Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pet Peeve Number Two: The City Of Los Angeles

Okay, my Pet Peeve No. 2 isn't really the City of Angeles, it has more to do with how Los Angeles has been treating the Miser Family. Not. Very. Well. To say the least. And I've been trying to be positive these days, as I've somehow surmised that having a positive attitude can actually help you and your loved ones during the New Depression. So having Pet Peeves is not really being very positive. But I also refuse to be Pollyanna-ish, always happy, because that just seems fake to me. You know who I'm talking about: those eternally happy, optimistic people who you just want to see clubbed over the head like a baby seal. (I'm suddenly turning violent, which makes sense when I think about what the City of Los Angeles did to us.) They had the audacity to sneak over to our house in the middle of the night (okay, it was 5:55am on a Sunday morning, same difference for all intents and purposes) and issue us a parking ticket! For parking our car in the same exact spot that we have been parking in for 20 years! It's a little spot behind our house in a driveway next to the alleyway. We've parallel parked our various vehicles in this spot over the years, and we are not blocking the alley in the least bit. Anyway, the ticket, issued by one "Officer" L. Thomas states that we are in violation of "Standing in Alley". It is for $53.00. Wow. That's a lot of money. Especially now, in these depressed times. Sparky is going to fight it, but he knows from past experience that we will have to pay it no matter what. The City is always right when it comes to parking violations, even when they are wrong. There is absolutely no justice in this town when it comes to ugly things like this: no reason given for the rules changing; no suggestion as to do next; no way to have input on the real problems of the alley like dumping and graffiti. It seems like two things are at work here. First, the City is out of money and needs to raise revenue using whatever means possible (issuing suspect tickets); and second, this L. Thomas must be working on some sort of commission basis whereby he/she/it has to sneak up and down alleys and side streets in the middle of the night when all are sleeping, just in order to meet his/hers/its quota. Sometimes it just feels like this City is after us, and our best bet is to move to a small town somewhere up North. Someplace where they don't issue parking tickets to people unless their meter is expired, or they are parked in a "No Parking" zone, or parked in the middle of an alleyway. That is where the City of L.A. makes me want to go. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Lynda Barry (a fellow PNWer who's work I greatly admire), says that babies always look good when they dance. It's true. Also, I think that most babies love to dance. Bee does. She always has. She is a better dancer than I am because she instictively follows the beat. Sparky and Bee often dance at night, usually after dinner and before her bath. They love to dance to Moby as he has some great disco grooves. Bee also enjoys shaking her booty to classic rock tunes. (Like I've said before, Bee loves a party atmosphere.) I enjoy watching the two of them, and sometimes I will join in. It's free fun for the whole Miser family, it's good exercise, and I highly recommend it. 

Friday, April 24, 2009


It's taken me a while to recover from our flight home from the PNW, even though it's only about a two and a half hour flight. Flying with a two year old is not a lot of fun. It was way easier to fly with Bee when she was an infant; I wore her in a sling, and she snuggled up against me and slept the whole time, much like a little puppy. She would wake up a few times and protest a bit, but all I had to do was walk her up and down the aisle, or maybe give her a bottle, and she pretty much fell back to sleep. This time around was another story. Bee fell asleep in my lap about a third of the way into the flight, and I thought we were golden. But I thought wrong. The passenger next to us had to get up to use the restroom, and as I stood up with little Bee she remained asleep. Then when the passenger returned, Bee woke up. And she was not too happy about it. As we began our descent into the Los Angeles basin, she started to cry. The change of air pressure was getting to her ears. I tried to tug on her ear lobes to help alleviate the pain, but to no avail. Bee just cried louder. I cradled her in my arms and tried to soothe her the best I could. It seemed like she wailed for twenty minutes nonstop, but it was probably only five minutes. Hard to tell with a screaming two year old in your lap. I could feel the passengers around me glare in our direction, but I did my best to ignore them. Bee finally quit wailing right before we landed. The passenger next to me was very nice about it, and a woman behind me told me that I was very patient with her, and that Bee did pretty well. She had a couple of kids herself, and remembered how rough it was to fly with them when they were little. She was very sympathetic. But there was one older lady a few seats ahead of us who kept shooting us evil dagger looks. She was not a fan of ours.
Sparky, Bee and I are taking the red eye to Indiana at the end of May to visit Nanny, family and other Hoosiers. I'm dreading it. Hopefully it'll be easier with Sparky along. And hopefully Bee will sleep the whole time. We have to take the red eye because it is the ONLY direct flight from LAX to Indianapolis. The only one. So I'm going to apologize in advance to our plane mates. Sorry, but Bee's only two and doesn't yet realize that it's not polite to cry really, really loudly in public. We'll do our best to keep her happy, sleeping, and/or occupied, and thank you in advance for your understanding. But you know what? If the plane is full of Hoosiers I've a feeling we'll be just fine. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Original Misers

Bee and I are back in Los Angeles, and Sparky is very happy to see us, and we, him. We had a very good time visiting my family, and as my mother shared some stories with us about my youth it made me realize that my parents were the Original Misers! I guess they kind of had to be - they had six children to raise and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. So that meant we all had to get by on my Dad's salary from the phone company, which wasn't a heck of a lot. But none of us ever wanted for anything, and I recall that I had a mostly happy childhood (aside from the usual angst-ridden teenage part, of course, which was not very fun to say the least.) Dad has always been a little bit on the cheap side, which makes sense because there were so many of us depending on him. My parents are very generous these days, and back when we were growing up they were very generous with ensuring that we had fun childhoods. For instance, one summer when Dad was working the night shift, Mom would pack up a picnic lunch and we would go to the Woodland Park Zoo. It was free back in those days, and we would picnic outside of the zoo, and then go inside to see the animals. Mom says that our favorites were the chipmunks and squirrels, probably because they would come up to us and beg for food. We went there a lot, on those beautiful summer rainless days. I remember we also went to Volunteer Park (where my heroes "the hippies" hung out) and the Seattle Asian Art Museum, Lake Sammamish, and Pine Lake. The one thing all of these places had in common was that they were all free. Afterwards we would stop for soft-serve ice cream cones.
On our last day up in the PNW, Mom and Dad took Bee, my little brother Koovin and myself to the Woodland Park Zoo. Although the zoo now charges an entrance fee, my parents have a yearly pass so we all got in for free. Bee loves zoos, she especially enjoyed the baboons and the giraffes. We parked for free outside of the zoo in the same parking lot we used to park in when we were little (what is it with Misers and hating to pay for parking?)  Mom pointed out the picnic tables we used to frequent, which were conveniently located near the restrooms. Dad bought some peanuts at the grocery store before going to the zoo, and we snacked on those instead of buying food there, all of which is overpriced. After the zoo, we went to Dairy Queen and had soft-serve vanilla ice cream cones! Bee loved her cone (her first), and made a little bit of a mess. I can't remember the last time I had an ice cream cone, nor could my parents. All in all, it was a very pleasant day, and a nice way to end our PNW visit. It brought back memories of my youth, and the happy realization of my early Miser days.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Yellow Chair

Guest blogger: Sparky McManus.

Recently a friend gave us a small, square coffee table. It was the perfect height for Bee to use as an outdoor lunch counter. Except she had no chair to fit it. I originally thought Ikea, but I would rather spend the weekend in jail than return to that house of madness. Also, I didn't want to spend $20 on a crappy kid's chair. I looked about and discovered a bunch of warped 1x2's that I used to use as braces for my paintings. The rest was just the building of the chair. Very little thought went into the coloring as there was only one logically choice. This is a chair for Bee we're talking about here.
So now when she's back from Seattle, we can lunch outdoors using what will hopefully become her new, favorite chair. Lunching al fresco is a big advantage in that when the feeding is over, I just bust out the push broom and turn the dog loose. Spring is looking brighter already.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Bee and I have been up in the Pacific Northwest since last Wednesday visiting my family. It has been grey and rainy the whole time, with moments of brightness here and there. We are sleeping in my old bedroom. I used to share that very same room with my little sister for seven years, starting when we were four and five. Back then we had matching twin beds. Now, I share the double bed with my little Bee, who turned two last Saturday. She is not an easy person to share a bed with because she moves around a lot. Not only does she roll over all the time, she also constantly does flips so that her feet are suddenly where her head used to be. As she performs these maneuvers she kicks and pokes and prods me. She seems to be all feet, elbows and knees. This morning she slept in for the first time since being here, and that was nice. But I kept waking up to make sure she was still asleep. Twice she has fallen out of the bed. The first time she rolled over and off of the bed, I caught her just as she hit the floor. The second time she rolled out and hit the floor before I could catch her. She cried for about thirty seconds, and then promptly fell  asleep when I hauled her back up into the bed. 
I ran two days in a row. Around Blueberry Lake. The weather is perfect for running, and my goal is pretty modest. I just want to run five or six days this week, and every day I run I want to go a little bit further than the day before. So far I'm not having a problem (it's only been two day, after all) but I have to admit that I have sore muscles in places where I forgot I even had muscles. My ultimate objective is to be able to easily run around Silver Lake Reservoir five to six days a week. I'm glad I'm able to get a head start on that ambition here in the Great PNW.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


It's funny, but sometimes when I'm thinking about something, the paper will have a news article regarding the very thing that's been on my mind. For instance, the other night I was thinking about Time. How I never seem to have enough of it, and how I seem to have a major problem with budgeting it. The Misers has gotten good with money; we are now entering our fourth week of the Food Stamp Challenge and we are managing just fine. We've found that it's not so hard to do, especially when you have a garden to augment things. But when it comes to time I haven't done as well. As they say, Time is Money, Money is Time. To me, budgeting your time makes sense in this New Depression, as it is tied to money. My problem is that I tend to proscratinate. The article in Monday's Los Angeles Times Health Section dealt with habbits and how although it is possible to break them, they will always remain at the ready in your brain. It has something to do with how we are hard wired and evolution and all. Back in the day when human's life expectancy was rather short, we were all about the here and now, and rewarding ourselves with what ever was pleasurable at the moment because after all, life was VERY short. But now that we live longer, we are able to think about future pleasures, and how not indulging in the short term may reap benefits in the long term. 
My major problem is that I have a tendency to cram all of my work into the last few days before it is due. I end up working very long hours in a short amount of time. Wouldn't it be better if I spread the work out over a longer period of time, and worked less hours at a time? Of course it would be easier, but I seem to be living in the MOMENT instead of thinking about how much more difficult the future will be if I don't finish my work in a timely manner. Yikes. Money. Time. It makes me want to break this habbit of mine, for the good of Misers everywhere, and for the future of my family of Misers. It just seems to make good economic sense in the long run. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

April Birthdays

On Saturday, the Miser's went to a two year olds Birthday Party. Bee had a blast. She went on a pony ride, petted baby bunnies and goats, went on an Easter egg hunt, bounced in one of those bouncy thingamajigs, and ate cake. She was pooped out from the experience, and slept like a little bunny. Bee's 2 year birthday is next weekend, and her and I will be up in the PNW to celebrate with my family. Since Sparky and I won't be throwing her a bash this year (we're waiting until she is three to throw her a party - we're thinking a picnic at the merry-go-round in Griffith Park, with a pinata, etc. etc.) Sparky told her that the party today was for her too. She's too little to get it, so she didn't care. It's all good to her. She had as much fun as an almost two year old can have in one day, so I'm guessing she's sated. There are a lot of April birthdays of people we know; in fact, Sparky went to an 83 year old's party Saturday night. He's an artist and pretty grumpy, but I guess he's earned it - he's old! So Happy April Birthday to everyone from The Misers.
P.S. We took home some leftovers from the party, and made a couple of meals out of it. Go Misers! 

Friday, April 3, 2009


I used to run. It was great, I was in shape plus I felt really strong. The most I ever ran at a time was probably about seven miles - in other words,  I was not a marathon runner, but a three to five miler.  I stopped running about four years ago and started walking instead. The thing about walking is that it helps to have a walking partner, someone to talk to, otherwise it gets rather boring. I had a partner, Lex, and we used to walk three to five miles at a time, around Echo Park Lake. When Bee was an infant, Lex got pregnant, and we continued our walks. I usually wore Bee in a baby sling, and that really added to the workout. (Those things are great, by the way, I highly recommend wearing your baby - it's fun, your baby is all cocooned and snugly, and it's good exercise to boot.) When Bee finally became too heavy to wear, I pushed her in a stroller. Then Lex had her baby, and we kept on walking. It was great to have the two little ones outside getting fresh air, we all benefited from it. We were consistent with our walking, and I felt as though I was in pretty good shape. Not anymore, however. Lex and her little girl have been living abroad since January, I've lost my walking partner and I am losing my muscle tone. I've gone on a few hikes with Sparky and Bee since then, but nothing on a regular basis. So I've decided to start running again. I've missed it. I miss the runner's high, that sweet release of endorphins. I miss the feeling of being fit, of feeling strong and capable of anything. And I miss all of the energy that running used to give me. I'm a little scared to start, I have to admit, because I know it will take me a long time to get back up to speed. I need to start out really slowly, and just kind of ease my way back into it. Silver Lake has a new path, it's about three miles around, and that is where my new exercise venture will take place. One lousy little mile at a time.