Friday, December 31, 2004

Happy New Year

Whoooooboy!  I'm tired.  Ha!  I'm headed out the door to David's.  I'm basically staying in tonight, but at his place instead of mine.  I generally don't like to be on the road after dark on New Year's Eve.  But I'm looking forward to "hanging in" with friends.  No huge plans...whatever happens.  Perhaps a game of 90s Trivial Pursuit.  Chess.  Boggle.  Cards.  Martinis (not much for me).  Maybe some CD-burnage and Photoshop lessons.  I'm bringing my computer -- so I just may update while I'm there.

The dogs have been walked and fed.  That still doesn't guarantee a pee-free carpet.  Hunny has a pretty clear way of expressing how "pissed" she gets when I leave.  Hopefully the Greenie will take the edge off for her.  I wish there were some kind of doggie martini or 'greenie' in another form.

She and Sparky have been playing keep-away with all the bones I've allowed back in sight since Hunny's surgery.  I'm blessed to know they get alone so well.  I've never seen Hunny roll on her back for any other female dog -- especially a younger one.  She does with Sparky.  Hunny's still top dog.  She makes sure of it.  But it warms my heart to see her play like a pup again.  I had pictures of their fun times but I can't seem to find 'em.  Guess that's my cue to head out.

Happy New Year everyone.  Be safe.  Remember love.  Prayers to all who are suffering.  It's not outside of ourselves.  We are one.  Peace, Compassion and Laughter in the heart always. 

Cheryl's Birthday

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I was just going back in time (in my mind) trying to figure out what the heck I did all day Monday.  Then it hit me.  After my dogpark run I spent the entire afternoon, evening, night and wee hours of the following morning putting composites together for Cheryl's birthday gift.  Perpetual Perfectionistic Procrastinator here, remember?

The gift I most want to give her is having to wait.  It'll be worth the wait as the gift is timeless.  And since she reads my journal on occasion, that's all I'm going to say.

Since that gift idea is on hold till next year, I wanted to come up with something personal and thoughtful.  My clients loved their Christmas books so much, I thought I'd do something similar for Cheryl.  It wasn't till midnight when I realized I had about two hundred pictures to compile.  That wasn't even all of them.  Pictures from the entire year.

I worked so much my body was stiff and tight.  So I pulled out my yoga mat and did an hour of yoga on my bedroom floor.  I fell into bed at 3am.  Luckily the first of three rain storms began that night and I was awakened at 6:30am to the loud sound of dripping -- inside the apartment.  I did take pictures but they're so grim I don't have the heart to post them.

After placing buckets under drips and spreading every towel in the house all over the floors, I was awake enough to continue with the project.  I got it done just in time for the gathering at Casa Del Mar in Santa Monica.  We got a primo spot in the lounge by the fire.  It was a great night.  I'm such a cheap date.  Half a martini and I was flying high.  Oh.  But not so cheap when it comes to food -- chicken Caesar salad and french fries.  Y-U-M!

Cheryl had the best birthday party ever. (do we say that every year?)  We had such a good time that none of us realized she didn't have a birthday cake till the next night.  Whoops!  Sorry 'bout that Cheryl.  Love you!

Journey to Lotus Martinis

Obviously these are rough sketches.  GO HERE for actual pictures of our visit.

Sunday was spontaneously spent driving through the Orange Curtain to visit one of my favorite J-Landers. We know her as TxsGuinan of Lotus Martinis.  The cartoony yoga goddess whose writing always has me laughing, crying and thinking.  I still don't understand why she's not a published writer -- except that she may not be pushing for a book deal.

If you're familiar with her journal, you know she accompanies her entries with cartoony images of herself, the hubs and her mother -- and others who may come along her way.  So, when I went to see her, I was half expecting to enter ToonTown.

Mid-writing this entry, she contacted me to show me her recent entry -- depicting us actually in ToonTown.  I like her images better.  We all appear to be about twenty years younger and twenty pounds lighter.  Even Hunny looks like a little whipper-snapper in the picture.  She's just the greatest.

She's very much like her cartoony-self.  She's beautiful, fit, fun, cool, smart, down-to-earth. I can't say enough about how I adore her.  Her cartoony-hubs is dead-on.  I could pick him out of a line-up based on his cartoony images alone.  He's a very handsome man -- kind, generous, sweet.  Hunny kept checking in with him while the girls were cackling and howling in the computer room -- then in the kitchen.  Gigi got right down on the floor with Hunny and they loved eachother up.  Oh yeah, this is a friend for life.  No awkwardness.  No insecurities.  Just a day of fun, talking, laughing, cookie making, and martinis of course.

I look forward to many more visits.  Just another reason AOL-J Rocks.

Christmas at Home

I love surprises.  Well, the fun kind anyway.  (heehee)

I mentioned earlier how I received cards and tokens of love from all over.  As I've gotten older, gifts have been minimal -- but always thoughtful.  I receive with an open heart.  You could wrap dirt and I would marvel at how wonderfully thoughtful it was to even have it wrapped.  I'm not great about presentation.  I put my heart into the gift but often forget about the wrapping and bows and such.  So when something arrives all pretty and decorated, I have a difficult time opening it (ruining the artwork/wrapping).


I'm also impatient.  Usually I can't be trusted around a package that isn't clearly marked "Do not open till Christmas."  I love the anticipation.  But if I think I have permission, I'll open it right away.  Not this year.  I put most of my cards and gifts by the ... um ... wreath.  No tree this year.  The wreath was my pine smell for the season.

On Christmas Eve (after I got home from dogwalking and gatherings) I lit candles in my two favorite candle holders.  One was a gift from Mia for my birthday this past year.  The other was made by Nadine last year.  Both are gifts that keep on giving.

Instinctively I turned the TV on.  It was exactly midnight.  Midnight Mass had just begun.  After years of avoiding all things Catholic, I left it on in the background while I sat with Hunny, the candles and cards/gifts, mostly unopened.  I was surprised to find myself speaking the prayers in response to the services.  It was a beautiful ceremony -- being able to look beyond the "do as I say and fear me" aspects of all I was taught growing up.

My intention was to open the gifts and cards that night because I was scheduled for six dogwalks on Christmas Day.  Instead, I fell asleep immediately following mass.  As you can see, Hunny was fast asleep before me.

So, just like when  I was a kid, Christmas Day was the gift-opening day.  One package that took me by complete surprise was the box delivered from Andrea.  It was like the never-ending stocking, stuffed with little trinkets and thoughtful gifts -- including two boxes of gourmet chocolates from her home town.  Oh, and do you recognize the Life Savers Man?  Andrea's the only one I know who would find a Hershey's Kiss Candle (with a note: don't eat the candle).  Thank you Andrea.  I'm teary all over again.

Later Christmas Eve

After our Swedish Christmas Eve, I had to walk a few dogs (yeah, I worked a lot last weekend).  But then I headed downtown to a friend's loft for the annual Jewishy-Martini-Christmas Eve, complete with the Deanly-Created Hanaconda.  I didn't get a good picture of it and to describe it does no justice.  But I'll do my best: basically it's a long vine of pine, garland, ornaments and lights that spirals up a support beam in the middle of the loft apartment.  Gifts and goodies are placed on the floor around the Hanaconda.  It represents the holidays in the size of an anaconda snake.  [hey, that wasn't so bad.]

I couldn't stay too long because I had to let a couple of dogs out before bed.  But it was great seeing some faces I hadn't seen in a while.  Some I haven't seen since last Christmas.  Seriously, where does the time go?

Christmas Eve Night

First Stop : David and Johanna's

I've been having much difficulty with my new/used cell phone.  It's on my list of things to get taken care of before I throw it against the wall.  Last week, I got a call from Cheryl.  I thought she said, "David invited us to the sweetest Christmas Eve dinner."  I was like, "oh, there's Cheryl all in the love, everything's so sweet and beautiful to her."  But I found out later she said SWEDISH, not sweetest.

Well, as it turned out, it was both!  I learned a lot about a different culture.  And actually, it's not far off from how I remember celebrating Christmas.  The food, the celebration, the music, the lights, the ornaments, and gifts for everyone.  The best part (aside from the new best friends I've found in David and Johanna) was learning about Tomten (Sweden's version of Santa).  He's part Gnome and Elf.  How adorable is that?  Perfect for their little tree.  I didn't want to leave.

Johanna dressed as Tomten (well, she tried - but now that's the vision I'll have of Tomten forever).  When we were handed a gift (more than one for everyone), we had to read the rhyme on the tag.  The rhyme gave a clue to the gift.  There's no way I could describe the fun we had!  New traditions all over again.

Thank you David and Johanna!  I'm looking forward to tonight -- games, martinis and maybe a little geek-talk.  I just adore you both!

Christmas Eve Day Recap

It was an ambiguous Christmas this year.  It came and went in a flash.  I had a moment of "oh woe is me" being away from family.  But that passed as I continued to live life and celebrate in the new ways I've come to love.  I do miss playing board games though.  So I went out and got the 90s edition of Trivial Pursuit for tonight.  That was no easy task.  I went to two Targets.  Both were sold out (even though the second one assured me they had them in stock).  I finally broke down and geared up for Toys R Us.  I had three games in my arms when I realized games are not the same price as when I was a kid.  [oh god, did i really just say that?]

There were many people in the store but checking out was easy.  I couldn't figure out where everyone was, until I was leaving.  The crowd for returns was so big, people were sitting in line.  Why don't people just give gift cards? [oh god, did i really just say that too?]

Where does the time go?

Christmas Eve was great.  I spent the first part of my day with Fishboy and a small dogpark group.  After that, we attacked a local mall so I could finally get the video game I pre-ordered for him last summer.  The line just to park was rounding onto the streets so we splurged for $3.50 valet parking.  He mentioned a car wash with valet.  I considered it, since the PeaceMobile could really use a good cleaning.  But we didn't know how long we'd be.  On our way into the mall, we saw the valet/car wash sign.  We were trying to figure out the pricing when we both noticed, "complimentary".  I guess you had to be there.  But we both fell over in a fit of laughter.  "Complimentary $18.00 car wash."  I still laugh at that.  [even though we understand it's the valet price that is waived if we were to get the car washed.]  Still, funny to us.  When we get to laughing, there's no stopping us.  Love that kid!

I hadn't been in a mall (or any store) all season.  Isn't it just like me to go on Christmas Eve?  I don't know what I was expecting but I was shocked to see the line in EB Games.  We felt like we were waiting for a concert.  While there, we used our waiting time wisely to decide what he wanted to get for the adults in his life.  A woman, bored out of her mind, joined our conversation with suggestions (in detail) of Bath & Body Works products.  Later she said she'd gotten all of her shopping out of the way but her husband waited till the last minute.  Fishboy and I looked around and I asked, "Where is your husband?"  The woman rolled her eyes and said he was home watching the game.  You know I didn't let that slide, "You mean, he waited till the last minute so you're here doing his shopping?"  She smiled agreeingly, "Yeah."  We smiled back, "Oh."

After thirty minutes in line, we were bombarded with the upselling techniques, "If you get this with this you get this much off."  It didn't stop.  We knew what we wanted but since it was Fishboy's birthday present (from July) I thought I'd add a little something for Christmas.  I cut off the sales pitch, "How much is the Strategy Guide?"  He started with more pitches.  I said, "OK, bring it on, upsell away, we're all ears!"  Y'gotta have fun during times like these.  Otherwise, it's just ... boring.

That completed my Christmas Shopping.  Other than that, I didn't buy anything for anyone this year.  Not even a card.  It's not about the buying anyway.  I showed up in different ways.  Life is grand.

Journey to 2005

Um, is this really the last day of 2004?

I've been such a slacker in here.  I wish I could say it's all for good reason but  "being lazy" is all I've got.  On the bright side, I have many pictures and stories of such laziness to share.

There were three parts to my Christmas Eve.  I worked the entire day on Christmas.  I met a wonderful J-Land pal on Sunday.  We've survived three rain storms, inside the apartment.  Cheryl turned 42 and is looking better than ever.  I did four loads of laundry, rearranged the living room, cleaned my room, watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (loved it).  I found a whole new way to tune and play my guitar.  I'm completely geeking out, having spent hours upon hours in photo editing software.  I discovered iTunes and now probably have to find a second job to order all the music I want.   Sparky has been with us for a few days, keeping us young.

I plan on elaborating in the next few, five, ten entries.  My goal is to get caught up by the new year.  And since I'm scheduled to go out tonight, I've basically lit a fire under my ass to get these entries in.  Woohoo! 

But first, WOW, thank you all for the ecards, emails, comments, gifts, snail mail, personal artwork, music, love and laughter over the last few weeks.  I don't know how it happened, but many of your cards were returned from my address.  Maybe our mail carrier went on vacation.  You know how that is.  It's got to be difficult to fill in, especially during the holidays.  But geesh, I want my mail.  Well, with all the delays, it's still rolling in, even after the holiday.  You're so thoughtful, generous and kind.  I really take it all in with my heart.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Santa's Little Slacker

It's hard to believe it's been a year since ... well, since last year.  Ha.  I was hoping to record another Christmas song for this year but (I don't know how it happened) time got away from me.  I suppose if I start now for next year... 

Anyway, thanks again to Robbie for coming through for me at the last minute (because that's when I ask for things).  I didn't even have a copy of this. 

click to listen to O HOLY NIGHT -- my gift to SloMo last Christmas (yes, I'm regifting my own gift)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, Santa's Workshop may have been open all year but this little elf is working overtime tonight to make up for lost time.  It didn't occur to me that Christmas Eve is Friday until one of my clients asked if I'd come early Thursday because she's only working half a day.  I questioned, "What about Friday?"  Everyone in her office turned their heads and she said, "It's Christmas Eve girl. We won't be here. Take the day off."  Oh.  Ha.  I'm that out of it.

This means I had absolutely no choice but to get my clients' gifts ready for delivery by Thursday morning.  Yes, that's now.  I'm referring to a little later in the morning.  Preparing their little token of love taught me a great lesson.  I'm all set for next year.  I'll save lots of money and time if I create composites like these before I bring my memory card in for digital photo printing.

Instead of a nice looking composite on each page of their handmade booklet, my clients will receive an 8.5x11" spiral bound elementary-school-looking scrapbook full of color copies of messy overlapped photos.  Their doggie's name and face will shine the front cover of their booklet.

I thought I'd save money this way.  As it turns out, the cost is about the same as ordering a photo calendar or memory book for each of them.  And this one was made with love (rushing panic included).  It's times like this when it kinda really sucks to be both a procrastinator and a perfectionist.  Oy.

Happy Holidays!  I hope everyone is enjoying the season, remembering love and filling our hearts with peace to last us a lifetime (or more).

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Where-oh-Where is my Christmas Cheer?

Has Anyone Seen My Holiday Spirit?

I thought I left it here somewhere.  I can't seem to find it.  Though, I admit, I haven't been looking very hard.  This season has been quite interesting, to say the least.  And since I'm not one of little words, I'll elaborate.

I (usually) love the holiday season.  The feeling in the air ends the year with a sense of accomplishment through heartfelt expressions and brings in the new year with a feeling of hope and encouragement.  Aside from severe pain right now and a little loopy numbness last weekend, I haven't felt much of anything -- certainly nothing along the lines of Holiday Spirit.  I'd say this makes me sad but since we've just established how I'm feeling, sad doesn't qualify.  Besides, pain trumps all emotions.

Maybe this is my holiday cheer this year.

I did buy a wreath last week because I wanted the smell of real pine.  It's still sitting on the floor, leaning against a shelf, facing me so I can enjoy all its nakedness.  Pine smell?  What pine smell?  Along with feelings, I also smell nothing.  Maybe I'm just sensory-deprived this season. 

I volunteered my time last night to help a friend with her company's benefit at a Salvation Army housing community last night.  There were many families and kids of all ages.  I helped her with the cookie decorating table.  And of course took lots of pictures for her.  There was face painting like I've never seen before.  Spray-water-based-colored-makeup.  Took the woman less than a minute to paint each face or arm or hand.  Not just that -- she had sparkles too.  There was a craft table as well.  Food, snacks, live piano music and a gift for each child in the community -- wrapped, with their name on it.  Some kids opened their gifts.  Some parents kept them for Christmas morning, as it may be the only gift they get.

Sure, I felt the spirit while I was there.  Or, I felt something.  Maybe it was a combination codeine-sugar high.  We had to do something with all the broken cookies.

I haven't been amongst the crowds of shoppers yet either.  That usually helps with my cheer.  I know that sounds a little crazy, but I do love to be around all that.  I don't like to rush-shop so when I go, I can't be on a time schedule.  I actually have not bought, made or ordered one single gift this year.  With all the extra (doctor/vet) expenses, and unexpected time out of work, I just couldn't be sure of my holiday spending budget.

Um.  So.  Consider this your Christmas Card. ;)

This pathetic pain-faced smile is the best I could do.  That was Friday night.  Yesterday was worse.  Tomorrow has got to be better.  Otherwise, I'll be back in the hospital, having my lungs checked.  If this is a pain-killer detox after only one week of using, I want nothing to do with an addiction.  It's easy to see how they can become addicting.  I want one now just to stop the insanity.  I'm resisting.  That's right folks, I'm quitting cold turkey!  It's been over 24 hours.  So far, I'm still alive.  I still have some pain meds in my prescription, but I'm taking Tylenol and/or Advil instead.  Narcotics are harsh.  Detoxing is harsh.  Surgery recovery is harsh.  No Christmas Cheer is harsh.  Ow.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Post-Op Hunny

This is hanging on our fridge.

Hunny had her oral surgery today.  She's my hero.  She had a major chewing tooth extracted.  It was so badly infected, the surgeon had to "drill up into her skull."  Her vet said he didn't want to freak me out by telling me that but he went on to say the infection had gone into the bones of her mouth.  Apparently it had been there for about four to six months.  (how do they know these things?)  Even though he thought that was a long time to have an abscess -- or, basically, a rotting tooth -- I was relieved to hear this wasn't something that started years ago.  Of course, now I'm thinking about all the things I've been giving her in the last six months.  More treats than ever.  Greenies.  People food.  Not a lot, but I had never given her table scraps.  She has her food.  I have mine.  I've gotten soft in *our* old age.  Apparently, so have her teeth.

Her vet is so nice.  I really like him.  He gave me detailed information and specific instructions regarding her medication, feedings, care, etc.  I thanked him for being so wonderful and he said, "Oh please, thank you for letting us take care of her and for being so good at what you do."  I'm not sure what that meant.  But I do know Hunny proved to them how attached to me she really is.

When we brought her in this morning, I said to the technician, "I'll walk alongside you. Otherwise Hunny won't go with you."  He smiled and allowed me to pretend to go with them.  As I made a quick U-turn to duck out of Hunny's sight, I heard BANG, CRASH, SCUFFLE, SCRAPE!  Another technician and the vet ran to help as Hunny was trying desperately to escape back to me.  She almost made it.  I had to hide.  Everyone was chuckling and a little surprised.  You know, 'cause Hunny was so sweet, gentle and quiet the whole time before.  Even her weight surprised them.  I'm pretty sure by then they understood then what I meant when I said she's solid.

When they finally got her to the back room, the vet came out to me and joked, "Maybe if you beat her more, she'd be more willing to leave you."  Yeah, she's a tad bit attached to me.  For a moment I wanted to cry.  My poor baby.  I wasn't scared or worried.  I know she was in good hands.  I just felt bad for being part of a moment that caused her so much fear.

She was so disoriented when we brought her home, it broke my heart.  She was bug-eyed and ditzy from the anesthesia.  I spent a lot of time laying next to her, holding the space for her to find some restful position.  She fell asleep by my side a few times.  When she wanted space, she took it.  When she needed attention, she asked for it.  And I jumped for her.

At one point she heard a knock on the door.  She instinctively barked, jumped off the bed and headed right past the front door to the kitchen.  Then back through the living room.  Then I think she forgot what she was doing because she sat down, gazing to the floor.

I dropped to the floor with her and told her how wonderful she is.  I gently led her back to the bedroom and guided her to lay down again.  I can only imagine what kind of hallucinations she's having -- sound asleep with her eyes wide open.  I can see her reactions.  I hear her responses.  Light whines, some singing, purrs (yes, she purrs).  And I wouldn't be a mama if I didn't stop everything in a moment of panic, checking to be sure she's still breathing -- at least once ... every hour!

She and I are on the same antibiotics (yeah, I laugh at that).  She's on different pain killers.  And she has a personalized homeopathic tincture from her vet. (right on!)  We're both on the road to recovery.  And we both need to see our doctors for follow-ups in two weeks.

Hunny's a Warrior.  She ate a little, drank some water, and now she's sleeping again, at my feet.  Sweet Love.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Um...Nevermind. I'm good.

Counting my blessings.  It's stuff like this that helps me put everything into perspective.

This woman recently had a (benign) tumor surgically removed too.  All 66 pounds worth!  It took four people to lift and roll it onto a pathology exam table.  That's almost a whole basketball team.

Will someone tell me though -- I understand the difficulty in self-diagnosing a tumor-like-growth.  But how do you not notice the 66 extra pounds?  Oooh, I wonder if I lost any weight last week.

Pictures of my tumor next to this one would be like comparing the difference between an M&M and Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory!

See how I did that?  Brought chocolate into play!  Had to, otherwise any other comparison would just be gross.

No bandages. Some pain.

               Monday 12/13/04 -- Follow-up hospital visit


Well, the bandages are off.  And now I'm in pain.  I guess it's to be expected.  I can't rely on pain meds forever.  At some point, the pain has to make itself known.  Still, I asked for stronger meds so I can rest peacefully.  A little pain is okay.  Agony is unnecessary.

I'm slowly getting back to a regular schedule.  All in good time.  I'm not rushing this process.  Not working yet.  I can't hold Hunny's leash alone.  There's no way I could handle even the most well-behaved group of dogs.  Lifting is out of the question.  At least for a couple of more days.  I'm eating more solid foods.  It's not the most comfortable chew but it's better than sucking oatmeal through a straw.  I still can't open my jaw fully.  Well, I guess I *can* but given the pain I was in earlier, I'm thinking no.

It's amazing the things I'm learning about myself, life and the world around me, just from this one experience.  I understand now why the jaw is the strongest muscle in the body.  It's used more than I ever would've known.  Talking, laughing, smiling, yawning (ouch) and chewing, are just some of the very basics.  Lifting, showering, stretching, walking and of course singing, are all things that affect my jaw.  I couldn't sing softly or hum to most of the music I heard today.  Not just because of the limited range of jaw motion.  It takes strength in the jaw muscles to get the vocal chords rolling.  Sitting up in bed takes a lot of neck muscle.  I have to strategically roll over and use my hands to support and lift my head before I sit up.

It gets better as each day passes.  It's not as dramatic as it may sound.  I'm just noticing all the little things that require use of these muscles on a regular basis.  It gives me a whole new appreciation for this body that works so hard.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Post-Op Check-in

I felt so prepared for this surgery that I laughed and smiled through the entire day -- even before I was drugged up.  I asked the surgical staff to take pictures. (and they did!)  I *think* I had some fun conversations with most of the post-op staff. 

As you may have read from Robbie's comment, the surgery was a success.  I was sent home early -- 22 HOURS early!  Supposedly they didn't have to cut as deep or as long down my neck.  I say 'supposedly' because I'm still bandaged in a head wrap so I won't really know what's underneath till I meet with the surgeon tomorrow morning.  But my spirits are high -- in more ways than one.  I'm in some pain but I seem to be managing it pretty well.  Each day is completely different from the last.

I've only been able to eat/drink through a straw.  And thanks to Robbie, I have a blender to make that happen.  Yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies and Cheryl's soup go down smooth and easy through my "party straws". 

I'm not supposed to lift more than two pounds.  I never really knew what two pounds meant till this weekend.  I've really been trying to stick to the doc's orders.  It's hard though.  Some juice bottles are heavier than that.  And really, I feel the pull when I lift something too heavy.

Thank you all for your emails, thoughts and prayers.  I have everything I need.  And it seems when I think of something else I could use that would make my life easier, the phone rings.  I'm well taken care of.  Thank you friends!

Saturday, 12/11/04 -- One day after surgery (check out those codeine-eyes.)

Thursday, December 9, 2004

Tying Loose Ends

House Cleaning
I used to clean houses part time.  It's hard work.  Our cleaning requests are basically standard minimum requirements.   I honestly don't know how people can do it for a living.   I believe in paying top dollar for a job well-done.  Many professional house cleaners aren't getting paid nearly their worth.  And some are being overpaid not doing nearly enough work.

If there were things they could not (or would not) do, that's totally fine.  But they "yessed" the list to death.  My roommate was home the whole time.  Plus, they had our cell phone numbers on that list.  When he asked if they completed everything on the list they said YES, took the eighty bucks and ran (knowing I was on my way home).  We used to pay them $100. 

My main reason for agreeing to hire house cleaners is to guarantee clean surfaces and a clean bathroom on a more regular basis than my own cleaning.  I've been busy enough with work to justify having someone else spending time clearing out the dust from the nooks and crannies.  So it's a huge let-down when I come home to a half-clean apartment and fork over my hard-earned money.

There's a heavy-duty, kick-ass laundry facility next door.  All that laundry can be done at once.  So it doesn't matter if it's one load or ten.  Other than additional time for folding and such, it's basically quick and painless.  My roommate carries it all for them (I help if I'm here).

All of you were right -- bathrooms were hardly touched. they dusted fairly well but cleaned around things (not even neatly).  bathroom rugs were not shaken.  therefore, floors were not swept.  same with the kitchen.  They didn't even try to fake it.  My leg stuck to the kitchen floor tonight as I was making room in the fridge.  Obvious things weren't touched.  Only half the bedding was washed.

They did clean the inside of the fridge and microwave -- in that skimming way. Plus, one thing they did that wasn't on the list is vacuum the rug inside my newly organized closet.  (no, that does not make up for the tub, shower, sink and floors I now have to clean before surgery)

No worries, Hunny's bowls were cleaned and fresh water was waiting for her when we got home.  One thing I know about these cleaners is they love dogs.  They have never been afraid of Hunny's nasty growls towards them.  It's me I think they're more afraid of. Grrrrrr...

Anyway, I'm over it ... for now.

Moving on...

Hunny's Oral Surgery
Hunny will be having oral surgery next Thursday.  My poor little one.  Apparently she's in some pain.  I've had to switch her food from dry to wet.  She's not complaining.  I wish I could've scheduled her for this week but since I'm having surgery tomorrow, I wouldn't be available to take care of her post-op, when she'll need me most.  Instead of removing the lumps on her body, we've decided to monitor them for a while and see if there are any significant changes in the next few months.  Pathology reports came back inconclusive.  Basically means they don't know if the cells are cancerous or not.  I believe she's healthy.  Actually, that's a unanimous feeling.  It's traumatic enough for her to lose a major tooth. 

My Surgery
I am scheduled for tomorrow morning.  I will spend a night in the hospital and come home Saturday.  I'm feeling very confident about the whole thing.  It's been quite a journey.  Three years.  Kinda trippy.  I never imagined I'd be so okay with this decision.  Yeah well, talk to me post-op when I'm drooling all over my t-shirt from nerve weakness.  Or when I'm tossing all night looking for a comfortable sleeping position.  Oooh, or how about that beautiful head wrap I'll be wearing all weekend!  Now that's gonna be some fashion statement.

Hearing my own sense of humor about it is really comforting actually.  I have been preparing all week (okay, a week and three years).  I've got friends covering shifts at the hospital as Freeepeace Advocates.  Cheryl will be there all morning.  She even made a whole big batch of matzo ball soup for my laid-up weekend (part of why I was making room in the fridge).  She even pureed the vegetables knowing I may not be able to bite solid foods for a while.

I loaded the fridge with juices and yogurt.  I ate all the chocolate and frozen yogurt yesterday (and some today).  That way I won't be torturing myself trying to eat it post-op.  Oooooh, I shoulda bought hot chocolate.  Dagnabbit.  Oh well.  I'm stocked up on tea.  I know, less exciting.  But more calming for sure.  I even bought battery operated tiny string lights for Friday night's hospital stay.  And three new DVDs arrived from Netflix.

I have no idea how long I'll be out of commission.  But I expect to see Robbie sometime this weekend.  Wait.  Let me rephrase that.  Since I'll be doped up, I expect to be seen by Robbie.  I haven't talked with her yet today but I'm appointing her as the J-Land Contact.  She should know what's up with me on a fairly current basis.  Check her journal for updates if you don't see any here for a while.  [um, is that ok Robbie?]

OK, I need to return emails and phone calls, clean, shower, do some girly stuff like braid my hair -- unless I want dreadlocks again.  I have got to remember NO FOOD OR DRINK AFTER MIDNIGHT.  I'm notorious for guzzling water in the middle of the night.  Whoops, I also have to pack.  Oh no, I forgot to have my nose ring removed.  Well, that oughtta be fun.  Can't forget Survivor tonight too.  Yeah, I have a few more loose ends than I thought ... I'm out.

Peace all.  Thank you for your love and support.

P.S.  I've been receiving some beautiful pictures but I'm still waiting on some of you for my wall collage of JLand.  I know I mentioned it in passing but I'd really like to add your faces to my collection.  Keep them coming!

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

White Glove Test

When I was a kid, like most kids, I was given chores with specific instructions.  Certain tasks needed to be completed on a weekly basis.  To keep things fresh and fun (yeah right), the chores were mixed and matched.  Therefore, the list remained consistent, but the jobs were traded off each week.  My brother and I might have been responsible for five things on the list every week (one for each weekday).  Our parents divvied up the rest between themselves.

I've learned that when dealing with kids, the more detailed instruction given, the better chance of actually seeing that the job gets done.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Shake all curtains before cleaning
Dust all furniture
Dust all items on furniture (i.e., vases, picture frames, collectibles, candle votives, etc.)
Dust all tabletops and surfaces -- including coffee table
Dust all electronic equipment (i.e. TV, cable box, VCR, internet router, etc.)
Dust fireplace
Dust picture frames hanging on walls
Wash coffee table top
Clean closet mirror doors
Vacuum all rugs
Empty trash
Wash dog bowls -- refill white one with water from Sparkletts dispenser

Wash dishes
Put dishes and utensils away in organized, proper locations.
Clean all dirty dishes in the apartment.
Empty trash and replace trash can with new trash bag
Wash trash can cover
Thoroughly clean counters
Clean sink and faucet
Clean stovetop
Clean fridge -- inside and out
Clean microwave -- inside and out
Sweep floor
Wash floor (use light amount of dish soap or orange cleaning solution)

Clean Tub
Clean Shower walls
Clean faucets and shower doors
Sink and Countertops:
Thoroughly clean countertops -- remove items from countertops to clean counters
Clean sink and faucets
Clean mirrors
Clean toilet -- inside, outside and top
Sweep floor
Wash floor
Shake mats or rugs outside before replacing on clean floor.
Empty trash

Vacuum all rugs
Dust all surfaces (note: please do not rearrange papers on desktops)
Dust appliances and electronics (i.e. TV, DVD player, stereo, speakers.  Important note: DO NOT TOUCH computers)
Dust all shelves and shelving hardware.
Dust all items on shelves.
Wash bedding
Make beds
Remove all dirty dishes, mugs, etc and wash them.

Organize folded laundry in bags (socks, jeans, tank tops, t-shirts, long sleeves, etc. should all be separated.  Towels and bedding should be separately organized.)
Please use ONLY the detergent provided.  It is natural and hypoallergenic.  No dyes or fragrances.  Thank you.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Seems fail-proof yes?  Maybe if you're a kid.  (granted, a child would only be responsible for two or three items on this list)

This is the list I left for our house keepers yesterday.  Not kids.  Professional private house cleaners.  A referral from a neighbor.  They've been with us for six or eight weeks already.  This list was my last attempt at actually getting what I'm paying for.

It's only for 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room and small kitchen (very small).  We don't ask that they clean the stairs or the loft, the patio/balconies or anywhere outside.  We don't ask them to water plants or put our laundry away.  We don't ask that they replace bath towels.  And we sort our own dirty laundry and pack it up ready for their arrival.  Plus we have a dishwasher.  Oh, and as you notice, they don't clean our desks (hopefully).

How much of the list do you think they completed?  Nevermind, I'll answer -- ABOUT HALF

And which do you think they did not do?  I'll answer that one later.  I wanna give you a shot at having some fun here.  Well, fun for you.  Not-so-much for me (as I'm left with the rest of the list). 

But wait, there's more!  Now tell me ...

Those of you who clean houses:  What would you expect to get paid for this service every other week?

Those who hire house cleaners:  What would you expect to pay for this service every other week?

Those who clean your own homes:  How much do you think you're saving by not hiring this service?

And, those who already know what we've been paying for this service, hush now.  I get it!  I still believe it would be worth it, if the job got done, consistently.  But not to worry, changes are being made.

Friday, December 3, 2004

For the Love of Dog!

The other day I gave Hunny one of her favorite treats - a carrot.  Her usual reaction would be to chew it and swallow it fast, in hopes there's another one in the wings waiting for her.  Instead, her response to this carrot was more savory, rolling it around in her mouth, nibbling the edges and finally biting small pieces, letting some shreds fall to the floor here and there.  When she was finished eating the broken pieces, she eagerly, but gently, ate the shreds.

No big deal right?  I mean, a whole carrot might seem too big for such a little dog to eat in one mouthful.  That is, unless it were a baby carrot.  Poor thing.  She was definitely babying that carrot.  Broke my heart.

Concerned, I lifted her lips to expose her back teeth.  I'm not quite sure what I was looking for but I knew I needed to look anyway.  Her gums looked red and there was visible tartar buildup on the teeth at the gum line.  That all seemed normal for a 10-year-old dog.

She hasn't been showing any signs of pain.  But, she's a dog.  Most dogs have an insanely high pain threshold.  Hunny may be small(ish) but she's strong and solid.  I've only heard her yelp once.  I've always had to be her pain gauge.  She was dying one time and I wouldn't have known if the vets didn't make me sign that "I will pay this bill even if my dog dies" paper.  I knew she was sick.  I didn't have a clue she was THAT sick.  Obviously she survived.

Now I know her "dying" signs.  When she's really sick or very uncomfortable, I usually know.  She tells me.  But she doesn't whimper, whine, yelp or cry.  She stays silent.  She sits up a lot, even during the night.  She stares with a certain glazed look.  She gets close and needy -- and sometimes even [gasp] cuddles right alongside me.  I love those moments, but I also know it could be a sign that she's not well.  She's a strong, dominant, independent dog.  She plays, walks and runs like a puppy sometimes.  She has a lot of energy.  She eats her Greenies, bones and dry food with no qualms.

Still, the carrot incident hadn't escaped me.  So we took a field trip to the vet today.  Upon first glance the vet confirmed there is indeed tartar buildup and a good cleaning is in order.  When I asked if Hunny was in any pain (my main concern) he double-checked her mouth, this time looking further back.  BAM!  An abscess.  My heart sank.  It's one of her major chewing teeth -- and most likely it will need to be extracted.  Beyond that, we don't know what to expect until he gets in there. 

My poor baby.  I felt like any mother when her child is in pain.  I dropped to the floor with her -- "I'm so sorry.  I should've known.  Bad mama."  Why didn't I take her in sooner?  How could I have prevented this?   The vet was like, "Um, no.  This stuff happens.  She's here now.  You're taking care of her."

Yeah well, she's also 3 or 4 lbs overweight (a lot for a dog her size).  While there, I also asked that he check on some small lumps I found on her.  He thinks they're no big deal.  But to be sure, we had them tested. 

While the technicians were poking and prodding her, our vet came out and told me, "She's just sitting there, very calm, quiet and gentle.  We put a cloth muzzle on her, as we do with all dogs, but I'd venture to guess we don't really need it.  She's a great dog."  [Atta girl!]  They needed to do a full blood panel on her.  At her age, she's considered a senior dog -- a geriatric.  Huh?  When did THAT happen?  She'll always be my little pound-pup.  [I do love telling people she's almost ten ... most of them think I mean ten months.  It's a fun game Hunny and I play.]

Assuming her lab results prove it's safe for her to have general anesthesia, it appears as though Hunny and I will both be having surgery this month.  What are the odds?  Interestingly, her abscess is on the right side of her face.  So is my tumor.  I'm thinking chicken broth will be on the menu around here for a while.

Click the image above for a sloppy, cheesy, sappy windows media video I created for Hunny.  If you have trouble loading the link from AOL, try Internet Explorer -- it's a quick and painless load time.  Even better, copy the link and paste it right into your media player.

Horror Afflicted

So, I'm on the phone with my roommate.  He says he's at Trader Joe's and asks if I want anything.  I think of the list of items in my head and then remember he rollerbladed there.  I tell him no thanks.  I don't want to be responsible for any mishaps during his trek across Venice Blvd. 

Still on the phone with him, I hear a knock at my bedroom door.  Hunny barks.  I think it's my roommate standing outside my bedroom, trying to fake me out.  [we often talk to each other via cell phone from our rooms] I say "Just open the door."  He sounds confused.  I say, "Come in.  Open the door."  He says, "I'm not home."  I laugh.  He's still confused.  I say I don't believe him (in certain terms) and just as I'm about to open my door he asks a passerby, "Excuse me, will you please tell her I'm at Trader Joe's?"  The woman obliges and says to me, "Um, he's at Trader Joe's."

My response, "Oh.  Then who's knocking at my bedroom door?"

Like lightening, my hand moves away from my doorknob.  Fear rushes through me.  Suddenly, It's circa 1979 and I'm Carol Cane hearing, "Have you checked the children?"

* * *

After a complete apartment search with my roommate still on the phone, I turn on all the lights and open the front door, letting Hunny be the official greeter.  Turns out a neighbor placed a postal delivery on our welcome mat.  There must've been a mailbox mix-up earlier. 

So, there was a knock.  It just wasn't "coming from inside the house."

See, this is why it's not safe for me to watch horror flicks.  Even though I haven't seen this movie since its VHS release (in the old days) these images are embedded in my psyche.  Kinda like what comes to my mind when cable goes out and all we get is snow on the TV.  "Go to the light Carol-Ann."

Am I alone in this?  Do you have any horror flick flashbacks? 

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Cleaning Out My Closet

I'm sorry mama, I never meant to hurt you, I never meant to make you cry, but tonight I'm cleanin' out my closet.  - Eminem

As some personal things weigh heavily on my mind and in my heart, I've found little or no success in trying to control my surroundings.  In fact, I'm feeling so out-of-control that I can hardly control feeling that way.  Letting go is easier said than done, every single time.  It doesn't matter how much I've let go and set free, I still seem unprepared for the next inevitable release.

I have so much on my plate at the moment, I can barely see the plate.  ~ "The (plate) is a dot to you."  Friends reference for Peachy. ~  As winter approaches, I've instinctively found ways to "control" my own environment.  Earlier in November I spent an entire day clearing out clutter (letting go) and organizing parts of my living space.  That helped my well-being tremendously.  This past weekend -- in between many dog-care duties -- I spent another day organizing my closet.

We'll see how long it stays this way.  I've never had enough shelving or drawers or chair space for my clothes.  So most of what I own gets lost at the bottom of piles.  I tend to wear the same things on a week to week basis.  With this cleaning/organizing spree, whatever didn't fit, didn't stay.  And I mean, whatever didn't fit in the closet!  There's no room and no reason for excess.

No yard sales for me.  I just donated everything.  My roommate had first dibs.  Come to find out, there were a few items that really came in handy for him.  Who knew the cassette adapter for CD players would work perfectly well with his iPod?  He was even excited to find a pair of sunglasses.  Apparently they were his, and he had declared them missing.  [now I know how to make him happy -- hide something of his and watch the excitement grow as he stumbles across it six months later.  hey, works for me too!]

Anyway, I feel much better now when I open the closet door and actually see all my choices without having to dig and guess and wrinkle and stuff back into small cubbies.  Does anyone notice how many pairs of Pumas are in there?  And would you believe there's another pair in the front closet?  Can't seem to let them go.  Love my Pumas! 

My mission was to find shelving -- any kind.  I'm not picky.  I'd love to build my own, but that's a little too involved, especially for a 'temporary' apartment. How about those hanging shelves, huh?  I didn't even know this kind of thing existed.  Gotta love Ross.  Two wide hanging shelves for shirts, sweaters, etc., and one deep, sturdy 10-shelf hanging shoe and accessory holder -- $20,00 total.  I just hope the racks can hold all that weight.  At the very least, I may have to take a crash course in installing reinforcements.  Oh, and I bought a laundry holder -- perfectly sized for my bathroom.  Holds three loads.  Five bucks!  What's not to feel good about?

Oh, update about the cancer-client-doggie --  Surgery was a success.  She's having a speedy recovery.  I'm still sitting with her on days her mom works late.  Her scar is traumatic-looking.  So invasive.  Spans at least half of her body from back to belly.  I hadn't seen it all the time I was with her.  She was wrapped in bandages and covered with a shirt.  She started coming to the dogpark with us again this week.  And she's doing amazingly well.  In fact, she seems to have more energy and more desire to play and socialize.  She roams the park like she always has.  But there's a little more spunk in her these days.