Saturday, December 13, 2008

Decorations and the Economy - Saturday 12/13/2008

The skiing bear makes another appearance, but we are slowly replacing regular lights with LEDs.

Yeah, yeah. It's a manufactured home, as we like to call it.

In just two days, we'll have lived here for eight years. And you know what? When they offered to loan us half again what this house cost, we said no. We wanted to be in a position where either one of us could cover the payment on this house and land if the other should not be able to work.

We could have taken more money and struggled. We could have opted for some kooky balloon payment scheme. But we're not gamblers. I really don't understand how people can have deluded themselves into home loans for houses they just couldn't afford.

So what do you think?

In another 10 years, when we send in the last payment, should we put up a sign that says: "Don't laugh. It's paid for." ?

Old Technology, Meet New Technology - Saturday 12/13/2008

The trusty filing cabinet worked for a long, long time.

Today I set up the new photo printer that I won from Liz over at Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness. Yeah, won! For free! [She's giving away a Wii Fit now...get over there!]

We met up for lunch last Wednesday and she just. gave it. to me.

Here it is. What a beauty! If I had done the research to pick one out, this would have been the one I would have picked. I didn't realize when I entered her contest that it is not only a fabulous photo printer, but it is also wireless!

Yeah, shout it! Wireless!

So now if I want to print out a couple of pages from my laptop in the other room, I don't have to start up the desktop. I can just print from anywhere in the house. Probably from the back yard!

And yow! The first print, right out of the box was so gorgeous that I was actually able to use it for a birthday card. I was astonished. My Lexmark never printed such vibrant colors.

This is where the trusty filing cabinet gets to take a bow. Part of the ease of setting up the new HP Color Photo C6830 was that I dipped into my file (all the computer tabs are red) for the wireless router we installed a couple of years ago, and was able to type the key into the printer when prompted.

I'm sporadic about being organized. I am way more organized than some people and considerably less than other people. It always makes me so happy when I can actually find something I need when I need it.

[Which leads me to... p.s. Hydra: I was serious when I said that the key locator we saw at Target would make a nice gift.]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Life in the Slow Lane - Friday 12/12/2008

The puppy's loving it. Me too.

After I got on the 14, the sky turned into a light show. I kept wishing I could easily stop and snap photos of the clouds and the mountains and the moon rising. Jumped out on the drive up to our neighborhood and took this one.

Good thing, too, because all the color was gone by the time I picked up the mail.

We started the weekend by going for sushi and picking up a Christmas tree! It's the freshest tree we've ever had. We had to be careful of the sap dripping out of it, and it was so heavy!

When you're living life in the slow lane, you don't feel compelled to decorate the tree as soon as you bring it home. Aaah.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Von's Comes Through - Thursday 12/11/2008

One-L had a death in the family earlier this week. I thought she was coming in today, so I stopped by Von's before work to pick up some simple flowers to put on her desk.

They had these, which really seemed perfect. The person who passed was like a brother to her; they'd grown up together.

This is the back of the arrangement. It's great that early risers like myself can find decent flowers at all hours of the morning.

They wouldn't, however, sell me the rum for the rum balls. It was before six in the morning and the registers won't allow them to sell alcohol until after 8 a.m. I told the cashier that although I understood completely, I was going to cook with it, not drink it.

"Do people still make rum balls?" she asked when I told her my plan. "My sister used to make rum balls. I haven't had those in years."

I told her I'm going to use a recipe I found online. Emerile Lagasse's.

As I left she said, "I'd like to be your friend!"

It's odd. Since I started feeling like my writer-self, I seem to be having even better interactions with people on all levels.

Lookin' a Lot Like Christmas - Wednesday 12/10/2008

They've decorated the little pot plants-- er, potted plants at the coffee house downstairs from my office. All around town, there are signs of the season.

I like all the lights and extra doo-dads. I like the Christmas music on the radio at Andrew's. I like planning surprises for my friends and family.

Ooh, and today I met with Los Angelista for lunch and she gave me the printer I won on her blog! Remember to go there and enter to win the Wii Fit she's giving away! And then read her blog. She's doing cool things and she writes about them well.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ready to Rum-ball ! - Tuesday 12/9/2008

It's common knowledge around our office that Mommalisa is well-versed in mixology. She's also a good cook. So of course, I asked her advice in choosing rum to make rum balls with. I may as well get something that will be useable in a mixed drink because there will be leftovers.

Well! Advice was not enough! She brought in three rums for a taste testing. We did it in the front office. The one on the left is a sipping rum...nice, but probaby too nice to pour into a bowl full of flour and sugar.

Peachy, our boss, came into the office as I was testing about a teaspoonful of the Captain Morgan's. "I see the stress is taking it's toll," she laughed.

She went past into the next room to get a reference book. "Thanks for not firing us!" I called after her. I turned to Mommalisa, "If she comes back with a camera, we'll know she's been looking for an opportunity to downsize."

Later, I was talking to Peachy and mixed around a couple of simple consonents. "I'm perfectly able to drink before noom," I assured her.

I'm going to remind myself of days like this one when I am frustrated with this job.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Everything is Beautiful - Monday 12/8/2008

In it's own way.

Come on, sing it!

I was feeling upbeat when I parked my car at Trader Joe's and went in to pick up supplies for tonight's writing group.

Had a nice conversation with a guy behind me in the cashier's line. He had a couple of boxes of frozen mini-tacos. I had a mushroom-filled version of spanikopita, some little Thai chicken egg rolls, chicken chili verde, Thai jasmine rice and a couple of cheeses.

He said the mini-tacos are great. He loves them, his partner loves them, and his 90-year-old father who is living with them now loves them. "If he likes them, anyone will!"

I told him that I'm auditioning appetizers for Christmas Day and that I have a captive audience tonight.

He asked what I do, and I told him I'm a researcher for television and movies. Then realized, he meant in the context of the captive audience.

"It's for my writing group. We're all novelists." I told him.

"Well, good luck," he said, when I wheeled my cart away.

I told Braveheart about the exchange later. I've been feeling a bit depressed about my prospects for publishing for a long time, and it was amazing to claim my writing persona again. Not just verbally. I really felt it.

Braveheart raised a glass to me in her kitchen, "You are a f***ing novelist."

"You're a f***ing novelist!" I said, clinking glasses.

"We're f***ing novelists!"

I'm back at work on a project that came so close that it broke my heart when it didn't sell. I always thought that if I just had a shot, I could make it happen. It didn't work the first time, but that's okay.

Braveheart gave me an assignment about six months ago, and she and Tomasina were so supportive of the work, that it helped get me back on my feet.

I'm going to let myself feel a little proud that through many months of feeling utterly hopeless about my ability to achieve anything with my writing, I kept at it. I wrote this blog, I wrote another novel, and a couple of things that were published, and pages and pages on the assignment Braveheart gave me.

It's all we can ask of ourselves and others: to keep going. It's probably the best medicine this side of laughter.

You Probably Had to Be There - Sunday 11/7/2008

This is the before shot.

This is supposed to be an astounding example of how well the environmentally safe method of cleaning silver with a damp cloth and some toothpaste works.

Trust me, it works really really well, even though it's not as obvious in these before and after photos as it was in real life.

The tarnish starts coming off as soon as you start rubbing it on the metal. Use a white tooth paste, not a gel.

I discovered that the souvenir spoon on the right--which is from Hydra's family--wasn't as badly tarnished as I thought. It actually was gold--or maybe copper?--plate over silver. The underlying silver shined up pretty well.

Cool Thing: Borax. This is another environmentally friendly thing to use to boost your laundry (brighten it) and to soften your water. It can also be used to gently clean china and porcelain, deodorize things, and preserve dried flowers, and to make candle wicks! Check it out on the website.
Publish Post

I also like it because it's the famous 20 Mule Team Borax, and it's dug out of the ground about 60 miles from us, in Boron, CA.

Blind Monkey - Saturday 12/6/2008

From a lowly pair of Rockford Red Heel socks will rise a monkey.

When I was little I had a sock monkey named Zippy. He was the younger, more slender sibling of Zippy, so technically Zippy Two. But we were really good buds, so I called him Zippy. Or just Zip if we were really in sync.

I made sock monkeys for a couple of friends' babies a few years ago. Now I'm making one for my grand-nephew!

I was going to take lots of photos along the way, but I got all involved and forgot.

I think Zippy was made for me by my Grandma W., but I'm not sure that's right.

I'm not sure what happened to Zip in the end. I do remember my big brother, Texaco, tying Zippy's tail to one of the arms of the multi-headed floor lamp and making him whine pathetically, "Help me! Hellllp me!"

No one should be denied the joy of having an older brother.

It took about six hours to get to this stage because I am hand sewing this monkey.

I actually dug my sewing machine out of the closet, but I haven't used it since we moved to Acton eight years ago. After looking up the instructions online for threading the dang thing and realizing that I probably should have oiled it a couple of times along the way, I decided that hand sewing is the best option for me. It's also nice to be able to say about the finished product.

The only thing left is to embroider on the eyes and mouth. I felt weird leaving him like this, but I wanted to get the right color of floss.