Tuesday, December 30, 2008


We have an LA public television institution, Huell Howser, who specializes in unearthing and publicizing the most boring places on earth. He's a ten-foot tall Tennessee transplant who gives tours through diaper laundries (no kidding) and egg nog dairies, ditches, compost piles, parking lots. Likely some stories there, but none HH will ever find, 'cause he ain't looking for anything beyond, "So you've parked your car in this same spot for how many years?"

I met Huell once, and as Vanda would say, he butters his bread on both sides. But he knows how to keep the sticky side up.

Can't get enough of him, though. "So how many dy-ah-pers do do you think you've warshed in twenty years?" or the hard-hitting, "Kin you tell me if thare's any eygs in eyg nog?" All the while, a look of mentally-challenged amazement on his face, often accompanied by a hushed "Gawrsh." And he ends the shows schilling for his dvd's, "A great gift for your local lahbrury..."

So how many years of the Salute to The Toenail Clipper float-sponsored by Rite-Aid do we have left in the Rose Bowl hopper? Lots, perhaps. The Rose Parade is way too disingenuous. Yet like Huell, curiously, it continues to sell.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Impatient people

New Year's resolution.

I pledge greater patience. No, no, that's wrong, that implies there is any patience to be had. I pledge less impatience. That's better, that's more honest. Go with that.

I pledge that I will wait one second for anything I want. I pledge one second can be one hour, can be one day, can be one year. I pledge the next time my camera says "Beep-beep, lens cap will not open, restart," I will not hop on the internet. Nor will I believe the first post that says slam the camera against the table. I pledge that if I do that stupid step, I will not repeat it. Repeat it many times. I pledge not to feel further frustration and then slam it on the floor.

I pledge I will not take the continued "beep-beep" personally. I will not get nail scissors to pry the lens up. I pledge that I will not regret the fact that the plastic protective cap and -- other springs and stuff-- has now dislodged, and I know not what they are.

I pledge I will not resent the "beep-beep" message that the lens cap will not open and I must restart, when I know it will never open and will never restart.

I pledge I will not hate that the beep-beep is the only living thing left in this camera. I pledge I will not fling this object into the bushes and watch my lab retrieve it. I pledge I will not pull my hair as it beep-beeps in his mouth.

Apparently, in 2009, I pledge to be someone else entirely.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A memory, all right

Is it safe to come downstairs? Shhhh. Just want to get a bowl of cheerios. And whisper a few words about disaster.

Main course. My intentions were good as I cooked that sixteen pound rib roast. I've only tried four pounds before, so four times four is four times the fun, right?

I don't know where I went wrong, but I do know the perfume of failure is resting on this kitchen like a wet bear skin. I tried a few time-saving steps. Apparently, there are no short cuts in a sixteen pound roast.

Shhh, they're a bit peaked upstairs. Or the other synonyms might be, alphabetically : laid-up, lousy, mean, nauseated, not so hot, poorly, qualmish, queasy, rickety, rocky, rotten, run down, sick as a dog, suffering.

Most of the wizened evidence rests in the trashcan outside, way way outside. Squished on top the recipe book called Kitchens of Light. Garlic instead of cloves, what the hell is the big deal? And salt has always been my friend. Toil, toil, more olive oil.

Shhh, I hear stirring upstairs. It sounds like they're ailing, bedridden, broken down, confined, debilitated, declining, defective, delicate, diseased, disordered, down, feeble, feverish, frail, funny, green, hospitalized, ill, impaired, imperfect, in a bad way, incurable, indisposed ...

Oh, I come home tomorrow.

Do stop by for lunch.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Christmas Memory

I'm sure Christmas Eve was my dad's favorite day of the year. While on a jog through the country, he would have scoped out some little church that ranked painfully high on the quaintness scale. We'd all suffer through some early evening sermon and children's choir (my brother and I not allowed to catch each other's eye as we'd break into uncontrollable, gasping, nose-running giggles). Then it would be home for a very traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner, ribbe and all that other succulent stuff. Christmas music of the Nutcracker variety. Presents for which we'd have to feign surprise, as we kids had successfully sniffed them out months ago.

So this is my dad as a kid at home in Drammen, Norway, with his Newfoundland pup named Bob. Must have been fairly near Christmastime.

Thank you all for visiting this year, I've enjoyed it all muchly, muchly. Seems you're always catching my eye in church and making me laugh uncontrollably.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's the New Blyak

Martha called. (Explain, please, why a billionaire is always wearing my Sears' denim shirt?) Anyway, she's charming enough, but only calls when she wants something.

"Deah," she said, "I have a spinach leaf and scallion wreath with your name on it, but please reveal your Christmas menu. I need new copy."

I won't tell her, but I will tell you. The secret, as you can see from the sign on my front door, is built around the durable and succulent Bos grunniens . Soon to be known as the other, other white meat. They're the greenest animal on earth -- beasts of burden, healthy source of milk, and edible.

Still working on the name of my recipe, but something along the line of Pack, Whack, and Snack. Or maybe allude to it's soothing qualities: yakety yak, it won't talk back.

No, you won't find yak meat at Trader Joe's (yet! Tho a pizza and trail mix are in the works), so a little restaurant in Pasadena is my only source.

Recipes coming soon: Yak 'n cheese, Monterey yak, Baby yak ribs, Yak of lamb. And save the renderings if you want to wash it all down with some apple yak. (I'm on my third cup already!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Old Marley Was As Dead As a Doornail

I tried to spare you. I tried to stay away with all my power of self-control. Hah, who is fooling whom? Or is it 'whom is fooling who?' I know how to solve this: To whom am I fooling?

It's the season, you see. And the wet weather. And the lights. And the camera. And the action. I'm talking movies. Not of the the soiled type, oh no. If only. My shame runs much deeper than that. I mean the sweet, stick to the roof of your mouth, treacly Christmas movies -- The Turner Classic, dead Hollywood stars, Robert Osbourne with a cup of spiked eggnog Yuletide offerings.

Let a December go by without Cary Grant as Dudley? (And please, we all would have dropped that skinny old bishop in a heartbeat, would we not? Even if God were watching.) And Scrooge, I must have my dose of Alastair Sim, "You may be a bit of undigested beef..."

It gets worse.

The Man Who Came to Dinner. Christmas in Connecticut. Miracle on some street or another. A Christmas Story.

At least I don't do musicals, but that's like the coke addict saying "At least I never freebased."

Like any hopeless addict, I practice this sad habit in darkened rooms, in flannel pj's, with phone turned off. Helpless, I can't stay away, year after year.

It's hard to trace the genesis of an addiction. Most would point to childhood influences, but my parents wouldn't watch a Christmas movie at gunpoint. Perhaps it was while babysitting, where so many bad habits are born -- oreo binges, nipping brandy, stealing make-up, reading personal correspondence. . . but I digress.

Ok, just come clean, they say. Hello, my name is Karin and I've watched A Wonderful Life fifteen times.

Hi Karin!

Who else is this brave?

Monday, December 15, 2008

The real truth about altadena hiker

I don't like to speak ill of anyone, least of all the person who feeds me my barely palatable dry kibble. But that Karin is one cheap bitch. It's freezing up here in Altadena; there's snow on the mountain for god's sake. And I do not have the opposable thumbs required to turn that thermostat from a freezing 68 up to a tolerable 72 degrees. It's fine for Phoebe -- she's old and gets to crawl up on the bed because, well, she's old and apparently gets to do whatever she wants these days. Me? I have to find some corner of the service porch (Service -- hah!) and curl up like a donut to keep the frost off my stomach. I've put myself on EBay for adoption, listing all my finer points. I can dig a good deep hole, I can get rid of all the pesky vegetation in your backyard, I can chew up that Proust book you never meant to read anyway, and I can bark at my reflection -- sneaky devil, that. So look out, because I expect a bidding war.

Horrible dog-owner with addition: It's going to snow here tonight! Snow! Is the battery charged on my powershot for this historic occassion? Albert, where is the -- where is the ... other half of the power cord?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm Putting You (yes, you) under the microscope

Ok, so I need to branch off from the bad hair days of my adolescence (but hey, that never gets old does it?) and concentrate on YOU. Today in botany class we learned about cultivars, man-made variations within a species, joined by distinct characteristics. And I thought it might be fun to guess whether some of you are oldest, middle, youngest, or the only child in the family.

Birth order can include one of the following characteristics:

Oldest: Do you write in perfect 4th grade cursive? Are you bossy? Are you nurturing and bossy? Are you wealthy or at least constantly employed? Do you always want to find your inner-self, but fear you never will? Are you a tortured free spirit? Can you cook?

Middle: Are you a tortured free spirit? Have you been married more than twice? Have you ever been arrested, and did an older sibling get you off the rap with a slap on the wrist? Have you ever ghostwritten anything? Are you completely independent (except when arrested)? Is employment of any kind a problem? Can no one read your signature? Do you open a tin of refried beans and throw in some onions and call it a meal?

Youngest: Are you incredibly spoiled, yet deeply treasured and encouraged by all? Is employment any kind of a problem? Can you even sign your name? Are you a tortured free spirit? Does your mother send you cans of refried beans with instructions for using the can opener?

Only: Are you a bit of all the above?

So Atladenahiker X freud var. grandihair sez:

Petrea: Middle
Mike: Only
West Coast Girlie: Oldest
3 dot: Oldest (or nearly)
Miss H: Only
Wolfwatcher: Oldest
Margaret: Oldest
Susan: Oldest
KenMac: Only
PA: Youngest
Vanda: Oldest or Only
Laurie: Only or youngest
PasadenaPIO: Oldest or youngest
Tash: Oldest or middle
Mr Earl: Youngest
K: Middle
Blue Kitchen: Youngest
How am I doing so far?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Take it off, take it all off

I have a long history of bad haircuts, starting when I was about 8. My mother got tired of combing out tangles, so tossed me in the car, took me to some a hair-cut school, and had me shorn like a sheep. I walked in with long straight albino white-hair and walked out looking like a chia pet. Devastated, I was Sampson, or Sampsonette, and cried and threw the comb every morning as I tried to tame the cowlicks. Dippitydo just made the tufts stand up to windstorms.

I had a godmother who knitted me a pony-tail cap out of red yarn and I wore the damn thing until I was 10.

So I'm not a friend of high-end, mid-end, low-end salons. I've tried Beverly Hills, I've tried Sam's. No one ever gives me the hair I think I should have. And they'll snip and shape and pooffe and blow, and it just gets more and more hopeless in my mind. I want to tell them, I know you think you're the physicist of follicles, but please, just do the cut and let me get the hell out of here so I can stand under the shower and try to come to grips with what you've done. Quit playing with my hair because I just hate it more and more.

But two things I've learned: Go to a new place every time and ask for the owner to do the cut. And if your name is Karin, and there's an owner with the same name and spelling, go there. I really like Karin's in Sierra Madre. And I really like Karin. She thought I didn't want 6 inches off, so she took it off 2 inches at a time. She didn't have to be that delicate, but she's kind of an artist, and wanted to see if this was really the way to go. I think it was.

Anyway, I have no cowlicks. I'm not throwing the comb.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My green life, and welcome to it

Thank you for your interest in our simple way of life.

Rule #1: Replace modern conveniences with a green alternative. We don’t own an alarm clock, but the dog has been trained to lick our faces at the sign of dawn. I’m the first one up, so I make the coffee. Well, not coffee exactly, as its production is ruining the rainforest and exploiting the poor. I boil water and pour it over ground dirt, and the result looks surprising like coffee, with a much higher mineral content.

We split the chores pretty much along sexual lines, so I cook, clean, and sew. You’ve heard of people making dust rags from old clothes? I can make old clothes from dust rags. Most of my yarn and thread I spin myself, using the fur from our collie, and it keeps the family in sweaters and scarves. We avoid heated rooms on rainy days.

All our pots, pans, dishes and flat wear are made from clay. I’m also currently making ceramic shoe soles. Longer lasting and biodegradable. It’s been hard on our son Gawain, as his tennis game suffered, but green comes at a price.

It’s no secret that urine is one great, organic fertilizer, and is certainly the reason behind this year’s bumper crop. We turned it into a family game, which is the secret behind successful green anyway. We competitively pee on our vegetable beds, and even our collie joins in! Our lettuce will be ready for sale in the near future, so stay tuned!

Which segues into some of our other practices. This one started when Mother observed a pigeon taking a dust bath. Hmmm, there’s lots of dust in Pasadena, and we could all use a bath… Mother is the necessity of invention. There’s more, but I’ll save it for another day.

Before you leave , please sign the “Make your Putting Green” petition. It’s asking the city council to replace the lawn on local golf courses with an edible landscape. And let us know what steps you're taking in the quest for green...

Bye-bye for now from me and the gardeners. And don't forget to place your veggie orders; we're going fast.

Oh, and coming soon. Recycling common household appliances into object d'arte. You'll be amazed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Someone said ribbett?

I'm sorry, I was lost in a daze of Miss Havisham's poetry. Yes, here's the toad, all dressed up with no particular place to go. Glazes are still somewhat of a mystery to me, but mystery is a good thing, especially if you're a rather unfocused and lazy person. (Frog shape, of course, based on the original drawing of Pasadena Adjacent.) For my next project, I may use my handprint to make a turkey. Ashtrays are rather unpopular these days.

And can I tell you what a trial doing the links above were, given the lack of focus and laziness? (tho our resident teacher's pet would never complain of such a thing.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Low hanging fruit

Tangerine. What a name. Totally fearless, interested in everything. Kept untying my shoelaces. Works and plays well with others. A little boy crazy. Sneaks cigarettes in her room. Knows lots of dirty jokes.

Here's a landscape of my usual walk with the orphans. Should take Vanda with me -- she'd be able to make something of this. Here's something I can't figure out -- The logo for pick a part is a smiling octopus with a baseball cap. And he's saluting. I have an ok imagination, but I just don't get it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Charmed, I'm sure

Lately I’ve been thinking about it. What makes someone charming. Well, it’s the family season, and my family was strictly drawn down the lines of charming and un. My dad clued me in. He told me, he and I were from the uncharming side, whereas my mother and brother had the gift. Which was a total surprise to me, as I was rather lovely at the time, and assumed all the attention was due to my charm.

Father knows best. It’s funny, because I do believe we tend to mate with opposites, and my husbands and boyfriends were charming – so charming, no one, not even my hard-line dad, spotted or cared to see any dark side. Charm may be the greatest gift and curse a person can own, depending on personal strengths and weaknesses.

If you have the gift, almost everyone wants to cuddle up to your campfire of warm flames and toasted marshmallows. But what if you have some personality disorder. Drink too much, drug too much. These same visitors to the campfire will supply your every need, just to sidle up to your warm glow. Your very charm beats the path to your own destruction. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Truman Capote.

So what are the elements of charm. It can be an effortlessness, a seeming comfort in your own skin. But it can also be the opposite. An anti-charm so abrasive, so uncaring of opinion, that that becomes a charm in itself. So elusive – and nothing to do with a straight nose or perfect biceps. Charm remembered is really nothing more than a crooked smile, a touch.

I think charm is a gene. One that will someday be identified and numbered, and even duplicated and sold. But in the meantime, it just was, is, will be. It’s the breath of heaven against your cheek. Some exhale, some inhale.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Well lard dee dah

I have to believe the first ad because it has the full support of the venerable Lard Information Council. And I'm sorry, but if you can't believe LIC, then you're a prick. And this family sure looks happy to me. But how do they stay trim? Positive attitude, plenty of exercise, and a healthy helping of tapeworms every day. I happen to sprinkle the little fellers in yogurt, but most folks like to have them crawl over waffles and maple syrup.

I can't read all the product labels, but it does appear our little miss has one big box of prunes just to get the party started.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Also good on oil spills!

So I sat at the keyboard and weighed some options. Should I present my comparative analysis of Gatsby themes in The Unbearable Lightness of Being? Vanda would read it. An essay on what it means to be psychotically competitive? PA would comment. Photograph another provocative stack of processed-food cans? Hi Jo.

Drink? I won’t name names.

Fortunately my friend Don solved the dilemma. He forwarded a series of magazine ads from the 1930’s. And you think mass-advertising lacks a conscience today?

You ever hear the story that Dr. Pepper was originally a medicinal drink? Or that they marketed Marlboros to women? Well here we have an early incarnation of what to do with a highly odiferous pine-scented liquid. I wonder why only reason #5 is with us in spirit today ... And judging from the "after" photo, looks like Lysol can hold its own in the embalming fluid arena as well.

(Just so you don’t jump to any extremely wrong-headed conclusions, my happily married friend Don sent these ads to many, many friends of all sexes, creeds and colors.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Don't snicker

Ok, I finally polished off the last of my Halloween stash. I had three plus-size bags from Target, and ended up with about 15 trick or treaters. You do the caloric math. And where's your plus-size now? I run almost every day, but I'd have to run to Winnipeg to work this off. But like I said, the candy's gone now, just in time for Thanksgiving.

If I were a trick or treater, I would have visited my house. I let the little spidermen and princesses shove their grubby little paws in the bowl of reese's and snickers and m&m's and take whatever they can grab. Greedy buggers. Sometimes they come up with a couple of snickers, them that wanted reese's, and ask for another pass. Not that they return the snickers.

Next year I'll buy candy I don't like, in case no one shows up. Low-end crap like Smarties. Even as a five year old, I knew the Smartie houses were some cheap sons of bitches. Really, just about anything unchoclified, cheap sons of bitches. And if I'm left with three Target bags of Smarties, I'll just toss them without a moment's regret.

It's like I told Pasadenapio, for my earthquake stash I only buy food I'd never eat unless I were starving. That way I won't snack in between temblors. Makes me gag just to think of the evils lurking in my pantry -- the roni cans -- Ricearoni, beefaroni, pigtoesaroni, deadflyaroni, unidentifiablegutsfromthebuttaroni.

You may snicker, you with your emergency stash of smoked oysters and tempanade. But come the big one, we'll just see who has something left to open. And with a Smartie chaser.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday in Sunland

Update: Can't miss this. (perhaps a couple of road apples for energy.)


Compliments of Truant Muse & shy sister.

Back to Sunland. Sun-land. Such a cheery name for a city. A city of wrecked cars and spent tires and blacktop, a place where the sun bakes and burns the crumbling concrete streets to release the scent of tar and rubber. Today there was the added attraction of hazy smoke, a smoke that smelled like industrial iron and rotted wood.

What better place for an afternoon run?

But the good news is, these boxers in Sunland are getting adoped. And the two posted a couple of weeks ago have a home. Maybe I helped? Or Petrea or Mike? And another one I'd planned to post was adopted this very afternoon.

I took out a new group for a spin, and each wanted to run, so we ran. Here are the creme de la creme, Mouchie & Dobie. Perfect in every way. They just need to pack on a few pounds.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must cough up a lung.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fly fishing

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ok smartypants, how well would you do?

As docent candidate at the Huntington Gardens, we have to take mucho botany classes and some mid-terms. I’ve always tested very well, from IQ’s to SAT’s and such. Doesn’t prove you really know anything much, except psychology. And a few magic tricks.So I’m going to take this xylem and sip my dissolved nutrients (martini) and look at my notes.

Smoking a cigarette+swimming+tanning = Snickers and a breath of fresh air. Snickers stored on thighs and other bodily parts.
(Carbon dioxide + water + light = Glucose + Oxygen. Glucose conversion stored as starch, often throughout plant)
6C02 +6H20 = C6H1206 +602
Thighs would not increase if chloroplast did not exist
And unlike the awful gas exchange humans experience, CO2 goes in, but it’s 02 that goes out through the stomata that are guard cells.
Actual evil done to thighs occurs in mitochondria.

Cellular respiration:
Snickers +breath of fresh air = Cigarette and a swim (no tanning required)
C6H1206 +602 = 6C02 +6H20 (New jeans may temporarily fit, tho probably not, becuz process is constant. Cut down on tanning in prior formula.)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Early morning at the old homestead. Welcome.

Had a word with the gardener. I fear he's cutting the grass too short. He's lovely though -- there's a game we play where he pretends he doesn't know me.

Took a brief turn around the cactus garden. Warmer today.

Sat a spell. Perhaps I'll see if Sears has some lawn furniture on sale; time for a replacement.

Took tea -- Japanese Lipton, then Chinese Lipton


Time for my medication.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

You are what you eat

I want to be considered erudite. Sardonically humorous. I want to have a visceral reaction to life. I want to use words like "visceral." Be able to spell "visceral." I want to throw in the odd French phrase, because nothing in English can quite grasp my intention. Well, I wonder what caused that instant volte face.

Italian will do. I'm going to say this, but sotto voce...

I'll start gesturing more, some of those artistic gestures, like fingers splayed, or thumb and forefinger pressed together to emphasize one of my visceral impressions. With impeccably clean fingernails.

Other words I will cultivate in my conversation, in my wunderkabinett of words, as it were: Byzantine, vernacular, synesthesia. That film was at once felicitous and prosaic -- how can that be? The narrative, the emotional palette, lively and poetic, yet oddly dull. More corn of pop?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day in Apple Country

Feels like a big old national party day today, the likes of which I've never seen. Took a drive to get some celebration cider. Things were kind of quiet in Glen Oak. They don't like to wear their heart of their sleeve.

Well, his heart is pretty close to the sleeve. Wanted to show us around the place.

Came back with the goods. Strudel hangover. Sleeping it off; wake me for the fireworks.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Tea and No Sympathy

Oh God, PA, now you've done it. The cat woman saw your post as well as my innocent little comment about her former career at the Smogcutter in East Hollywood. So she parked her office at my house and is pounding on the window. She wants to show me her (gasp!) memorabilia. She threatens to do a bubble dance on my front lawn if I don't let her in. The cat snuck through my dog door once Ms H started reciting her tea poems: "If it you don't spike it/I won't like it," and "Tea and gin/it's no sin," and "Tea and brandy/that's my candy." Neighbors are horrified.

I cranked up the Debussy, but it's no match for that voice. (You think I exaggerate? There's a reading at the Huntington, 2:30, with erst-while Bubble Dance partner Patt Morrison. Jeez PA, help me get them dressed. Bring toiletries.)

The rest of you, buy her book, I beg you. I'll feed the kitty.

(The poems above are not in the Miss H collection; she published on one of her "good" days. She was wearing a slip.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

It was spooky, but then came the movie deal

One of the Altadena haunted houses. Just a few years ago the paint was chipping, roof caving in, statuary pushed over and broken. I talked to a neighbor (he thought I was a location scout. I am! Susan Carrier told me I can be anything I want to be!). After landing haunted house cameos on the Ghost Whisperer and a couple of horror movies, the old hussy ran out for inplants, veneers, and a chemical peel. I miss the pre-botox charm; at least the landscape is still left to its own devices.

The neighbor said, "Tha woman wot lives inside is rolling in brass."

...ok, maybe he didn't say it quite that way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Adam and Eve on a raft and sink 'em

I am now the official truck stop diner for the parrots of Altadena. They descend en masse at 8 a.m., promptly. Hundreds of them. Which is ok, because I need the business. What can I get cha, hun. Morning special? Camphor berries and a side of Eugenia. Juniper? Sorry hun, no substitutions. Watch your mouth. Next. Restrooms are on the first car to your left. TO YOUR LEFT, HUN, the one on the right is my ... oh, skip it.

They blend so well with the camphor leaves, you'd have no idea there are hundreds perched here. But hearing is believing. It sounds like a Hitchcock horror movie. Or a 12-year old girls' slumber party -- if the girls had a two-pack-a-day habit. Now, if you'll excuse me Hun, I have a couple more orders to place:

Burn one, take it through the garden and pin a rose on it!
One Dough well done with cow to cover!
Drag one through Georgia!