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)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Zoo

Last Weekend, the Misers headed down to visit friends in San Diego. They took us to the The San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, which is close to where they live. I am not a huge fans of zoos because I always feel sorry for the caged up animals. But some zoos are better than others, and this one is pretty good. Originally you were able to drive your car around the zoo itself, which seems pretty crazy. I mean, what if a hippo decided to sit on your car or something? Maybe that's why they stopped allowing people to drive around. Now there's a tram you can take through the park, and some lame ass guy narrates as you go pass the various animals. This guy actually said, "There's the Wildebeest, the most boring animal in the wild." WTF? Why would a zoo employee say that? I happen to love Wildebeest; I saw an excellent documentary of them when I was a teenager, and I find their yearly migration to be quite fascinating. Plus I love their name. But other than the annoying "tour guide", the zoo was pretty cool. There were babies galore - baby elephants, baby giraffes, and baby leopards. Bee especially liked the rabbits, which ran around everywhere. Since our friends have yearly passes, the zoo was free for us, which is the right price for a Miser.  All in all, a fun time was had by one and all. Except for maybe the Wildebeest.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

You Know What?

I have been saying "You know what?" way, way too much recently. I have no idea why. You know what? I just keep saying it. All of the time. I'm aggravating the hell out of both Sparky and Bee (and myself at this point), and I have got to get a grip on it.  I'm like a broken record. You know what? Six months ago I couldn't stop saying "Oh my god!" every other minute. My mother became extremely annoyed at me and told me to knock it off. But I couldn't. I just got stuck on it. You know what? I promise that I'll never, ever say it again, Sparky and Bee. Cross my heart.  

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bittersweet


Bee now eschews the afternoon nap, which is a problem for us. Losing the daily respite from the rigors of a two year old is one thing, but getting a cranky two year in exchange at dinner time is no fun at all. But then we remembered how much she likes to sleep in the car, and the "driving nap" was created. The other day, Bee and Glenn and I took to the road about 3:30, but I had no idea where we were going... It rubs very hard against the grain to look for reasons to drive in Los Angeles, as I am always doing the opposite.  So I just got on the 2 Freeway and headed north. It's the only freeways that seems easy going almost all the time, and it heads up to the mountains. It was the route we used to take on our visits to Tujunga where Sleeford and his family lived. I had barely passed the I-5 ramps for north and south when I looked behind me and saw a giant blonde head nodded over at a seriously drunken tilt. The dog looked a little nervous, but the big nap was on. 
Up through the dry scrub hills opening into the lower mountains we went, summer having its way with the land as the shadows bore into the ground. Without thinking, I reached the end of the 2 and angled west onto the 210. Before I knew it the Lowel exit was upon me and I instinctively took it. I was on the way to Sleeford's and didn't really have any other plan. We haven't been there for a year and half, and since Sleeford died, we've had little reason to go. His father is full metal jacket nuts; his sister who lives next door did not fall far from the nut tree, nor did she move far from the Pollard compound. Bee slept through it all, but Glenn clearly knew where he was, and was looking all about for his favorite human in the world (besides me, sometimes) but there was, of course, nothing. Nothing but sad memories, and nothing like the sudden death of a healthy friend to put a monstrous hole in your world. 
I turned around in the Pollard driveway before anyone saw me and headed back home, the dog and I both with heavy hearts. Back down Lowell we cruised and then onto the 210 heading east. Bee had been sleeping for about 20 minutes by now, and my goal is at least a half hour, so I set the cruise control on 60 and let everyone and their mother pass me. About two thirds of the way home the Glendale Adventist hospital caught my attention to the right. Bee was born there, and that's where we first met - she was 24 hours old at the time. I was a nervous wreck. We hadn't expected Bee to join us for another day, but there she was. I was so wound up I couldn't figure out how to strap in the car seat. But it has since become the biggest day for the happiest thing in my life, even if it doesn't want to nap in the afternoon any longer. And it occurred to me that our little drive had taken us to the place where Sleeford left this earth, and to the place where Bee entered it. Sweet. Bittersweet. Sleeford would have so loved her...
(Guest Blogger Sparky)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tomatoes And Angel Hair

The Misers love this time of year when our tomatoes are ready for picking. I like to slice the Roma tomatoes thin and put them in a sandwich with a little sprinkling of sea salt. Mmmm. The cherry tomatoes are excellent just popped into your mouth straight off the plant, or in a lovely salad. And any of the tomatoes are quite tasty made into a sauce for pasta. We like to saute garlic in some olive oil, and add chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, and oregano and lightly simmer. This sauce is especially delicious over Angel Hair pasta with some Parmesan cheese. It makes a nice, light summertime meal for next to no money, which as you know, is always a plus at the Miser house. 

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Big Blue Yellow


Today The Misers DID go to the beach, and it was brilliant. We went to Santa Monica, which is a beach that we know quite well. We used to boogie board there all the time about a million years ago; it feels like another lifetime. I was up very late last night working, so I'm quite groggy today and we almost didn't go. But as it was about 110 degrees inland, we decided to make the trek west. The ocean was warmish and I ran a couple of miles on the beach. Bee played in the sand and squealed at the Big Blue Yellow. Although she wasn't very keen about getting in, and she doesn't really like the way wet sand feels on her toes, she was thrilled to be there nonetheless. Sparky boogie boarded a little bit, but the waves were "slow and mushy". We had fun, though, and plan on coming back later in the week. And next time we'll pack a lunch as Bee ended up feasting on a Big Dad jerky stick (surfer food), which I don't want to make into a regular thing. It's a great cheap Miser thing to do, and it's especially good to do during weekdays when parking is abundant. So with lunch in basket, we'll say goodbye to the heat and head to the beach for some fun in the sun. 

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Big Yellow


Today, The Misers went swimming in our friend's pool, or "The Big Yellow Pool" as Bee calls it. It's the second time this week we've gone there for a swim, and I've got to say that I'm getting absolutely no work done. We are smack dab in the middle of summer and all this Miser wants to do is HANG OUT AND GOOF OFF AND DO ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN THE BIG YELLOW. And Monday doesn't look any better because we're going to the beach. The New Depression has led us to become the opposite of Weekend Warriors. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Slugs And Snails


Lately I've been putting various small creatures on the ceramics pots I've been throwing. I got bored with just plain pots, so I decided to spice them up a bit. I spent the better part of today glazing some snail covered bowls. I have no idea how they'll turn out, but I'm thinking who wouldn't want to share a bowl of cereal with a snail? Or a nice plate of pasta with a couple of slugs? I know a two year old who wouldn't mind.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bloody Knee


This morning, as I was nearing the end of my run around Echo Park Lake, I tripped over a bit of uneven sidewalk and fell to the ground, skinning my knee and my arm in the process. This is about the one billionth time in my life that I've tripped over basically nothing and fallen down. I've got to be one of the biggest klutzes out there. You will never find me on "So You Think You Can Dance" as I would have tripped and fallen during the audition. It's embarrassing to trip and fall, but I always get up, brush myself off, and continue doing whatever it was I was doing, muttering to everyone around me "I'm okay, I'm fine, it was nothing," even as I'm bleeding copious amounts of blood. I am covered with the battle scars of a life lived falling down.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sticky McWoody


Guest blogger, Sparky McManus.

My friends know me for my collection and fascination with walking sticks. I've made them from branches that fall from our Eucalyptus trees, driftwood, and even a tree in Ed Moses' driveway. Affectionately they all receive the surname, "McWoody", but their first name is up for inspiration. For the last six years I have walked with Sticky McWoody in my hand. I have used it to hit innumerable walnuts, pine cones, rocks, etc. while walking the dog. Every year I'd give it a new coating of Minwax to protect the wood and keep it shiny. That alone should have been enough to say to people, "I am not some random stick lying around, I have a name and belong to someone!" But it wasn't. 
We made our way to the top of the grassy knoll in Elysian Park with a view of downtown and met up with a bunch of other dog owners. We sat down in the grass with Bee and let her play with the clover and palm tree seeds. Gradually we gravitated to the dog people and chatted with them. While engaging in this pleasant discourse with fellow Elysian Park walkers, some weirdo came up behind us and snatched Sticky from the ground where'd I'd left him to sun. We didn't notice Sticky missing until we set off about 20 minutes later - he tended to be on the quiet side. I was shocked and stunned beyond what was probably appropriate, but who steals a person's walking stick?! And what kind of freak lurks about in public parks waiting to do something like this? What do they live for? What are their hobbies? After much teeth gnashing, screaming, and a small amount of weeping, I let it go. Poor Sticky, after all these years, was in someone else's hands, possibly even riding in the trunk of their car... Worse, Sticky may have met a violent end in a hot fire. WTF!
Anyway, the next in line, a slender Eucalyptus branch from 2006, has been fashioned to accompany the dog and I on our walks. It shall never leave my sight in public as I no longer trust society's ability to keep its kook factor at large. (If I ever meet the knothole fornicator who took my stick I will beat him to a bloody Haggis and leave him to the crows.) This latest addition to my stick family has been named, "Dog Leg McWoody", I think you can reason why - and it will be up to the task of revenge should it ever be presented. 

Friday, July 3, 2009

Knitting


I'm knitting blankets for my brother's twins, one blue and one green. I like both the pattern and the yarn, which is a nice soft cotton blend. It's machine washable and dry-able, which is kind of a necessity with infants. It is really quite amazing how many baby patterns use beautiful hand-wash-only yarns; it's so impractical, because babies are such tiny messy creatures. I'm wondering who these people are who are creating these patterns. People who have plenty of time on their hands to spend it all carefully hand washing their precious knitted baby heirlooms? Or rich people who pay other people to wash these items? Or maybe people who have extraordinarily clean and mess-free babies? Because in my experiences with infants, stuff is constantly coming out of all their little orifices, and hand-wash-only is just not going to cut it. So I'm being sensible and knitting them something they can actually use. My favorite things to knit are blankets, wraps, and toys. So I'm going to have to knit them some cashmere teddy bears, too. Maybe not very practical, but it's not like they'll be wearing them. And since the teddy bears are teeny, this Miser will only need a very small amount of cashmere. It's nice to knit with luxury yarns for a change, and one day when I'm no longer a Miser I'll knit cashmere wraps for everyone I know. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Take Me Out To The Ball Game


Today the Misers SPLURGED and took themselves out to the old ball game at Dodger Stadium. It's expensive there! We sat in the cheap seats, and didn't buy Bee a ticket (children 4 and under are free. They are supposed to sit in your lap, but there were plenty of empty seats.) We sat in the upper deck behind home plate, and had an awesome view of the field. The Dodgers beat the Rockies 1-0, which was pretty cool. Sparky and I used to go to Dodger Stadium all the time back in the old days. This is only the second time Bee's has been; she went once when she was an itty bitty four month old, and then she pretty much slept through the entire game. This time around she was very much wide awake, and enjoyed herself immensely. She especially enjoyed the frozen lemonade I bought her. It was a hot, sunny day in L.A., and we were fortunate enough to have seats in the shade. Overall, it was a grand time, but I must say it will be the one and only time the Misers go to the ballpark this season. Parking alone cost $15! Misers hate to pay for parking. Still, we all enjoyed ourselves, and it was a classic Los Angeles outing.