Saturday, January 31, 2009


The Misers decided to enjoy the day by taking a trip to the Merry-Go-Round at Griffith Park. It's a beautiful old thing built in 1926, and it's currently being refurbished. Because of that, the prices have gone up from $1.50 per person to $2. Still, it's a bargain to a Miser. We had to go on it twice because Bee loved it so much. Ditto for Sparky and Peanut! Bee was mesmerised by the whole experience of it: the up and down movement of the horses, the crazy carnival lights, the music, the spinning of the merry-go-round - it may have overwhelmed her a bit, but she absolutely loved it nonetheless, and would have ridden on it all day long if we had let her. Sparky wishes we had one of our very own in our backyard. He claims that he would ride on it for an hour at a time while wearing one of those beer helmets so that he could remain hydrated.
My favorite part is when the merry-go-round picks up speed and starts really whizzing around and around. I always sit on an outside horse because it makes it seem like you're going faster. And I think of Hitchcock's "Stranger On A Train", one of Sleeford's favorite movies. I love that manical gun fight scene on the merry-go-round where the two main characters Bruno and Guy are battling it out, and then the ride operator accidentally gets shot and and collapses on the controls which in turn causes it to pick up speed and careen out of control! It picks up so much speed that it breaks off its axle! Chaos ensues! That's got to be the most exciting merry-go-round scene of all time.
Sparky says we are very fortunate to live in an area where we are so close to so much inexpensive entertainment, and I wholeheartedly concur. Here's our new slogan: Welcome to Beautiful Echo Park, California: A Miser's Paradise!

Friday, January 30, 2009

King Of The Hill

It was another beautiful day in Los Angeles, and The Misers took their usual afternoon walk at Elysian Park. Bee has discovered a new thing: she likes to roll down grassy hills (with Sparky's help, of course.) So after walking around on the paths, we all rolled down this sweet grassy hill. One good thing about being underemployed and having all this great time with Bee is that it's sort of like having a second childhood, only not as brutal. An example of my childhood brutality was a simple game we enjoyed playing called "King Of The Hill". The object of the game was pretty simple: everyone ran up a grassy hill and the first person to the top shouted out "I'm the king of the hill!" And then everybody else tried to displace this person by pushing them off the hill. Whoever succeded was the new king until they too were beaten from this position. As I recall, nobody was ever king for very long.
I mentioned to Sparky how I thought Bee would have excelled at this game, and he had never even heard of it, let alone played it. I surmise the reason for this is that he is from Rushville, Indiana, and it is very flat there. Kind of like a pancake. No hills! No king of the hill! I'm originally from Seattle, Sparky's from Rushville, and little Bee was born right here in Los Angeles. The Mid-West is very different from the West Coast, they have different weather there, different accents there, different customs there, different childhood games there. It sometimes seems like a different country. No wonder America sometimes feels so divided. Does this make The Misers a multi-cultural family? It certainly feels that way at times, and I like it. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Flowbee

Remember the Flowbee? The haircutting machine from the 80's attached to a vacuum cleaner that gave you a precise, professional haircut every time? Well, I wish I had one. The thing itself is kind of scary, but I like the idea of it: saving money by cutting your own hair in the comfort of you own home! Today I cut my family's hair without a Flowbee, opting instead to go the old fashioned route using a pair of scissors and a comb. 
I read an article in the paper a few weeks ago about how more people are saving money by going to Supercuts instead of their usual hair salon in order to save a few bucks. I went one better by giving us all home haircuts, including myself. Sparky's hair was fairly easy to cut - he doesn't really have a lot of it, and it was simple to just cut it nice and short. (He knows it's time for a haircut when his brown Borcellino won't fit because it's too snug. Then he calls for a "high & tight".) I trimmed the ends of my own hair by looking in the mirror, which was kind of tricky because everything is backwards. But I managed to snip those split ends right off. I usually just keep my hair pulled back in a sensible Jane Goodall ponytail, so there was no real styling going on. (I hate having hair hanging in my face, I hate the way it feels. I can't stand it when I see women on the television with long bangs that hang in their eyes - every time they blink, the hair clings to their mascaraed eyelashes. "Get that hair out of your eyes!" I want to yell at them. I think it would be really great to have a crew cut, and then I wouldn't have to mess with my hair at all, but everyone always looks at me aghast when I mention this idea. Maybe someday...)
Bee's hair is the hardest to cut. It's very fine, and she won't sit still for very long. So I just trimmed her bangs, and I'm proud to say that I managed to cut them fairly straight. (I remember when I was in grade school my dad would cut our hair, and my bangs were always crooked. I finally wised up and grew my bangs out.) 
Anyway, I saved our family money  by DIYing it. The secret to cutting hair at home is to use very sharp scissors, keep the hair damp, and take your time - stand back and look at your handy work from time to time. Afterwards, when all our hair was shorn, we celebrated by dancing  to The Kinks "Victoria". It was just a fun thing to do, and Bee is a very good dancer and always enjoys a party atmosphere.  And someday soon I may actually break down and buy the Flowbee, but at $69.99 (NOT including the mini vac) it's a little outside of The Miser's budget.
P.S. The Misers did not win the Super Lotto - we didn't even get a single number!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


On our way home from the market the other day, Sparky, Bee and I stopped and picked up a lottery ticket. The Misers have many different schemes/get quick rich ideas/money making ventures, and winning the Super Lotto is one of them. We don't buy tickets all the time, only when we are feeling especially lucky or when its an exceedingly large pot, like it is right now. Once, when I was living in Seattle I bought a lottery ticket that had four out of five winning numbers. I was so excited because surely I had won a few hundred dollars at least, if not more! I remember we had to take it to an official lottery office, not the convenience store that had sold it to me. So it had to be worth a lot, right? Turns out I won $28. For getting four out of five numbers. Do you know how hard that is to do? Well, apparently I and countless others had accomplished that task. It's the closest I've ever come to winning BIG. Maybe there is another one in me somewhere. 
Anyway, Sparky and I purchased two lotteries: a quick pick for me, and numbers of his own choosing for him. He likes to change it up so his picks aren't always the same, but they frequently have his lucky numbers. Our dear old friend Sleeford played the same exact numbers in every single lottery. He would buy a month's worth of tickets at a time. I would always ask him what his numbers were, but he would never tell me. I don't know why I had to know so badly, but I bugged him about it all the time. He just kept mum about it. He died a couple of years ago and took those numbers with him. I always think that maybe his numbers finally hit, or will hit, but we'll never know. How I wish I knew what they were, because I would play them faithfully for Sleeford in every single lottery just like he did. I have a feeling that they are very lucky numbers. Dang, man. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Check It Out!

This afternoon, The Misers had errands to run (again! It seems like it's never ending...) I had to return some art books to the Brand Library and Art Center, do some banking, and stop at the market for milk and doodads. After lunch, I asked Bee if she wanted to go swinging at the library (a small playground is located there). Her answer: "Oh, boy!" Next to water, Bee loves to swing. The Brand Library, located in Glendale, is devoted to the arts and music. It has a very good collection of art books and classical CDs, etc., and is housed in this awesome Moroccan inspired castle. The grounds it sits on are magnificent as well. There are trails that lead up to the foothills of the San Gabriel's, the afore mentioned playground for tots, fields for older kids, galleries for art shows, classrooms for art lessons, an old 1888 Victorian mansion called Doctor's House Museum & Gazebo that belonged to some doctor, and of course, the beautiful Moroccan castle library building itself. We returned the books, and headed out to the swings. Bee had a ball, even though she is not quite big enough for the big swings, the little kiddie ones suit her fine. Then Sparky and I decided to swing too. I sat down and pumped my legs and went as high as I could get. It was fun! I felt a little breathless and completely exhilarated. It was as though I went somewhere completely else...maybe back to my youth? If you haven't swung in a while, I highly recommend it. Also, the Brand Library is a true treasure. Check it out! 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Subway To Downtown

The Misers started their Monday morning like they start every morning: scouring various job sites online, calling their contacts, and doing their best to stay in the game. Some days are more productive than other, some days there is work to be done - it's not as though we frolic around town all week long with nothing to do but have a good time. (Not that any of you would think that...) But since we are The Misers, which is not very glamorous to say the least, we do spend a lot of time trying to remedy the situation. It's just not very interesting to write about, so that's all I'll say on that subject. In the meantime, we are actually eking out as much free/inexpensive fun as possible. Go Misers!
This afternoon, Sparky, Bee and I drove to the Santa Monica/Vermont Metro station, parked our car for free on a side street, and took the subway to Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets for adults are $1.25 one way, which is way cheaper than parking downtown. The subway system in Los Angeles, although limited, is actually pretty great. Bee loved it, and said "bye" to everybody as we exited the train. We picnicked at the park, taking full advantage of the beautiful weather. Pershing Square was originally a gathering place during World War I, and was named after the WWI general. There is a lot of military statuary as well some public art work at this park, and during the winter holidays they have an outdoor ice skating rink. Down the block is the Central Library, which was our next stop. We went inside to look at the art hanging in the atrium. The  chandeliers by artist Therman Statom are spectacular, and Bee comments upon seeing them were "ooh, aah..." She quite enjoyed them and was blown away by the enormity of it all. Then we took her outside to see the fountains made by various artists such as Laddie John Dill. Bee loved them all. Show her running water and you can't lose. She even likes water just coming out of a plain old garden hose.  So the fountains were aces in her book. Then across the street we went to the Library Tower to see even more fountains! More running water! More sculpture! ("More" is Bee's number one word right now.) The one at the top of the steps, Source Figure, by artist Robert Graham is one of my all time favorite fountains. Bee especially liked the crabs frolicking about the bottom of the pedestal.
As it was getting close to rush hour, we decided it was time to go back to the subway and head home to beat the crush of commuters. That's the one good thing about this precious free time we have right now - we can do things in off hours and beat the crowd.
Sparky says, "Do not fret about money for I've seen from example that it does no good. Worry not. The maw of full time employment will have you in its jaws before you know it."  

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Band Of Misers

(by Guest Blogger, Sparky McMiser)

The Misers, looking for entertainment on Sunday, didn't get too far into the Calender Section of the L.A. Times before being turned away. The Lakers were playing at the Staples Center and tickets for the three of us would run well into the three figure range - and that was before the extraordinary parking tariff, which although the norm for sporting events, commonly runs $40 to visit the Staples complex. So, even the parking was a deal breaker. What to do? U-2 and Bachman Turner Overdrive were playing at the spanking new Nokia Theatre according to Tickets-R-Us. Whoa! That evening of entertainment could run close to four figures with tickets, parking, food and drink. No, it was definitely going to be at least a $1000 evening to visit the citadel of fresh wealth and amusement. The Misers, as you know, could be entertained for five years on that $1000+ evening.
So we visited our friends from Pennsylvania who live in The Valley. They have a little girl, "A" who is the same age as "B". She's an Aries, too. They look like twins when seated next to each other. We dress them in numbered jerseys with their names on the back just to tell them apart. And as the notion of seeing live music set sail, D broke out the Rock Band game and wired it up. While Peanut corralled the look-a-likes A and B, a new rock and roll sensation, The Drifting Trash Eaters, was born. I was a little slow on the uptake trying to master the drums, but D was rocking the ax and J went Janis Joplin on us. We switched instruments and finally found our ideal line-up: D on guitar, J on drums, and Sparky McMiser on lead vocals. We dominated such timeless classics as Nirvana's "Drain You", L7's "Pretend That We're Dead", and The Chili Peppers snow song from Arcadium. We were about to take the country by storm when the guitar's batteries died. Which was fine, as B was flashing the sign: eye rubbing. Her day was done. And so it will be at least another month before we open at Staples. We'll post a guest list here at The Miser Family Los Angeles. Be sure and check. Unfortunately, we will not be able to assist with the parking.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


"It's good to get out," said Sparky, "it helps to alleviate the despair." Tonight, the three of us hit the town, Chinatown that is. We went there for an art walk, and walk we did. We went to a lot of different galleries, and ran into various aquaintances along the way - some of whom we have not seen in years!
Sparky and I used to go to art openings all the time. It was a big part of our social life. We'd go to a couple of openings, then out to dinner/drinks/parties with friends afterwards. Then we sort of stopped going so much. The art world changed, galleries closed, artist comrades moved away, etc. Later, when new galleries appeared in different parts of town and fresh artist emerged, we started going again but not with the same frequency.  Fast forward to today.
We took Bee to Chinatown, out and about in the art world once more, and had a better time than we thought we would. We went early, found free parking(!), and meandered from gallery to gallery, bumping into old friends here and there. Free beer, wine, and water, lots of colorful Chinese lanterns, neon lights, people and children everywhere - it was pretty magical. And everyone we met seemed to be in exceptionally good spirits. What's going on? Sparky thinks he's being prescient when he says "this is the beginning of the beginning of a new vital arts scene." I hope he's right.  We have vowed to take Bee to more art events as she had so much fun and is at a good age for it; we even let her stay up an hour later then usual.
The cost of tonight's festivities? Absolutely nothing. Did the Misers have fun? You bet.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Today, the Misers split up and went their own ways. I went to the movies, and Sparky spent the afternoon with Bee. I've been wanting to see "Slumdog Millionaire" for a while now, and almost did so over Christmas  up in Seattle. Instead, I was snowed in. Sparky saw a free showing with a friend at the Academy when it first came out and thought it was a winner.  Sparky and I used to go to the movies all of the time, we loved seeing a movie right when it came out, and there is just something special about seeing it on the big screen. It makes it feel more like an event. 
So I was quite excited to go to a Friday afternoon matinee showing of "Slumdog Millionaire" at The Mann in Glendale. The cost was $8.50, which really wasn't much of a bargain as the regular price is $11 for adults. (And I had to pay $1 for parking which I hated doing, but didn't have a choice. They only validate for the first 90 minutes, which really sucks because it usually takes longer than that to see a movie. It's more like subsidized parking instead of validated parking.) There were less than a dozen people in the theater, everybody was spread out, so it was like my own private screening. I have to say, I loved this film. It was like a darker, grittier Frank Capra movie, kinda of corny but also violent. It was both a love story and a dark fable with an uplifting ending. I wish that more people were like the character Jamal - the world would be a better place for it. The Bollywood ending credits were great fun and added to the charm of the movie. I highly recommend this film. 
PS: d'Artagnan was the fourth musketeer. 
Sparky says: little Bee loves water. Fountains, reservoirs, lakes, puddles (especially mud puddles), the ocean. If California's hydrological concerns are as dire in 20 years as they are now, she may very well be a part of the solution. That, or living in Seattle.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Free To Good Home!

The Misers love a bargain, and sometimes the best bargains are absolutely free. I love the ads for free stuff that you can find in some of the classifieds online: "Free clean fill dirt, must pick up", "Rocks, small, Glendora area, call after 8pm", and "Cardboard boxes, all sizes, free to first caller". It's good to know that there are still some super deals out there. But The Misers don't really need dirt, rocks, or boxes, so that doesn't help us much. What we were sorely in need of was a new queen sized mattress.
The other day, a friend of ours provided us with the above (a mattress, that is, brand new condition, firm, very lightly used) - plus he delivered it! It has been the best thing to happen to us all week, (aside from Barack Obama becoming our 44th president, of course). We'll be having sweet dreams all year long, and hopefully well into the future. Thanks from the Family Misers to the Family Moses.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Lawless Misers

The thing about The Misers, as a general rule, is that we don't really like rules. Rules are for losers, and rules are for breaking or bending if you will, (although there are certain rules that we would never ever break - like the ten items or less line at the grocery store.) And today, we broke three of them.
To celebrate our Brand New President Barack Hussein Obama, the Misers decided to splurge by going out to lunch. We went to Phillippe The Original in downtown Los Angeles, and the three of us dined in style for under $20 (including tip and free parking). Bee loved the atmosphere there; the sawdust on the floor, the sassy waitresses, the crowds of people - she loved the busy business of it all. Plus she got a free paper Phillippe hat from a friendly employee. Phillippe is a must go to place in L.A., where fun is always to be had for not a lot of money. 
Okay, so here's how we broke Rule Number One. We went out the front door and walked to the Terminal Annex Post Office, built in 1938, to show Bee the building and the murals. We left our car in the FREE parking lot of Phillippe's (which you are not supposed to do) because The Misers don't pay to park - not if they can help it. The Terminal Annex building is beautiful and impressive, and the magnificent murals were painted by Boris Deutsch from 1941 to 1945. Deutsch won a WPA commission to paint 11 murals.  As we admired the murals, Bee ran around on the highly polished tile floor. We were the only people actually looking at the work, so there was nobody there for her to bother. And here is where we broke Rule Number Two. We could only view about half of the murals as the rest were roped off (for some strange reason), so one is not able to see the totality of Deutsch's work. This hardly seemed fair as the work was commissioned by the WPA, which was paid for by taxpayers, so this art belongs to the people. They are public works, and we were determined to see them. Bee started it. She just toddled underneath the ropes. And we followed. There was nobody around, no guard on duty, so we just went with it. In my humble opinion, Deutsch's strongest works are on the forbidden side. These murals are full of weird scientific gadgetry, and scientist types fiddling around with them. The last one, painted in 1945, was of World War II, where soldiers are looking through telescopes and periscopes and futuristic instruments. The perspectives are whacked in all of them, which makes them strangely compelling. Anyway, I'm glad we broke the rule because these murals are well worth seeing - Huell Howser worthy. Bee was talking very loud the whole time (well, babbling really) because she was enjoying her voice echoing off the vast, high ceilings. It's a beautiful building with stellar art deco details, it's really a shame that half of it is closed off to the public. And odd that there was no guard, what with Homeland Security and all. But just as we were exiting the building, we crossed paths with the security guard, apparently returning from her break. She seemed to shoot us a knowing, disturbed glance, but we were gone. Whew - The Misers sighed with relief, realizing that we had just gotten out in the nick of time.
Next stop - Union Station. Sparky and I hadn't been there in forever, and Bee's never been, and it is just about a block away from the Post Office Annex. What a grand old building from the golden age of train travel. It saddens the Misers that trains have fallen out of favor, as we have always loved traveling by train, and plan on doing so again when Bee is a little bit older and we aren't feeling so miserly. Much of the train station is also blocked off to the public, but this wasn't always the case. When we first started riding the rails back in the early 90's, the whole building was open to all. (At least now they have the cool restaurant and bar Traxx, which we frequented in the past, and is worth checking out if you have a bit of spare change.)
Bee's favorite part of the station was the outdoor fountain, located in a quiet little garden where one can catch their breath after a busy day of train travel. When we left the station through the west  doors heading to the Metropolitan Water Department plaza, we stumbled upon another, larger garden with two fountains. Bee loves running water, and one of the fountains had big, fat rainbow colored Koi fish, and Bee was completely and utterly mesmerized by them. We sat down, relaxed, and took it all in. 
Afterwards, as we were leaving, Rule Number Three got broken by Bee herself. Instead of staying on the path she ran into the garden and tromped around - Sparky had to go fetch her. Anarchy and toddlers go hand and hand. By the end of the day, we had spent under $20 and broke only three rules. And I think that's pretty good for the lawless Misers. Pretty, pretty good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today, The Misers are floating on an ocean of hope. When Sparky and I ask Bee who our new president is, she points to her t-shirt and proudly says: "Omama!"

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Miser Haiku

An empty field
White ball against bright blue sky
Path to jubilance.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Most everybody has to do errands, even the homeless folk I'm guessing. They have things to do like fix that busted shopping cart wheel, find a bigger, better cardboard box, or maybe cash in their recyclables. Today, the Misers did their errands. I used to really like doing errands back when we weren't so miserly. 
We all piled into the car and headed off to Errand Land. Our first stop was Sunset Blvd Nursery to check out apple trees. Anymore, to be a tree or plant in our yard you have to be able to produce something edible, so we were thinking a nice Fuji apple tree would be a delicious addition to our lemon and grapefruit trees. But our nursery won't have any in stock until March, which gives us time to decide whether or not to buy one. (If we do, we must take down a non-producer - there is always some killing you have to do around the farm.) 
Then we went to Baller Hardware to buy some caulk so that Sparky can re-seal his outdoor closet where he stores his paintings. It leaks a bit when it rains, and just in case it ever rains again in Los Angeles we want to be prepared.
After that bit of excitement, we went to our park (Elysian Victory Memorial Grove) to walk and wear out G the D and toddler Bee. The latter played with a stick and had a very good time, while the former ran around and sniffed and peed on stuff. I imagine he had a very good time as well. Sparky rolled some boulders down the hillside and definitely enjoyed watching them wreak havoc as they jumped down the ravine smashing everything in their way. Cost of the stick, the pee and the boulders: Free!
And finally, we stopped at the market to buy a few needed groceries - another Miser Family Saturday in the City of Angeles.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Adios 103.1

The Misers, like many other music lovers in Los Angeles awoke this morning to find that Indie 103.1 was to be no more. This was sad news indeed. No more of our favorite radio show, Jonesy's Jukebox? Was it possible that his crazed Cockney punk free-floating voice was vanishing from the airwaves? Hard cheese, indeed. Was it because of these bad economic times, or was the world just not ready for 103.1? We'll probably never know. Regardless of their finances, the repeated playing today of Sid Vicious howling "I Did It My Way" surely killed their FCC license. The Queen is dead. God Save The Queen!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Rabbit Ears

It may seem pretty lame that I'm writing about T.V., but for us Misers it's really a very inexpensive form of entertainment. We don't get cable, we don't have a satellite dish, and we don't own a flat screen television. We just have an old set with Rabbit Ears. For the past few months we've only been getting about four stations, which has severely limited our viewing options, so we've just been watching DVDs for the most part. 
On February 17th, television is changing from analog to digital, and if you have any older set then you are totally screwed - unless you buy a converter box.  We bought one the other day, with a government issued coupon worth $40 that help offset the cost - we ended up paying only $18 out of pocket, and with free delivery. And now with the converter box, we get a lot more free stations, more than ever before! Tonight we are going to watch "The Office" and "30 Rock", and then the last episode from the DVD of "The Flight Of The Concords", which our neighbor loaned to us. (Bee will be asleep in bed, she doesn't watch T.V. yet anyway). I'm really looking forward to tonight, how pathetic is that? But the good thing is that the characters on "Flight Of The Concords" are even more pathetic than us, they make us both laugh and feel a little bit better about ourselves. Sometimes, television rules!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Star Gazing

Today, the Misers splurged, and it felt great! We went to the Griffith Observatory, and spent $14 to see "Water Is Life" in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium. Tickets are $7 per adult, with kids under two admitted free for the first showing only. Although she was a little scared at first when the lights went down, Bee became completely mesmerised by the show, as did Sparky and I. It was amazing to see the universe, the planets, the constellation up there so clear and bright in the Planetarium Sky, plus the narration was interesting and educational - the whole thing was very well done and worth every cent. The Misers are a Night Sky loving family, Bee always points out the moon and the stars, and she is especially noticing Venus these days. So this was a highly rated outing for us. And if you don't feel like seeing the show, the Observatory is a great place just to visit. The building is beautiful, the views  amazing, and the exhibits are excellent. On the surrounding grounds are statues of astronomers, a very accurate sun dial, a map of our solar system, and strangely enough, a bust of James Dean. Apparently this is because his film "Rebel Without A Cause" was filmed there. It is Hollywood, after all. 
On the terraces and walkways outside of the Observatory there are telescopes that offer you closeup views of Los Angeles. Sparky put 50¢ into one, and looked around the hills to see what he could see. He happened upon a swimming pool nearby and said, "Hey, I think that's Jennifer Aniston's butt!" Before I could look through the telescope to confirm this (like I know what her butt looks like) the telescope shut off and went black. But since The Misers don't spend another 50¢, we will never really know. 
A friend of mine from Minnesota had this to say about my blog: "Splended reading, one more site to bookmark. There's a guy here who writes about the Twins and for the first year his only readers were his mom and his brother. He then wrote a piece where he used the phrase "Jennifer Aniston's butt" and his traffic exploded as people who googled Jennifer Aniston ended up clicking on his site. You may wish to consider similar tactics." So that is what I've done. Mentioned her name three times, in fact. A cheap shot I admit, but cheap is my middle name. And I promise I will do it again. But seriously, if you haven't been to the Observatory yet, hurry up and go already - just visiting is free!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Misers Grimm

It's not so easy being a Miser. Sparky is fed up with it. "Enough already," he says. "We've been dealing with this recession for well over a year, and the government and media are acting like it's only just beginning!" I really do try to have hope for the future because the alternative is just too frighteningly depressing to contemplate. I mean, we might end up living in my parent's basement like some awful sitcom where the storyline is "...and then hilarity/chaos/lawlessness ensues."
However, today it was way too sunny and warm to be feeling bleak. So, to the park we went. Griffith Park this time, which happens to be the largest city park in California. How fortunate we are to live so close to it! We parked near the Merry-Go-Round (which is not open on weekdays during the winter) and meandered around on the grass ending up at a playground called Shane's Inspiration. This playground is ginormous, with tons of swings, slides, equipment, etc - and we'd never noticed it before. What? Did they build it last week? We had to investigate. It turned out to be a playground with access for all including children with disabilities. It was awesome, kids everywhere having a blast.  Bee loved it - she didn't want to leave.  But since the sun was going down, the Misers packed it in and called it a day, despite her tiny but vocal protestations. Still, we all felt a little bit better as we had managed to eke out some free fun for The Misers Grimm. 

Monday, January 12, 2009


There is nothing worse than buying a toddler a pair of shoes when you are on a budget. Babies grow so fast, it's hard to keep them in clothing. Toddler shoes are especially expensive, because you have to get a good sturdy pair that offers their growing feet the support they need.  I used to love buying shoes for myself - my feet are the one part of my body that don't gain weight when I eat that extra slice of pizza, or when I "forget" to exercise for a week or three. Shoes were always there for me, to comfort me, to make me feel shiny and new. But sad to say, I had to give up this habit some many, many months ago. Now I get my shoes resoled and re-heeled when they wear out. Very sensible, I'll make a good old lady one day.  I also have some shoes in storage, which I'll get out any day now. It'll be like having new shoes again! At least that's what I keep telling myself. But I digress. Back to my tale of shopping with Bee.
Her and I headed out to the Glendale Galleria with the best of intentions, fully expecting to come home with a pair or two of sparkly new shoes for her. It didn't happen.
Instead, I got extremely frustrated, and Bee had tons of fun trying on shoes and throwing around the boxes and tissue paper. In case you haven't noticed, retail stores aren't doing very well these days, and I can tell you why: they have sales on the stuff I don't want, and the stuff I do want is not only not on sale but it's also not the size I need. And forget about customer service, nobody works in these places anymore. You are on your own. So after visiting every single store in that damn mall we walked away empty handed. But at least we had Bee's feet measured.
Armed with this knowledge I decided to go home and buy shoes online. Which is what I should have done in the first place. I ended up buying three pairs of shoes for Bee, all of them on sale, and I didn't have to pay sales tax, which is a whopping 7.25 percent here in the lovely state of California. I did have to pay for shipping, but since most of my items were 50 percent off, I was cool with it. There is nothing like drinking a nice glass of wine while shopping from the comfort of your own home. It was so worth it. So what did Bee and I learn today? Online shopping rules, The Galleria is for fools. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Will Rogers Was A Cowboy, Right?

The weather today in Los Angeles was absolutely beautiful. 85 degrees and sunny! The Miser Family took full advantage of it and picnicked at Will Rogers State Park with some friends. The cost of the outing was next to nothing: we made our own lunch and we parked our vehicle outside of the park for free (saving $8). Will Rogers is located in Pacific Palisades in a truly, truly bucolic location chock full of California Oaks and giant Eucalyptus trees. I swear I could feel them pumping out fresh oxygen into the atmosphere. We hiked up to Inspiration Point were we had views of the ocean, Catalina, downtown, the foothills, etc. It was awe inspiring. Bee was carried part of the way as the hike is steep in some areas, but she insisted on walking much of it. Glenn The Dog came along of course, and had a most fab time peeing on everything in his path. We picnicked outside of Will's house, and then played Frisbee and flew a kite on the expansive lawn that also doubles as a Polo field. We wore our little Bee out, which is always a good thing - she will sleep really well tonight. All of us benefited from being in the great outdoors on this fine January day. Thank you, Will Rogers who said this of his property: "It's not really a ranch, but we call it that. It sounds big and don't really do no harm."  I'm not really sure what that means, but I like it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

V Is For Victory

The Misers are a family of fairly susceptible people, which does have its advantages in certain instances. Take today, for example. The Los Angeles Times Home section had an  article on victory gardens, and how a new generation are planting them in order to save on their grocery bills, as well as to help out the environment. Well, Sparky had been talking about doing a winter garden anyway; he has a green thumb and enjoys growing all kinds of things in the summer, and this article gave us the impetus to do it - and do it we did! We all jumped into the car and took a trip to our local garden supply store, Sunset Blvd Nursery Inc.  We bought the following vegetable plants: broccoli (Bee and Sparky LOVE broccoli); cauliflower for moi; a variety of yummy lettuce; and spinach. We also decided to plant potatoes, which we picked up at the market. We had to buy plants for our garden since we started it so late, but next time around we are buying seeds because seeds are cheaper, and we are misers after all. 
We all helped out in the planting, although Sparky did most of the work. I filled the water bucket, Bee held the hose, and Glenn The Dog and Lila Mae Cat watched with great interest. Plus we had a little drama - Bee got stung by a bee! She held up her finger and cried "Bee, bee..." Anyway, she learned a lot today: where broccoli comes from, how fun it is to play in the dirt, and what a bee sting feels like.
I highly recommend that everyone who lives in Los Angeles and has access to a plot of land or a even a couple of pots, to grow something they can eat. It's fun, economical, a great learning experience for little ones, and it's good for the environment. Sparky and I are so looking forward to our plants producing - I'm going to have good dreams about it all night long. So c'mon y'all,  join us and get growing already! Rumor has it that President-Elect Obama may start a victory garden on the White House lawn. Who needs grass anyway?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Meet The Misers

I'm Peanut, and I am the keeper of this blog. I'm married to Sparky, and we have an almost two year old little girl, Bee, a dog named Glenn, and Lila Mae Cat. We reside in beautiful Echo Park, California. We are not really misers in the true sense of the word. To really be a miser you have to actually have a bunch of money to hoard. We do not have that. We are just a couple of not so very rich people trying to raise a family in today's depressed economy. And I've a feeling that things are going to get way worse before they get better (I have got to stop reading the Business section of The Times.) But it the mean time, since what we do have is plenty of time, we just want to enjoy life as much as possible with next to no money. 
Today, for instance, we took Bee and Glenn The Dog to Elysian Victory Memorial Grove and walked on the paths. Bee loves it there, and she toddled around carrying her purse containing her toy cell phone (just in case she gets a call), and we followed. It's a nice park with views of Dodger Stadium and the distant foothills. There is a marker there from World War I,  put up by Daughters of the American Revolution in 1921. So it's historical, the baby learned a little something about American history, we all enjoyed the beautiful weather, and it was absolutely free.