Monday, June 14, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

The kitty Princess didn't make it. Even before her chemo was half way through, the cancer spread to her spine and brain (which they said almost never happens). Once the downhill started, it was mercifully quick I guess. The cancer in her brain should have meant that she just got sleepier and less alert, and then within a day or two passed quietly in her sleep. But instead at the end her lungs started filling up with fluids, and that meant one last emergency vet trip in the middle of the night, and one more hard decision.

My two Chocolate Labs both died from cancer, tumors that were only discovered mere hours or days before they died. I always thought that if we'd caught it sooner for either of them, we might have been able to save them. Well, now I know that the extra month to say goodbye may be a gift, but watching them die slowly - no matter what you do - is a whole different kind of pain.

She hated the car trips, she hated the treatments, she hated the vet visits. She was a perfect lady with the vets and technicians, though. Every visit, one or another of them would come down and say what a sweet cat she was, how good she'd been. The cancer changed her, our having to give her pills and treatments changed her, made her less trusting of us. And yet, every time we touched her, right up to the end, she purred. She loved us even though she didn't understand what was happening or why we were doing the things we were doing. Pure, sweet love. In spite of everything.

Many cats don't even have a chance to benefit from treatments because they won't sit still for 1/2 hour IV-drips three times a week. Our Princess politely put up with every single treatment, every single time we packed her in the hated carrier and loaded her in the despised car right up to that very last trip. And it still didn't really do any good.

I'm glad we chose the treatment we did, the wonderful doctors we had. The extra time with her was precious, and until those last few days i think she had a good life. From this whole thing, I learned that when the cancer is this aggressive, more time doesn't necessarily mean a cure. It may just mean stretching out the pain for all of us.

If I had to do it again, I'd make the same choice. But I don't think I'm sorry anymore that I didn't "get" to make the same choices for my Labs.

Thanks for your kind words and support, it helped.

Go hug your pets.

Friday, December 18, 2009

There's Good News and Bad News

Hi all, and thanks again for all the good wishes.

The Princess is officially in remission. Before her second treatment, the tumor hadn't changed. But within 36 hours of her second treatment, the tumor had shrunk so much you wouldn't have been able to find it if you didn't know where to look. And as of last week, she's officially in remission. Hooray! The Doctor's very, very pleased with how she's coming along, and we did an ultrasound to make sure the inside tumors were responding as well as the outside tumors, and the news was very very good. She's got one more weekly treatment, and then we're down to once every 3 weeks. SUCH a relief. Now he's not expecting a really long remission for her, since the cancer had spread to so many places, but her rapid improvement so early in the treatment is very very good news.

Unfortunately, the rest of our month has not been so good... I haven't posted because I just couldn't wrap my head around the relentless scares and bad news.

My Dad has been diagnosed with acute bacterial endocarditis, caused by a staph infection. One of his parishioners died from it, and they think my Dad was infected while visiting the man during his last days. Pop's one of the ones with "high risk conditions", so if you listen to "Dr. G00gle", fatalities are in the 50-70% range for folks with his history of heart surgeries/conditions. But they knew he'd be at risk, they knew he'd been exposed, and they tested immediately once he started feeling fatigued so they caught it before the staph even showed up in blood tests. So the news should be good, in spite of Dr G00gle's Doom and Gloom. In the mean time he's got 4-6 weeks of daily iv antibiotics administered into his heart (I didn't ask how... I'm squeamish) down at the Doctor's office / hospital, and then we see if this particular form of staph still responds to antibiotics.

And just as I started to breathe again after that scare, my Mom's brother - who'd been wasting away for a year due to rampantly uncontrollable brain tumor - died the weekend before Thanksgiving. They originally thought it was Alzheimers, but found that his formerly in remission cancer had metastasized, and was in his brain. Those of you who have been reading for a while may remember that he's the reason I took up knitting in the first place... I'd needed something to do while staying at his house to keep him from wandering off in the middle of the night until an alternative care situation could be arranged.

I wish I was feeling up to talking about all of this in some sort of meaningful and pithy way, but I'm afraid I'm a bit numb. We're all fine, we'll all be fine, but I'm sort of in head-in-the-sand mode right now.

If you need me, I'll be in the bunker stacking up sand bags until 2009 takes the hint and GOES AWAY.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Why Don't You Pick on Someone Your Own Size, 2009

Our cat has lymphoma.

The good news is that she has no symptoms yet, so she's not in any pain or discomfort as far as we can tell. Keeping my fingers crossed that we can find a way to pay for the chemo.

Between the pet deaths and illnesses, job losses and money troubles, I am SOOOO ready for 2009 to be over.


The kind of lymphoma she has is aggressive. The prognosis without any treatment at all is 30 days, and it took us almost 3 weeks to get through enough tests etc. to end up at the oncologists. At the very last minute, my boss managed to come up with about 15% of the total amount of the invoices that they owe me, so I was at least able to pay for the first batch of tests and treatment which is a huge relief.

The most recent set of tests has determined that the cancer has shown up in her spleen, left kidney and several lymph nodes. So even though she doesn't have any symptoms except for the visible tumor, her condition was serious enough to put her life expectancy without treatment down to a matter of days, not months. With treatment she should have 9 months of healthy happy life before the cancer comes back, if she responds well to the chemo and her remission is typical.

She's always been a bit of a benevolent diva, treating us like a kitty concierge service. But in spite of her imperious demands still manages to be one of the sweetest and most loving cats I've ever met. Since she's only 8, another 9 months for her is a significant percentage of her total life, and completely worth it to us if we can get a chance to spoil her for another year before she starts feeling any pain.

Plus I already spent one Thanksgiving Day just a few years ago having to put down a pet who'd suddenly gone into seizures and then a coma from a newly-discovered series of unsuspected silent tumors... I'd prefer not to spend another Thanskgiving Day at the emergency vet having to make painful and difficult decisions.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Busy Hands...

It has been a stressful couple of years, and while I take pride in my career, the things I make are never of any practical use once they're done with them on set.

So, to keep my brain from hamster wheeling, and to feel like I've accomplished something, anything, I've been knitting.

and knitting...

and knitting some more. Gives me a chance to sit while NOT looking at computer screens. While I'm doing it, I can listen to free audio books from the library. And end up with some new things to wear, without having to brave the mall.

Love the Owls made out of cables!

But I think my favorite is the one I just finished.

Cozy wool, but knitted loosely so it drapes a bit, and the perfect vintage buttons.
One more reason to love fall weather!

Monday, August 03, 2009


I was hoping to be back with a happy post soon, but I guess that's not going to happen this week.

Our 23 year old shi-tzu, The Doodles, passed away on Friday.

It wasn't a huge surprise. She had congestive heart failure, and wasn't doing well.

We'd tried her on a new medication that last week and she'd rallied for a few days, bouncing around like her old self at least a couple of times a day. So I'm glad she had a few good days at the end there.

But it gave me a false sense of how much time we had left with her. So when she went from bouncing around happier than I'd seen her in months to not really able to settle anywhere and get comfortable over the course of a few hours, it was doubly hard to watch.

At least she passed in her sleep, here at home, and not at the emergency vet needing to be put down after days of medical tests and interventions, like my last two dogs.

I feel like I should have done more, and at the same time like she was saved from my needing to do more. Because really, it would have been for me, not her. I'm never going to feel like I did enough unless they come out the other side alive and well. Which wasn't an option at her age, in her condition.

I'd always preferred the big goofy dogs to the itty bitty ones. The tiny dogs I'd known had been yappy, cranky bullies inclined to bite and nip. If I were forced to be honest, I'd have to admit our Doodles would never have passed one of those doggy IQ tests. But she was by far the sweetest dog, not a mean bone in her body.

We'll miss her.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The job got pushed back, and pushed back, and then just fell through. Apparently the folks who'd been lined up to pony up the financing weren't in a position to make the promises they'd made. So the whole company isn't going to happen, not just my job. Which is much worse news for the great folks who'd spent months trying to make this happen. I can't even imagine what they're going through.

Obviously I'm hugely disappointed. Not to mention that the reasons I quit haven't changed and will not change. So yeah, there's that. Back to the old slog.

Because I quit, I've lost a couple of key jobs due to my not being available when the shows were being booked. And I'm sure I won't be first - or second or third - in line for any new projects this fall, due to my defecting in the first place. So finances this fall will be a shambles, pretty much.

But it could be sooo much worse, as at least for now I have an old job to go back to.

Ah well, the world keeps turning.

Friday, June 05, 2009


I quit my job.

I can hear you now, "Are you nuts? In THIS economy?" (that was the actual reaction from my next door neighbor.)

But I had been offered a job by a previous employer a few weeks ago (name your price , any job in the company I want), and I had very regretfully turned it down because I couldn't imagine turning my back on my current career. I'd worked so hard, for so long. Put so much into it.

Then my current career stepped over the line, so to speak. And I realized in a fit of clarity that it was never going to get better. No matter how many extra hours I worked for free, no matter how much extra I gave it, my efforts were always going to be met with eye rolling and exasperation. Because they were only ever going to be satisfied with it if it was free, and ready 24 hours before they asked for it. That they would promise anything when it needed to get done, but then reneg when it came time for presenting the bill. And after yet another unpaid all nighter or three, I was not prepared to take yet another uncalled for temper tantrum. Especially one that had nothing at all to do with my work and everything to do with their bad day.

So I called the lovely job-offering lady back, and I have a full time job (full time!) working from home (from home!) with full benefits (benefits!) and performance bonuses (bonuses!) and stock options (stock options!!!). They came pretty close to meeting my asking price, so I'm going into this at a respectable starting salary. And I will start it all, with luck, week after next.

I may have just figured out what I want to be when I grow up.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

No Really, We Actually Meant It. Yes, Really.

So I've been engaged for, like, a whole two weeks now and apparently that's actually just code for "your save the date cards are already three months late". Who knew? Before LB even got the engagement news out - practically before he'd finished his sentence - it was "when are you getting married?" "when's the wedding?" "I want to get my tickets... when's the wedding?"

We've tried telling folks the truth. That we're enjoying being engaged and we're not even going to THINK about weddings until a year from now. Which would be totally 100% true if they'd just STOP ASKING US WHEN THE WEDDING IS ALREADY. And we don't want a "wedding" anyway. No DJ. No jordan almonds. No stress, no huge debt. I know, we're a little peculiar. But we actually meant it. Mean it. Present tense. Yup, we mean it.

Only LB forgot that he'd met his family before, and actually admitted to his mother that we had maybe discussed once or twice planning a private thing, just the two of us, somewhere romantic. Umm, not his finest moment. In case you were wondering, that's really not going to fly with his mother*. Really, really not.

She told him today that she's going to a Dental Convention in Hawaii in October, and wondered if we could get married then.

That's a nice big "No Thanks". For one thing, I'm pretty sure that "October" will be coming along about 7 1/2 months sooner than that aforementioned "year from now". Oh, and we're also not going to a Dental Convention to get married. Even if it is in Hawaii.

Ummmm LB, this is going to be... a very long year. Sigh.

*EDITED TO ADD - LB's Mom is truly a delightful lady, and I will be very very lucky to have her as a Mother-in-Law. However his entire family seems to have an unnatural fascination with weddings. In the past seven years or so his brother, sister, four cousins, two step-sisters, and assorted other friends and relations have married. And somehow their hunger for steam buffets is still unsated. This unnerves me, as I was pretty much all receptioned out after the first ten weddings.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It Can't Be April... It's Snowing!

I just got back from a job in St Louis, where it snowed on the first day of the Cardinal's opening game.

Crazy weather. But great for breaking out the hand knits I don't get to wear much here at home. Which brings me to the shot I promised you lo, so many weeks ago. Mariah, finished:

There are also three other partial-sweaters in various stages of "time out", waiting for me to address their various not-insurmountable problems. The good news is, I have actually managed to finish an entire sweater since then, the "Owls" sweater, by Kate Davies. But that one's waiting for some eyes for the owls. And maybe me losing a few pounds before I model it.

And I thought I was joking when I told Laughing Boy that I'd have to get a manicure before I showed off my birthday present. But after taking a few dozen pictures trying to get one I don't cringe at, I think I may be hiring a hand model for the next couple weeks...

Yes, that's the left hand ring finger. And of course, I said yes.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Not to Jinx It, or Anything...

... but I have been spending every free moment (and several that weren't) since the last Christmas gift was completed working on a knitting project I started almost a year ago.

I stopped working on it after 6 weeks or so last April because I needed to practice my cable and chart reading skills, and because I knew it would take many, many, many, many, many hours to get it done and Instant Gratification Woman needed to finish something already.

So it wasn't until 2009 rolled around that I managed to get back to it. Somehow in the past year I have managed to pick up quite a bit of speed. I'm still a ridiculously slow knitter, but at least I'm not slower than your average glacier. And, miracle of miracles, it's actually the size I MEANT it to be. Exactly. I know, I'm just as shocked as anyone.

As of now, it's done except for adding the zipper. Since I don't sew, I'm pretty sure that that's not going to be as calming as drifting lazily downstream on a long summer afternoon. Wish me luck! If all goes well, I may eventually have some finished sweater pictures.

Or we may never speak of this again.

Edited to Add: I have achieved Zipper-dom! I put it in as the tutorials suggested, so the edges of the knitting matched exactly and hid the zipper when it was closed... And the first time I unzipped it, it snagged all along the left side, and pulled out three stitches. Aaaaargh! So I whip-stitched the edge of the knitting down all the way up, and it looks fine even though the zipper is showing now. Still love it! Pictures to follow when it stops raining.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Tis The Season...

... to FINALLY finish the last of the hand knit Christmas gifts.

I know handcrafted/homemade gifts can be a bone of contention in some families. Those who do not like them insist it's cheap. Those who do insist it's a gift of love that transcends the humble ingredients.

As for me, it's my way of saying, "we care more about you than our current financial situation would indicate".

I'm just so relieved I'm finally done.

And my family is probably just as relieved that this year's gifts are considerably less lumpy than last year's gifts.

... although I couldn't resist at least one "not your grandma's knitting" design for my niece.

Yo Ho Ho, Merrrrry Christmas me hearties!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

And the Winner Is...

Nobody! Or both of us, depending on how you look at it.

This visit was, miracle of miracles, pretty tame. The Namelesses were on their (for them) best behavior, and only hit 9 out of 25 possible squares. Which left us each at 4 across, and me at 3 across in two other rows as well. So no winner's podium and extra strong martinis for us, alas.

Which is actually pretty stupendous news, as Mrs. Nameless once would have hit 5 across on at least one card in the first five minutes if we'd been keeping score at the time. My favorite of her 5-across high scoring insult-fests was in the first few minutes during the coffee hour following LB's father's funeral. Which explains - if the necessity of our developing the "game" itself wasn't enough - why we try to spend as little time as possible in the same city as them.

Unfortunately, the only reason they're behaving now is that last year they pulled something so heinous that even their staunchest supporters had to protest. So they're being forced to play nice, at least in public. And since the last time they were forced to pretend to be nice publicly led privately to the situation culminating in the aforementioned heinous nonsense, we're planning on watching our backs for the next six months. At least.

Still, this may very well be our first holiday season without any new emotional scars from LB's paternal gene pool.

So maybe we both won something after all, even if we can't stick an olive in it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let The Games Begin

LB is a delightful man, who lights up when around other people. His family are really great folks, too. And he enjoys spending time with them, although they really don't get to hang out often so it's extra special for him when they can. Which means that going home to visit this weekend to celebrate his sister's masters degree should be pretty cool.


There is one member of his family who has never gotten over LB's birth, as far as I can tell. From the day LB was born, this person seems to believe that everything that LB gets in life somehow comes out of their karmic pocket. I know it's common in a family for one child to resent another, especially if money is tight and now used-to-be-an-only-child can't go to camp because little brother needs braces. But when you're approaching the half century mark and you still haven't pulled your head out of your behind, it becomes a little... um. Ridiculous.

LB never retaliates, just lets the nameless relative and nameless relative's significant other snark and be mean. Mock, belittle, insult, back stab. Pretend they're joking. Lather, rinse, repeat. But it's a little depressing to never be able to look forward to a holiday or family event because of the constant nastiness.

Well, this time we've decided that if they're not going to stop with the childishness, we're just going to treat it with the care and dignity it deserves.

Presenting "B1tch0"

Some of these topics will only make sense to LB, but highlights of the weekend will, I'm sure, include:

"Too Many Men on the Field"
This is a classic. Mom gets upset that there is tension between the two, so she brings Nameless Relative over, and forces him to say something nice to LB. Usually followed almost immediately by:

"Silent Seethe"
Perfect opportunity for one of their little snarks, but because of the presence of someone else in the conversation who would know it wasn't a "joke" and be able to call foul, they have to hold it in.

Doesn't really need an explaination, but LB thinks this should go immediately in the Oxford Eng. Dictionary.

"Nana Maneuver"
This is a classic. LB goes over to his Nana's house. While he's there, offers to take out the trash. She says no, it's not full. Everyone knows you can't take out the trash until it's full. She had a lot of fun rules like that. So the next day, we come home to an absolutely hysterical, invective filled 10 minute rant on our answering machine from Nameless Relative's spouse, demanding that LB go back over to his Nana's house and take out the trash. Immediately. Or else. That was my favorite part, the "or else". That and the fact that the phone call was made while Mrs. Nameless was standing right next to Nana's little 5 gallon trash can, the one that needed to be emptied. The technical definition of a "Nana Maneuver" for this weekend is when either one of the pair turns a non-situation (not-full trash not needing to go out) into an international crisis - which you are required to take care of RIGHT THIS SECOND - via misrepresentation of the facts or outright lies, with bonus points if it's caught on tape.

"Troll By"
Entering a conversation they aren't even a part of just to say something insulting. Not to be confused with a "Sniper Attack", which is just completely out of the blue and unconnected to any current or recent conversation.

Upon hearing anything that's happened that is the opposite of brilliant, saying "That Sounds Like Something LB Would Do". This is sort of a gimme on the card, since I don't think that in the decade I've known LB the spouse of Nameless hasn't uttered this little gem at least once in an evening.

"Insult Replay"
Repeating an insult more than once, just to make sure everyone heard it. This one's worth double points if it comes up in a completed "B1tch0"

"Holier Than Who?"
This is one of my favorites. Mrs. Nameless launched into a monologue last family event on how she was raised so religiously, and how treating others well is something she still, to this day, feels is an important part of her life. We went to the store. And when we came back half an hour later, she was still in the middle of her "why I should be nominated for sainthood" speech.

"... as a baby"
At least one conversation will be interrupted by Mrs. Nameless announcing that LB was "dropped on his head as a baby", for context see "TSLSRWD", above.

LB and I each get a card.

One "B1tch0", across or down = loser buys "winner" a martini

1 B1tch0 across and 1 B1tch0 down = loser buys "winner" brunch or dinner at restaurant of choice

Diagonal B1tch0, or any B1tch0 that includes the center square = dinner at favorite restaurant in town.

Full B1tch0 card = Thai Massage.

I never thought I'd say this, but we may actually be looking forward to this trip.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Didn't Expect Victory to be Bittersweet

(sorry for the excessive comma-tization, crappy grammar and wildly swinging verb tenses of this post, but I'm still too horrified by the passing of Prop 8 to form a coherent sentence. But I'm posting anyway, because shame on us, California!)

I know you'd expect me to be exploding with joy about Obama's victory, and I am. I'm thrilled that this country will finally have some leadership that will care about every American, and not just the rich white ones.

I am overjoyed that this country has come far enough to finally elect a non-white President. But I can't help regretting the media's, and society's, need to incessantly label him as "black" first and an intelligent, talented, hard working man, husband and father second. Gender and race are valid things for individuals to be proud of, and to label themselves with, if they wish. That is their choice, their right, their decision, their pride and their convictions. It's when we who stand outside their groups apply those labels to them, and force them to be only that label for us, that it heads into dangerous and dis-empowering territory, even when the intent may have been the opposite. That is, I believe, an insidious form of racism and just assuming that it's inherently benign is a mistake.

The race and gender issues in the election were, and are, a topic and source of pride and rejoicing for so many out there. I'm proud to have been able to cast my vote for him, to see this milestone passed finally. My problem is with people making it THE topic, in every situation and every article. I'm not sure I read a single article where Obama's race wasn't mentioned, and in a few cases microscopically dissected - down to percentages of how much of each race are in his genetics. Are we really doing this in 2008? Seriously? And for those of you who think I'm being overly sensitive, please note that I never once saw them introduce McCain as "the white candidate", or "John McCain, the male candidate, will bring out the older white male voters..." It would have struck the eye and ear as just plain wrong. And I would hope that we could get to a day - hurry up, already - where the other labels we come up with to pigeonhole, limit and marginalize people sound wrong too. As if all someone has to offer us is their race or gender, and if they're not rich/white/male and you're still voting for them it must be because of that and that alone. As if I wasn't already excited to be able to cast my vote for - hands down - the best candidate I've ever had the opportunity to vote for in my entire adult life. And I'm really getting old here, folks.

All these discussions over the last months implying that you should vote for Hilary because she was a woman, and Obama because he was African American, and if you vote for him then you're not supporting women and how dare you, and visa versa, on and on, seemed to me to be trying to take away from their very real qualifications and achievements. They go from being the very best candidates this country has to offer, to being just SpokesCandidates for the label-de-jour. Which outrages me on so many levels. We're electing a President, not casting a commercial.

Those labels and assumptions are what I believe led directly to the Republican Party's apparent strategy, "Hey, let's get us one of those purty little women around here, and folks'll think we're all modern and progressive too! And without us having to join the 21st century at all! Buy her $150,000 worth of clothes, and we have our very own Republican Barbi3!" As if just the fact of gender makes Hilary Clinton = Sarah Palin on whatever scale you drop them on. Proof, if you needed it, that they just don't get it.

And then to wake up to the news the next day that Prop 8 had passed... I'm ashamed of California, and embarrassed that we now stand for bigotry and intolerance. I was a lot more comfortable with the crunchy granola and fake-tan label, myself. I expected better of us, I really did.

The one thing that has comforted me was seeing the stats for the votes. Voters 18-29 voted against it, by more than 60%. It was the voters over 70 who voted for it, by about the same percentage. Change is coming, and via those very same "young people" the haters used to smokescreen their bigotry, with their out-of-state-funded scare tactics about school curriculum. Until the religious out-of-staters (you know who you are) started their ad campaigns just a few days before the election, Prop 8 was losing in the polls. The blame, however, still rests squarely on the shoulders of the voters of California, for letting this happen. For going into that booth and using our hard won and defended freedom to vote by choosing to add hatred to the constitution of our state.

But I know that this won't last, this attitude of smug exclusionism and hatred hidden behind self-righteous religious excuses. The haters, and the generations that accepted it as just the way things were, can't live forever. And the young voters will raise families of their own, a new generation of voters who understand it's unacceptable to deprive anyone of their civil rights. But it should have been now, we should have been that generation. It is years too late already.

And a question for all of you who voted for Prop 8 - what happens when it's your civil rights they decide to take away next? I'm sure that will be different. I'm sure you'll be chock full of moral outrage then. Good luck getting anyone to feel sorry for you when that day comes.

In the same way that the very elderly relative who used negative stereotypes and slurs as a part of casual conversation at the Thanksgiving table was met as time passed with embarrassed silences and finally - thankfully - loud disagreement, we can hope the folks who legislate hatred and denial of civil rights will soon be relegated to muttering to themselves in a ratty recliner in the corner while the rest of us set a few more chairs at the table and welcome everyone to sit right down.

It should have been today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Just passing by...

LB and I have been so busy with work these past few years, we haven't had much time for, well, anything that wasn't work. So with work being so slow these days, we decided it was time for some fun. Inexpensive fun.

So I've been working on the two-sticks-one-string stuff:

And when LB was sent to Michigan to work on a project for a couple of days, we both went and checked out what this thing called "Fall" looks like:

We've done some other stuff, like go to the beach, up to Santa Barbara for a couple of concerts, and down to Orange County to the museum to see an exhibit on China's Terra Cotta Army (no pics allowed in the museum... I'm still bummed). This having a life thing is great.

As long as you're not too into paying bills and all. Ahem.

Which is why it's going to be a relief - and a tiny bit sad - to start on a new show next week. Hooray! I think.

Friday, August 29, 2008

It's 100 Degrees, so Bring On the Wool!

I hadn't mentioned the thing with the sticks and yarn since I finally finished the 2007 Christmas presents, mostly because I hadn't progressed much past rectangles.

And seeing that it's summer in Los Angeles, I can't imagine why anyone would be interested in long sleeved wool sweaters.

Except me, because... IT DOESN'T SUCK!

I know, I'm thrilled. (Excuse the lumpiness in that picture, but that's actually me and not the sweater... and yes, I really am that pasty white).

For those of you who are still reading this far, that's the Gathered Pullover (that's the Ravelry link...) from Interweave Knits Winter 2007 issue, design by Hana Jason. Knitted in a teal/emerald green bamboo-merino superwash blend yarn.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Independence Day

LB and I have spent much of our 9 years or so together slogging through one crisis or another. Not things we've done to each other, mind you. But you can't hit the middle of your life without running headfirst into some sort of drama, be it family or financial or The Ex or medical or employment or friends or house or... Anyway, after nine years of slogging, we were ready for some fun. Hence the Maui trip.

Coming back and jumping into the chaos has been harder than we thought. If you'll pardon the analogy, it's kind of like dancing in pointe shoes. During the performance, your toes stay pretty numb. It isn't until you stop that the pain kicks in. And the next day is the worst, when you have to squish your sore, battered toes back into the same shoes for more abuse. We knew all along that we were working ridiculously hard, but we hadn't had the time to step back and notice how little fun we actually have on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. So here we were, back after too-few-days of nothing but fun, and work was being... particularly work-ish.

And then 4th of July weekend came along, and we were - I admit it - complaining that we wished we were snorkeling somewhere. I won't admit how long it took us (me) to realize that some people do actually come here, to California, to snorkel. Cue the heavenly-revelation music. We didn't even have to get on a plane. So we staged our own mini-rebellion against the current reign of chronological tyrany, and off to Catalina we went.

The best part was, our local dive shop (Hey, we have a local dive shop? Wow) had a great deal on an Olympus Stylus 1030 SW, a little point-and-shoot digital camera that was waterproof to 10 meters /33 feet.

It has 4 different macros for underwater shots, although LB just set it on one and handed it to me, and I snapped away.

I'm sure you can tell I'm not a photographer. I've never had a decent camera, and so have never taken any pictures I like. But these shots make me smile. The kelp is beautiful, and the Garibaldi fish just glow against all the blues and greens.

And then after we got through paparazzi-ing the fishies, we did this:

You really can have fun in Southern California. Who knew.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

You, yes you... no, the other... yes, you. Right.

Hey, Guy!

You. No, on the left. No, with the ironic facial hair. Yeah, you.

I just want to ask... Isn't that a lot of pressure to put on 6 straggly hairs? Hairs which, I'm sorry to say, really look more like something left in a drain at the M0tel 6 than an actual intentional growth. I mean, ironic is asking a bit much of them. Not that they're not trying their best. It's just that, irony used to require mental effort, thoughtful arguments. Socrates even had his very own kind. But you, you apparently just need to randomly miss a spot when you shave and presto! Irony.

I'm just having a bit of trouble with the continuum. Socrates, Sophocles, Voltaire and... your chin. Hmmm. Nope, not buying it.

It could be cosmic irony, I guess. You're the dupe of cruel fate, in a world where facial hair is hawt, and that lip lint is the best you can do.

Or, or, or... maybe you meant it as an example of dramatic irony, where we, the audience or iron-ee know more than you, the perpetrator or iron-er. As in, we know without a doubt that that sorry ass goatee-lite is never going to get you laid. And you obviously don't.

Or you'd shave already.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Maui and Me

I do love our house. But mostly because it's ours and not because I have a fondness for 1960's nondescript ranch-style tract homes. And I'm sure I won't shock you when I admit that this... NOT a picture of the view out our front window in the San Fernando Valley. And neither is this...

Which is why we went to Maui.

Where we got to look at this:

And this:

And do this:

And spent a lot of time driving around in a convertible doing this:

When we weren't eating or sleeping. (You'll notice I spared you the pictures of us doing that. You're welcome)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hey Guys, Sorry About the Sushi...

In addition to the work, work, work, I've had to deal with my favorite show that I've ever worked on getting moved out of state and putting me back looking for a job this fall, and the upcoming Yes-Virginia-there-really-is-another-strike SAG-fiasco...

And then this spring my Dad had a bit of skin cancer they thought they'd caught in time spread to a saliva duct (gland?), with all the concomitant surgery and radiation. They caught it all, and early. But the surgery left him with some lingering facial nerve damage, and the radiation he's finishing up this week may leave him with permanent hearing loss on one side (waiting to hear on that...). So things Chez Panda have been up-and-down. Which hasn't left me in the mood to write much here, because dropping off the face of the planet just to pop up and whine once every three months seems a bit, well, rude.

All that to say, hey - we actually had some fun for once! Look, fish!

(click for bigger-er)

And sea turtles!

(you should really click this one... it looks much better bigger)

Those shots are some from the Hawaii/Maui trip. We took a boat ride out to Molokini, and I rented a still camera from the boat. LB rented a video camera from them, but the video needs to be converted before I can share it here. But it's not bad (way better than my stills, anyway) considering it was our first time snorkeling AND first time trying to film fish underwater while we were floating one way, and they were swimming the other.

I think they call it "having fun". Huh. It may actually catch on.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Honey, where's my pipe?

... and just when I thought it couldn't get any better, I made LB take the test.


As a 1930s husband, I am
Very Superior

Take the test!

I have no earthly idea how he did it, but THAT makes me laugh.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm A Failure

Work has been insane, so that took up three months. (A few weeks of three meager hours sleep spread out over three or four days... very painful, but very boring). And then we actually took our very first real vacation in NINE YEARS! Sorry for the all caps, but we GOT ON A PLANE. And WENT SOMEWHERE. Somewhere that DIDN'T INVOLVE A FAMILY WEDDING.

And not just that, but it was MAUI!!! Four days, so okay, two days on a plane and only two and a half days in paradise, but still. MAUI! US! NOT WORKING! NO WEDDINGS!

They had to drag us back on the plane kicking and screaming, and I've been a bit resentful of having to go back to work full speed. But it was enough of a success that LB is even willing to DO IT AGAIN SOME DAY!


And I am inordinately pleased with this, too:


As a 1930s wife, I am
Very Poor (Failure)

Take the test!

I have never been happier to fail anything, ever.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

High Noon

We've been letting Banana Dog into the back half of the house, keeping 18" high gates in the two bedrooms back there so the cats still have some private space. Our gray cat, Handsome Boy, is pretty okay with Banana Dog. If he's in my office, he'll move under my desk when she bounces into the room but he won't leave, even if he ends up licked half to death. The Princess, our black cat, is furious about all of it. She'll sit safely on her side of the gate, or in the middle of the hallway and yowl threats if she sees Banana getting near her brother. Or if Banana even looks at her. Everyone pretty much ignores the Shi Tzu, Doodles, no matter where she is or what she's doing.

Tonight, LB was playing referee between Princess and Banana, while Banana sat sedately in my office doorway, and the Princess swore at her anyway. All of a sudden, Doodles stuck her tiny head past Banana into the hall, and let out a growl. Wow. So she's protecting the cat? Odd, but since she's been joyfully stomped on every hour, on the hour, for the last four or five months now, I guess it makes sense that she'd finally get fed up and tell the Banana to just sit the heck down for once.

Doodles pops back into my office.

The Princess let out a few dozen more curse words.

And Doodles ran out into the hall, got between Banana and the Princess, and started growling and yapping. She was protecting the gigantic 80 lb Banana Dog from the 16lb cat! I'm not sure who was more surprised, us humans or the erstwhile combatants. Doodles barely weighs 10 lbs soaking wet, so even the cat outweighs her by a good 6 pounds.

Everyone except Doodles looked embarrassed. And we decided it was time for a short break in cat/dog relations. Dog's not bright, but she's got guts.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Schools Out!

You are 3:15 p.m.

You are the moment when the last bell rings and school lets out for the day. You are resistant to schedules and obligations, so you love feeling like you're in control of your life again. You are the very moment when the second hand hits the 12, and the halls fill with noise and motion. Even if your after-school time is packed with activities, lessons, or a job, somehow, you just feel freer in the late afternoon than you do earlier in the day. Maybe it's all that blue sky and afternoon sunshine? Nah -- even on rainy days, 3:15 is always a beautiful time.

I am, indeed, 3:15... all about the moment when other folks' demands, schedules and expectations are done and I can get on with my own thing.

Which makes it particularly absurd that I keep picking careers that are one non-stop deadline, day after day. Ouch.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Drawing Lines in the, Garage Floor

A while back, when we were first (or second) discussing what we would like to do around the house, LB turned to me one day and said, "If you could decorate one room in the house any way you like, do anything you want, would it be okay if I did one room any way I like?" I must have looked a little wary, or confused at least, and when I didn't answer right away, he rushed on. "Which room would you like, would you like the master bathroom?"

Um, blink. Blink, blink.

I'm trying to come up with an answer to that while simultaneously running through all the options for which room/what the hell he's planning on doing with it that would require a bribe like that. I mean, come on. It's not like we can afford to replace the hand towels without running up a budgetary impact report, but pie-in-the-sky dreaming of doing "whatever I want" with the master bath could some distant day translate into a Japanese soaking tub, skylight and fireplace. Knowing me, and knowing that, what's he got in mind for his room? Los Angeles Valley Community Broth3l? Black-velvet-painting Elv!s shrine with mandatory white sequin jumpsuits for all guests? My brains are rocketing back and forth between visions of copper tubs and corner steam showers (good), and our living room someday looking like a goth-dungeon threw up on a tiki lounge (very, very bad).

"S.s.s.sure, honey..." I stammered. "Whatever you want." I tried not to flinch. "What room did you have in mind?"

"I was thinking... I'd like to do something with... the garage."

The garage? Is he serious? I mean, he must be since he's still standing there, staring at me as if he really needs to wait for the answer. But, the garage? Seriously? I do know it's ATTACHED to the house. It's a PART of the house. But... I'd never really considered it a room IN the house. Still, I can't believe that's it. There's got to be a catch. Does he really think that he's coming out ahead in this deal? That I'd say "no" to what he knows I would consider a legally binding agreement to someday pick out any tub I want in order to, to... to what? To reserve the right to decide what color the concrete floor in the garage ends up? To have veto power over which side of the room the workbench is on?

"No, that's great," I finally managed to say.

Today, while I slept (back around to working nights, long story), he went out and bought fancy track lighting for the garage. Hmmm. Still a little vague on details, but he has assured me it's not going to be the Neighborhood Br0thel, so I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Knitty Issues

I'm not a very good knitter yet (I'm being optimistic with that "yet"), but am rather proud that I managed to finish all the Christmas presents. Out of 26 projects begun in 2007, I've gotten through 24 and 2/2s. The "2/2s" are 1/2 of a sweater for me (tubey from, in burgundy with black stripes... my first attempt at stripes), and 1 of 2 out of an alleged, and at this point entirely apocryphal, "pair" of socks. Everything else is off the needles. Since "everything else" includes 16 rectangles...

aka scarves, I'm not expecting any real knitters to be too impressed.

I, however, am ridunculously pleased I managed to get through this...

I haven't got the hang of beading, lacework or blocking (aforesaid blocking occurred post photo-op, you and the recipient will be relieved to hear) yet... and I'm embarrassed to admit that I knit an entire "test scarf" of this one - down to all the beading - before I started on the "real" present. All in all, I'm relieved I ended up with anything vaguely recognizable. I owe blocking a beer.

And, for me, the penultimate in overweening delusions of grandeur...

The price tag for organic cotton made me hesitate, remembering my only other foray into sweaters (no evidence, I mean pictures, for that mess), but I figured even if this one ended up too big, kids grow. I'm a tiny bit over gauge, but it's sized for a "2-3" year old, and the kid's just now getting into the 2's clothes, so I'm probably good. Right? I mean, yeah. I'm good.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


May I present... the new bedroom (sunglasses may be required)

My camera can't seem to handle the colors we've got going on in our new room. It's got the richness down, but seems to have gone to town with the saturation. Believe me, it's almost this vibrant. The "almost" is key. I admit, it's not a room where someone would walk in and say, "How... subtle". Beige, it ain't. But neither is it quite as eye poppin' contrasty as this looks. I use Photoshop all day for work, many hours at a time. And I just couldn't force it to make the photo colors match reality. This next picture is closest, if a bit dark. (and yes, the lens on my camera was spotty as hell... but I'm not quite sitty-uppy enough this week to retake it, so I'm going to pretend it's fine)

Still, it's a long way from the original dirty pinkish beige carpet, white popcorn ceiling, and white white white walls. BTW, the doors haven't been painted yet, so we've got the one you can see above covered temporarily with a curtain.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Happy 2008

I've been gone so long, I wanted to post the perfect post to catch everybody up on things (all two of you who are hopefully not yet fed up with my sparse-posting ways). And then I realized that if I waited until I wrote that post, I may well be wishing you both a happy 2009.

So, in a nutshell.

1) Bad - Writers' Strike has put both of us out of work. Merry Christmas... as long as no one is too stuck on having a roof overhead or food on table.

2) Good - One of my former web jobs totally came through, and has provided both Laughing Boy and me with part time work. It's at half our regular rate, and no benefits, but it's better than we'd make on unemployment so... yay us! Not quite enough to cover all the bills, and will probably dry up by middle of February. But we won't have to give up eating until March at the earliest, so I'm calling it a "good".

3) Bad - The day after the last of the TV shows we work on closed down, my car had to go into the shop. And again the day after that... and again two days after that. And again yesterday. All for different things. The best part is, the one this week is from a sensor that one of the mechanics or tow truck drivers broke off and GLUED back together. We're on our third mechanic in a month, so there's no way of knowing which one did it, so we can't present them with the bill for that last piece of nonsense. The universe has a crappy sense of humor. And if you've got an address, I'm planning on sticking it with the combined invoices. $2,200, all told.

4) Good - We finally - after 7 months of construction, and 5 YEARS of treating the largest room in our house as a giant hamper and cat sanctuary - moved into our master bedroom. Pics to follow, as soon as I can track down batteries or my USB card reader.

5) Bad - I've spent the last month sick, having been knocked out with a kidney infection, followed two weeks later by a cold/cough/sore throat for Christmas. Which I passed on to LB, of course. Sorry, honey!

6) Good - As of today, we both seem to be finally over it.

The rest of it's pretty boring. I managed to finish all my Christmas present knitting projects (all sixteen of them). We've cleaned up most of the debris from the 9 months of construction displacement. We had the excuse of being out of work, so we were able to spend Christmas under the radar, thereby avoiding all of the usual pitfalls. And Banana Dog didn't get bitten by the Opossum she tried to befriend in the backyard last night. So we're hanging on.

And now that we can both sit up and breathe at the same time, I like to think 2008 will go better.

Hey Universe, don't disillusion me yet.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Slaughter of Helpless Trees

Banana Dog's attack on the plant life in our yard not withstanding, we at Chez Panda consider ourselves fairly ecologically minded. And if I'd known that ordering a measly three things out of catalogs over the past decade would lead to the recent deluge we've been drowning under, I would have dragged my lazy ass to the mall.

Now, salvation is at hand! allows you - for free, no charge - to remove anyone at your house from the catalog lists. So if your pet is getting catalogs (I know, but all I can figure is that filling my previous labrador's prescription at a people pharmacy dropped her onto some senior citizen mailing list), or you really would like to give F!ngerhut a finger of your own (leave me ALONE already! I don't want whatever that is... I don't know anyone who wants whatever that is... and if I did, I'd lose their number before I'd order them one), then register and scroll through their extensive list of catalogs to choose which ones you no longer want to receive.

According to their info, it takes about 10 weeks for the requests to take effect. And if you change your mind later, and really have to see what The Sharp3r !mage is charging for laser nose hair trimmers, you can get yourself un-removed (shut up, it might be a word) later on.

My mail person will thank me. Trees everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. And I no longer have to skim through T0uch 0f Cl@ss catalogs to figure out where the p0st 0ffice hid my paych3ck.