skills, which is supposed to help them perform better both academically and physically. We got Bee a set of nice wooden blocks for Christmas last year, and Sparky and Bee play with them all the time. They build towers as high as they can only to knock them down. They build ramps for toy cars, and elaborate castles that they gleefully destroy by rolling balls into them. They are like the Hindu god Shiva. I like it that Bee enjoys playing with blocks so much; she is a girly girl but she isn't afraid to get dirty and she loves "boy" toys such as dinosaur, weird rubber monsters, cars and balls. Good for her. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Sparky forgot to mention the best thing about yesterday's trip to LACMA: we signed Bee up for a FREE child's membership, good until she is 18 years of age. With this membership she is able to get one adult in for FREE as well. How cool is that? I only wish that MOCA also had this incredible deal. Another good thing about yesterday: we parked for FREE at a broken meter. The Misers hate to pay for parking, so the broken meter was a great accidental find. And I have to mention that I liked the Chris Burden installation Urban Light. Sparky says he would have liked it better if the lampposts weren't all painted a flat grey, but I like their uniform color, which seems especially well suited to L.A.'s current rainy fall weather.  

Monday, October 12, 2009

Misers at LACMA

Guest blogger, Sparky.

Target paid the freight for everyone today, something about Columbus Day, and it made for a good reason to visit an old friend. Actually, some of it was quite new for us as we hadn't been to the Broad wing before, making us absolutely the last people of the art world to attend. All the work was dead familiar, but the shiny Koons gotta make you smile, and Richard Serra proved to be a monstrous force yet again. His giant walls of steel with their fuzzy brown patina almost look cuddly, until you touch them. A blanket only Superman could use. Bee found the maze quality of the piece indistinguishable from a really good playground. We took pictures inside the walls of steel until The Man came along to tell us yet again, "No Photos!" How a tiny digital camera could possibly damage those fabulous walls of rusted steel is beyond me. 
We took a break for coffee and Rice Crispy Treats which simply made our day. Bee even shared the Treats with us. After that it was off to the original LACMA. What we liked best was being able to experience the verve of contemporary art and then steep ourselves in work that has stood the test of time, although a place can never have too many Rothkos for my taste. Funny, though, how so many of the Ab Ex works seem to have lost their mojo, never to return again. My theory is that interior design has so thoroughly co-opted these works as a decorative force (appropriated, really) that when you come face to face with the real deal it seems almost fake. Franz Klein used to thrill me like a Duanne Allman solo, but today it just looked like tired student work. And although I never cared for Morris Lewis or Frankenthaler, I now actively dislike their work. Ellsworth Kelley is another whose works just elicit a profound afternoon yawn. I shook my head trying to remember what used to stoke me about this work, and then I didn't. Win some, lose the rest.   
At the suggestion of some elderly membership ladies, we went into the Korean exhibition where they've set aside a room for kids to paint. That was a gas. The entire Miser trio painted away and were really quite happy with our endeavors. All of them surpassed that massive Frankenthaler that was abusing a wall and wasting space a few doors over. Bee even got a balloon out of the deal - red or white as it was sponsored by Target. 
And so a splendid time was had by all. I was even inspired to start a new series designed to succeed. It will be pretty much all red and white with Rauschenberg variations on the word Target. Maybe I'll be sponsoring a free day at the museum some time in the future if it does well. 

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dog Mural

There is a dog mural painted on the side of an apartment building in North Hollywood. We often drive by it on our way to visit friends there. The poor mural does a decent job, but the setting is rather pathetic. The apartment building is located on a beat up street, across from some large electrical towers and a dog park that once used to have grass but is now reduced to dirt and weeds. The whole place seems dangerous and downtrodden, and every time we drive by it I'm thankful that we don't live there. But Bee loves the painting and talks about it long after we've passed it. Sparky thinks its wacky and he likes it because Bee likes it. I'm just sort of amazed that someone actually took the time to paint it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Knitting Redux

Today I found myself with some free time, so Bee and I dug out my box of knitting supplies and went through it. I have five projects I've never finished, and out of that only three that I am actually going to complete. I'm currently making Bee a sweater, and it hasn't been much fun to knit. I'm not very good at knitting sweaters, I always seem to screw them up somehow. I'm not sure why. I can make blankets, toys, and accessories galore, but when it comes to sweaters forget about it. But the more I knit the better I get, so I'm going to soldier on with the damn sweater. Then I can start on the projects I really want to make: some stuffed animals and toys, a wrap, some scarfs, a couple of pairs of fingerless gloves, a felted bag, and a blanket.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Anne Wee

A guy who lives up the street from us has three teeny poofy white dogs that he walks up and down the alley behind our house. This guy has long hair, a long braided beard, and multiple tattoos and piercings. He does not look like the sort who would have such precious little dogs; instead, he looks like he should have a large,  macho type dog or two. Every time I see him, I am reminded of a comic I drew under the alias Anne Wee for an artist publication of comics way back in 1992. I have to admit that it was a poorly executed comic on my part, and the idea was hardly original, but I still laugh when I think about it. My brother Bruin (a.ka. John Steinbeck), was also published in this same paper, and his comics were by far the funniest. 

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Free Stuff

Lately, for some strange reason, I've been getting free stuff in the mail. Last week, I received a free T-shirt from SPCA International with a picture of a patriotic puppy on it. Yesterday, Vons sent me some free cat food, and today I found a box of free Kotex samples stuffed into my mailbox. As a miser I appreciate it; Lila Mae Cat will enjoy the cat food, spare tampons always come in handy, and Sparky actually wore the T-shirt the other day. Now if only someone would send me some free money. We could use another stimulus check right about now. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hetch Hetchy

We've been watching the Ken Burns documentary "National Parks: America's Best Idea." Since visiting all of the National Parks with Bee has become our Thing, we are very much interested in this film. Sparky and I also have a keen curiosity regarding Northern California's Hetch Hetchy. We got lost on a road trip once and ended up there, and thought "What the hell? This used to be a valley like Yosemite? And it ended up as a reservoir to provide water to San Francisco... How could that have happened?" It looked like it was man made, it was rather unsettling. The other night we found out all about it from watching the Burns movie. OMG. 
It was the Great San Francisco Quake of '06 that allowed Congress to turn a National Park into a Reservoir. The businessmen who backed this idea lied, and said that if Hetch Hetch had been dammed in the first place the Quake would not have caused so much fire damage. What? They could have found other sources of water, they didn't have to dam it. Hetch Hetchy is supposedly the twin of Yosemite, it was just as beautiful and awesome - before it was drowned by backward thinking politicians and businessmen. There has been a movement to drain Hetch Hetchy and restore it to its former glory for years, and it has been gaining traction recently. I think I need to join this movement. It would be great if this actually happened one day. Forget about San Fransisco; they can find water elsewhere. Give us back our National Park!

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Of Those Days

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seemingly goes wrong, and then to top things off your small child is acting like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, all nice and sweet one moment and like a screaming little dictator the next, and what you really want to do is run away from home, preferably to some place warm and tropical, never to be seen by your loved ones again, but instead you opt for Plan B, which involves putting the lil' despot to bed, and then drinking copious amounts of wine and watching The Sopranos on DVD with your husband? I thought so.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Bee is very proud of the fact that she can curl her tongue. So can her Daddy. I, on the other hand, am not able to perform this simple feat, and Bee somehow finds this to be hilarious. I originally thought that the ability to curl or to roll your tongue into a tube shape was something that was passed down by your biological parents, but I found out today that it might not be the case! Here are some tongue facts: 

Back in the seventies a study was done involving identical twins and it was discovered that although they shared the same genes, 1/3 of them did not share the tongue curling trait. So now it is hotly debated amongst the scientific community whether or not it is genetically inherited. 

The majority of people worldwide are able to curl their tongues, therefore I am in the minority. 

It is thought that perhaps our ancestors used this ability for speaking, eating, or drinking. That means I would have been screwed. 

In our little family, 2/3 are able to curl their tongues. I am the odd man out. Sparky and Bee are Star-Belly Sneetches, while I am of the Plain-Belly Sneetch variety, sad because I am without a star. I feel as though Sparky and Bee owe me something, but I'm not sure what or why.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Civic Duty

This morning, the Misers got on the subway at Vermont and Santa Monica and headed downtown for a health care reform rally. It felt good to get out there and support this very important issue, but I'm not sure if it makes a difference anymore. Sparky has become very disenchanted with this once mighty country of ours. He thinks it has becoming overrun by moronic right wing nut jobs who don't know their own best interests from a hole in the ground. I have to agree with this assessment as there are just way too many Sarah Palin supporters out there in Jesusland. (Because of the sorry state of these United States, the Misers have seriously been thinking about becoming expatriates.) The rally was at 7th and Figueroa, and although the crowd wasn't huge it was certainly boisterous. The busy business men and women who work downtown could not have been more jaded, and one of these suits actually shouted out "You lie." I kind of wanted to kick him really hard in the shins, but the police officers lurking about made way for him to beat a hasty retreat. Most of the crowd there were older folks and middle aged hippies. I guess most of the young Obama supporters were in school or at work. Sparky and I watched our President on The David Letterman Show last night, and we were both impressed with his eloquence, intelligence, and innovative ideas. It made us want to go out today and help try to make this a better country for all. The Misers are a family of idealists. Anyway, my favorite part of the rally was holding up our signs and getting drivers to honk in support. Sparky's favorite part was the chanting and the hooting and hollering. And Bee's favorite part was riding up and down the escalators in the subway stations. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

Endless Summer

If you have to be a Miser it helps to live in the right place. The weather in SoCal makes it pretty conducive for not having a lot of money, especially when you can go to the beach whenever you want. The beach today was brilliant, the water was sparkly and warm, and we had our usual fun. As long as the weather stays nice and the ocean stays warmish, we can continue our beach going ways well into fall. The Autumnal Equinox is in a few days - September 22nd at 9:18pm, but we are not going to let this stop our oceanic good times.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giant Chair

Today, as I was doing an errand in downtown Los Angeles, I was startled to look up and see a Giant Chair. It was just sitting there in a parking lot on Hill and Washington. What the hell? Where did it come from and how long has it been there? At first I imagined that it was a Claus Oldenburg, but it wasn't nearly pop enough to be him. I googled it and discovered that it was created by an Italian artist, Giancarlo Neri, it's 30 feet tall, and there is a matching table that currently resides somewhere in London. The work apparently is a comment on the loneliness of writing, but I think it might just be about really big furniture.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Though I've always been a fan of musicals, Sparky hasn't been, but he is starting to not hate them - believe it, or not. A couple of years ago we saw  "Across the Universe" and we both enjoyed it immensely. Of course, in Sparky's case, it helped that he really likes the Beatles. I mean, you can't go wrong with that picture if you are fanatical about the Fab Four. The other night we watched "Singing In The Rain". Although in the past Sparky has seen bits and pieces of the movie, it was the first time he watched it in it's entirety. He mostly liked it. I think he preferred it to "The Sound of Music" which I made him watch a few months ago. He just thinks it's queer when people start to sing for no apparent reason, but he does like the insane dancing that often accompanies these numbers. He was quite impressed with both Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor's hoofing abilities. And the crazy psychedelic technicolor sets. Our dear Sleeford was a musical buff, and he and I would spend hours talking about our favorites. We both liked Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, and all the fabulous dancers of yore. Sparky would never participate in these conversations, and he thought we were both nuts. Bee also enjoys musicals, and I have loaded several onto the iPod for her. And for me. And maybe even a little bit for Sparky. We may get him on our side yet. Next on our musical agenda: "Westside Story." Sparky says he can hardly wait!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Sparky has started a great new series of paintings whereby Bee tells him what to paint, and he incorporates her incongruous ideas onto the canvas. These paintings are colorful, and have a wonderful, happy loopy feeling to them. The latest one he is working on uses imagery of giraffes, peaches, and the Kentucky Derby. It reminded me of our last visit to the Woodland Park Zoo with my parents a couple of weeks ago. Bee especially loves elephants and giraffes, and we always have to see both whenever we are at a zoo. The elephants were especially charming this time around, as one of them, a young Asian female named Bamboo, peeled and ate an orange with her trunk, and then proceeded to pee and poop copious amounts of urine and dung for the entertainment of all the kids. They hooted and hollered as she peed what seemed to be a rather large river: this big stream of urine went on forever. And the poops were enormous. It was pretty amazing, and we all clapped when she was finished. Bee still talks about it. Next, we stopped in to visit the giraffes. The zoo has this program in place where you can pay $5 to feed the giraffes from a platform. We showed up right before this feeding took place and the giraffes seemed to know it was almost time. One of them walked up to us, stretched his head in our direction, almost touching us as he smelled for food. Then he'd back up and do it all over again. It was kind of weird, this poor giraffe just kept repeating this process, like a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I felt sorry for this poor OCD giraffe. I would much rather the animals were in their natural habitats instead of locked up, but some zoos were better than others, and Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo is pretty nice. And the giraffes had plenty of room, lots of friends to socialize with, and probably enjoy being hand fed by adoring zoo patrons. I recently read an articles in the Los Angeles Times about Jane Goodall. And although she would rather see animals in the wild, due to several factors (shrinking habitats, some animals being endangered, some being hunted), she feels that  zoos are often a safer place for them, and I have to agree with her.  (One of the interesting things about Jane Goodall is that she suffers from Prosopagnosia, a.k.a. face blindness, which is a memory impairment for faces and patterns. Oddly, she cannot recognize peoples faces, but has no problem recognizing her beloved chimps. How strange! It is mentioned in practically every article about her, but I always forget about it, and then I'm amazed by it all over again.)
Anyway, Sparky's new paintings are psychedelic both conceptually and physically, and have a wacky immediacy to them, and I can't wait to see this latest one finished. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Two of my all time favorite hot sauces are King Taco's Salsa Roja and Malo's Burnt Haberno and Creme Salsa. Yum. They are both muy delicioso: smokey and spicy with a nice bite. The Salsa Roja is a top secret, closely guarded family recipe. And the Burnt Haberno might be one as well be because I can't find the recipe anywhere. The ingredients for Malo's supposedly are: canned chipotle peppers, lime juice, orange juice, and creme fraiche (according to a food server who works there [according to]) But I have no idea how much of what goes into it. Also on the Chowhound site are various attempts at recreating the King Taco salsa, but not a single person has been able to capture it in totality. 
I'm thinking of both of these salsas right now because I'm craving them at the moment, and because Sparky's big mess of chilis are almost all ripe and we need to do something with them. We'll have to play around with them and see what we can come up with. We need to explore further.  

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

It's funny, but I've been working all Labor Day Weekend, and I have a lot more to do today. Labor Day! Wheeeee! I'm actually spending it laboring away, although I know that's not what the socialists who invented this holiday had in mind. Their intent was to allow the worker bee a day off from their normal five day a week, eight hour a day schedule - which they also came up with. What's happened? As far as I can tell, the normal eight hour a day, five day a week thing has gone the way of the platypus. If you are lucky enough to have a job these days, most likely you are spending way more more time doing it and getting paid way less money for your endeavours. What has happened to all the socialists?  And why do Americans hate them so? We have become a country of whiny, self-centered capitalists who complain about every single little tax. As long as we have ours, what do we care about the rest of humankind who may need some help? Who wants to live in a civilized society anyway? 
I remember hating Labor Day when I was young. It symbolized the end of summer vacation, and the start of school. Not that I hated school. It's just that I loved summer, as did every other kid I knew. Also, no Labor Day was complete without watching a bit of  The Jerry Lewis Telethon. It is the Mother of all telethons. And it's still on. And still just as boring. Jerry Lewis looks to be about 100. But he is doing something for those less fortunate, children nonetheless, so you've got to commend him for it. Anyway, have I mentioned that Labor Day is not my favorite holiday? I want to be a good socialist and enjoy it, but I guess I'm just too radical. Oh, well. Back to the grindstone.   

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Aloe Vera

Yesterday at the beach I made the rookie mistake of not putting sunscreen on my back. I can't believe I did it, but I did. I just forgot. I put sunscreen everywhere else but since I couldn't reach my back I was going to have Sparky do it, but I forgot to ask him and he forgot to offer. I made sure Bee was completely covered, and Sparky wears a short sleeve surfer top so he was covered as well. I have a pretty nasty sunburn on my back right now. The first sunburn I've had in years because I'm usually very diligent about sun protection. Thank god Bee is not burned anywhere on her still perfect creamy baby skin. Last night Sparky clipped some aloe vera from our yard, and rubbed the jelly of the freshly picked succulent all over my back. Fresh aloe vera is amazingly soothing, and works like magic on various skin woes - especially sunburns. Sparky first used this wondrous healing salve some time last century, back when he was a hippy hitchhiking across Florida. He had been standing in the sun all day, trying to hitch a ride somewhere and got horribly sunburned in the process. That night, after managing to catch a ride to where ever it was he was going, he ran into a woman who clipped some aloe vera from her yard and made him rub it on his sunburn. Who was this mysterious, wise and ancient shaman? Who ever she was, she was surely knowledgeable in the healing arts. At the time Sparky thought that she was so old, but now he says she was probably in her 40s. Jesus. Why do young adults always think people my age are so damn old? I don't feel old, just seriously sunburned. Sparky rubbed more aloe on my back today, and it is actually looking and feeling better. The lesson I learned is to always remember to coat yourself in sunscreen when spending a day at the beach, and to always have plenty of medicinal plants at the ready.  

Friday, September 4, 2009


Today after the Misers spent the BEST DAY EVER at the beach, we came home and grabbed Glenn The Dog to bring him along to an healthcare reform rally at the Los Angeles State Historic Park (a.k.a The Cornfield) in beautiful Chinatown. (Sparky and I have both decided that when we finally move away from Los Angeles, Chinatown is one of the few places that we will actually miss.) Dianne Feinstein was to be at this rally, and it was going to be huge! I received a phone call last night about this event from a lovely elderly woman from Chicago. She was a great gal, and we chatted about the sad state of healthcare in this great country of ours, and the crazy yahoos who oppose reform. I told her that I would be there for sure, and she said I could bring my dog and to tell my friends and neighbors about it as it was to be the last such event. When we ran home after the beach to get Glenn The Dog, there was a message on our home phone (in both English and Spanish) reminding us about the rally. We were on our way!
When we got to the park, we were surprised to see hardly anybody there. What? The? F? Where was everybody? We stopped and asked a Park Ranger about it and he informed us that it was actually yesterday. What? The? F? Why did that lady call me last night to tell us that it was TODAY, and why was there a message on our phone TODAY reminding us not to miss the rally TODAY? Was that old lady from Chicago really a Republican working for some insurance company purposely feeding me misinformation? How could that be possible? She seemed so nice. I just don't get it.
On the way home from the missed rally, we drove past Elysian Park where we saw a large gaggle of people. Maybe this was where the healthcare reform rally really was. We pulled over to get a closer look. It seemed odd that all the men and young boys were wearing kahkis, and all the women folk were wearing skirts. All of them. And then we spotted a "Vote Yes on Prop 8" sticker on a parked pickup truck. Whoops. Wrong rally. Feets, don't fail me now!  

Thursday, September 3, 2009


The beach today was great. The air there was a million times better than the air here in Echo Park. We walked along the beach with our shoes off, and Bee was fearless about running into the ocean. Then we strolled over to the Santa Monica Pier and had ice cream cones. It was so agreeable that we plan on going back tomorrow for an all day outing. We're going earlier this time, and I'll have a nice run in some clean ocean air. We'll play in the waves with Bee, picnic, boogie board, and then return home before rush hour. Sadly (or happily), working tomorrow does not fit into our scheme which means I'll be working all weekend. But it can't be helped because we absolutely need some salvation from the apocalyptic atmosphere that currently exists on our side of town. It's really grody here. 

Back Home Again

Bee and I just got back last night, having been up in the Great PNW visiting my family for the past two weeks. We left poor Sparky behind in Hell A, and as half of it is on fire, it really does seem like a level from Dante's Inferno right now. No Paradise anywhere as far as I can tell. What the hell has happened here since we've been gone? I walked outside this morning and my eyes stung from the air. There is a layer of ash on my car. The sunlight looks murky and strange. I had been planning on working today, but it is so gross out that we have decided to take Bee to the beach instead. Probably the air is better by the ocean. Sparky is amazed by how much Bee has grown in the short amount of time we've been gone. He missed her! Me, not so much. Well, maybe a little bit... Anyway, to the beach we go.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Watermelon Festival

Yesterday, The Misers joined some friends at The Sunland-Tujunga Watermelon Festival. It cost $1 each for Sparky and I to get in, and Bee was free. Plus, there was free watermelon for everyone! What a festival! Sparky and his friend partnered up for the watermelon race, where they had to run carrying a greased watermelon. They came in third and won a pair of chessy sunglasses. The highlights for Bee were going down the Super Side with Sparky on a gunny sack and playing in the playground with her little friends. It was very hot at the festival, and when we left we were covered in sweat, dirt, and watermelon juice. Overall it was some cheap, dusty fun in the sun for The Misers. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Soylent Green Is People!"

I've never seen the movie "Soylent Green" but I've always wanted to. It's probably a better movie in my head, though: Sparky has seen it and says it's not very good. The main plot of this 1973 movie is that it's the year 2022 and the world is in horrible shape: it's overpopulated, almost everyone is unemployed, all the oceans are fished out, and there is no more arable land, thus no more food supply for the masses, plus it's hot as hell due to climate change. The world is so sucky, that people often opt for voluntary euthanasia or "going home" as it's euphemistically known. Soylent Green are these nutritional food wafers made from plankton that is rationed out to the population to keep them from starving. Anyway, a bunch of stuff apparently happens in the movie, which ends with Charlton Heston's character delivering the line: "Soylent Green is people! We've got to stop them somehow!" All the people who opted for assisted suicide were ground up and made into food! How scary is that?
It's almost as scary as Sarah Palin. She is actually out there inciting near riots from her idiot supporters (who are all those people? And where do they come from?) She is actually telling them that the government wants to take away health insurance from her and her baby with Down syndrome. What a liar. Plus, she doesn't ever have to worry about health care, not with her multi million dollar book deal. Rush Limbaugh doesn't have to worry about health insurance either, yet he won't stop inciting people to get out there and protest at these town hall meetings, based on a bunch of lies that he won't stop spouting. The Misers are very angry at these ridiculously uninformed people who call this "Nazi Health Care" and  claim that the government is going to kill the elderly and infirm instead of take care of them. WTF? It makes me embarrassed to be an American. It's as though the ditto heads and Palin supporters are working for the insurance companies.
And it also reminds me of the hideous scenario in the novel, "Wicked World", where in 2067 the downtrodden of America with no other options line up outside of dog food factories, their heads hanging low. Soon they will ride giant conveyor belts set to drop them howling into giant blending machines. They do this knowingly, their lives are that bad. These machines then empty onto another conveyor belt where salt and seasoning is added before sending their pulverized remains into the cooking ovens. The final trip from there is onto the packing line where the finished product is stuffed into dog food cans. Sadly, many of these people's last meals had been dog food...
Palin and Limbaugh and their ilk, wealthy and insured with top quality care for them and their families into perpetuity, are doing nothing less obscene to the poor and middle class of America today with their sick tirades of nightmarish distortion and vehemence against health insurance reform. What are they really afraid of? Americans eating dog food? Already happens. Really, would Universal Care be all that bad, Ms. Palin? Our child would love to be covered by it, you can take care of your own quite nicely, thank you very much.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

50 Cents

Los Angeles is such a familiar place to me now that I'm jolted when the disparate, alienated reality of it strikes me from time to time. It's the usual cliches: cars are soulless boxes with soulless people locked inside of them talking on their phones to other soulless shut-ins. Talk to someone on the street? Are you kidding me? Conversation when walking the dog with other dog walkers? Typically hostile, put your dog on a leash type stuff. Talk to your next door neighbor? A rare occurrence, but possible, especially after a big earthquake when the power is out, the city smothered in darkness, and all desperate to know what the hell is going on. But more often than not you're on your own.
But at the confluence of Glendale and Alvarado, where two relentless rivers of asphalt are overrun by every possible vehicle, a pan handler works the crowd. He's a white guy, early 30's, skinny and not too tall. He is, of course, a little ragged around the edges, but that comes with the territory. His sign has seen better days. The beat down scrap of cardboard reads, "Hungry. Need Food. Thanks!" He's been living the dream at this intersection for the last five years. 
One day, feeling no more prosperous or sympathetic than usual, I gave him some change while waiting for the light to change. Glenn The Dog was with me, and he's a large Dobberman mix. My feelings toward this exchange were equal parts hoping for good karma, altruism, and that sense of "there but for the grace of God go I..." And so I said as I put 50 cents in his hand, "It's all I got." He said, "It's all good!" And then he pulled the ill advised move of putting his hand just inside the dog's window. That could have gone two ways: he's now got a hook for a left hand; or Glenn would let himself be petted. That morning dog abided. "He's a good boy, man. Take care of that dog. I used to have one a lot like him." And then the light changed and I moved on with the river.
That was six weeks ago. This afternoon The Misers were rolling through the hood when the light went red at Panhandlers Gulch. We were three cars from the front, but I recognized my guy. I fished out the last of my parking change. He was wading through the cars rubbing his stomach and miming spoonfuls of porridge into his mouth as the windows slid shut leaving nothing but black tinting for the hungry man. I gestured to him. "It's all I got." "No problem, man. I appreciate it." And then, "Hey. I remember this guy." And he petted the dog once again. "You think he remembers me?" "I think dogs remember the smell of people. I think they have a rolodex of thousands of smells to remember people by." "Huh. That's something. Anyway, thanks again." Even with his back turned to the light he could sense a change of colors and jumped out of the way. The traffic he waded through daily would just as soon run him down and then flatten him car after car until he was nothing more than another mysterious stain on the road. 
Peanut looked at me funny. Weren't The Misers supposed to be watching every nickel? I mean, The New Depression hasn't even gone into the fourth inning. "I just realized that I like to give that guy change because he talks to me. I know it's kind of pathetic, but for 50 cents, I get just enough conversation with the outside world to last me all day." And it was then that I had one of those previously mentioned moments of clarity involving the distance we all share in the Los Angeles megapolis. But to bust out of that for a few moments is easily worth 50 cents, even if you're a Miser.
(Guest Blogger Sparky)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Atheists United

This morning when I was walking home after my run around Echo Park Lake, some guy flashed me the peace sign and said "god bless you." I hadn't sneezed or anything so I wasn't really sure why he said it and I think I must have mumbled "thank you," or "whatever," or "fuck you very much," in reply. The guy was with a gang of  Christians on their way to the Dream Center at the Aimee Semple McPherson Angelus Temple a.k.a The Foursquare Heritage Center, which is on Park Avenue across the street from Echo Park Lake. (Marilyn Monroe was baptized there, which is it's big claim to fame.) Since I've been exercising at the lake for years now I'm used to getting accosted by the Christians from this church. I guess it's in one of their bylaws that they have to go out and proselytize. I am an atheist, but I never tell them. I'm always polite and smile at them. But still I get annoyed that they look at me and assume I need or want to be "saved". Even if I were Christian I would most likely be a Catholic because that is what I was raised as. And if I were still a Catholic I would be annoyed that they were attempting to convert me. I don't really mind religious folk as long as they keep it to themselves. I do mind when people tell me that my life must be empty, shallow, and without purpose because I don't believe in god.  

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Stair Master

Since I can't run everyday as it's way too hard on my old body, I've been looking around for some other exercise to do on my off days. I think I found it. And it's free! I obviously can't afford to join a gym, and even though I do like yoga, the cost of classes are a bit too prohibitive for me these days, so I've decided to run up and down stairs. We are fortunate to live in hilly Echo Park, which is lousy with public stairways. There are more than a dozen of these gems scattered throughout our neighborhood. I even found a website that has a listing of  The Echo Park Stairways, their condition and location, and the number of steps they contain. This morning, I ran up the Bellevue Stairways, which contains 55 steps and is marred by graffiti and a hideous mural of the L.A. Marathon. I went up and down these three times, and at the top was awarded with a beautiful view of Echo Park Lake. I'm just trying to ease my way into this new exercise of mine, I don't want to kill myself at this point so I've decided to start off slowly. Still, when I got home and walked up the stairs in our house, my legs felt like spaghetti. This new exercise routine is the poor man's equivalent of cross training. Kind of like Rocky but without the frozen sides of beef. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Today I received a letter in the mail for the first time in ages. Nobody writes letters anymore. It's all about e-mail, MySpace, Facebook, and other online social networks. It's really too bad, because getting a letter is one of the great little things in life. When I first moved to Los Angeles years ago, I used to get letter all the time from family and friends. That was before computers took over the world. I miss getting letters. Anyway, I found a bona fide letter addressed to me (Mrs. Sparky McManus) in our old, shot up mailbox. Our mailbox has five bullet holes in it, which happened to it before we moved in. Why would anyone shoot up a mailbox? For some reason it's always intrigued both Sparky and I, which is probably why we've never replaced it. The letter was from my mother-in-law. Nanny does not have an e-mail account nor a computer, so she still writes the old fashioned way.  She owns stationary! It was a great letter, especially because it contained a recipe for fudge. A FOOL PROOF recipe for fudge. You see, I am a fool when it comes to making fudge. I can bake a perfect loaf of bread that rises beautifully but I can't make a pan of fudge to save my life. And for some reason, I try to make some every year at Christmas. Last year, I made two different kinds of fudge and neither one of them turned out worth a hoot. One pan of fudge never got hard at all, and the other hardened but had a weird grainy texture. Last Spring when we were back in the Heartland visiting Sparky's family, Nanny and I got to talking about fudge (I have no idea why) and I told her about my fudge making delimma. She told me that she had a FOOL PROOF recipe for fudge that she's been using for years and years and she would give it to me. Only she couldn't find it. She said she'd look for it and give it to me later. Well, she found it and mailed it to me, thus the letter. I'm not really in a fudge making mood right now as it's the middle of Summer, but this Christmas I'll make it for sure.  I admit that I'm a little bit scared to try it because I'm sure I'll muck it up somehow. The recipe seems so simple, too simple if you ask me. Here it is: 1 package Nestles chocolate chips (already I'm starting to panic - milk chocolate or semi-sweet?); 1 can Eagles Brand sweetened milk (that's condensed milk, right?); 1/4 teaspoon vanilla - if you want (if you want? What does that mean? Is is better with it or without it? Also, 1/4 of a teaspoon doesn't sound like much. I'd be inclined to add more); Nuts - also if you want (I'm calming down a bit because nuts I get.) Melt chocolate and milk, mix thoroughly, spread in pan (oh god, what sized pan? Does it matter? And what about the vanilla and nuts if you want? When do you add those?) and refrigerate. FOOL PROOF! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

View Out Our Kitchen Window

I've always liked this view out our kitchen window at sunset when there are clouds in the sky. It makes our neighbor's pathetic garage look somehow romantic. I also like it when the clouds turn all pink. I've always heard that smoggy cities have some of the best sunsets.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dog Days

The Misers have been enjoying summer as much as humanly possible. We've been going on picnics, hanging out at our friend's pool, going to the beach, and basically just being lazy and not spending any money. It's the dog days and the living is easy. We've been keeping it simple, eating a lot of food from our garden (tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes), and enjoying the heat like a gang of lizards. Bee's is growing like a weed and talking like the little chatterbox that she has become. I've been running and not falling down (thank god), baking, knitting, making my ceramic pots, and working here and there. I've also been drinking iced green tea instead of Diet Coke, and I've stopped saying "You know what?" (Instead I've been saying "You know what I think?" Which is just as annoying. I probably need help.) Sparky's been gardening, working, and playing baseball whenever he gets the chance. It's funny, this is the most miserly summer we've ever had, but overall I can't recall a better summer. 

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bowl Amarillo

Sometimes you can see the sadness coming. The signs reveal themselves in advance instead of employing  their usual obfuscation and stealth that leave you stunned when sorrow bites like lightening. This time I know it's coming, and will enjoy being in the moment even more so because the inevitable has already revealed itself. Bee's tiny yellow Fiesta bowl is not long for this world. 
I first noticed the crack a few weeks ago, but fell into denial as it seemed to stabilize. In fact, I noticed no difference in it during the many hand washings during the month of July. This bowl is the perfect size for Bee proportions. Strawberries, hot dog slices, yogurt, peaches, pastas and broccoli, all have shared the tiny yellow bowl before becoming a part of Bee. But yesterday the truth  confronted me as I stood stooping above the kitchen sink, scrubby in hand: the crack was growing. It's the size of the Arkansas River now, and shows no signs of slowing. And sure, we'll keep using the little yellow bowl until it pops in half. But as my religion forbids me from repairing broken crockery, the day the crack jumps its banks will be the end of the bowl, and the beginning of a small, sweet moment of sorrow. In advance I say, "Good-bye, Bowl Amarillo!"
(Guest Blogger Sparky)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Liquid Crack

I'm trying to quit my Diet Coke habit. I usually have one every day, with ice. Lots and lots of ice. I know that Diet Coke is not very healthy, so I'm trying to give it up completely. I thought I'd switch to ice tea. Sun tea, in fact, made from green tea. With fresh mint leaves from our garden. Sun green tea has got to be way healthier than Diet Coke, and since I'm making it myself, way cheaper. A win-win for this Miser. But I'm a little nervous  because Diet Coke must have some weird chemical in it that makes highly addictive. It's really difficult to quit drinking it cold turkey. I'm craving one right now, in fact. Diet Coke is my Liquid Crack. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

New Career!

The New Depression has us always thinking about ways to save, and ways to make money. I'd say by now we've honed our lifestyle down to one notch above homeless, so there's not a lot of work to be done in that direction. But ways to make money? They spring eternal. My latest career path hit me today as we drove into the San Bernardino Mountains for a picnic by the creek. The Misers have become hardcore picnickers, if there is such a thing, simply because it's so much cheaper than paying for lunch somewhere. And we get to bring Glenn the Dog. Among the Misers, he's happiest about this arrangement. Food and a park? Does it get any better for a dog? I don't think so.
As we entered the National Forest area of the mountains the ubiquitous Fire Danger sign caught my eye. Today we were at Level Orange. One match probably couldn't burn the forest down, but it could do a lot of damage... But that was it! The sign! It combined three things quite dear to me, wood carving, painting, and a strong concern for natural habitat. So I'm going to be out in the studio for next few weeks making a variety of Fire Danger signs. I'll introduce new imagery, a new set of color codes (really, yellow, orange and red are kind of played out), and maybe write some safety slogans like, "It's hot and dry, be careful with your fire, cause if it starts burning, we'll hang you from a wire." Then I'll put together a portfolio that I can trot around to all the National Parks in America. I'll become a kind of traveling salesman for wilderness fire safety. I may even knock out a few different models of Smokey the Bear, and introduce a new fire conscious spokes-animal, Flaming Giraffe. He'll be one level above old Smokey. Flaming G. will demonstrate the actual hurt that a fire can put on you and the land you're supposed to love. So next time you're entering a National Park or Wilderness Area, and wonder to yourself what the Fire Danger level is, be looking for some new signage. That'll be me!
(Guest Blogger Sparky "Fire Saftey First" McManus)