Friday, October 30, 2009

Vintage Photo Friday--When I was still adorable

When last we left my younger self, I was a newly-baptized 1 month old. Let's see how that sweet little angel grew.

This photo is labeled "May 1965." I call it "Laurie Ann invents the Faux Hawk." Six months old and way ahead of my time. Here I am with my siblings on the same day. Aren't we a cheery lot? According to my mom, it had been a long day, my dress was slippery and Kate was trying desperately to keep me from slipping off the end of the seat. In order from right to left(and oldest to youngest): Michael (6 1/2), Brian(so close to 4), Roy(nearly 3), Kate(18 months), and me(6 months).

This is labeled "June 9, 1965" which was Brian's 4th birthday. Looks like I'm saying, "Oh, me? Just chillin' with my swan." You'll notice I did a lot of chillin' in my youth. Check out that old school perambulator.

You've seen this one before, but it's from August 1965, so I thought I'd complete the summer.
And to round out 1965, a year that also saw the birth of my best friend, Joann, here's some photos from Christmas of that year.
You can tell I've had a little egg nog in my bottle because I'm lifting my dress and showing my bum. I also have that glassy-eyed giddy look I've come to recognize as quittin' time. Yes, I got a plastic basket for Christmas. We were poor. No, I'm kidding, but I guess I got a dolphin. I have no memory of that toy. The rolling dog in the upper corner, I do remember. And here I am after I've crashed, chillin' again. Can we take a minute to discuss the playpen? Look at the rickety hinges, the bare wood floors. By today's standards, it's a veritable deathtrap.

Hopefully, next week we'll have the Elementary School years. I've asked Kate and Joann to help since I seem to have very few photos of myself. I know those two have all the embarrassing photos.

I really meant to work today (Vintage Photos in next post)

It's pay day, so I called AAA to haul Jamie off to see her friend, Max, the German Car King. Max plugged her in and declared that, indeed, she needed new spark plugs. Usually he'll find gently used parts to save me some money, but with this spark plug thing being a chronic condition, he felt brand spanking new ones were our best best. He called some auto parts store that delivers to get the new plugs and then set about giving Jamie a good old fashioned check up. Turns out she was dangerously low in the oil department, so after a lecture in not letting my oil get low, Max did an oil change. I was sitting in the back seat knitting when he jacked up the car to get to the drain plug. "Oh I get a ride," I exclaimed. "Better than a Ferris Wheel," Max deadpanned.

After the oil change, Max took a break for lunch. I continued to knit not very mindful of the time until it occurred to me that my back was sore and my beverage was warm. I looked at my watch--Holy Crap! I'd been there for hours! I didn't realize the new spark plugs were being flown in from Madagascar. They finally arrived and 45 minutes later (at 3:00) I was out of there.

On my way to work, I stopped in Burbank to pick up a donation for our fundraiser, and by the time I got through the studio traffic to Hollywood, it was 4:30. I was supposed to pick up another donation from downtown, but I'll do that on Monday. I didn't go to work and missed the big Halloween party/ luncheon at work. My friend Anne brought her dog to work (Anne was Mustard and the dog, Zoe, was a hot dog, because she's a dachshund mix) and I totally missed puppy time.

But I did manage to get this very nearly finished.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hello, Thursday. What have you done with this week?

Jamie is still on the street next to my office. I moved her this morning because of street cleaning, and she drove around the block okay, but I could smell burning, which is never good. She's going to get towed to Max in the morning, who hopefully will take care of her (he's not answering his phone) and then I'll be running errands again.

So, I went to the Women's Conference in Long Beach on Tuesday. Our boss takes a group of 10 women each year and this is my first time going. In the past, the ladies have come back feeling inspired, uplifted, and empowered. I looked forward to some great inspirational discussions. Plus I had signed up for two interesting-sounding breakout sessions, one of which was "How to manage your health so stress and work don't kill you" presented by Dr. Oz. I do love me some Dr. Oz and, boy, do I need some stress management tips. What we got was panel discussions in which the panels kept going off topic and tears--lots and lots of tears.

It started with in the morning sessions with Somaly Mam, a former Cambodian prostitute who was sold to a brothel as a young child and managed to escape. She doesn't know her real name, as Somaly is what they called her at the brothel. She doesn't know her real age, she thinks she was 10 when she was sold. She, with the help of her husband, has founded schools and halfway houses in Cambodia where she rescues many young girls from brothels and educates them. One of her girls is now studying at a university in the United States. Her speech was difficult to understand but the gist was "help the young girl you see in the streets, hug her and love her, and never give up until we make the governments understand that girls and women are not toys and property to be sold and played with." It was pretty powerful stuff and our group passed a package of tissues down the row.

In the afternoon, we had Katie Couric, who spoke about resilience. She spoke of being a plucky young woman starting out in the news field and all the men who told her she'd never make it, never be on air, never be an anchor. Hey, that's pretty inspiring. Then, she talked about losing her husband to colon cancer and her sister to pancreatic cancer. (tears start here) She ended on a high note about never letting them tell you you can't do something.
After Katie, Maria Shriver led a panel discussion on dealing with grief. Maria told us that she is not okay. She is still very much grieving her mother, Eunice, and her Uncle Teddy. (tears begin flowing more rapidly) She talked about her mother's final moments and how she asked for Eunice to send her a sign after death to let her know she was alright. Then, she told us a story about strolling along the beach in Hyannisport and seeing a former nun on the beach, who appeared out of nowhere, and who gave Maria five prayer cards from Mother Teresa, for Maria and her brothers, and told her that "your mother sent me." The story got more fantastical after that and we all looked around like "Maria's losing it," but then came the panel. Susan Saint James, who lost her 14 year old son in a plane crash that also severely injured her husband, Elizabeth Edwards, who lost her 16 year old son in an accident and who is also diagnosed with terminal breast cancer, and Lisa Neely, Patrick Swayze's widow, who was last minute substitute for Kelly Preston, who didn't feel she was ready to talk about her son's death. Wow! (Forget about wiping the tears; tissues became ineffectual) I mean, seriously, could it get any more depressing? It went 30 minutes overtime, too. Through all of the crying, we did manage to take away some ways to cope with grief and how to help a friend who is coping with it.

Thank God for the booths and the free stuff. I loaded up on goodies. Actually, I had a great time with the ladies from work and the afternoon breakout session I attended was great. Dr. Christiane Northrup discussed the female mind and the female body, and how our minds have so much to do with our health. Then she finished with a wonderful meditation session that left me refreshed. All in all, I enjoyed the experience.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jamie needs spark

About a month or so ago, I took Jamie out to see her friend Max, the German Car King, who replaced two of the four spark plugs. He replaced #1 and #4 because they're easy to get to without removing the manifold. He told me that I'll need to have #2 and #3 replaced soon, as they're probably just as bad. I'm the sort of person who tends to push her luck, so I didn't go back to get the other two spark plugs replaced. It is going to cost at least $150 and that just didn't fit in my budget of dental work, car registration renewal, smog check, overdue cell phone bill, AAA renewal, insurance payments and, oh yeah, I need something to wear to the fundraiser in November.

Today, Jamie told me my luck had run out. She didn't die with a great scene like past episodes. In fact, she didn't die at all. She just chugged and chugged while the engine light quietly came on. I got to work and parked her on the street to allow easy tow truck access and came up to work. A great debate took place in my head as I walked down the hill to my office--to call the tow truck today or to leave her here until Wednesday. Today would have been the best day to do it. The boss is out and there were no pressing appointments. However, I was tired and had things to take care of since I'll be at the Women's Conference tomorrow, so Wednesday won. Either way, I'll have to leave her there until Friday. My poor little car. I hope she's okay in this bad neighborhood until then.

Friday, October 23, 2009

30 days to 45

I forgot it was Vintage Photo Friday. It is also exactly one month until my birthday. So, I'm going to treat you all to a weekly "baby Laurie Ann" pictorial leading up to my 45th birthday, which will be my social age* until I'm, like, 80 or something and it's cool to reveal my real age again. I'll take you from earliest photos and end with a photo of me on my birthday, which is a Monday so that picture's probably going to be horrendous.

This is me on the day of my baptism being snuggled by my favorite priest, Father John Barrett. No dirty priest jokes, please. He was wonderful and truly cared about our family. One day in high school when I was supposed to be making confession, he talked to me for 20 minutes about how I was coping with my parents divorce. At the end he said, "I know you probably haven't sinned much. Just say a few Hail Marys and be done," then did the absolve me of my sins thing and that was it. Of course, my classmates thought I was confessing a murder or something because, seriously, no one does confession for that long.

That's me and Father Barrett again, with my Godparents Johnny Cohill and Chrissie McIntyre. Doesn't she look perfectly delighted to be my Godmother? They were not a couple, which I thought was odd, but after five kids my parents were hard-pressed to find Catholic friends who hadn't already stepped up.

Johnny was a confirmed bachelor and he always gave me a 5 lb box of chocolates for my birthday and Christmas "to share with your brothers and sister." Chrissie gave me toys and puzzles. She was fairly young so probably didn't have a lot of money. She also had a damn handsome little brother named Tony who was far too old for me but, I repeat, damn handsome.

Next week, the toddler years.

*Last night, a woman told me a story about her grandmother telling her doctor she was born in 1919. When her granddaughter countered and said, "but you were born in 1905," she replied, "Oh, I gave him my social age."

US Postal Service--Even the rubber stamps have an attitude

I'm going through some returned mail today, updating our database and such, and I've noticed a change in the postal service's handling of returned mail. No longer content with the large cartoon "Return to Sender" finger, the stamps are becoming more specific.I'd be okay with this one if the addressee were not a well-known hotel, along the lines of the Biltmore (but NOT the Biltmore). Yes, their mail may go to a PO Box, but it's not like it couldn't be delivered to the hotel by the street address. I mean, they know where the hotel is.

Then, there was this wording--"This is a multi-unit address. Mail MUST have suite or Apt # for delivery." On the surface, there's nothing wrong with that, but can't you just hear the snotty voice? Actually, the word "must" is underlined on the envelope, but Blogger doesn't like underlines, apparently. And really? Is it too much trouble for the mail carrier to look at the other mail with that person's name on it? Or, leave it above the mail boxes the way they used to do when I lived in an apartment building? If I had the apartment number, I'd have included it.

I have ten pieces of mail that were returned to us not because of insufficient address or postage, but because the postal service stamped the cancellation on the wrong side. Should I send it to them with a bitchy note?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Look! Up in the Sky!

Tonight is the national Lights On Afterschool celebration. All across America, after school program providers will be holding events to shine a spotlight on the need for quality after school programs everywhere. In New York and Los Angeles, we'll be literally shining the light for afterschool. Both the Empire State Building and the Lindbergh Beacon on City Hall will be lit at 6:30pm and stay lit for the evening. So, if you're not doing anything around 6:30 tonight, look in the direction of downtown, watch for the beacon, and know that tireless folks like me are working hard to keep kids safe and enriched during the crucial 3pm to 6pm hours.

Monday, October 19, 2009

On a lighter note

Who remembers the Schoolhouse Rock series? Of course you do. One of my absolute favorites was "Lucky 7 Sampson" because 7 is my lucky number. Also, it has Bob Dorough on vocals and the rabbit was so cool.
So, you can imagine my delight when Squishable posted today about a recycled bunny who looks similar to my old pal Lucky 7 Sampson. I have a birthday coming up. That's all I'm saying.

Why, yes, I am aware that I'm in my 40's.

Blue, indeed

No, I'm not talking about the Dodgers and their pathetic performance in Game 3. I'm talking about my fish, Indigo Montoya, who died sometime over the weekend. I have a shroud covering the tank until I can get a chance to give him a proper send off.

He was a good fish; he enjoyed his 3-cornered tank, his plastic shrubbery, his turtle, Fezzik.I'll miss greeting him each day with a hearty "Good Morning, Fisherdoodle," as he made bubbles on the surface searching for food.

Will I get another fish? We'll see. I have all the accoutrement; it seems a waste to not put them to use. I'll have to give it some thought.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Torn between two lovers

You wouldn't know it, but I really love baseball. I like a lot of sports actually, even though I'm not an athlete. But baseball is probably my favorite. The sound of the ball connecting with the bat (especially wood) gives me thrills. And while sitting through most games can seem like a lifelong commitment, the crowds, the hot dogs, the beer and those few exciting moments when someone hits one out of the park all make up for the 6 or 7 scoreless innings. Maybe it's the movies that make me love it so. Dang, I love a good sports movie. Any sport, doesn't matter--except for "Any Given Sunday." For some reason, that movie bored me.
"The Natural" reduces me to tears.
So what if Robert Redford was a little long in the tooth (but still sooo hot).

But here's the thing that will probably illicit boos from the crowd--I don't really have a favorite team. (gasp) I kind of follow the "while I'm hear I might as well root for the home team" mentality. Growing up, my Dad was a Phillies phan (see how I did that?). Therefore, I loved the Phillies. This was the Mike Schmidt, Garry Maddox, Tug McGraw, Tim McCarver and yes, even Pete Rose era. That is some awesome facial hair, right there. I even forgave them for the "what were they thinking" powder blue uniforms.

Then, came my love of the Mets because of Lee Mazzilli,
whom I followed to the Rangers, and the Yankees, and ....oh, let's face it, Lee saw more action than a hooker at a bachelor party. Mmmm, Lee....Oh, where was I? After than, I dated a Yankees fan, and so, Yankees it was. But deep inside, I still loved the Phillies.
After moving to Los Angeles, and spending 10 years working for the most fervent Dodgers fan in LA, I became a Dodgers fan. Go Blue! So, you can imagine how I'm torn this week. I really want the Dodgers to win this and go on to the series, but (she says taking cover) I was secretly really excited that the Phillies won last night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Don't shoot me

I am kind of sad it stopped raining. I love rain. Oh, sure, after a week I'll be all, "Arrghh, it's so damp and musty. Stop!" But I miss it already. Yes, I kind of like the smell of wet dog, too. I used to love snuggling our family dog, Rascal, while giving her a bath. I'd nuzzle her face and kiss the top of her head, and then when she'd hop out of the tub all dripping wet and shake it off all over me, I'd wrap her in a towel and hug her tight. Maybe it was just Rascal, who was a cuddly poodle-shepherd mix and I loved her to pieces. Anyway, I'm kind of hoping for an El Nino year. Please don't pelt me with rotten fruit.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thank you!

Just wanted to say a heartfelt THANKS to everyone who donated to my HomeWalk team. You're awesome and my team and I truly appreciate it. I'm assuming there was more than one donor. If it was just one person--WOW! You are super duper and I shall remember you fondly in my will. Of course, there probably won't be anything left to bequeath, but I shall remember you--fondly.

There's still time to donate, if you wish.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I'm walking. Yes, indeed, I'm walking...

Hey Folks,
We interrupt this blog for a Public Service Announcement--of sorts. A group of dedicated workers from my office (including me--I know!) have formed a team to raise money for the United Way's HomeWalk09 by participating in a 5K walk on Saturday, November 7th.

Los Angeles is the homeless capital of the nation. More individuals and families live without a place to call home here than any other city in the nation. In this time of economic crisis, when a growing number of families are facing serious financial hardships and many are becoming homeless, it is more important than ever to focus on permanent solutions to put an end to this unacceptable situation.

To date, HomeWalk has mobilized over 8,000 walkers and raised over $1,000,000 that has gone back into the community to support local programs that will help end homelessness for men, women and children in Los Angeles County.

We want to continue the success this year. I’m committed to raising money to ensure that homeless individuals and families have access to housing that’s permanent and affordable, with other supports available that they may need, like health care, job training, and child care.

But I need your help to do it. My personal goal is $150. So far, I've raised $10--and that was from my own donation. Won't you help? Click here to view my personal page and give what you can, if you can. I know times are tough. Believe me, I know.

For more information on HomeWalk, please visit

We now return you to your regularly scheduled snarkiness and whimsy.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Me, Myself, and I

This post does not refer to any of you. I just need to put this out there hoping that maybe someone who really needs it will see it and there will be one less incorrectly used pronoun in this world. You see, lately I have received a glut of emails in which the writer uses "myself" when they really mean "me" or "I." Every time I read it, I cringe a little. Normally, I let it slide. I realize that I am a grammar nerd and not everyone knows or cares to know when to use lay or lie, or that one feels bad, not badly (unless there is really something wrong with their sense of touch). (No, seriously, I'm such a word nerd that I had a dream recently about explaining the difference between "proved" and "proven.")

First and foremost, never use "myself" in place of "I" or "me"--ever!! Myself is a reflexive pronoun and needs to reflect the subject. In technical grammar terms, reflexive pronouns (myself, yourself, itself, etc) are objects and used in these instances: 1) when the subject and the object are the same ("I hate myself for loving you."); 2) when the object of the preposition refers to the subject ("Sisters are doing it for themselves."); or 3) to emphasize the subject ("I do The Rock myself"*).

So, what's the answer to the question "Who is coming to the meeting?" "Joe, Steve and I are coming to the meeting." Not Joe, Steve and me?? No. Me is an object, as in "I bought coffee for Joe, Steve and me." Wait, no; that's Joe, Steve and myself. Were you paying attention? I wasn't. Okay, um...."They bought coffee for Joe, Steve and me." Yeah, that works.

Oh, and while I'm here--when listing people, "you" always comes first (and then rolls over and goes to sleep--hee hee), and the speaker comes last. So, who is going to the conference? You, Billy Bob, Shirlene, and I are going to the conference.

Special thanks to Joan Jett, Annie Lennox and Tim Curry for their excellent examples. Thanks for letting me get it off my chest and not explode at people with Masters degrees.

*Punctuation crisis!! Do I need a comma before "myself"? I want to put it there but I'm not sure. Argh. Annika? Anyone? Damn, I'm usually so good at punctuation. I blame stress at work.

I have edited this post about 10 times now. I really shouldn't post when I'm tired and cranky.

You are all sweet as pie

Thanks for the kind words and puppy links yesterday. I was just having one of those Dancing as Fast as I Can moments and I really needed support. You all came through in spades!

Today, the dam broke and I ended up crying at my desk, which could have something to do with the severe back pain I'm experiencing but probably more to do with the pain in my ass, if you know what I mean.

Love you, mean it!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Tell me something good

My time and mental capacity have been strained beyond scientific possibilities this week--and it's only Wednesday! I cannot formulate a cohesive thought (no really, someone else wrote this for me).
Will you guys make me feel better? Tell me a funny story. Send me a link for puppies. I love puppies! Tell me I'm pretty or smart or pretty smart. I just need to be in a better place mentally than I am right now if I'm going to survive the week without bloodshed.
Lying is OK.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

BPA, PBA, APB--Easy as 1, 2, 3: SIGG bottle update

My nephew, The Roy, did some research (it was right under my nose) and found that SIGG liners did indeed contain BPA (prior to August 2008). Here is a letter of apology from their CEO, Steve Wasik. Sincere or not, I appreciate the gesture. The company is also offering an exchange program in which you may return your old bottles for newer ones with the safe lining. This is more than other manufacturers have offered.

If you own SIGG bottles, look inside. Is the liner dark gold? That's an old one. The new liner is lighter color. In the interest of full disclosure, there has been evidence that the new liners are not as high quality as the old ones and may flake off. Also, if you purchase a SIGG from a third party online retailer (not from SIGG itself or in stores) you may end up with an old liner as there are still some out there.

I guess the bottom line is--Go with the Stainless Steel for complete peace of mind. I'm probably going to stick with my SIGGs and exchange my old ones, although I don't know if I can get the same designs, which makes me sad.

Monday, October 05, 2009

I love their cheese, too.

Last year, I switched from using plastic bottles here at the office and around the house as well. I used to use the same water bottle for a few days, then toss it in the recycling bin and get a new one. I didn't like using so many plastic bottles, even though I was reusing them, so I switched to a reusable sport bottle that I washed daily. Then, I started hearing about leaching chemicals and while I'm not overly concerned with that, I decided to look into PBA-free alternatives. I have always loved the SIGG bottles for their colorful designs, but their cost was somewhat off-putting. I coveted them every time I saw them in a catalog or at the Whole Foods. Ah, the Swiss--they make great things, from their gaseous cheese to their multifunctional cutlery. I finally broke down and bought one. Then another and another, so I now have about five of these lovely bottles around my home and workspace. I fill them up and take them everywhere, plus I have one on my nightstand for those midnight thirst attacks. Yep, I love me some SIGG.

Recently, however, there's been talk about the lining in the SIGG bottles. Since the company doesn't want to divulge what the coating is made of, stating proprietary reasons, no one is completely sure it's PBA free. Of course, they aren't sure it's NOT either. Several sites that I frequent have recommended switching to stainless steel bottles, which don't need a lining (Sigg bottles are aluminum). I have been thinking of making the switch. One company will even give you a discount if you send them your used SIGG bottles. Stainless is more expensive, you see.

Today, while watching the receptionist desk, I asked the UPS man "Anything for me?" as I do every day. Instead of his usual response ("Got a Sharpie? I could make them yours.") he said, "Yes!" and handed me a box from the SIGG folks. Hmmm....the last order I placed was back in May. I purchases a bottle for a friend. Have I been sleep walking/ shopping? Is this why I never have any money?

Turns out their online secure purchase systems were compromised sometime between March and June, and some personal and credit card information was stolen. I knew about this, actually, because I got a letter to warn me back in July or August. I did have a problem with my card number being used, but I took care of it right away and no harm came of it. This package? They sent me a free bottle with a letter of apology. Now, I thought that was damn nice of them. They didn't have to. Our office got a similar letter of security breach from a hotel the boss had stayed in back in May and they didn't offer us squat.

So, I'm sticking with my SIGGs until someone proves definitively that the lining is an issue, because they're nice and consumer friendly. And the bottles are awesome.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Check out this bad boy

I don't know why anyone would toss this to the curb.Just check out this sweet fabric.It's a convertible, too. Sure, there are old towels stuffed in there to keep the mattress frame from collapsing to the floor, but you know, what ever works.

Also, notice the paddy wagon in the background there? See? I do live across the street from the popo.

Friday, October 02, 2009

No need for alarm

As I tweeted earlier, I must be watching too many crime shows. My neighbor's alarm went off at 5:30 and continued to beep, presumably long after I left the house at 9:30. My first thought was not, "Oh, he went on vacation and forgot to turn off the alarm," but rather "OMG, my neighbor has been murdered! I hope someone finds the body before it starts to smell." Of course, I wasn't really worried about that or I would have phoned the police. But it did get me thinking about alarm clocks. They are so annoying. When was it decided that we needed clanging bells, beeps and buzzers to wake us up? What was wrong with the lightening of the morning sky or the crowing of a rooster? Well, I know what was wrong with those things--the industrial revolution came along and people, who lived in cities and nowhere near a crowing rooster, had to get up before the sun, not to mention the graveyard shift. Still, I wondered about the humble alarm clock. Fortunately, there is a website (isn't there a website for everything?) that answered all my questions. The first bedside alarm clock was patented in 1876 by the Seth Thomas Clock Company. I've always been a Westclox gal, myself. Who doesn't love the Big Ben? I have a lovely gentle alarm clock--the Moonbeam--which is actually a replica of the original made by Westclox back in the 1940's. It just flashes a bright light and doesn't make a peep unless you fail to turn off the light.

My parents had the predecessor to the modern digital alarm with numbers that flipped down. It had a radio and a reading light, too. I loved watching and waiting for the panels to fall and reveal the new number.

If you, too, are curious about the history of the alarm clock, click the link.