Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feeding Bonny's Birds

Cross the stream four times

Find the steps

That lead to the stairs

And keep climbing until you

Reach the top

And if you find you've left the combination to the lock that's on her gate back in the glove box of your car, rinse and repeat.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Going commando, doggy style

Let me preface this by saying, “Albert” is my dog’s first name; his full name is Albert Dammit.

He’s a good natured, but slow-witted chap of the Labrador persuasion. If you were to crack open the Albert brain, you’d find the words "Tennis Ball" stamped in the Northern Hemisphere and "Kibble" in the Southern Hemisphere, with a small lobe in between reminding him to breathe and swallow.

There’s certainly nothing in that noggin configured to hear, capture, and interpret my verbal commands. So “Heel, Albert,” “Stay, Albert,” and “Get down, Albert, Dammit!” are all met with the same blank, tongue-lolling stare.

That is only one reason why, when we go hiking, Albert remains clipped to the leash.

I don’t think many other owners are as clear-eyed about their dogs’ limitations as I am about mine. They think their dogs actually listen. Such a mistaken belief results in lots of, “Mollie, come here. Come here. Here. Did you hear me? Mollie come. Now. This time I mean it. I won’t say it again. Mollie, come here. Come”

I’m of two minds regarding dogs hiking off the leash. If the dog obeys the owner’s commands instantly, then I’m ok with it. Rather, I’m sure I’d be okay with it if I ever were to see such a thing.

Usually the leash-less come charging up the trail to meet the leashed, and in the case of Albert and almost any dog I’ve ever owned, such manners are rarely appreciated. A little scuffle ensues, with lots of rude doggy language included; well, rude language all around, for that matter.

To head off a confrontation, I’ll shout to the owner, “Please call your dog, my dog isn’t friendly.” But that normally results in, “Rocky, come. Rocky! Rocky, Rocky! ROCKY! ROCK-EEE!" We only have a five-second window, so by the second “Rocky!” it’s already too late.

Albert’s a coward. You know those little scarecrow dolls people prop up in the front yard around Thanksgiving time? They scare him; he drags me, with a look of doom and dread in his eyes, to the opposite side of the street, and we have to jog to safety. Even then, Albert looks over his shoulder to see if the Children of the Corn are in hot pursuit.

So you can imagine... More on Patch.

(Ok, I'm off Patch duty for awhile, so this is the last time I have to split my posts. It's a copyright thang, believe it or not.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Woik, woik, woik

Been spending most of the week as fill-in editor over at Patch. There's a couple of pieces I did that weren't bad, if you've a mind to take a look.

Plumbing the depths

In search of the wild bunch.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meet Bonny: Pilot, Scientist, and a Dog's Best Friend

Some people are just plain fascinating. Maybe they have just the right blend of the unusual --derring-do tempered by native intelligence and strength of character. And adventures, lots of adventures.

They’re the kind of people who leave their mark on the world -- sometimes big, sometimes small, but somehow significant. They're also, incidentally, great conversationalists and everyone wants to sit next to them at dinner parties.

Take Bonny Schumaker. She’d be interesting even if she weren’t the president of an animal rescue organization. Or someone who spends time in Antarctica saving whales. Or owns and flies a plane. Or was a student of Richard Feynman while on her way to a PhD in Physics. Or recently retired from the Rocket Ranch (a.k.a JPL) and now engages in rescue and environmental activities full-time.

And just to continue the list of reasons why, if Schumaker and I were at the same dinner party, you probably wouldn’t notice if I left the room to wash the dishes, she lives, part of the year, in a cabin high in the clouds above Millard Canyon.

And, around the cabin, Schumaker knows a couple of ravens and a red-tail hawk on a first-name basis. And last year she played landlord to a bear who took up temporary lodgings in her tool shed. And …

Oh stop me, already. Really, this can go on forever, and then you’d ask for dessert and coffee and that would only mean more dishes.

More on Patch.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I wandered lonely as a cloud

And I was so sure this was Dickinson, not Wordsworth. Whatever Dickinson could have done with this line, going forth, I would have liked it better.

I've decided to share some favorite posts of the past week or so, every so often, now and then. Five of them, perhaps. To kick this off, how about:

Kenny Mac





Ok, wait. Since this is the first time, just one more

East of West LA

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thoughts from Your Friendly Valentine's Day Agnostic

I’ve never been a fan of long stemmed roses, Hallmark cards, Pepto-Bismal pink, or institutionalized sentimentality.

And this has proved to be a problem in more than one relationship. The men I’ve known have always been gooey marshmallows when it comes to Valentine’s Day. Yes, yes, opposites attract.

I believe in love, indeed I do, but mandated romance and gaudy displays of affection embarrass me. One boyfriend used to have funeral-sized flower arrangements delivered to my desk at work. What innocent bystander did he think this would impress – Steve in Human Resources, Cathy in Accounting? I couldn’t stick pins in the Forever balloons fast enough.

Then there was this one chap I married. Thinking we were kindred spirits, I didn’t buy him anything when our first Valentine’s Day rolled around. That was the first big Oops in a never-ending series of miscalculations.

I'm not overtly sentimental, this is true. I'm the spawn of those who celebrated major holidays by the giving and receiving of new household appliances. Good stuff was saved for the off-season. As a just-because.

Certainly, my ambivalence towards the holiest of love-days has enrolled me in a very exclusive club. So exclusive, I don't think I've met a single member, but we're out there somewhere, I'm sure. Getting flowers and chocolate, when what we really wanted was a staple gun or a ladder

This makes me sound like an ungrateful shit, and I expect I am. Here’s my favorite love song; take a listen.

If the two of you feel the same, who needs anything else? And if only one of you feels the same, then even a perfect rose won't make the slightest bit of difference. You can trust me on that.

Some more, but not much more, and slightly different but not very, on Patch.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Up on the roof

with Martha.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Desperate measurements

Winter and I, we have a deal. For three months of the year, I can sock away all the brownies, French bread and butter my little heart desires. And oxtail stew, biscuits and gravy. Hazelnut chocolate, cream soups, peanuts, almonds, lasagna, and cheese of all colors from all countries.

Why? Because when it’s winter -- cold and rainy – a trench coat or that woolen muumuu I call a sweater can hide a multitude of calories.

Who’s to know that under all the fabric -- coats and sweaters and scarves -- there’s suddenly so much more of me to love. As for the zipper on my jeans -- who’s to know what a painful trek it takes to reach the summit. Who’s to know the zipper may even stop trying, midway.

Come spring, I’ll pay dearly for the follies of winter, and get back to rabbit food and serious hiking and running again. But it’s really no worse than all the other spring chores -- weeding, taxes.

This year, though, something has gone awry. An agreement has been broken. I don’t want to be a snitch, let’s just say, I didn’t break it. I came skipping out to meet winter, bearing carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but winter did not come to meet me. Not even half way.

It’s been like summer around here, not sweater-weather, not even tie-a-sweatshirt-around-your-hips weather. My zipper and I find ourselves very much exposed, stuck between a rock and a soft place.

Thank you very much, global warming. As if melting the polar icecaps wasn’t bad enough. More on Patch.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Meet Marie

A World War II hero. Perhaps not one of the heroes we've specifically read about in history books, though I could be wrong about that. Marie left France for England, part of the Free French Forces, after France surrendered to Germany. She trained as a military nurse, then returned to France and served during the Allied Invasion. Later, she received honors, including the Cross, of which she is rightly proud. Marie still has the cross, pinned to her military uniform.

Italian by birth, Marie never felt fully comfortable in France. After the war, she joined her sister, "A real rascal," in California. There she met a really tall and skinny man. "I did not like skinny men, but I felt sorry for him. I asked him, 'would you like some food?'" Eventually one thing led to another.

She continued working as a nurse, and retired from The Huntington Hospital. Marie has lived in the recent decades, the past five or so, high on a hill in South Pasadena. Her tall skinny husband died some years ago, but she stays close to and proud of her children and grandchildren.

Walk around your town, folks. History books are all well and good, but there's nothing like meeting the real thing. (It helps if the proper tour guide is available.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In the bag

"Congressional representative Adam Schiff is currently accepting nominations for Altadena's Woman of the Year."

And the way I figure it, someone we all know and love should have the inside track.

Who is a woman? Karin.
Who lives in Altadena? Karin.
Who is very much alive and well in this very year in question? Oh, well, now I'm blushing.

I really don't see how they can (ONCE AGAIN!) strike me from the short list. After all, as you can clearly see, I'm three out of three. In addition, and not to toot my own horn, I had no part in the Citibank Scandal, I've never tagged, and I never leave my dog's poo on the street. In fact, as to all the things I've never done, you could write a book. Someone will, mark my words.

When the politics of this Altadena Woman of the Year campaign get dirty, as they most certainly will, some might want to dig into my past and sling the mud. That mushroom thing? Well, that was all alleged and a long time ago, and anyway, I vomited.

So what, are you going to vote for some chick who saved a few lives, gives blood, and volunteers at food banks, or vote for someone who, on a good day when she has nothing much planned, recycles her aluminum wine cans. Not to load the dice, but let me also mention that I've done my part to reduce global warming. I only use aerosol sprays on the chia pet hair days (and not the cute rabbit pet days, I mean the hog pet days).

Oh, I should just let it all go. What's one more award or less or any. I shouldn't care; I shouldn't waste my time and effort. These things are rigged, they're always rigged. Though a few unmarked dollar bills to the proper quarter couldn't hurt. With a note, "If you're darin', vote Karin."