Friday, March 28, 2008

Very Restless Natives

Neo & Nikita

Since Nikita's last projectile pukey episode several weeks ago, the kids have been on a new feeding plan.

No longer do we leave kitty kibble out for grazing - cats aren't grazers by nature, though if you try to tell Neo (aka Medicine Ball) that, he'll slap your big human face.

They get two hearty meals a day - a bit of kibble and some very delicious-smelling ground up fish in a can. Mmm mmm mmm mmm MMM!

While this new routine is supposedly much healthier for them (they haven't yet told me if they feel more cat-like and better nourished), it's created another new routine.

Every morning the bed is covered in cats, starting around 6:30am. They assemble and parade all over everything until we get up, their way of letting us know it's TIME FOR BREAKFAST, BITCHES. NOW.

They've always been helpful in waking us up early in the morning, but now they do it with so much more purpose. You have to admire their tenacity. They will wear you down until you put some damn food in their damn bowls.

In the afternoon, as it gets closer to 3pm, they begin to follow me wherever I go, maybe just in case I have their food in my pocket - they'll be right there in case I decide to feed them on the couch, or in the bathroom, or on top of the clean laundry.

And as the clock approaches 5pm, the hour we decided best for their dinnertime, they collect around me like a tiny gang of cat thugs, staring at me and maneuvering closer and closer to me as time ticks down to the magical hour.

If I'm working on my laptop, usually standing up at the pub table in the bar, one will sit on the chair behind me, one will sit directly behind the laptop, and the third will sit on the bar next to the chair - each no more than 1 foot away from me.

If I do not acknowledge their presence, especially the one directly behind me on the chair, he/she will proceed to "climb" up my back and rest forepaws there until I turn around.

There are times I've given into them way earlier than 5pm, because they all have very sharp teeth and dozens of claws between them.

If they manage to trip me in just the right spot, I'm done for. And then David comes home late from work and finds them snacking on my face.

Ninja (El Retardo, Chimpee the Ass Monkey, Big Walking Rug, and a number of other nicknames)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Weeds & Trolls

[photo from]

I spent a lovely day in the yard today, something I thought Jesus would appreciate when he came strolling by to tell me Happy Easter.

After years of watching it grow larger and larger, we finally cut a huge vein of ivy off the giant sequoia in the back yard. That tree is around 60 years old, give or take a few. It was planted as a sapling, brought home in a milk carton from somewhere by my grandparents.

Rather than let the ivy go any longer, I found the tree saw, the ax, hatchet, hammer and chisel and went to work. After much tedious hand-sawing, the vein was finally cut in two. Then I gently chiseled it away from the bark to get it loose. Then I went to town on that sucker with the hammer. That felt great.

Like being in a batting cage - but guaranteed contact. I beat the SHIT out of that parasitic piece of crap. Then took an ax to the base of it. The tree looks relatively unharmed - just the ivy was torn apart and after a while, hopefully what's left of it up in the tree will die off.

Enjoying the beautiful weather, I continued finding things to do around the yard and ended up in the front of the house pulling out the weeds & clover from under the oak tree - a tree started from an acorn by my grandmother, and now it's huge - about 2' in diameter and beautiful. We do love our trees here on Green Acres.

Unfortunately, the troll next door is a tree hater. We call her The Troll because there's really no better nickname for her. She's short, squat, waddles her way from her house to her car, and instead of speaking in a normal human-like voice, she barks words in a grating, accusatory fashion, looking for the biggest Billy Goats Gruff.

Working on the side of the tree that faces her house, I had my ass pointed in that direction when someone behind me said, rather cheerfully, "Working on Easter?!" and without knowing it was her, I responded in-kind and said "Of course!" Because, well, who gives a shit that it's Easter, and this isn't really work, it's just something to do that will help the tree and the azaleas, but I didn't get into all that.

When I realized it was The Troll, I turned my ass back toward her face and returned my attention to the weeds, ignoring her as she, for the umpteenth time, said, "We really have to do something about this tree! Look at the mess!"

The mess, I believe, is the leaves the tree drops that inevitably end up in her driveway from time to time, though I've never considered it a mess. They make for a wonderful mulch layer wherever they end up. And they actually look kinda nice.

Anyway, leaves are unacceptable to The Troll. Let's call her Sandy, which is her real name. Sandy The Troll. If she had her way, she'd pave over everything green. A few years ago, instead of pulling the weeds on her side of the property, she shot weed poison all over them and killed not only the weeds but two lovely azaleas I'd planted a little too close to the property line.

But all that aside, I'm actually happy to get the tree pruned - it needs it. What troubles me is that she can never pleasantly talk to me about it. She *always* has to make shitty, passive-aggressive comments, like, "I'm sure your mother doesn't want me trimming your tree," as she waddles her lazy ass into her house.

Is it so hard to say, "Hey, we love hanging our piƱatas in your tree for the kids' birthdays [which they do, the hypocrites], but would you mind getting it pruned someday soon?" How could I argue with that? But nooooooooooooo.

Every single damn time she sees me, she complains about "the mess" or some other problem, like one day she was upset that a family of birds happened to roost on a limb directly over her shitty car, and appropriately, they shat all over it - a beautiful carpet of guano from the roof all down the side of her door. I couldn't have been happier to have birds living in our tree.

If she had her way, she'd have the tree cleaved in half, right down the property line, even though without it, her concrete back yard would be a good 20 degrees hotter in the summer. What a dumbshit.

The bitch of all this was, it was late in the day when I started on the weeds and I was only going to clear those closest to the azaleas, but as a gift to her (and to prevent another round of poisoning), I pulled them all, starting with her side of the tree.

On top of that, this troll waddles her way down the street every Sunday to go to church, and she probably feels pretty good about herself for being a good Catholic. Unfortunately, she hasn't retained many good Christian values, like Love Thy Neighbor, or Don't Be a Shitty Bitch.

Regardless, I remain optimistic. We didn't think Crazy Neighbor Bob would ever be out of our lives, but his days are numbered. Now Sandy The Troll is waddling around that house all by her lonesome, retired from her many years under the local bridge, and I'm betting that she'll be long gone before we ever have to worry about her getting anywhere near our beautiful oak tree.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Living With a Boy

As anyone who's ever been to my house can attest, I'm no Nancy Neatnik, but I have *some* standards. And I'm sure not all boys are Slobby Messersons, but some of you boys need to take a class.

It's fine to shave your beardy growth and leave whiskers all over the bathroom sink and counter - just clean them up when you're done. We don't need to see just how much manly hair you had to remove to reveal your boyish complexion. We won't notice your boyish complexion if we're transfixed by the disgusting mess you left behind.

If you're done with the food stored in the container on the counter, go ahead and discard the crumbs and put the container in the sink. There's no need to leave the crumbs and empty wrapper inside the container on the counter. This is akin to putting an empty milk/juice carton back in the fridge. Not really sure what you're trying to tell us with this habit, but you can cut it out right now.

Now this next thing could be a remnant of tribal survival habits learned thousands of years ago, which could be cool historically, but probably not necessary today. We don't need to be able to track your whereabouts by crumbs left in your path, perhaps as a sort-of trail marker.

Poppy seed bagel eaten sometime in the morning, and later, a small pizza assembled in the toaster oven... ah, the ring of a soda can there... yes, the subject is on the move toward the southwest quadrant... Trust me - we know how to find you. It's OK to clean up the mess as you make it, wherever you make it.

If a discarded object is fit for recycling one day, why does it sometimes end up in the trash on other days? Has its molecular composition changed on those other days? This, too, is a mysterious, annoying habit, but why not err on the eco side and recycle it *always*?

And on that topic, if the bag of recycling is just a bit too full, there's no need to artfully balance an item on top of the pile, well above the top of the bag where it will fall right off when it's moved. It is possible to either compress the items in the bag to make room, or start a whole new bag after taking the full one out to the bin. This happens every day all over the world and seems to be a successful system of recycling management.

Back to the bathroom for a moment... If you know you're going to leave something of an odorous nature in there that no other human would want to encounter, please do the right thing and leave that in a secondary (distant) bathroom, if available. We'll all be happier - you won't have to apologize profusely and perhaps be embarrassed by your unfortunate super powers and we won't ever know what happened.

On that same topic, we can hear you. Just being one room away doesn't change the physics of sound waves. It might be admirable that you have so much resonance and power in that area, but we're OK with not knowing about it. I mean, after the first fourteen hundred times, it's just not as funny as the first thirteen hundred ninety nine times.

But maybe it's just me. Maybe I've changed. I hear that can happen. Who wouldn't love living with the habits of a fourteen-year-old boy? All that youthful exuberance right here at home. It should make me feel young, yes?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Addicted to the Faux Knife

I think I'm addicted to plastic photoshop surgery. It all started with a passport photo...

I had to get my passport renewed, and rather than go to the trouble to shoot my own, I though it would be faster and easier to have it done at a postal store. Then I saw the photo.

Wow - it's like there are special cameras built with WideFace, BaggyEye technology. We saw similar results in photos taken on last year's cruise. We'd never looked more pasty and bloated, and that was before all those nights of good food.

There was no way I could live with such a terrible photo for the next ten years - yup - I'm totally vain. Back to the "home studio," which entails setting up the camera on a tripod in the bathroom - the only room in the house with a white door that will work for the approved background.

And the nice thing about shooting in the bathroom, aside from the ease of making pit stops at any moment, is the handy mirrors, brushes, makeup, etc. The tough part is getting the focus right, since I don't have a remote cable/control, so the solution is to use a trusty teddy bear.

Standing halfway between the camera and the backdrop, I hold the bear up where my head will be, then press the shutter down (on a timer), and then quickly stand where the teddy bear was just "standing."

It only took about 13 tries, but I got something I could use. Then I did a little post-processing to remove any unsightly blemishes. While I was at it, I realized I still had those pesky bags under my eyes. Hmm...

A few clicks later - bagless eyes. That was easy. Clear skin AND no dark circles and bags, all without surgery or injections, swelling or pain. It's all maybe a little *too* easy...

So, we went from this: to this:

And for the eye surgery, we went from this:

To this:

It's subtle, but I was very pleased with the results. So much so, that I've been doctoring other photos for practice, and now it seems I can't stop.

The problem now, though, is that when anyone compares the real thing to the photo, they're going to think I've been on a three-day bender or it's time for another trip to the plastic surgeon.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Getting Ready - Then and Now

While getting ready to pick up David at the airport yesterday, I realized my pre-date primping routine has changed somewhat.

Years ago:
  • Shower
  • Shave
  • Tweeze brows
  • Spend 30 minutes figuring out what to wear
  • Comb out towel-dried hair
  • Blow dry hair if being picked up - dry it in the car w/ windows down if meeting somewhere
  • Apply mascara
  • Shower
  • Exfoliate
  • Shave
  • Spend 30 minutes checking/tweezing mustache growth, tweezing stray eyebrow hairs, trimming stray nose hairs, plucking unsightly grey hair
  • Apply high-powered SPF
  • Carefully apply tinted moisturizer
  • Apply Burt's cover up to unsightly spots if necessary
  • Spend 5 minutes figuring out what to wear
  • Comb out towel-dried hair
  • Apply hair-thickening serum
  • Blow dry hair to maximize product effect
  • Apply de-frizzy serum as necessary to minimize fly-aways
  • Apply mascara
I can only imagine that in another 10 years I'll be back to the short list, because by that point, really, who am I kidding?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wear The Hat

Like a dumbass, yesterday I decided not to wear the hat I'd brought with me while hiking through wooded areas of northern California. I didn't think we'd be out there for almost 3 hours!

I realized last night that my eyes were sunburned when I couldn't stop blinking in an effort to alleviate the mild burning sensation. It was so mild, I just thought my eyes were dry, but then I realized what happened.

My right eye feels like it has sand in it, but the left one, behind the camera most of the day, feels OK today. Man, if it's not one thing...

While hiking through the property we found this - check out the tusks!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Writing Process

In 50 easy steps:

1. Make cup of coffee
2. Leisurely drink cup of coffee
3. Consider second cup of coffee
4. Feed the cats
5. Feed the bird
6. Decide what might be good for breakfast
7. Drink a glass of water - I was thirsty!
8. Full of liquid, check email and wait for sloshing to subside
9. Respond to emails and look at Flickr Explore photos
10. Remember client deadline looms only hours ahead
11. Decide on toast for breakfast
12. Toast bread
13. Slather toast with almond butter
14. Make another cup of coffee
15. Eat breakfast
16. Is the mail here yet?
17. Where's that letter about the thing?
18. The fridge seems too cold
19. Probably should grab a shower
20. We need some stuff at Target
21. Make shopping list
22. Is that the phone ringing?
23. Probably should write something soon
24. Check email
25. Is it my Scrabulous turn yet?
26. Check Scrabulous games
27. Figure out where to put that damn G
28. Open MS Word
29. Check email
30. Write a blog post
31. Am I hungry again?
32. Scrounge cabinets for a snack
33. Decide no good snacks around
34. Make shopping list for Trader Joe's
35. Put on socks - it's chilly
36. Offload morning's liquids
37. Check eyebrows for strays
38. Pluck eyebrows
39. Consider doing laundry
40. Sort laundry
41. Take laundry down to the washer
42. There are too many dishes in the sink
43. Unload dishwasher
44. Load dishwasher and clean the kitchen
45. Check email
46. Write a title for client's project
47. Try to remember what I'm supposed to be writing about
48. Review materials sent weeks ago
49. Make and slam fourth cup of coffee
50. Start writing

Monday, March 03, 2008

Qualified for Marriage?

Today I heard a news bit on the radio about the upcoming state Supreme Court hearing on gay marriage. The reporter played a snippet from a representative opposed to gay marriage who said that to be married you must be "qualified," and to "qualify" you must be a couple comprised of a man and a woman.

Now, I'm no rocket surgeon, but how in the hell does hetero orientation "qualify" you for marriage? That's all this idiot could say to back up his argument - that the key issue was "qualification," that it was a "privilege" to be married, and that qualification was dependent on one man and one woman.

Has this dipshit ever BEEN married? Doesn't he have any idea that where someone wants to put his penis has no bearing on whether or not he can be a productive marriage partner? I can think of a dozen other criteria more important to "qualify" someone for marriage other than sexual orientation.

As for the argument that gay marriage somehow isn't as productive for a family as traditional marriage, please explain to me how all those traditional divorces and traditional custody battles benefit the children? Maybe I'm just being dense. Go ahead and spell it out for me and speak slowly. And for the gay kids growing up in traditional families, they're supposed to be better off, is that right?

And how is marriage a privilege? David and I didn't lift a finger to earn this so-called privilege, but we did cough up the license fees. And I guess we stayed together for several years before getting hitched, which is only an option and not a requirement for marriage, as is staying together after the ceremony.

But a privilege? Really? Why would only hetero couples be granted the benefit of filing joint taxes or the special advantage of collecting crazy in-laws? And let's not forget the fun of divorcing - something very special, indeed, reserved for the privileged heteros.

Yes, what a giant crock of shit. Let's for sure protect this sacred privilege for the qualified few willing to spend the money and promise to sleep only with their spouses, even if sometimes some of those chosen few end up tapping their toes in public bathrooms in hopes of a little homo fun on the side. Yes, definitely.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Even Jesus Should Call First

Just after I got out of the shower this morning someone knocked at the door. I could see the silhouette of a tallish-looking guy and thought it might be a deliveryman of some sort. Sure, cue the porn music. Chicka bow chicka bow wowww...

I cracked open the door to what looked like a TV detective – an older, tall black man in a trench coat – and of course my first thought was that he was here to ask me questions about someone I know about some alleged crime.

Nope. I was being invited to celebrate the birth of Christ. I said a hearty NO THANKS! standing there in my bathrobe with my hair wrapped up in a towel. Does this look like a good time to hand me an invitation? He and his friends immediately got the hint and wandered down the porch, leaving the screen door wide open.

They lingered half-way down the steps, chatting about something, when I yelled through the window, JESUS CHRIST, CLOSE THE DOOR! They closed the door and lingered no longer.

What kind of self-proclaimed Christian shows up unannounced and when he sees the woman of the house is obviously not prepared to talk about a party for Jesus, starts in on his unwelcome message anyway, then leaves the property without closing the damn door behind him? That tells you right there he's full of shit.