Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finally after two months untangling snarls in cyberspace

I think I'm back - but since all I've had this morning is strong coffee, my fingers aren't functioning as they should.
First came another form email from google, with one non-form sentence. "Thank you for your note." Apparently I am not the first one who had to resort to snail mail to get past the loops, hurdles, roadblocks, endless circles created by technology, which has yet to become humanely intelligent -- because the rest of their response was obviously nor original.

When I logged onto my gmail account home page there were almost 4000 messages in the chain. Thanks to the ability to forward to my roadrunner account, they were not lost - just piling up in a dusty folder. I am afraid to sign out of my gmail account or my blog now - it's like the edge of a precipice - I peer over, but I don't dare look too far down.

I have a tiny new video camera - which I chose without any input from my techy son. I also have a new IPod Touch - and although I am told about the thousands of Apps available, the few free ones I have added so far are dreadfully amateurish -
I guess you get what you pay for. I'm hoping that Bob is here for Christmas. I look forward to his help, even tho' he is inclined to provide minimal instruction, and make me figure it out - which is probably the right thing to do for a person of a certain age ( mine, not his).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

there was a little girl who had a little curl and the story of a nightmare

My entry about just some of MaeRose's Marley-like behaviors won one of fifty consolation prizes.
Since then MR has added more to her history of little sweet miss- behaviors. She has discovered a chest, left open from time to time, containing cotton balls, bristly hair curlers, cotton swabs, lotions (no potions). She loves to drag everything out - quite a fluffy, but reasonably clean mess.

After being caught twice, she seemed to realize this was forbidden excavation. Until - yesterday. I heard bumping, thumping, then nothing. A few minutes later MaeRose trotted into my office, put her head on my lap, and gave one of those 'what do I do now?' looks.
Stuck firmly in her hair above a curly ear was a bristly curler. Busted!

She will soon be seven, but lately seems to have been overcome by urges to create a nest -
she totally loves little dogs -longs to have one of her own. I, too, crave another doodle. Our condo limit is two - technically none over 20 pounds each - we broke that rule the first year with our first labradoodle - doing it the second time was easier.

Yesterday was my first appointment to tutor a nine-year old resident of Five Acres, a community home for children who have been abused, abandoned, mistreated. Its campus includes a large outdoor recreational area with swimming pool,
dining hall, classrooms for first through twelfth grades. My pupil attends class with seven or eight boys, one or two girls,
a teacher, an assistant, a classroom with computers and a smart board. He is struggling to learn to read - in part, I feel, because of a very short attention span.

I had a nightmare last night - based on my totally non-nightmarish afternoon. In my dream I was in a large crowd of teachers, assistants, disheveled looking, needing a bath youngsters. The one assigned to me had brown eyes, shaggy brown hair, a sly manner. After doing my best to converse with him, getting short non-informative replies, he disappeared.
I looked everywhere - getting glares and head shakings from unidentified adults (were they counselors, maids,
janitors, teachers?) When he finally emerged he was wearing a dress, long black hair, lipstick. Next thing I knew he appeared with a burr cut - telling me that he had decided to get his hair cut when he left earlier.

Penny Scott-Fox (looking like Ros from MI-5) was in charge of tutor volunteers. After telling us to meet outside, she vanished. During the hour I spent looking for her I heard from other volunteers that this always happened. Our scheduled two or fewer hours always stretched to more than four, although we were only getting paid for two. (my volunteering in real time is non-paid)

Remnants of the dream hung on like cobwebs for hours after I woke -

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hot weather and obsolesence

Another saved draft - this time less than a month old.

Blogging is getting a little addictive. The sky is blue for the first time in days. But, large plumes of smoke, hopefully from the backfires, hover to the east. The temperature reads 90 degrees, and feels at least that and more. I tried to purchase the Sunday edition of the Pasadena Star News this afternoon, only to learn that it will not be on the news stands (meaning our local liquor stores) until tomorrow. The LA Times for Sunday appears early Saturday - does that make it dated? I quit subscribing ages ago - and admit that I miss the rustle of pages turning, and the ink on my fingers, but not the long boring articles and the lack of nationwide news. Too LAcentric -.

Will the population 25 years from now find our technology amusingly antiquated, our early contraptions for downloading music and books as obsolete as we, of a certain age, find Beta players, 8-tracks, answering machines with tapes,
and dial phones?

I lived in Dallas when Texas Instruments introduced a hand held pocket calculator with an astonishing array of functions, and a price in the hundreds. It created quite a stir. Despite its price, stores soon ran out of stock.

People I'd like to meet

Still in the pre-school section of blogging - just discovered that I have three drafts - this one was written two years ago -
startling how my thoughts have changed since then, but here goes anyway.

First, it has taken me some time to figure out how to post to my blog, once started. And, having seen some of the elaborate blogs online, I am surprised anyone has time to read any of them - some are true works of art - others are some work!

Here are some people I would love to meet - to have ordinary conversations with -

Whoopi Goldberg
Helen Mirren
Charles Kerault
Maria Schriver
John Sayles

When I thought of this topic several days ago I had a long list in my head - at the moment the list has evaporated -
maybe it's because I'm tired -

On another subject -today I met a 150-pound black Newfoundland named Bodie - a stunning looking dog with a great disposition. I was walking with my two labradoodles, and with Michelle and Hazel, her vizsla -
and while standing there dog-chatting a grandmother came along pushing a stroller with one-year old twin girls - a charming chance meeting -
Michelle and I visited a seven month old German Short-Hair Pointer - playful, inquisitive, satin brown head, spotted body - energetic - perfect conformation. Juno is her name -

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Margaret Atwood - a rediscovered author

Just finished reading Cat's Eye, vintage Atwood. Every sentence beautifully crafted. Descriptions of ordinary things, events, art pieces the protagonist created, realistic - makes the reader wonder if Atwood wanted to be a painter, but could only describe the paintings in words, rather than with canvas and brush. Her visualization is astonishing.

Katie MacNichol, noted actress, member of my picture book critique group, will be one of the narrators at Royce Hall, UCLA, October 9, 2009, at a promotion of The Year of the Flood, Atwood's latest release. This event features Atwood reading from the work, along with various actors and a chorus. The novel is set in a bleak future.

Years ago I listened to P. D. James' Children of Men on tape. It is chilling, unforgettable. The movie did not, in my opinion, do it justice. I don't know if other James' works are Atwood-esque, but this one surely is. The others James I have read are somber mysteries.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Darby ate a bird - long ago

I have been creating Wordles - addicting fun. In searching through old documents to find something to paste into Wordle I ran across this - totally forgotten - must have been six years or more ago when he was a puppy - he is now a middle-aged seven.

Oh my - I was working in my office this morning and realized Darby was not
right under my feet, where he usually is. I found him in the garden eating
a bird - - feathers sticking out of his mouth - not at all interested in
letting me have it. I was too squeamish to take it away, after determining
it was not one of the hummingbirds we have in our trees. In fact, it is
possible he found the body on the ground, since he has paid no attention to
birds at the feeder or in the bird bath. I'd like to think he did not kill
it - retrievers are supposed to retrieve, not destroy.

I think the entire thing went into his tummy - feathers, feet and all -
Maybe BARF stands instead of Bones and Raw Food,  for "birds and raw feathers" - My Cairn Terrier of a few years ago ate a bird - a big one she chased and caught.

I thought cats were the ones to worry about.

Now I will have to watch for indigestion - mine and his.

A new word plaything

Just found out about Wordle. Not exactly sure what its consequences are, but it is fun. Just google the word, and start to play.
Rats - I think they're here to stay


We have heard that because of the Station Fire, which destroyed parts of the Angeles National Forest, there might be more wildlife coming into our neighborhoods. The first invasion is an increase of RATS!!! Yick. Every morning I find evidence of their night patrol on my deck. I live in the flatlands near the foothills in Sierra Madre - which, in this context, means that there are streets with upward inclines just around the corner, leading up to wilderness. A house at the very edge of the wilderness, which I rented for three years was inundated by mudslides last spring - from rains following an earlier fire.
Glad I wasn't still there.

As for wildlife moving in - months ago on a morning walk with my two labradoodles, we met a coyote wandering down the middle of the street - at 9:30am - not far from our City Hall and Police Station. When I mentioned this to a policeman a few blocks further on, he shrugged, "they're everywhere, any time of the day."

So, we share our suburban idyll with earlier residents, whose environs we have invaded and often overwhelmed.

But, I still don't like to find rat droppings decorating my garden relentlessly, every morning.

I posted this recently, but it got lost in cyberspace. I am still learning how to blog within blogs. :)
Meantime, I visited our local hardware store. The array of poisons, traps, remedies to eradicate rodents fills a ten-foot shelf.
But, all the cautions, warnings, and disclaimers almost made me decide to let the rats have their way in my garden.
I brought home bait traps filled with little blue pellets. MaeRose, the smarter of my dogs, stationed herself below the ledge where I had secured the trap. Even though it was four feet above reach, she smelled something. She is persistent, so I
thought better of my efforts. It took fifteen minutes to re-trap every little blue pellet, making sure none fell into the garden.

So, this morning, I can see that the rats had another picnic in my garden. More power to them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A blog well worth viewing - wild animals in the Pasadena area

The doodles and I are going for a walk this evening. First time since Sunday morning. I can hear aircraft in the distance. Our city hall webmail says they will continue fighting the fires north of Sierra Madre day and night - they have dug out a fire trench/barricade/deterrent from Altadena to Azusa - which is a very long distance in extremely steep terrain.

I found an amazing blog/website this morning - thanks to reading Larry Wilson's blog. He writes for the Pasadena Star News and other newspapers in the San Gabriel Valley. His blog led me to another. It is It was created by an amazing photographer who has set night viewing cameras in the Arroyo. She has captured images of bobcats, cougars, coyotes, and other animals. I haven't viewed it all yet. The images I have seen made me quite emotional, they are truly heart stopping.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bloodhound searching in my neighborhood

This morning i saw two Pasadena policemen on motorcycles with lights flashing, driving on the wrong way of a divided street, stopping traffic to let two other policemen on foot cross an intersection. One of the men on foot was following a bloodhound, leash taut, determination in stance. I learned later that they were searching for a teenager who had run away from a rehab facility and was threatening suicide. I don't know if they found him. The search area covered several miles in Pasadena and Sierra Madre.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Labradoodle antics win a consolation prize

I entered a contest sponsored by Fetch Dog, an online source for specially selected dog products. The contest was titled "My Marley" and asked for entrants to describe the antics of their dog similar to those of Marley from the book and film Marley and Me. I won a consolation prize - with a true account. MaeRose, now six years old, was 18 months when I rescued her from the Pasadena Humane Society. She was born at Rutland Manor. Her first family had two young children who turned out to have such severe allergies that they decided to offer her to the Humane Society. At that time I was one of the few labradoodles owners in the entire San Gabriel Valley (of Los Angeles). I was already a volunteer in the Society's Companion Animal Program, with my Tegan Park labradoodle, Darby. He and I visited children's foster homes, retirement homes, convalescent homes where we were always welcomed warmly.

Because I had more or less introduced "labradoodles" to the Pasadena Humane Society and its training staff, the minute "Lulu Belle" was turned in I got calls from the volunteer office, and from the training director, Penny Scott-Fox. The next day I brought her home - and immediately changed her name to MaeRose (after Angelica Houston's role in Prizzi's Honor). The "settling in" period was, to say the least, "unsettling."

But now, five years later, MaeRose is a star volunteer in the Barks and Books program of the Humane Society.
For three years we have visited a classroom of young readers at a residential foster home, and several local libraries. Each child receives a sticker "I Read to a Dog Today." Our appearances have been featured in local newspapers, and listed on our town's local area cable broadcasts.

Here is my consolation prize entry:

She was a sweet shy little rascal, 18 months old, skinny, matted, noisy, barely trained, when she joined our family. You’d imagine that getting rescued from the animal shelter would make her a bit grateful. After all, she had a new home, a friendly owner, a companion dog, plus lots and lots of treats.

But –

On the first day she-
ate a bar of soap, gnawed a hairbrush in two, mangled a pill bottle, scattering its contents from one room to the next, all in five minutes.

On the second day she-
jumped out of the car, dashed into the street headed for certain death, if a passerby hadn’t caught her.

On the third day she –
ate a tube of doggie toothpaste and an entire loaf of bread – not realizing that a chewed-up tube cap and leftover wrapper were admissible evidence.

Then she settled down for a few days – while I ignored the overturned wastebaskets, garage door-opener activation, dead rat deposited on the porch, and a hummingbird beating wings behind shutters held tight by an inquisitive dog. (It survived.)

But I learned how clever and sneaky MaeRose really was the day she played her trump card -- the day I left her alone, gated in the kitchen, while I made a quick escape. An hour later when I returned, the door wouldn’t budge. The door was locked! From the inside! The only way to lock that door was with a key, or the bolt on the kitchen side. Who was in there? How did they get through the garage into the house? Should I call the police?

Courage overcame fear. I retrieved my spare key from its hiding place, opened the door, and was greeted by a frantically wagging tail, little pink tongue over pearly white teeth, a black furball quite proud of herself. From one end of the kitchen floor to the other -- a trail of coffee grinds, gooey
containers, vegetable peel, chewed plastic, soppy cardboard, muddy pawprints up the side of the door to the bolt – a message loud and clear -
“Don’t you dare ever leave me behind.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A hot summer day

It's mid-July - hot, and a bit humid. Tried visiting the dog park this morning - gave up after standing in the hot sun watching the maintenance crew labor slowly on mowing, digging, aerating, talking, downing morning brew (some alcoholic) and in no hurry. I have to learn how to use Microsoft Word tracking changes - immediately. I plan to look online for a good tutorial. So - off I go.

Friday, March 27, 2009

More than a year later

Technology and I are having a battle. I'm so far behind now that I have decided to just go with the flow. I don't have a texting cell phone, and I barely know what twittering is. I don't think I am the only one who marvels at the elaborate blogs so many create. When do they find the time? Since October 2007 I have become the coordinator of SCBWI Schmooze, and the host of a monthly picture book critique group. I've also created a Face Book page.
My dogs have been featured in two stories in the Pasadena Star News. The first, in September 2008, headline story about Barks and Books at the Hastings Branch of the Pasadena Public Library. The second, March 2009, about a gathering of doodles in a Pasadena Park. Darby is definitely the star of the color photo.

On an amusing and annoying note - I applied as a volunteer tutor for an after-school program at Five Acres. The lengthy process included a TB test, fingerprinting, three recommendations, a lengthy form about driving record, criminal history, etc. Unfortunately, two attempts to capture my fingerprints via computer recognition, failed
Seems that I have worn off the tips of my fingers to such an extent they don't screen via computer. So, a name check began three months ago, and may never be complete. As I reported to a friend, my only dealings with the law were a speeding ticket when I was 17, caught in a speed trap in Kansas, driving with my grandmother and mother.
Two similarly speed-trap caught tickets some 35 years later - one in South Carolina, one in North Carolina. One in Dallas while trying to get out of the way of Hell's Angels lookalikes tailgating me (I was 8 months pregnant) - and one in Pasadena, again trying to move out of the way of a tailgater - forcing me into a Right Turn Only lane. I didn't turn right.

Hmm - a few more than I originally remembered.

I have survived a major robbery, a mugging, two damaging earthquakes.

More later. It's time to bite the bullet and finish my income tax return.