Saturday, March 28

When life gives you lemons...

I know Spring officially arrived a while ago but today was MY first day of Spring.

Today I decided to drop my Mom off at my niece's softball game while I ran some quick errands. We pulled up to the ball park and the day suddenly seemed so nice and it's been so long since I sat in the sun that I decided to blow off the errands and soak up the sun for a while. I'm glad I did. I can still smell the sunscreen on my skin.

I don't know when it happened but my sweet little niece is now hitting against girls who do that crazy windup, underhand pitch. She doesn't even flinch when the ball flies by. It's not like these kids have much control either but she just stares 'em down and goes for it. I'm 42 years old and I'd be scared to hit against those kids. Another new thing is very loud music at the field. The grandmas hated it but when I heard The Beastie Boys Brass Monkey it swept me right back to my one "alcoholic" Summer. Let's just say it was a fun Summer and leave it at that.

On the way home I decided to make dinner for my parents. I grilled chicken in a citrus marinade alongside some vegetables. I picked a bunch of great lemons from the tree and made my first glass of fresh squeezed lemonade of the year. It was good. About 6 lizards scattered as I approached the lemon tree. I know some folks don't like lizards but I don't mind them. Every year we seem to have one or two who, when it gets really hot out, like to spend sundown heating their bellies on the pavement by the pool. I always see them out there, through the window, as I'm making dinner and they always make me smile.

While I chopped, stirred and squeezed, I listened to an oldie but a goodie on my iPod. I listened to The Eagles Live. It's probably not the most admired album out there but it too makes me smile and takes me back. I hadn't heard it for probably 15 years or so. The Eagles Live takes me back to around my eleventh year. We had moved to the desert and befriended a family with kids around my age. The Dad ran the local Coors distributorship. The beer was free and plentiful (not for us kids though... don't worry) and the Eagles were playing non-stop at every barbecue that Summer. Coors even sponsored my brother's soccer team. They had the coolest uniforms you've ever seen. Can you imagine that flying today? Beer ads on kids uniforms? No way. Some things have certainly changed for the worse.

In the end it was a lovely day that has left me in a great mood. I guess it was the sun. Well, the sun and getting out in the yard to pick fruit. The yard is filled with the scent of orange blossoms and stock, my favorites. Those scents mixed together will forever make me think of my Dad's garden. I tend to stay out of the sun because, as we hear constantly it's SO damn bad for us, but maybe I need get out in it a bit more. Yeah, sun and fresh lemonade, I see a lot of that in my immediate future.

Monday, March 16


I've posted things on my mom and my dad but I've never talked in depth of my brother, Michael. I'd like to do so today because he deserves some credit.

When he first became a father it was weird to see my little brother care for a tiny baby but he took to it like a fish to water. He and his wife, Laurie, have a pretty laid back parenting style that seems to work. Their kids are both personality plus and very smart. I vividly recall walking in to their house when my nephew, Jake, was less than a year old. He was just a tiny little thing laying on the floor with his head resting on a Boppy holding a bottle watching a golf tournament. Michael was in the back yard and Laurie was in the kitchen a few yards from Jake. He was perfectly content as the dog, an attentive sheltie, lay curled up next to him. I waved hello to Jake, he smiled at me then went on to watch the rest of his rounds of golf. If he could have said "yo" he would have. Jake also had early and inexplicable fondness for Miles Davis. He would lay on that Boppy with his bottle and listen to Miles for ages perfectly happy to do so. That's pretty much how the kid is to this day. Very laid back and content.

Yesterday I called Michael but got my niece, Alex, instead. We chatted for a while before she revealed that my brother was at batting practice with Jake. I tried him on his cell to leave a message because I knew he wouldn't pick up. It's one of my favorite things about him. When Michael is with his kids he is very "in the moment" and rarely talks on his cell or uses the Blackberry. He never answers his cell on the weekends because it's a business phone. If he uses any device off hours, it's because he's doing something for the kids. He may check a Dodgers score for Jake or make arrangements to drop the kids off at a friend's house but on the weekends that's about all he'll do on his Blackberry.

After yesterday's shocking display of lame-ass parenting it reminded me what a great job my brother is doing. I told him I admired the fact that he doesn't pick up his phone at practice because it's a rare ability these days. He just said "well yeah" a if to say "I'm not one of THOSE parents".

I also love my brother because he is loyal beyond description. For instance, an ex-boyfriend, who gives me the creeps, keeps trying to re-connect with me. I politely decline each time but every other year or so he'll resurface and try again. It's not flattering, it's annoying. I hold no grudge for the guy but do have memories of lots of drama so I choose to stay away from him. Anyway, this weekend he tried, yet again, to re-connect this time via Facebook. I promptly hit the "Ignore" button then thought 'Oh God, I just know he's going to try to befriend my brother and my dad.' I called my brother today for a few reasons then got to the ex. I just said "Hey if --- throws you a friend request on Facebook could you please just hit "Ignore"? His reply was short and sweet "Sure. No problem." There was no question as to why or what had happened, no comment, no judgement just a solid "sure". How great is that? How many times have you just needed somebody to say "No problem" without any question and actually received that response? It's pretty cool. It's because Michael is repelled by drama. He doesn't want to know about it and he certainly doesn't want to participate in it. It's another rare quality that I admire. Of course there are times when he probably should intervene but doesn't. Like this afternoon.

While on the phone with him today he asked "Can you hear that?" he was referring to a car horn. Well, more precisely a school bus horn. He has some unfortunate neighbors. The father is apparently an alcoholic, the mother suffers from depression, at best, and has a history of suicide attempts and they have two kids with autism. I know, bummer huh? Well, needless to say it's an unhappy household. When Michael and Laurie began a conversion of their garage into a home office these neighbors contacted the city daily attempting to stop all construction. Laurie acted as an entirely by the book contractor so the neighbors never got anywhere plus it did nothing to improve any of the the other neighbors feelings for them. In fact their annoying and pointless actions alienated them and the whole street turned on them. ANYWAY, it seems the horn honking is a daily ritual. It's the school bus alerting the parents that the kids are home and a parent is supposed to come and get the kids at the curb. Because the bus is full of special needs children the bus driver can not leave to go knock on the door. My brother knows when the bus arrives for pick up and drop off because he hears the honk every week day. Unfortunately the times, although very regular, are a daily surprise to the parents. Michel says that the last record was 14 minutes of honking. As we spoke they were about to break the record. After hanging up I got email updates on the bus status. I kept telling my brother to go help the poor bus driver by knocking on the neighbor's door but he refused. Again, not wanting any exposure to drama. (When the ambulance came to pick up the neighbor following her suicide attempt, Michael worked in the back yard ignoring the scene that held the rest of the neighborhood transfixed.) The driver would occasionally drive away to drop off another kid then return and try honking again. In the end, the bus driver honked for 45 minutes blowing the old record out of the water. It's bad enough that those parents didn't come out to pick up their own kid for 45 minutes but what about all of the worried parents on the route who had to wait all that time for their kids to get home? I'm sure it had a domino effect that prevented other parents from picking up other kids from school on time. The thought makes me nuts! I emailed Michael with a "Dude, you should really go knock on that door. The mom may have finally succeeded in offing herself." His reply was only "Maybe?!"


He does make me laugh. Here is one of the photos of Michael I found on my MacBook Photobooth one day. He doing what he does best, being a goofy Dad. I wish there were more like him.

Sunday, March 15


I saw Watchmen this afternoon. I liked it more than I thought I would. I was dreading the 2 hour and 45 minutes length but felt it was a pop cultural thing that I just had to get under my belt. I went with a friend who knows the filmmakers and many on the crew because she went to school with them. She also happens to be a burn survivor. She was once burned over 25% of her body. Needless to say she is not fond of seeing people burn on screen. She was annoyed that none of her friends warned her that there were countless people on fire in the film.

But that fact only annoyed her. What outraged her, and me too for that matter, was the fact that some moron brought his son who could not have been over the age of four to see Watchmen! It was so disturbing to watch that movie, a hard R rated movie, knowing there was a very small child just a few rows in front of us.

When we walked into the theater I heard my friend say to somebody "You know this really might be a but much for him." I turned to see her talking to a girl around 13 years old about the 4 year old. The girl just shrugged as we took our seats. A few minutes later her youngish dad arrived and she hopped up to sit elsewhere with her friend.

Later my friend and I were talking about this disturbing occurrence. She wondered what would possess a father to bring such a young kid to that movie. I told her I knew exactly what it was. Divorced daddy wants to finally see his favorite graphic novel on the big screen. It's his weekend to have the kids so he brings them and really doesn't care how inappropriate it is for his little boy because it's all about what daddy wants. I felt like walking up to him to say "Guess what? You're now a grown up. You now have responsibilities. You don't get to just do whatever you want. You have kids and that means sacrifice. If you weren't prepared to make those sacrifices then you shouldn't have had those poor kids." Ugh! I get so mad at people like that. That kid doesn't stand a chance. I think back on the violence in that film and cringe. I don't think he fully understood it all but still, what an assault. No wonder kids are so messed up these days!

Friday, March 13

Knock out!

I almost hopped online last night at 11:30 to blog about this but was just too tired. I'm doing it now instead.

Last night I watched Jon Stewart clean Jim Cramer's clock and it was amazing. I was a journalism major and have been disappointed with the media more and more as the years have flown by since college. I was thrilled to see somebody ask difficult questions, to the point of being uncomfortable to watch, and still just keep on going. It is incredibly rare in modern day interviews. It was such a relief!

It's ridiculous that Jon Stewart is turning out to be the best media critic out there but the guy is whip smart and isn't afraid to attack those who deserve it. After Jon Stewart's now infamous appearance on Crossfire, Cramer should have had a clue but he seemed humbled and without a lot fight in him. It was ugly.

I'm sure plenty of folks out there are whining that mean old Stewart shouldn't pick on poor little Cramer but too bad. To be fair, late in the interview, Stewart acknowledged that it's unfortunate that Cramer has become the poster boy for all that MSNBC got wrong. Regardless, Stewart never eased up. I'm so happy to know there is somebody out there willing to do cringe worthy interviews. God knows it can't be easy. Backing down has been the typical journalistic response for far too long. I'm glad media folks are seeing what Jon Stewart is capable of and that they really need to be more respectful of him. Frankly, they should fear him because he's smarter than all of them. Now if The Daily Show could just book Rush it would be a dream come true.

If you missed the interview, it's all here. There was a lot more that didn't air. It can be found here.

Thursday, March 12


About twice a month I scroll through the TCM listings in my Tivo and decide what to record in the coming weeks. I thought I'd share a few highlights with you.

Here are my picks (all times are pst):

DOUBLE INDEMNITY- 3/13 @ 5:00 pm
I know we've all seen it dozens of times but, frankly, that's still not enough.

MILDRED PIERCE - 3/13 @ 7:00 pm
I'm sorry but Double Indemnity followed by Mildred Pierce?! Sign me up!

NOSFERATU - 3/15 @ 9:00 pm
Ok, don't freak out. I've never seen this. I think it's time.

THE QUIET MAN - 3/17 @ 5:00 pm
I just plain like this movie. It's by far my favorite John Wayne.

DARK VICTORY- 3/19 @ 3:00 am
One of my favorite Betty Davis films. Also showcases my all time favorite make-over. Betty loses the padding and plucks her eyebrows and voila! She's a recovered wall flower turned megawatt social butterfly. Sweet!

I know... I know... It's completely misogynistic and should entirely offend me but dammit I love it!

A PLACE IN THE SUN - 3/22 @ 7:00 am
I Luuuuuuuv this movie. Elizabeth Taylor and Monty Clift could not be more beautiful and Shelley Winters could not be more annoying. Bring it!

STRAIGHT-JACKET - 3/23 @ 1:30 pm
Norm and I watched this for a while at Shandon's Halloween party and I think it's safe to say he enjoyed it as much as I did. It features tons of Joanie Crawford over-acting and it's awe-some! (This appears to be part of a Joan Crawford marathon... enjoy!!)

SHADOW OF DOUBT- 3/24 @ 8:00 am
Incredibly creepy Hitchcock film that I can't believe they are playing so early in the day.

Of course there are lots of other nice gems on TCM throughout the next couple of weeks these are just the titles that I am most excited about.

I also happen to have an ulterior motive. I'm pushing the idea of a DVR on poor Shandon. I'm hoping posts like this help her bite the inevitable bullet. Come on Shandon DO IT!!

Sunday, March 8

Small World

A few months ago Mom visited our local insurance agency. Our family has used the same insurer for decades. While there she inquired about the man behind the business. He was there and came out to say hello. They quickly fell into conversation when he asked, as many do, where my Mom was from. She has a Texas accent so he asked what part of Texas she was from. Long story short, our insurance broker is from my Mom's small home town. They went to the same high school but several years apart. Amazing!

This weekend I received an email from one of the women in the insurance office. I apparently sent her a book from Bookmooch. She recognized my last name on the return label and wanted to say hello. We keep having these funny little coincidences with our local insurance office.

Best of all my new book buddy turned me on to another fun swapping site. I'm now on Paperback Swap and a sister site Swap-a-DVD. They're great! I may like them even better than Bookmooch because with a little deposit from PayPal I can do one-click printing of all shipping labels with postage. No need to visit the post office anymore. I just drop them in any mail box and I'm done. It's great! I've already sent four DVDs and should receive two in about a week. I didn't even officially ask for my DVDs. I just put a few movie titles on a wishlist and next thing I knew I had a email informing that my request had been accepted and my DVD was on the way. Cool!

If you've got some old books or DVDs that you don't plan to revisit I highly recommend these sites. They also have a Swap-a-CD site. Time is hard people, share and enjoy!

Best Gun Show Ever!

So, I've been dealing with a cold for the last week. I didn't miss work because, unlike my last illness, a cold is portable. I did, however, stay home for most of the weekend for some R & R. While resting I discovered a favorite new show on DIY Network called Desperate Landscapes. I love a good before and after show especially if they can do it in a 30 minute show format. I like Desperate Landscapes because the before and afters are dramatic and the host is cute. Best of all, the guy's got great guns. I've always loved men with big arms but throw in some landscaping and carpentry know-how and you've got yourself a dream man. With skills like that the guy rivals even these guys.

The other fun new show I'm enjoying this fine weekend is Indoors Out. It's all about building outdoor "rooms" in ordinary backyards. The hosts are very likable Italian cousins who really know their stuff. I'm learning all about outdoor decking, stones and masonry. Cool! Again, the before and afters are impressive so I'm a happy gal.

I watched some of Renovation Realities but it can be a painful show to watch. The show often resembles a train wreck. I recommend cocky DIYers take a gander before ripping up their kitchens. More than once I heard someone on this show say "The worst thing that can happen is that the house could blow up." Umm, yeah, that's why you should hire a professional.

The only trouble is that the DIY Network is really making me want a backyard of my own. I'm taking notes on how to do some low maintenance landscaping. I don't relish the thought of mowing a lawn but I like the idea of an outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Hmm, well, a girl can dream.

Friday, March 6


I love my Dad. He's a unique guy with unique interests. He takes a lot of jibes from the rest of the family, mostly for the gear he sometimes has to wear, but he sticks to his guns and does what he loves.

He's an avid birder and naturalist and was one long before I came along. He's traveled the world to see countless exotic birds. He likes South American birding best. He's had many adventures and cherishes them all. The man has all kinds of crazy stories from his travels. He once woke to a strange noise which turned out to be a wild monkey ripping apart the bed next to his. (I think I'd literally die if I woke to that.) He can tell you about his favorite pet named Carmen whom he met in Venezuela. When I saw the pictures of Carmen I asked "What the hell is that?!" He said "That's Carmen! She's a sweetheart." Carmen was a capybara. In my eyes she was a giant rat, just like the one in The Princess Bride, and I never wanted to meet her. Who knew those things really existed? My dad has a quicksand story for God's sake! I think I assumed quicksand was just the stuff of cartoons until he told me about having to help a friend out of it once. Needless to say my Mom and I have never fancied traveling with Dad to South America.

Dad is an Environmental Engineer by trade. He's all about conservation and he's not afraid to take on City Hall if they're doing something stupid which is harming the environment. If someone is doing something stupid he taught me to speak up. He taught me to recycle back in the 70's... waaaaaaay before it became hip. He taught me to love nature, classical music and the Dodgers. He taught me how to play chess and to never cheat at anything. We tend to see eye to eye on most things. We gripe about or, more recently, celebrate politics together. We share most world views but occasionally we part ways in opinions.

Yesterday Pops once again exhibited his uniqueness. He may have outdone himself this time. Yesterday Pops brought this home. Yup, it's what it looks like, it's a blowgun. Who knew anyone actually manufactured these things? I guess I assumed you had to be a tribe native and carve your own.

A quick Google search confirms that most folks out there with blowguns are complete wingnuts. They tend towards the wannabe ninja and survivalist types. Luckily my Dad is neither. He is just into pest control. While some folks like to call an exterminator, Dad prefers to take pests on himself the Havahart way... until now. I think he's adopting a No-More-Mr.-Nice-Guy approach. I think the rats, who eat all of the avocados off our tree every year, may be want to rethink their sojourn into Dad's territory.

I just hope Dad doesn't decide to wander the neighborhood with his trusty blowgun slung over his shoulder. How would we explain that to the neighbors? Then again, when he bought his low-tech push lawn mower the neighborhood was abuzz with nostalgia. Somehow I'm not so sure they'd be as enthusiastic about a blowgun.

Tuesday, March 3

Well, that I gotta see!

I've been vaguely looking forward to seeing Watchmen.

Because of this mild curiosity, I decided to take a look at the Watchmen (Music from the Motion Picture) tracks on iTunes. I've got to say I'm intrigued. Most are common enough tracks but given the overall look of the film it's a pretty kooky mix. Check it out:

01 - My Chemical Romance - Desolation Row
02 - Nat King Cole - Unforgettable
03 - Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin'
04 - Simon And Garfunkel - The Sound Of Silence
05 - Janis Joplin - Me And Bobby McGee
06 - K.C. & The Sunshine Band - I'm Your Boogie Man
07 - Billie Holiday - You're My Thrill
08 - The Philip Glass Ensemble - Pruit Igoe & Prophecies
09 - Leonard Cohen - Hallelujah
10 - Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
11 - Budapest Symphony Orchestra - Ride Of The Valkyries
12 - Nina Simone - Pirate Jenny

See what I mean? It's just flip and disturbing enough to pull me in.

I like that! Who's with me?

Sunday, March 1

Near Death Experience

I'm not speaking of my near death, I'm speaking of my niece's. I almost killed her last night.

We occasionally have sleep-overs. I can only manage them on "non-school" nights because my niece prevents me from getting much sleep. She grinds her teeth, kicks and fidgets all night. Being a light sleeper this can be a problem. One famous night she awoke at "four-three-oh" wanting to go to McDonald's. She almost met her end that night. Her brother, who sleeps on my bedroom floor for our sleep overs, began a whispered fury that could have melted paint. My niece didn't seem to mind.

Last night at three-three-oh-
Alex (my niece): Auntie Lucy, are you awake?
Lucy: ...
Alex: Auntie Lucy, I can't sleep.
Lucy: ...
Alex: Auntie Lucy?
Lucy: You can play with the DS but you have to use the earbuds.
Alex: Ok. Where is it.
Lucy: It's on the floor between your brother and the bookcase. But don't wake him up. (I held up my iPod as a flash light and pointed it downward.)
Alex: (Standing next to her brother immobile) ...
Lucy: What's wrong? It's right there.
Alex: I can't.
Lucy: Why not?
Alex: I'll wake him up and he'll be mad at me.
Lucy: Oh for God's sake! (Hanging off the bed searching for the DS).
Lucy: Here. (handing her the DS)
Alex: Thanks.
Lucy: If you switch games, don't lose it in the sheets.
Alex: Ok. (Yanking the tiny game chip out of the DS and accidentally winging it across the room... in the dark.)
Lucy: (wearily) Little girl, I'm going to kill you.

30 minutes later (four-oh-oh)-

Alex: Auntie Lucy, I have to go to the bathroom but it's too scary.
Lucy: Here. (Again handing her the iPod as a flashlight) Don't drop it in. Put it on the counter.
Alex: (Walking to bedroom door then turning back) It's still too scary. (Walking back to edge of my bed to stare at me.)
Lucy: (Throwing blankets off and sitting up on edge of bed). You should be more afraid of me because I'm really going to kill you this time. (Reaching out and wrapping both hands around her little neck)
Alex: (Giggling wildly)

After the bathroom break and more game play Alex eventually put the DS down and tried to go back to sleep. OMG.

I'm still so tired. I'll be spending the day doing laundry and reading. Thank God for lazy Sundays.

I love those kids but they exhaust me. Well, more precisely, Alex exhausts me. My nephew, Jake, is much like me when I was his age. He's able to entertain himself quietly for hours. Alex, on the other hand, is a bit loud and full of energy and wants my participation in most of what she's doing.

We do have fun though. My Mom spoils them more than I do. I tend to be more strict about washing hands, brushing teeth and trying to be careful about what they watch on tv but last night I threw in the towel. We found a terrible show on TruTv called World's Wildest police Videos. There was a mini-marathon. There was much wild cheering and clapping from the kids. Mom always enjoys a good car chase so this was right up her alley.

Things you may have overheard from us last night-

Lucy: The very best one so far was that one with the bomb going off in that guy's backpack. What a loser!
Jake: Yeah! That was the best!!!

Alex: (Walking in from the another room) Did you hear me calling you?
Lucy: Yes, I was ignoring you.
Alex: Why?
Lucy: Because as long as you're shouting, you're breathing and I've done my job.
Alex: ...
Lucy: What did you want?
Alex: Your tv changed the channel.
Lucy: ... (Racking my brain trying to recall what the Tivo would be recording.)

I checked and realized my Season Pass for True Blood had decided to record the East Coast feed of the hard R-rated show. Ooooops.

Lucy: (Calling out from the other room) Did you see anything nasty?!
Alex: No.

Guess that will teach me to ignore the kid. I later checked the episode and realised it was the one that opens with the Rattray's beating the hell out of Sookie while cursing a blue streak. I do know that Alex was out of the room by the time the opening credits began and the video of Maudette and Jason began. Phew, that was close!

Oh, and that photo above? I find dozens of those on my MacBook Photobooth following each trip the kids make to the house. They always make me laugh.