Saturday, January 30, 2010

Slightly freaky mail

When I was nearly 12, my brother Brian got a dog. Our beloved beagle mix, Lady, who was with the family since before I was born, had recently passed and a dog-free home just didn't feel right. I think we had to do a lot of begging and pleading with mom for permission, but eventually she consented and a group of us ventured off to the SPCA for a pooch. Brian quickly settled on the pup of choice, a raccoonish looking dog who was clearly the leader of her littler. Brian's girlfriend, Sharon, paid all the fees and we came home with a fluff ball of puppy. She was curious and had boundless energy, and she quickly found where we kept the food. This, along with her coloring, led to her name--Rascal. She was, according to the sign, poodle and shepherd mix, but we suspected there was terrier of sorts mixed in.

Rascal was a great dog. Although not as smart as Lady (a truly gifted dog), she was so cute and affectionate that you just couldn't get mad at her. She made friends everywhere. Rascal loved water and snow. Boy did she love snow. She would catch snowballs in her mouth and chomp them to pieces. She was also a tomboy, cocking her leg to pee in a very unladylike manner. I loved this dog so much. Eventually, a series of mild strokes left her incontinent and unable to move well, and we had to have her put to sleep. My mother, who pretends she doesn't love animals but is really an old softy, couldn't do it alone, and in the end, couldn't do it at all. I had to take her in and be brave so as not to spook her as I handed her over to the technicians and said goodbye. It was one of the hardest things I have done. (you may want a tissue now. I know I do).

So, you can imagine my reaction when I came upon this postcard in the mail.Our Rascal had less black on the face as she aged, and the black on her body didn't extend that far down the sides, she was more tan, but otherwise, this is pretty much what our dog looked like. I just stood and stared at this card. Wow!

But in the interested of helping a broken-hearted pet owner, this Rascal was lost in the area of Gower Avenue and Afton Place on December 27th. It's a male, about 35 pounds and "smallish." The card says Cairn terrier mix. If you see him, please call Mary Bess at (323) 962-1531. There is a reward offered.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Test Anxiety and an amusing anecdote

I did it. I finally took the Jeopardy online test. It is hard to get the answer and type it in 15 seconds, y'all. I choked a bit. I don't know how many I missed, as they don't give you a score. The only way you know that you passed the test is if they invite you to audition. I'll let you all know if I get a call back. Then you can help me come up with some witty banter and something catchy in my bio. Somehow I don't think "I work all day and knit all night" is going to get me on the show. However, if I do get on, I promise to knit a fingerstache for Alex, because I preferred his more roguish look.

In order to take said test, I had to be logged on by 5:30ish, so I left work early to make sure I got home in time. I made it by 5:20, but was stonewalled by the Latina Gladys Kravitz downstairs. She told me about an incident that occurred on Monday, when Roy's package arrived. It seems she had gone grocery shopping and left a few bags on the front porch while she carried the rest in and stopped to pee. In the brief time that she left them unattended, someone came up on the porch and stole her groceries along with some bags of recycling she had sitting there.

Okay, that's not the amusing part. I'm not that cold.

The thieves, according to the mechanics across the street who work on the police cars, also attempted to steal my package from Roy. One can only assume it was too bulky and awkward for them to get away with, because they put it back. Roy's impressively overdone packaging saved the day! But it sucks that Gladys lost her groceries.

She told me that one day last week someone was knocking on our doors at 11pm (I didn't hear anything even though I was home). When she came to the door to see who it was, they said, "Open the door; we'd like to talk to you about Jesus." She didn't open the door, obviously. I mean, who wants to talk about Jesus at 11:00 at night? But when she spoke with the police on Monday to report her groceries stolen, she told them about the strange nighttime evangelists. They told her if it happens again, to not speak to them, but call the police instead. There have been reports of home invasions recently. Me and my mostly-windows front door are suitably spooked. I think I'll invest in a security chain...or two. And Gladys swears they knocked on my door first. Why didn't I hear it? What if they broke in while I was napping on the sofa? Creepy, creepy creepy.

Well, now I'm just hungry

Damn you, Mary Maxim. I got an email about a yarn sale (dangerous enough on its own) but the accompanying picture...Nom nom delicious. Don't you just want to nibble those tiny toes?

Can you tell I'm having a hormonal week?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Good things come in gigantic packages

After my fiasco at the DMV last week, I had an appointment today for 3pm. I got there at 2:30 and there was a huge line, but I eventually got to a window. Instead of issuing me one of those red squares with a number (essentially, the time you have to get your tags), I was told I could have a permit for one day of operation only and I had to "pick the day." Arbitrarily? I picked today, obviously. But that meant I had to get my smog check today and come back to the DMV tomorrow with proof to get my tags. Woo Hoo! Luckily, there's a smog check station right around the corner from the DMV, so Jamie got checked and passed. And I have $4 left in my checking account. Yippee!

All told, it wasn't so bad. I was home by 4:25. And what did I find when I got home? A huge box on my front porch. Is it a bomb? I was kind of afraid.Not expecting anything, I assumed it was another errant package for this Laura gal who just moved and got her new address incorrect. Imagine my delight when I read the label and discovered it was from my nephew, The Roy. Despite its size, it was very light. Good thing, too, because I was already loaded down with my knitting bag and a box of work to catch up on. I sliced and diced through the duct tape, and found a plethora of packing materials.Digging, I found...a wooden spoon? More digging led to this amazing item--The Auntenna.It's a homemade antenna for my HD converter box that is supposed to help me get more channels with less adjusting. Roy found the plans online somewhere, except the plans called for a 2 x 4. You have to appreciate The Roy's ingenuity. The spoon really makes it. I am happy to report that the Auntenna (get it? He made it for his aunt) works great. It works so well, in fact, that a helicopter just went over the house and I did not lose reception. My fellow HD box users will know what I'm talking about. Oh, sure, it's a bit of an eyesore, but that's part of its charm. I put it on the floor next to the TV stand, but back and out of the way, and I get almost every channel available without having to adjust it. Wheeee!

But wait! It gets better. Inside the giant box was a smaller box. Inside that was homemade Chex Mix from the lovely Jess (The Roy's squeeze), along with a cover for my beloved Kitchenaid mixer, also made by Jess,some gorgeous and oh-so-soft alpaca yarn from the Bully Hollow Alpaca Farm in Pennsyltucky,and an adorable little alpaca finger puppet. "Me love my new pet," said the Frankenstein monster.

OMG, this chex mix is delicious.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm sharing this with you because that's what Aunts do.

Here's a link to my nephew's blog (The Roy). It's a good piece. Enjoy.

So close, my little Jamie

The boss was working from home yesterday, so it seemed the perfect day to sit at the DMV to get Jamie street legal. No, I didn't make an appointment. The closest appointments were weeks away and I need this stuff taken care of pronto. Besides, I have good luck getting there early and taking a number. Clearly, my luck is changing.

First off, raining like crazy when I set off to drive the short distance to the DMV office on Formosa. I was nearly rear-ended twice by people who don't understand the concept of slick roads. The parking lot at this DMV is ridiculously small, so there was a line of traffic waiting patiently for the parking lot attendants to direct us to the next available spot. I finally got inside and got my number--B070. Not too bad, but it meant a wait of about 53 minutes. I sat, I tweeted, I watched people (always a good time). Then, the system went down and the wait time because indefinite. I trotted out to my car to get my knitting bag and decided to sit it out.

The pattern I'm knitting calls for double-pointed needles and I-cords, and leaving the stitches on the needles and such. Only, I was short a needle. Crap! I MacGyvered a needle out of a pencil in my purse, impressing or confusing my admiring crowd, only to discover after the fact that the needle was with me all along.
Finally, they told us the problem was statewide and no one could say when the system would be online again. They called for people to line up to make appointments for Monday, so that's just what I did. I have an appointment for 3pm on Monday. Let's hope my little car stays under the radar until then.

In other news, lest you think I just cleaned on Saturday and have been resting since, I have kept the trend going. I have not allowed dishes to sit in the sink at all. I find myself picking up pieces of fuzz that dare offend my lovely red carpet. I put a small trash can at the bottom of the stairs to collect all the fliers and stuff that come addressed to Occupant (I really wish he would file a change of address so I quit getting his mail) and then take them out on trash day. And last night, I undertook perhaps the biggest challenge of all. I took all the knitting patterns that I have printed out from Ravelry, Knitty, and various other sources, separated them by type (hat, scarf, sock, etc) and filed them in three large binders.I feel so good about this, you have no idea. Also, when am I going to knit all that?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In which Laurie Ann attempts to cook something fancy

We were having a brunch at work and the directors were doing the cooking. Since I'm an assistant, I got lumped in with them and also had to prepare a dish. I decided to try that Strata recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Those of you who know me know that I don't cook, or at least not often. When I do, it's nothing fancy, usually just mac & cheese or meatloaf, or similar comfort foods. It's not that I can't cook, I just don't do it unless I have people to feed. So, enter fancy recipe. I was doubling it because we have a lot of folks at work, but there was someone else bringing an egg dish, too.

I prepped everything before hand, getting the measuring stuff and spices out
chopped the onions with my pseudo Slap Chop
shredded the cheeses and cut the breadthen sauteed the onions and added the spinachDon't you just love the smell of onions cooking? Soooo good. Then I just poured the egg mixture over the layers of bread, cheese and spinach, and popped in the fridge to set.This morning, I got up early because the strata has to sit out for 30 minutes before cooking. Then I stuck them in the oven while I showered and got ready for work. By the time I was done, so was the strata. And it looked beautiful.And you know what? It tasted delicious. Hooray! I cooked and didn't kill anyone!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Veni Vidi Vici--Action Jackson saves the day (now with photos)

Like a white knight he stepped out into the bright sunlight, faithful steed by his side, bucket of cleaning supplies in his hand. The day of reckoning...I mean, cleaning had arrived. Oddly, I didn't experience the expected meet shock. In fact, it felt like Jackson and I had known each other for years and were getting together after a long absence instead of meeting in person for the first time. He brought his dog, Baloo, too, or as I like to call him "ol' tiny mouth." We hugged and set off to the attack the mess. Before we went upstairs, I offered him an out-- "I feel you may have underestimated the scope of this mess. If you see it and say,'Screw this shit' I will totally understand." But Jackson was stoked to get started (clearly something wrong with him) so up the steps we went. He surveyed the damage with a few head nods and then we were off to the races.

Have you ever seen a man so happy to clean?

We started by filming (Yikes) a little before video on Jackson's flipcam (I need me one of those) beginning in the bathroom and then moving on to film the mess. OH. MY. GOD! He is actually going to post it on his site, which I will link here when he does. I should have been mortified, but I think at this point I just really wanted the help.

Jackson started in the living room, while I tackled the alcove separating garbage from donation, and setting aside the keepers. My vacuum, as I mentioned before, was kind of broken. Jackson got down and dirty with it, taking off the cover, unwinding all my hair that had gotten wrapped about the roller, and oiling up the belt. Eureka! It works! He was a blur of activity and before I knew it, he had the coffee table cleaned and scrubbed, the stereo table cleared, and was on the floor with the brush attachment scrubbing the nooks and crannies. Honestly, who IS this guy? I feel like I was standing still the whole time, even though I did my part in the alcove. In the time it took me to get through all the stuff in the alcove and actually see floor, Jackson had vacuumed the living, scrubbed everything in sight, vacuumed the stairs, jimmied open a window that I thought never opened, and cleaned the windows on the front door. Then, Jackson hauled all the donation items out to his car. He swept the porch and met the Frau, too. Ah, Frau. She asked him, "you live here?" "No, I'm just cleaning," he answered. "You sure you don't live here?" Good old suspicious Frau Pita. I promise I was cleaning, too, but honestly, this guy cleaned circles around me.

We had a moment of panic when Baloo the Ninja Pup escaped, but phew, he was just across the street. He is one stealthy chihuahua and so cute. Here's a pic I snagged from Jackson's blog. He looks so innocent. He ripped into a couple of little stuffed animals I was throwing away but was very good about not eating the eyes and noses he tore off.

Get that bunny (also, my phone camera sucks)
The carnage

I heart Baloo. I heart Jackson, too. After a brief lemonade and fruit break, we jaunted down the street to Out of the Closet where we unloaded a very loaded car. We exchanged high fives with the Out of the Closet staffer who helped us, and back home to finish. Sadly, the vacuum which had valiantly sucked up years of neglect breathed a sigh and sucked no more. Actually, it still sucks, but the brush has a broken piece. But that's okay, Action Jackson had done more than enough already. He truly seemed bummed that he couldn't tackle that last patch of carpet. We finished up by filming an after video, which while my place looked clean, I'm sure I looked a mess. I took some shots of SuperForester Jackson to the Rescue and a self-portrait shot for posterity. Have I mentioned how much my camera sucks?

Then, it was hugs for Jackson and kisses from Baloo, whom I have renamed "ol' dragon breath" and he drove off into the sunset. Who was that man in white?

Jackson, you are a prince among men, a truly amazing individual, and I cannot thank you enough for coming in and decluttering my apartment, and by extension, my life. I promise you I will continue this trend and not clutter it back up. Thank you for doing what you do, for starting SuperForest, for your beautiful generous spirit...and for the lovely signed copy of the SuperForest Humanifesto (suitable for framing).

One last gratuitous shot of Jack, because he's adorable and amazing.

PS. I am feeling so old right now. I just got up to get another glass of lemonade and could barely walk. I'm going to sleep well tonight.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This is why I need help cleaning

In looking over the crap I have to get rid of, I noticed the posters rolled up and tucked between the book cases. They've been there since 2004, but they do not belong to me. They were left here by my friend Daren who spent a brief time sleeping on my couch and, eventually, a futon is the alcove room. Daren's leaving was emotional. I asked him to leave, not out of anger, necessarily, but because I was becoming increasingly bothered by things that shall be left unsaid and I wanted to always adore him and be his friend. In the end, there were no long goodbyes, no lingering hugs, just an empty, clean room and a letter on my laptop which I no longer use but can't throw away because I have no way of retrieving that letter and I don't want to lose it.

Anyway, when I came home and looked around his empty room, I found the only remaining evidence that Daren had lived here--a guitar pick, the posters, and a blue Bic lighter which was laying on the futon. Today, in preparation for the big clean up this weekend, I called Daren to see if he still wanted the posters. There were some pretty cool ones, including a collectible White Stripes light box piece. He said "yes" then asked me if I'd like to have dinner, too. Well, I can't say no to a handsome fella, so we met at my place and headed off to Masa in Echo Park. After the most enormous Caesar Salad ever, we came back here to sort out the poster situation. We reminisced about our brief cohabitation, Daren mostly, but me too. I missed him, really, really missed him. He's a jetsetting musician these days (I always knew he would be) so he's rarely even in LA anymore, let alone have time to socialize. I miss the way he used to sing to me. He tuned Dave (the guitar) and played me a little Beatles tune. Then I asked him if he wanted his lighter. He laughed and asked, "Why would you keep my lighter?" So I told him how sad I was when he was gone and how I left that lighter laying on the futon for a very long time before I folded the futon back into its chair form and put the lighter away.

We talked a bit more and Daren took a few last looks around. When he remarked how little had changed since he left I explained that I left things that way because "they reminded me of you." As we hugged goodbye, Daren said, "Maybe you should keep the lighter."

And I did, because I'm all sentimental and shit.

And this is why I need someone with no emotional ties to help me clean, because I would hold on to everything. (I'm going to hide the lighter, though).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today was not fun for the sleepy and unfocused

[Warning: this post is full of knitterly language and linky goodness]

I finished a hat last night, the one I was making for my friend at Saturday's SnB, and was quite proud of it.* I even blocked it, something I rarely do. Then, I began looking harshly. "I should have used smaller needles," I said. "The pink on the button doesn't exactly match the pink on the hat." So, before my Crazy could talk me into unraveling it and starting anew with smaller needles and a more matchy button, I did what any self-respecting knitter would do--I cast on another project. I'd been on Ravelry earlier and saw this adorable braided scarf on Sarah Sparkle's projects page. "I have the perfect yarn for that around her somewhere," I thought. "Let me dig it out." So, there I sat at 3am casting on a scarf. And since the braided bits are the most interesting, I couldn't stop until I had worked it up past the braids. But it's such an easy knit and there was actually something interesting on TV at 4am (PBS)...well, next thing I knew it was 7am and I had to get in the shower or be late for work.

At work, it was one of those days where everyone needs your attention or needs you to do something for them, or get something for them, or prepare something for them, or dance a jig for them (not really, but I wouldn't be surprised). My own work suffered from the starts and stops and my inability to remember what I was working on when I got a chance to say, "Now, what was I working on..." But that's okay. I can go with the flow. I saw a spider doing yoga on my sink this morning, Warrior III pose, I believe. If he could take the time to find his inner peace, so can I.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The threat of embarrassment is a great motivator

Does anyone remember that "Sex & The City" episode in which the ladies discuss secret single behavior? That's things you do when you're alone in your apartment that you couldn't do if you lived with your significant other. My (not so) secret behavior is that I'm a slob. My apartment is a mess. I'm not quite "Hoarders" worthy (no rotting food anywhere) Photo courtesy Seattle Police Department

but it's still pretty awful. My vacuum broke, so I haven't vacuumed in a while. The fire engine red carpet shows every bit of dust and dirt (now I understand why so many apartments have that awful brown carpet) so I've tried sweeping with a regular broom, but it's not very effective. I have stacks of papers, old bills, magazines and catalogs, printed knitting patterns, etc, all stacked on the coffee table and on the computer table. My bedroom is...well, it's a good thing I'm not dating anyone. And the little sun room is filled with stuff. Much of it is knitting paraphernalia and books, but there are two boxes of things from my old Tower Records office which I have not unpacked, plus a broken boom box, a broken floor lamp, and more. In short, I need an intervention.

The funny thing is when I have a roommate, I'm not this bad. Okay, my bedroom has always been a mess--just ask my sister who shared a room with me for 16 years--but the rest of my apartment I keep fairly clean. I guess I'm okay with my own mess, but I cannot abide someone else's mess. I can only let it go so far before I have to clean. Unfortunately, I have lived alone for a very long time. After staying up late to watch a late night Oprah show about people who had been featured on "Hoarders," I looked around and realized just how bad it's getting around here. The next day I typed "I need a maid" in my Gmail chat status line. However, even that didn't inspire me to clean.

Then, yesterday, out of the blue, Jackson of Gchatted to me "How much do you pay?" It took me a few minutes to realize he was responding to the maid thing. I told him I couldn't afford what it would cost to have someone clean this mess. But he was serious and started asking about the magnitude of mess and what day would be good for me. Before I knew it, I had agreed to his crazy idea and so Jackson will be joining me next Saturday to tackle this mess before the authorities come knocking. How could I say no to an offer so genuine from a man with such a radiant smile? But then I really turned a critical eye to the mess and panicked. You see, Jackson and I have never met in person. I can't let this be his first impression of me!! So, I've been cleaning today. I've set the timer to 30 minutes and cleaned in little bursts. By next week, maybe it will be presentable or at least not make him run screaming for the hills.

Friday, January 08, 2010

They're messing with me

On almost a daily basis, the toilet in the first stall in the ladies room is clogged with a wad of toilet seat covers. I'm talking 40-50 of them crammed into the toilet. I like to use the first stall because the industrial sized toilet paper holders in the other stalls are lower and are not comfortable for a woman of substantial size such as myself. There is no handicapped stall in the Ladies Room of Horrors. I'm a busy woman and have a bad habit of not going to the bathroom until it's very nearly too late, so when I encounter the clogged toilet, it adds an unwelcome delay in my relief. It's quite aggravating. Originally, we assumed the dispenser was like a loose slot machine and some hapless woman went for one sheet and ended up with a handful. Even if this were the case, she shouldn't try to flush them all. Toss them in the trash.

As this began happening so often, I checked the seat cover dispenser* and have discovered it's almost impossible to grab more than one at a time unless you're digging your fingers deep into the holder and grabbing a stack. This means someone is deliberately clogging the toilet!! Am I still in high school? Are they hoping to flood the floor and get the day off? Jeez Louise!

Yesterday, the first stall was clogged, as expected, so I went to the last stall--and IT was clogged with seat covers!! Argh!! I used the second stall. When I went back a few hours later, THAT toilet was clogged with seat covers. Finally, at the end of the day, all five toilets were jammed full of seat covers. What the...? Who does this? I swear they were just watching and waiting and doing this just to irk me. As usual, I suspect the characters across the hall.

Before you suspect I'm a total freak (kind of), I realize there are more important things to get worked up about but honestly, it just boggles my mind how grown ass women can be so ridiculously inconsiderate.

*Lest you think me disgusting, I don't use seat covers because I find them more irritating than they're worth. The paper sticks to your butt and besides, I am a champion hoverer.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Just checking in

My brother, you may know him in comments as UR Brother or Anonymous, not to be confused with my sister, Anonymous--where was I?--oh yeah, my brother got worried because I hadn't posted since New Year's Eve. Awww, it's sweet when they stop beating you up and start caring. Anywho, I'm still here. What's happening? I'll tell ya--a whole lotta nothing.

I spent the early part of New Year's Day on the phone with my mommy, as I do each year, watching the Rose Parade together. I, naturally, watched it commercial free on KTLA with Bob Eubanks and the lovely Stephanie Edwards. She was flipping between HGTV and one of the network stations. Poor Mom; I never realized how much the networks cut out by showing commercials. And HGTV wasn't showing commercials, but they weren't giving good descriptions of the floats. I was sure to share the wealth info Bob and Stephanie provided with her. We do love our Rose Parade. I spent the rest of the day being a lazy arse. In fact, I spent most of the weekend doing that. Oh, I started and am mostly done with a hat for one of the gals at work, but that's it. And I made a cell phone cover for my new phone.

I got pulled over again. I know! It was at night and they turned the spotlights on my car as they approached. I was so blinded I couldn't see to dig in my bag. I said to Officer Handsome (seriously, are they recruiting Abercrombie & Fitch models?), "Wow, those spotlights are so bright. They're blinding me."
"They're supposed to, ma'am," was his reply. I asked him if he could turn them off, and to my surprise, he did. I handed him the ticket I got two weeks ago and he said, "Oh, I see you've already been blessed." Then, he let me go and told me to get it rectified as soon as possible. Yes, sir, as soon as I get paid again. Geez.

Yeah, other than that, nothing exciting to report. Back at work doing all that "Holy Crap, the holidays were here and we didn't do squat, so we have to catch up now" stuff. And knitting. And making crafty shit for an office thing. And scrubbing the dickens out of my kitchen because it was time. And....that's all.