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July 28, 2005

Food of the multi-lingual Gods.

The countdown is on... only twenty business days until The Big Project launches ... work, so much, so hard, so many many hours of working at this work. I daydream of vacations. No SNB tonight. No time to blogstalk or email. I am furtively writing this... um, obviously not from work! Would. Never!

With late hours and long days, my normal MO would be to do all grocery shopping at the 7-11. However, with the New Budget in place, 7-11 is out of the question. You pay for all that convenience. (And the budget? Going so well! I was in the plus column for the first time in months! Me! Plus! Love you budget!!) (Download it if you want... it's an excel file.)

But the grocery store? The big one with all the groceries? It's so exhausting. And people there are buying married groceries. Picture my Lean Cuisine, cat food and frozen burritos, salad in a bag, wine. Mrs. Married Groceries is always in line behind me.

Also, just by the way, please DO NOT COMMENT on someone's food when you're shopping for ten and she's shopping for one + four cats. Merely keep the witticism to yourself. The answers to all your cute questions are the following: No I cannot cook. Yes, I have cats. Yes, I plan to eat that 49 cent frozen burrito with that $13 bottle of wine. No, I don't have time to cook... my 22-year-old lover named... named... um? Oh! Jaques, he's from France you know, anyway he just tires me out so that I have no energy left over for the cooking. Why looky here, I forgot the baby oil, that just reminded me. Buh bye!

Then I discovered all these little markets, not quite grocery stores, and they sell food, real food! Although it's not food easily recognizable to the Comfort, Texas girl.

Hello. We bring you food. In fancy writing.

The Q Market is my new favorite, all the food is in Arabic or something and the staff are all long black eyelashes and so pretty, and they are very helpful to the poor white girl who tends to wander from aisle to aisle trying to read labels. Also, they sell wine but apparently I am the only one who buys it. Being an infidel and all, I can drink the devil's wine. It's like having a Shiraz store all to yourself!

So many foods. So little English.

There are no frozen burritos here.
But we have three kinds of pickled garlic!

The food there is amazing, too, I love it so much. Mostly because this stuff is all free of calories. Having no nutritional information printed on the packages means NO CALORIES people.

Dinner. So, so good. And calorie free!

The Q Market has solved my grocery dilemma for now. Can't figure out why my pants are tighter though, that creamy hummus with the pine nuts and herbs and big pool of olive oil on top and that big hunk of flatbread were totally calorie free!

Must be the working. Causes weight gain. Need vacation.

- - - -

P.S. Thanks for all the great advice yesterday! Thank you! Love you! Come have dinner, I'm making hummus and wine and flatbread and it's all diet food! Love ya'll!

Posted by laurie at 11:10 AM

July 27, 2005

Hypothetically speaking, AGAIN.

I don't consider myself unlucky.

(Also, I don't consider myself short because I aspire to be tall, so you know. Just consider the source here is all I'm saying.)

Anyway, things happen. Trashcans disappear. Cats puke, occassionally on your tax return. I just always think of it as life: stuff breaks, wine flows, sometimes you find yarn on sale, and maybe you get your car stolen on the same day as your wedding anniversary, the first one you're spending alone because your husband is off getting his creativity back. It happens! Gives a person something to make jokes about. It's life.

My dad used to say that if I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all. We all got a big chuckle out of that, until about a year ago when the real bad luck kicked in and good.

After a while, when the bad luck kept coming, it got to be funny. No one can have this surprising amount of bad luck, it's just FUNNY. At first my friends and family kept up the Pollyanna routine, "Well, it could be worse..." and then of course it did get worse, and then I noticed one day people had stopped telling me how the worst was over. They also started saying how they themselves would be fine driving separately in their own car, because I am apparently CURSED. Which I am not. But you know, people spook easy.

Then about a week ago, I was on the phone with my dad, and he got BRILLIANT on me.

Me: blah blah blah

Dad: You know I was thinking. About how people, some people, have good luck and then it runs out?

Me: Yep.

Dad: I suspect it is the same with bad luck. It runs out, too. So you got the bad luck first, and one day it's going to run out. Then all you'll be left with is good luck.

Me: Dad! You're right! And you may be in fact my most favorite person ever to live EVER. I love you. Thank you!

And this is so, so true ya'll. The bad luck totally runs out, I can feel it running out. I'm pretty sure I'll win the lotto and wake up skinny one day and also, maybe four inches taller. Until then, however, I'm still cautious. One can't tempt fate. Fate hates to pass up a temptation.

So, let's say hypothetically you're someone who really believes that things are improving, but based upon your previous experiences (which are many and varied) you are hesitant to do anything really stupid.

And let's say your lawyer sends you the final divorce papers you have to sign on the EXACT SAME DAY your horoscope says Mercury is off retrograding until August 15, and you should never sign any legal agreements when Mercury is in retrograde. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

Would you:

A: Acknowledge that living your life based on your horoscope is one step away from the funny farm.

B: Pretend you never read the horoscope and sign the damn papers.

C: Pretend you never got the papers or misplaced them until, oh look! It's August 16th already! Better sign these suckers!

D: Realize that you can, under no circumstances whatsoever, ignore a direct message from GOD who is telling you to wait until August 16th to sign those papers, because if you don't heed your past life experience and your horoscope, you'll end up owing Mr. X money or conversely, stuck in a Mexican jail with no antibacterial hand soap and facing espionage charges because you signed papers when Mercury was in freaking retrograde YOU IDIOT.

Hi! So, yes, I am solidly in the "D" category there, not gonna lie to ya'll. I am not signing those papers until after August 15th. There's no legal reason why I can't wait. It does not affect my outcome or my final divorce date.

And now I have THE REAL DILEMMA, and I need some help.

Let's say you have (hypothetically of course) decided to take advice from YOUR HOROSCOPE and you are not going to sign any legal documents until August 16th because you are many things, including crazy, but STUPID isn't one of them.

Also, you now have to somehow tell your lawyer that he won't have the papers for another month.

Would you:

A: Follow the Live Out Loud creed and tell him straight up that you've had some bad luck (he saw a small portion of The Bad Luck that day in the courtroom, so he should know) and you may sound buckwild crazy ... but your horoscope says don't sign anything until August 16th. And he'll have those papers in hand by August 19th.

B: Tell him you need to send the papers to your dad first before signing, and say he'll have them back in "a week or so."

C: Pretend you didn't get the papers, or misplaced them, and that as soon as you find them you'll mail them off straight away.

D: Insert answer here. help help help I am so embarassed to tell my LAWYER that I am CRAZY yet I CANNOT SIGN those papers and help! Please? anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Help? Anyone?

Posted by laurie at 9:10 AM

July 26, 2005

Talking trash.

The fine folks at the Los Angeles Department of Trash Cans came to my neighborhood and swapped out everyone's old cans for new bright shiny, cans.

Correction. They swapped out everyone's cans EXCEPT mine. They TOOK mine. Away. Gone. Farewell, lovely cans! It was nice knowing ya'll!

So after much searching on the Internets, I found the number and called up the Los Angeles Dapartment of Trash Cans. Raimundo answered, and we had a very nice exchange of pleasantries and how do you do's and then I told Raimundo my story and gave him my particulars and then, THEN, the part where the government tortures its victims happened.

Me: So, you see, it would be great if someone could bring out some replacement cans seeing as mine are, you know, MIA.

Raimundo: M-eye-yay?

Me: You know, Missing. In Action.

Raimundo: I thought you said you lived in Encino.

Me: I do. Encino, yes!

Raimundo: But you just said these were missing in Acton, and Los Angeles county does not cover Acton.

Me: Um, no, not Acton. I live in Encino. I was just making a joke about ACTION, the verb? not the town? But the joke did not go well as you can see and really, could maybe we just start all over again? And hi! I'm missing my black can, my blue recycling can and the green gardening can. Help? Please?

Raimundo: In Encino?

Me: YES!Exactly! I love you!

Raimundo: Uh, ok.

Me: Great!

Raimundo: Well I have made a note of this on your record. Thank you for calling the ...

Me: NO! Wait! Don't hang up! Please? Is anyone bringing me new cans? Because I have trash. The trashy kind of trash, and there might be things outside wanting to get at my trashy trash and I need my cans. Please?

Raimundo: I have made a note of it.

Me: OK, yes, and thank you so much! And thank you for filing the Missing Can Report, but is there another person I need to call at maybe, I don't know, the place where THEY GIVE YOU BACK YOUR TRASHCANS?

Raimundo: (mumble mumble hand over phone, speaking to someone beside him at the place where they are HOLDING MY CANS HOSTAGE) ... uh, Ok. You're on the list.

Me: The List?

Raimundo: Yes.

Me: I am so, so tired. I am aging. Please. When will I please, pretty please, get trash cans?

Raimundo: Uh, ok. Hold on.


Raimundo: Maybe three weeks?

Me: (whimper)

Aside from the rather obvious issue of turning my backyard into a dump, I have all kinds of paranoia about my trash just lying around.

For example:

1) Skunks. Strong paranoia -- indeed, FEAR -- revolves around skunks taking up residence under my house or coming to my house to eat my trash. Big skunks. Who could eat me. Or make me smelly.

2) Ants. All of Southern California is built on a big ant hill and the ants could rise up and eat the whole house, drawn as they are by the scent of decomposing trash bags. And thank you to all ya'll who pointed out that my secret anti-ant weapon, Chinese Ant Chalk, is not only toxic but totally illegal and will likely turn me and the cats into leprosy victims.

3) People. People -- random people -- or maybe the FBI, THE FEDS, ya'll, will come and rifle though my trash bags, all three weeks of them, and discover that the byproducts of my life are cat poop, kleenex, wine bottles and tabloid magazines.

And let us note that I am worrying what someone who would DIG THROUGH TRASH thinks of me. If that is not Southern, you tell me what is?


Posted by laurie at 8:56 AM

July 25, 2005

Insomnia, not just for crazy people anymore.


I used to be the sort of child that could sleep a whole day away, drove my parents crazy.

Although I was a light sleeper, I was committed to it and through sheer will alone could turn the wisps of a delicious, fading dream into a new dream, letting it wrap around me and fading back into it, even when my mom ran the vaccuum cleaner to wake me up. Even when one brother stomped around the stairs, another knocking softly at the door, "Come play... are you asleep?"

Now it's like being strangled by wakefulness, unable to relax and breathe in this not-exactly-night, not-exactly-morning. Just wandering from room to room, smoking on the patio, listening to crickets, thinking. Admiring the fact that I can sit now, alone, completely untended. Feeling somewhat better at this thought -- how much easier it is to be my own company now -- and still tight all over, like being awake all the time is a straightjacket. Watching. Waiting. My primary occupation these days is waiting. Listening.

Tonight I paged through an old photo album from our first road trip cross country, the year we got engaged. It was a hot summer just like this year, darkly humid at night and blistering all day. I know you think I was crazy, looking at those pictures can do no good. But then I saw the one I took of him ... I was in the passenger's seat and he was driving my old white convertible, we may have been in El Paso by then, and as I looked at the picture and traced it with my finger, all I could think was Goddamn, I loved that car.

So there's that.

And Lord how I do miss a good road trip. Driving in LA scares me, all those cars and people and traffic and off-ramps that have no corresponding on-ramp. But sometimes at night, like this, I think of packing all the cats and my cute shoes in the car and getting this show on the road, as my daddy says. We're a whole family of travelers, peculiar for southerners. It's something right down to the core of me, this need to just up an leave, get this show on the road.

It's like something is missing in my life but I can't place my finger on it. Can't trace it in any picture. And all I think about is moving, not really in the concrete sense, more like looking, but I have no idea what to look for. They don't make that type of car anymore.

Holes are crazy thing, sometimes so small you can ignore them, only they rear up and swallow you entire in one night. Or they just sit there in the pit of you, making you feel not exactly complete, not exactly sure. Hard to sleep when you're in that place, contemplating the missing thing. Is it a person? A place? A job? A house? Is it the way the air smells in a certain town, or the way a person smells, or good food simmering on the stove? Is it a dream you had, a dream you want for your whole life? A picture of a perfect day?

All these books in the Self Help aisle and these TV shows and talk radio hosts, they have an easy fix: just complete yourself. Know yourself and you'll be whole. As if knowing yourself is such a happy accident; half the time I'm tired of my own jokes and covered in cat hair.

I like the way older women seem to feel comfortable in their own skin, caring less each passing year what people think of them. I like the way I'm not teetering on some edge anymore, always about to crack. I like the way I can sit alone and night and not feel lonely anymore. There's nothing particular about my own situation that's hard now. All that crying had its place and I am cried out, it's over with, just paperwork and waiting left.

Maybe this hole is just quietness; nothing is there to fill it up with new emotion, everything moves forward today the same way it did yesterday. Kind of makes me want to go shopping. Or drive. George Jones on the radio.

And now I just miss my old convertible, the way I felt free to roam with someone hand in hand, the sheer joy of taking a snapshot of a beloved friend driving your beloved car.

Something's missing. I assume it will become clearer in time -- either that or I'll do something impulsive because action makes you feel like you're filling up, doing not waiting. I assume it's like this for most folks (is it?) because we wouldn't spend so much time looking, waiting, listening, or filling each day with distraction. Some people fall asleep at night exhausted, from a whole day packed end to end with a to-do list, some don't sleep at all.

I'm just going to wait a little while longer. Listen. See if anything turns up. See if I can fall asleep some night, all the way through, reaching back into a dream to keep me on the pillow a little longer.

So there's that.

Posted by laurie at 9:46 AM

July 24, 2005

Desperate Housecats Chill Out

Dad: Well, did they finally get your air fixed?

Me: Yes!! Finally! It's been running continuously for hours, and I finally got the house down to about 85 degrees, which is like a cold front in here. I plan to get cold before the night is out.

Dad: Well, I'm glad, I know it's been hard on you and your animals.

Me: Daddy! I know! It was awful! I tell you what, this puts things right into perspective. I mean, divorce? Hard. But I can live without a husband... I cannot live without air!!! Who cares about divorce! Me and the cats survived that! What's essential in life is air conditioning!

He got a good chuckle out of that. His daughter, the eternally warped optimist.

So, yes, we have air! And it's cool air! Poor cats will get frostbite if I can get the temperature where I want it. I practically mauled the A/C guy with happiness, "Here! Have a bottle of water! No! Take two! I have beer! And sweet tea! And do you want a cat? They're free!"

As the house began to move from the 100 degree mark, to the 90 degree mark and then to 85, my glassy-eyed cats slowly emerged from under the bed and the darkness of the closet, perking up bit by bit, and then around 9 p.m. last night, the miraculous happened: I saw Roy actually batting around a cat toy! It just brought a tear to a glass eye. He regained the will to play. I may even have regained the will to knit. Life is good.

I love you, cool air. I will never stop loving you. Men are a dime a dozen, they can divorce me all they want. Because as long as I have central heat and air I will never be without love in my life.

Love, sweet love. You are the coolest thing I have ever known.

Posted by laurie at 9:23 AM

July 22, 2005

This just in! It's still hot!

Ah, yes. The second A/C repairman did arrive yesterday, he was not the least bit kissable but at that point, neither was I. Well, not unless you find copious sweat attractive, in which case... come to mama! I got all you need!

Anyway, Mr. FixIt #2 scurried up to the roof, pounded around a bit, then told me to turn on the air.

I did as requested, then walked back outside to get a status report, only to find the repairman packing up.

I sat on the front step, under the terribly misguided assumption that:

A: He was actually here to FIX the air.
B: He would pack up, return and give me an update on the repair status. Possibly come inside and check said air repair status.
C: And also actually FIX the air.

Silly me! As I sat on the step and waited for him to pack up, he got into the van and drove away. Without saying anything. I tried to chase after him, but it was then over 100 degrees outside and the thermometer inside had peaked at the end of the dial, the cats were lifeless, I was dripping sweat, and only hot air was pouring out of the air vents in my house. Plus, let's face it ya'll, I have the body of a writer. Marathon sprints are beyond me.

After several calls to the A/C company that were "accidentally disconnected" on their end, I called the household insurance company and had what can only be described as a Blanche DuBois moment, more reminiscent of the end of the movie, when she's crazy as a bedbug. It didn't take too much incoherent babbling to get the name of a new A/C place, and an assurance from Large Insurance Corp. that they'd fax an emergency work order to A/C Company #2 on the condition that please, ma'am, please stop crying!

Ya'll know. Blanche scares folks.

After all the phone calling, I went to Home Depot with half of Los Angeles and searched for a fan large enough to propel a small aircraft. I SCORED. The new industrial fan scared all the cats at first, but by 3 a.m. they were splayed out in front of it, ears blown back, looking like they were in a G-force WIND TUNNEL. I love my cats so much ... even though we had a touch-and-go situation with a small fur tornado, which I was able to conquer with my knowledge gleaned from hours of Storm Stories. Thank God for teevee. Saved my life.

The new A/C guy -- my third! -- is coming today between 1-4 p.m. There's no way for me to miss more work, and still no way for me to let the cats die. So missing work it is! These cats will thank me when we're all well and back to normal, but living in the storage shed. Plus, we have our industrial fan now. The storage shed will be remarkably well ventilated! I keep telling Roy in my most philisophical voice, "This sweat, too, shall pass." He stares at me with deep understanding. He knows I've lost my damn mind. I think he just meowed at me. It sounded sort of like... Blanche?

Addendum #1 Ya'll know. Pardon all the whining! It's not like I'm dead, just sweaty and that's a pretty regular occurrance. I'm totally fine. Maybe even losing weight! Just sweating! And so easy!

Addendum #2 I do feel bad for the cats, though. And also... um, I feel sort of bad for my neighbors, who have probably decided they live next door to a flesh-eating zombie of the night who was just this morning -- at 4 a.m. -- tying up her tomatoes with leftover bits of Noro and some Red Heart, muttering all the while about how scientific she was, what with her scientific experiment to see if the tomato branches tied with Noro would produce more fruit than those tied with Red Heart. Hi ya'll! Blanche here! Don't mind me! Yarn and tomato experiments! Wanna come over?

Posted by laurie at 6:13 AM

July 21, 2005

Purl Pict-o-gram


While driving in to work, I listened to Tony Blair's speech on the radio. The British are so classy. Yes, I just made a generalization about an entire nation. That's how I am. Generalizing away like no tomorrow! I don't know if it's The Accent, the Queen's English, or the quiet reserve ... maybe it's the good manners, or the way they put eggs on all sorts of weird food. But I love the English, and I thank you most especially for David Beckham and Jane Austen and malt vinegar and Lush stores. Thank you. You're a class act.

I'm having fish 'n chips and beer tonight in solidarity. I don't want to go into details here about world events, because I haven't slept since Saturday and a combination of the heat and tiredness are making me weepy and maudlin, but ya'll know. I love you.

Some people are evil. Evil will never, ever win. Ever. I believe this to my very core. Knitters will win. And Beckham will win. And that is all I have to say about that.

Also, while driving to work at the 7 a.m. hour, I managed to get a little bitty sunburn on my driving arm. I was sad, listening to the radio news, then alternately delighted that I was becoming LobsterGirl. I'm not sure why this is so hilarious to me. I walked in and started making claw hands at people and insisting all my projects be served with a side of drawn butter. No one here at Big Corporation, Inc., appreciated my LobsterGirl remarks. The heat has made some people grumpy, and has made others completely insane. Luckily I, LobsterGirl, am completely unaffected!


The A/C "Fix It" man did arrive yesterday, and did manage to fix the A/C for a miraculous ten whole minutes. Then he left. And did not return. After my eleventeenth phone call to the A/C company, after one crying call, two pleading calls, three very obstinate calls and getting hung up on twice, I resorted to this at 6:30 this morning:

"Hi! Oh, yes. Ummm-hmmm. I see. Right. No he hasn't shown up. Ok. It's fine. I already paid for the service, and I realize ya'll are busy and can't fix it. Even though I already paid. So, that's OK! Ya'll have A/C in your office right? Hah hah yes of course you do. That's great! You're at ****** Parthenia Street, right? Ok, I'm going to load my four animals into the pet carriers tomorrow morning and bring my laptop and just come visit with ya'll. Do you have chairs or should I bring my own?"

Anyway, funny how that worked. Because I have an appointment for the repairman to come again today at 3 p.m. Maybe it was something in my voice? An edge of hysteria perhaps? The scary sound of LobsterGirl?


Yesterday I tried to work from home, but the heat was enormous, and it was humid -- there was rain for five minutes, I watched each drop evaporate on my patio. Los Angeles is rarely so humid, usually we have a dry heat. So instead of working from home, I laid up under the fan and caught up on my stories... by which I mean STORM STORIES!!! I must have Tivo'd fifty hours of Storm Stories. Now I feel completely informed on my weather news, past and present. Also, ya'll, do not let your children go up in a hot air balloon during a thunderstorm. A tornado could break out. I'm just saying is all.

I wanted to take a gripping photo of the weather here but this was all I could find:


Short day today! I'm leaving early to meet the repairman, who is probably thinking I have lost a marble or two and might eat him with a knife and fork if he doesn't fix my air. Actually ... bet he'd be great with a side of drawn butter! And some lemon!

Posted by laurie at 9:58 AM

July 20, 2005

Studies Show: We're all spoiled damn rotten.

Scientists have carefully studied the effects of heat on occupants of teetiny post-war era homes with poor air circulation and concluded that said occupants are still sweltering and have reached a level of desperation heretofore unknown.

In preparation for another stifling Valley evening, I misted some washcloths and refrigerated them yesterday morning so when I came home last night to Dante's Seventh Circle of Residential Hell, I did some minor cooling.


You may wonder why I didn't just wet the washcloths like a normal human. Well, I'll tell you. Some of the residents here at Chez Swelter are just delicate and particular.

The Sobakowa. She is hateful mad about the heat.

Roy, the Zenmaster, deals with dignity.

Bob likes pink.

Frankie, passed out on the kitty tree.

As ya'll can imagine, there is no knitting happening here at Chez Sweaty. Just higher than usual amounts of whine and wine.

The A/C repairman is allegedly coming today between 9 a.m. and noon. I have already showered and dressed up in as cute as clothes as one can tolerate in this heat, and I have some sweet tea with Mr. FixIt's name on it, just waiting. Because unlike my experience with Javier the cable guy, if this repair professional can restore artifically cooled air to my home I will happily fling off my clothes and make sweet love to him. I am shallow, I am responsible for four fur coats who are mighty hot, and I am willing to use every inch of sweaty charm I can muster to restore the air conditioning.

Four out of five scientists concur that this method will be useful. Field study to follow. Reports will be issued. Stay tuned. Science is so fascinating.

Now where'd I put that washcloth?

Posted by laurie at 8:37 AM

July 19, 2005

The Hottest Ticket In Town: Chez Spinster

It's all about death and love around here.

You see, I am a wine lover. A lover of the wine, the vin de pais, one who has carefully bubble-wrapped some pinot noir for the earthquake kit, one who keeps the fine crystal (a sad reminder of my marriage) because the wine looks so pretty in it, one who makes up little songs about the elixir of life. "Cabernet! I love your way! You are so pretty! So I sing you this ditty!"

I wouldn't mistreat the wine, we have a win-win situation here.

But ya'll, it has gotten to this point: I had to put a full bottle of merlot in the fridge. I am chilling the red. That is how bad things have gotten, all because of Death.

The Death of my other deep love, air conditioning, came late on a sunny Saturday afternoon. This past Saturday, in fact. I mourned and grieved and called for support, but apparently they do not have A/C undertakers just waiting around in tight jeans on Sundays, waiting to come to the rescue of a woman in serious pain. And, also, serious sweat.

Of course, this is Nature's fault. Nature is trying to kill me, but that wench will never succeed. I know she brought this heat wave, and the 107-degree heat that killed my A/C, because she's still holding a grudge from all the aerosol Final Net I used in high school. MY BANGS WERE IMPORTANT, DAMMIT. And that is all I have to say about that.

I called my parents to tell them about the A/C crisis, not because I was in any pain (Ha! Nature! Fooled your ass! I work in a building that is cooled to Arctic Tundra conditions and one must be in the presence of a parka and mittens at all times to endure it! Ha!) but I was intensely anxious about the cats, since they have their little fur coats and don't get to come to Eskimo Corp. each day for work.

I called my parents, because ya'll know. Who else will still love you when you whine so much?

Me: I don't care about the heat on me [LIAR], since I don't sleep anyway [sadly, TRUE]. But the poor cats! They're so hot. What if they get heatstroke?

Dad: Oh, now, they're going to be fine. They're animals. They have their instincts, their natural methods of preservation.

Me: But Daddy, my cats are completely spoiled rotten and have lost all sense of genetic connection with the trashcan-plundering animals of the wild they are descended from. Their ancestors used to hunt and kill their own food and burrow out in the forest somewhere. My cats are too exhausted from sleeping all day to bother greeting me when I arrive home at night.

Dad: Well, yes. When are they coming to fix your A/C again?

And all this time I thought I would be a terrible mother, because I am sort of selfish, and also lazy and kind of absent-minded. But Lord when it comes to these cats I will do nearly anything. I called the landlord no less than ten times to get me an appointment with Mr. Fix It, and then I left work at 3:30 (3:30 ya'll!) to get home so I could check on them.

Once home, I hooked up the front garden hose and hosed down all the windows (to remove the cobwebs and big scary spiders) and climbed up a ladder and used a butter knife to un-wedge the painted-shut windows on the front of the house, and repeated the whole scene in 107 degree heat on the kitchen window and back window. I probably inhaled 50-year old lead paint and G-d Only knows what kind of bugs crawled on me, and ya'll, THE HEAT, I was dripping wet and not the least bit cute, and I did it all for my cats, who apparently I love more than wine.

Because my merlot is in the fridge. And that is a sad, sad state of affairs. But the cats are under a fan and the A/C guy is coming on Wednesday and we just have to get through one more day and night ... and Nature, I will not forget this.

And neither will my merlot.

Posted by laurie at 3:17 AM

July 14, 2005

She works hard for the mayo.

Ya'll are about to see first hand what 14 hours a day of working does to a girl.

Me: La la la la ... well, what can I write about in this five-minute break without discussing work, events, projects, work, poop, cat litter, porn and so on?

Also me: Ugh. Let's call Drew and tell him about my corndog dinner last night that I had with a combo of French's yellow and Gulden's spicy brown mustard.

Me: He eats his with ketchup, pshaw!

Also Me: Ding! Ding! We have an idea!

- - - - - - -

Aunt Purl's Condiment Theory (not to be confused with Aunt Purl's Condom Theory of 1998)

People can be classified into one of three categories. There are ketchup people, mustard people and mayonnaise people.

Ketchup people are more apt to like dipping sauces, like barbecue sauce and steak sauce, even an occasional au jus. It is the most sincere and honest condiment, you always know where you stand with ketchup, even if it's called catsup.

While I really like the ketchup/catsup, especially on hash browns, I am myself essentially a mustard person. I like it yellow and happy, brown and fancy, Dijon, poupon or French's. Mustard is a happy condiment, and mustard people often like spicy sauces, Tabasco, chili peppers and beer. [Ed. note: Ya'll see I have lost my damn mind.]

Then, of course, there are the mayo folks. I don't particularly have a pure love for mayo (or bleu cheese, though I like ranch dressing and patty melts) all of which are affinities of mayo people. Much like their condiment of choice, mayo people aren't afraid for their food to touch. Both tuna salad and Thousand Island dressing were invented by Mayo people. You'll rarely find a mayo person who dislikes eggs.

You may be asking where I got my information for this scientific and precise method of categorizing people. (You may also be asking if I have gone buckwild crazy and am wearing my bra on my head and talking into a Pepsi can.)

My theory here is the culmination of years of research. I have myself eaten many condiments and on one occasion even explored the conditioning properties of mayo. I decided to draw upon my keen observation skills and devote myself to pure science. Condiment research doesn't pay very well, but it is an extremely noble profession.

La la la. Back to work. Send wine.

Posted by laurie at 12:52 PM

July 12, 2005

Purl Question & Answer

Work is really, really hard. HARD. There's so much WORKING. I'm trying to be all professional and good at this new software but sometimes I want to hide in a corner and eat my hair. Ya'll know. So, in lieu of a real column, I am posting some question and answer stuff that appears to be real writing but is in fact just faux funny.

Question: You mention gnomes a lot. Is there a reason for this?
Answer: I'm pretty sure that gnomes are responsible for all the unexplainable events in life -- I'm not sure where I developed this theory, but I'm fairly certain it was during the hazy university years. You know the haze of which I speak. Don't pretend you're so innocent.

Q: What is a tater tot?
A: OH MY GOD. Come to my house THIS VERY MINUTE so I can introduce you to the perfect redneck side dish, the Tater Tot. These are little cylinders of hash-brown-ish potato and you deep fry or oven fry them to an even golden-brown and then eat until you about puke. You can pour melted cheese on tater tots or smother them in onions and bacon for a real heart attack, but to me plain ol' tots are best. Tater Tots reached unparralleled heights of popularity in the 80s when we had them on school lunch menus -- one day it even coincided with square pizza day and it was practically orgasmic. Maybe the only good day in all of junior high.

Q: Why do Americans call limes "key" limes?
A: Well, Lynne, here in America we have limes, and then we have key limes which are smaller and more expensive. Also, they sort of taste different, which is the KEY difference between KEY limes and real limes. I don't know. They're small! And cute! Cute is key! Us 'mericans are odd birds.

Q: I always get a chuckle when I hear the term "finging" yarn. But perhaps you Americans have a different meaning for you know, fingering?
A: Ah. Nope. We all have pretty much the same gutter minds as ya'll Aussies, Lynne, (again! hi Lynne! Sorry I'm a bad correspondent!)

Q: Don't forget the kitty litter in your massive earthquake survival kit!
A: OK, this isn't really a question, but ya'll know. I needed to reassure you on the poop front that all four cats will have a soft place to leave their treasures even during an 8.5 earthquake. I didn't put kitty litter on my earthquake kit list because, hi! Have I mentioned my hoarding issues? Every time it's on sale, I stock up. Plus, Roy has athsma, so I'm always trying out new litter to decrease the dust level. They prefer clay litter, but I have all kinds of other VERY expensive litter hanging around for a disaster. All in all I must have 500 pounds of cat litter in and around the house. Sad, I know.

Q: Are you a natural blonde?
Well, I was born blonde. I wish I were a redhead. But my hairdresser denied me red since I was in a tenuous emotional place and he doesn't get combat pay.

Q: Are you from Texas? Or Tennessee? Or Louisiana?
A: We moved around a lot as a kid. And by "a lot" I mean EVERY SINGLE YEAR. In fact, I have lived in Los Angeles longer than any other one city. I was born in Texas, and I have lived in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida. I never know exactly where to say I'm "from," though I suspect being born in Texas is like being born a Catholic: You can try to be other stuff, but you were branded at birth and they got your soul somewhere locked up in the courthouse or alter. So I just say I'm from Texas. It's easier that way.

Q: What ever happened to your crackhead neighbors? Did they move?
A: The Kissing Cousins moved into some rental property a few streets away (turns out Crackhead Bob actually owns the house/scene of the crime) (rumor in the neighborhood is that the house was willed to him when someone died. Maybe another, older cousin? Hmmmm.) Anyway, in theory the house was to be gutted and rebuilt, but in reality it's a big pile of suburban blight. When I had my cookout a few weeks ago, my guests said, "I knew I was on the right street when I saw the crack den!" Nice, eh?

Q: Are you ever going to update your tourist website?
A: Eventually. Right now it's still kind of like, "Oh here we were on a trip to Paris and OH MY GOD I WILL NEVER GO TO PARIS WITH HIM AGAIN AND I AM ALL ALONE AND WE HAD FUN AND WHY DIDN'T HE LOVE ME?" so you know. But one day! One day I'll go travel again. I'm excited about the idea of travelling with Jennifer or my parents and taking tons of pics. But right now I'm on a big project at work and I can't take any vacation until October. Maybe in the fall I'll go someplace cold where I can wear my handknits! Like, you know, North Hollywood! Affordable! Has the word "North" in the name!

Q: I tagged you and you never answered.
A: Hi! Tagged me? Hmmm. Well, yes. I know. But it's like ya'll got together on a conference call and found the perfect way to torture me, because everyone has tagged me with the exact same meme. And I feel stupid saying "I already did that" and I'm a people-pleaser (damn southern belle gene!) and I feel bad saying no, and so I start a whole new meme answer thingy, with different answers, but I'm not funny the second time around, or the thirteenth, so then I get sidetracked by either my interminable whining or by a cat or maybe some pie, and then... no meme. Yup. Sorry! Forgive me-me?

Q: How do you make fried chicken?
A: THANK GOODNESS you asked, Madeleine, I have been dying to tell someone the only recipe I can actually make all the time without killing anyone or setting anything on fire.

Now, this recipe is for "naked" fried chicken because it has no bone or skin. Just boneless breasts or thighs of chicken. I know this isn't normal or truly southern, but I hate eating things off a bone and cleaning a fryer chicken about makes me ill, so I do it naked-style.

1. Wash chicken pieces thoroughly in cold running water.

2. Soak all chicken overnight in a big bowl (or ziploc bag) full of buttermilk. Yes, buttermilk.

Next day:

1. Combine all-purpose flour with generous amounts of black pepper, Tony Chachere all-seasoning, and cayenne pepper.

2. Remove chicken from buttermilk, place on plate. DO NOT RINSE or pat dry.

3. Heat oil in a big frypan, over a medium-high fire.

4. Put some of the flour mixture in a brown paper bag, add chicken one piece at a time, shake until coated. Place coated pieces on a clean plate.

5. Cover every piece of chicken with flour. When done, take a piece of flour (kind of balled up from the buttermilk) out of the paper bag and drop it into the oil. Oil should sizzle/bubble around it, but not splatter (if it splatters, it's too hot).

6. Place all chicken in the pan. Loosely place a cookie sheet over the frying pan. This gets it somewhat covered, but not too much where condensation causes splattering. I truly do hate splattering.

7. Wait a long, patient amount of time for the chicken to turn golden on one side. Don't turn until it's golden. DO NOT DO IT. Resist temptation. Don't turn the heat up either, it has to be a rolling boil, not a grease fire in the pan.

8. When just golden, turn chicken over.

9. Wait a loooong time for this other side to brown lightly.

10. Flip chicken one last time to brown the "golden" side.

11. Drain on a paper bag layered with paper towels.



OK, have a good Tuesday. If you make fried chicken, invite me over. I'll amuse you with tales of my fingering yarn...

Posted by laurie at 6:53 AM

July 11, 2005

Up Country without a paddle.

I have problems, ya'll. PROBLEMS. With the yarn shopping. And the spending. Because do you suppose Patons discontinued their beautiful "Up Country" yarn just to screw with me? It really brought my hoarding issues out in the open... and that's all I have to say about that.

Oh, ALL RIGHT, maybe I will say one more thing: Notice that elann.com is all out of Patons Up Country even though it was on their "new" list just days ago? Yup.


But I am making all my holiday gifts this year. Right? And it's on sale, right? And I am going to need a warm winter sweater for when me and the cats and my cute shoes are living in a storage shed in North Hollywood because I am broke and homeless. Right? Right?

Ya'll know.

Aside from the Patons problem (which, by the way, is not even one of those yarns that makes other knitters go nuts! it's probably been discontinued because I am the only one who loves it! I may be the only human alive to say it out loud, but I love you Patons Up Country! And dammit, you are contributing to my abandonment issues!! How dare you leave me!) anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes! Aside from the Patons issue, the Chez Spinster Spending Cap is on nice and tight. I am sticking to The Budget. Last week I made my own breakfast and lunch and didn't really buy anything besides HUGELY DISCOUNTED yarn that has been DISCONTINUED and if I did not buy it RIGHT THEN I would forever lose my chance and it would be GONE and I would CRY. SO THERE.

It made me feel better that Ms. Sheep in The City and friends also had a hoarding issue, although theirs was with Cotton Ease, and everyone loves Cotton Ease. Patons Up Country? Who has ever heard of someone coveting that?

Crazy. I tell you.

I hate it when a company just ups and discontinues something you loved and took for granted, something you just assumed you'd always have in your life. This is all because of 12th grade when Elizabeth Arden had the NERVE to discontinue Bare Sugar lipstick. I was so mad, I even called the Elizabeth Arden headquarters ("Hello, I am SIXTEEN and this is the only lipstick that does not make me look like a floozied up tramp! Can you hear me! Give me BareSugar!") and I tried to organize other girls at my high school into a letter-writing campaign. I failed. They were all using Revlon So Red.

In retaliation, I never bought another piece of Elizabeth Arden makeup. That will show them! The hatred of a high school girl in need of her Bare Sugar lipstick is strong and enduring. Notice it has been EIGHTEEN LONG YEARS since Bare Sugar was discontinued and I still hate you, Elizabeth Arden! HATE YOU.

Patons creators, take note. I'm just saying is all.

Posted by laurie at 8:01 AM

July 10, 2005

Insomnia breeds: Hurricanes, Estate Sales, Mailbag and sassy messages.

My poor parents. Not only do they have to deal with a Category 4 hurricane just a few weeks into the season, they also have to deal with a child who cannot sleep and who has them programmed on speed dial.

6:48 a.m. EST
My Dad: Hello?
Me: Hi Dad! On MSNBC it looks like ya'll are getting hammered by rain and stuff so I figured you'd be awake! Hi! So, how are you?
Dad: We're fine. I'm a little worried about you, though. Do you ever sleep?
Me: No! Nope! Hi!

So, I bet that right about now my parents are wishing they hadn't given me such a hard time about sleeping 'til noon when I was in high school. And right about now they're probably thinking, "Good Lord, please give us back the lazy, sleep-her-life-away child we thought you had blessed us with and take back this insomniac with speed-dial!"

Anyway. Hi! Hey ya'll! Stay away from the hurricane!

Yesterday was a good day. Ellen called me around 11 a.m. and invited me to meet her at an estate sale in North Hollywood. My normal reaction to all spur-of-the-moment invitations is Decline! Decline! Decline! because ya'll know I am a big hermit. But I took a shower, got dressed, and drove out there anyway because I love Ellen and I have never been to an estate sale, and I need to leave my house now and then.


I arrived before Ellen and her husband, Larry, and as I wandered through the house, I landed in the office with all the books. Thumbing through a thick-paged decorating book, I started thinking what a cool lady must have lived here, with these amazing design books and huge photos of China, and big thick dusty photo albums, and how she was now dead, and strangers were in her house, rummaging through her things, her beloved things.

You know where this is going.

Before long I was CRYING. I am not lying. Ya'll cannot take me ANYWHERE. And by the time Ellen got there and found me, I pretty much had the book room to myself since nobody wanted to be around the sniffly CRAZY lady who kept saying, "It's so sad! She was probably a cool lady! And she's gone and strangers are taking her things!"

Right. So! Me and estate sales. Maybe not a perfect match. But (after the inappropriate crying stopped, thankyouverymuch) it was so interesting to see someone's collection, their life laid out in objects and clothes and jewelry. I kept picking up little things, like a half-empty snowglobe crusted in dust, and saying "She probably loved this! I should take it home and love it, too!"

Ya'll. I am not right.

Pics from the sale, click for big:

After we had browsed for several hours in the Valley heat, Ellen offered to treat Larry and me to lunch at a little Middle Eastern restaurant in Sherman Oaks called "Carnivale" and wow, the food was AMAZING. Larry ordered a chicken shawarma sandwich, and ellen and I split a combination plate with hummus, tabouleh, falafel and baba-ganouj (none of which I probably spelled or pronounced right, but hotdamn could I eat it like no tomorrow!)

Food. YUM. Click for big:

After lunch, I went out to Studio City to check my mail and guess what! Mail! Goodies! I think I'm going to have to scrap my idea of making T-shirts because it's holding up the whole Laurie-sends-mail show. See, I had this bright idea to make T-shirts, and I made this funny design, but they don't make transfer paper for laser printers and my inkjet is not hooked up because it went to Mr. X's old computer so I don't know if I have a CD, etc., etc., ya'll see where this is going. So you know the T-shirts you never knew you wanted anyway? Yeah, those may not be coming. Yet. Heh.

Mail! Knitbloggers rule! Thank ya'll for the birthday goodness, and look for a T-shirt-Free package in the mail soon. Lord help me to get off work early enough to make it to the post office just once this whole week, amen. Also, sorry about all the cussing last week, amen. Oh, and while we're at it, stop with the hurricanes, OK? Amen.

Anyway! Hi! Mail! Click for big!

Jenn, a.k.a. knitwit momma, sent me a hat book! Ya'll know how I am with my hat obsession, and Jenn, thank you so much! Plus the cutest knitting notecards, I love them! And Susan, thank you for the kind words, and when you come visit LA, we'll have that wine and Mexican food and smoke!


Vanessa! Your lovely handwritten note was the perfect accompaniment to this gorgeous gemstone necklace, and you don't mind if I wear it as a bracelet, do you? I think I am stuck in 1989, because nothibng makes me feel more glam than wearing a beautiful necklace wrapped around my wrist. I think I want to be Zsa Zsa gabor. Thank you, Ms. Nessacery! My cats loved the gift bag Peter sent so much that they carried it around for hours, hiding it and attacking it when the bag wasn't looking. He sent me a lovely book, "The Art Of Imperfection," and if that isn't me, I don't know what is. Thanks, Peter. Stay away from the hurricane! Ada's mom, Jillz sent me the coolest necklace, the picture of it close-up didn't come out right, but it's a little sweet heart necklace, all girly and pure, and in small type these words are printed across its sweetness, "He's a dick." I LOVE THIS NECKLACE! Oh, Jilly, thank you! I promise the dorky-funny gift I found Ada will be sent soon, because you never even wanted a dumb T-shirt from me, and why I have been so hung up on this T-shirt idea is beyond me. Ya'll know. Jilly, thank you!!


Inky makes jewelry! I mean, yes I knew this from her blog, but I had no idea she had her own business, and ya'll, these earrings are the kind you buy at Bloomies for a gajillion dollars, they are lovely! Go check out her jewelry site at iadorne.com and see for yourself. Inky, thank you so much. The candle, the spa cloth, the fancy soap, I feel like I don't deserve all this, thank you. You and Mr. Inky give me hope.

Cheryl and I have something very important in common, and I will not tell you what that is, privacy laws and all, heh, except to say, Hi! Cheryl! Let's adopt each other! And she made me a kitty! I once thought I could make a whole cat off the fur I vaccuumed off my sofa, but she actually made a kitty statue that is a tribute to Sobakowa. Now don't ya'll agree that Soba needs her own statue? She certainly thought so:

Then, Soba made the grave error of going off to investigate what may or may not have been a life-threatening piece of fuzz on the sofa, and Frankie moved in for the statue kitty, and decided it was actually HERS, a monument to The Franklin Delano Rosencat, and she sat there pretty as you please:

Until Soba gave her a BEAT DOWN (not captured on film, as I was trying to keep her from killing the Frank) and then they had a tense stand off for quite some time:

Thank you, Cheryl! You have no idea! Love you! The cats love you!

And then... ah. DREW! I want to thank you for the beautiful, amazing birthday present, I LOVE it! The Crochet Dude is an incredible artist, he has transformed yarn into something funky and new and original, his modern tapestry is the perfect complement to my mid-century obsession! And the brochure pictured below is the glossy tri-fold we worked on together, which Soba approves:


Tapestry longwise:

I love mail. Thank ya'll!

After I had shopped with Ellen and had a big lunch and checked my mail and so on, I figured that while I was out and it being Saturday and all, I should stop by Target or I might go into withdrawls and start shaking. Now, yes, I am on The Budget, but there were some essentials I needed, and I had a list (love you lists!) and I only bought one item off the list, which for me is a minor miracle.

As I was pushing my buggy up and down every aisle, as is my way, I discovered these:


Tampons. With a Sassy message on each one! Because your hoo-hah needs a sassy message? I mean, ya'll. Tampons weren't fun enough? We need them to be sassy and hip and turn into veritable fortune cookies for our nether regions?

I'm just saying is all.

Hope ya'll have a good Sunday, and I hope you folks in the path of the hurricane are safe and sound. I have to go bother my parents again now. I mean, hello! It's time for them to get up! What are they planning to do, sleep their lives away? HEH.

Posted by laurie at 5:46 AM

July 8, 2005

Stitch 'n Bitch 'n Ugly Ugly Knitting

Here is a partial list of things that always make me happy, in no particular order:

  • french fries
  • getting a great parking spot
  • Roy snuggles in the morning
  • that really stupid song "Afternoon Delight"
  • doing the white-girl-with-no-rhythm cabbage patch dance
  • Stitch 'n Bitch!!

Stitch 'n Bitch is a happy place. There's food and drink and yarn and nice people who try to assure you that even though you are making THE WORLD'S UGLIEST HAND-KNITTED OBJECT EVER, you're... original! creative! and... cats are colorblind! So don't worry, they'll LOVE it!


Yes, it is the return of the Ugly Mystery Knitted Cat Thingamajig.

(Also, very important note to everyone from SNB that I tried to explain the project to? Please keep it a mystery. That's the ONLY thing this project has going for it. Mystery. Intrigue. Gnomes. 'Cause ya'll know it is butt-ugly and ginormous and made of Lion Brand chunky wool ease NEED I SAY MORE?)

Hi! So, Stitch 'n Bitch. Fun! Lots of people, and I got a hat! Ellen finally started a blog and I got to make her a banner for it, and in return she made me an amazing cute bucket hat (I got to choose from four different hats!) and personally, I think I got the better end of the deal because this hat is so damn cute!

Ellen and me with my amazing hat; Dita looks so cute in everything; Shannita gets camo on us!

What's crazytalk is that Ellen crocheted all those hats in four days. I'm bad at the maths, but I'm pretty sure that's a hat a day, people. I really have to get busy learning crochet, it's so fast and pretty. Unfortunately I am fully commited to finishing the Ugly Mystery and nothing will deter me. Apparently I am now treating my knitting like I do relationships: You may be completely WRONG but DAMMIT, I will FINISH what I STARTED. (Also, you may think I need serious therapy, but compared to what ya'll will see later in this very story, I will seem less crazy by the minute. Keep reading. IT GETS BETTER.)

But before the crazy, we have photos!
(Click on any thumbnail for bigger pics) (I tried to make them small since I am posting eleventeen hundred pictures.)

From L-R: It's Jennifer and Penny, the Knitting Sisters; and because I never stop with the camera; wait! there's more ... it's Gwen-Jen-Pen knitting, the alliteration knitters; Gwen LOVES tiny dpns, can't you tell?

L-R: Abby was a first time SNBer and she made this HOT shrug from loop-d-loop, so cute! Carla the supermodel knitter; This is where Denise says, "Laurie, please stop with the camera!" A group shot of all the folks.

L-R: Jeffrey is so cute you want to hug him, but I didn't because of the whole restraining order thing; Ya'll, meet Julie! She is the editor of the online crochet magazine called Crochet Me and she was just in town visiting because she's famous and doing a TV show, and she made the cutest pink crochet flower purse with a tee-tiny, matching flower change purse (here's a link to the pattern). Maybe if I learn to crochet I can make one of these and replace my haute couture ziploc change purse.

L-R: More group shots; Kathy models one of Ellen's amazing crochet hats; Kim tries to hide from crazy camera lady; Karyn and Darcy a stitchin' and a' bitchin' as it should be.

L-R: Tami made THE cutest hand puppet ever! Mary-Heather and I sort of took ownership of said hand puppet for a photo op (hey, ya'll, sorry for the comment I made about cameltoe, you know how I am, I have a sickness or something); Phyllis is making a super-cool knitted tie with teetiny little toothpick needles; Sara has contracted a case of the Seraphina Fever.

L-R: Sara and Julie get accosted by crazy camera lady; Shannita models the sleeve of her beautimous green sweater; Faith learned how ribbing creates pleasure from Mary-Heather; Lori smiles for crazy lady!

So that was the fun and happiness of Stitch 'n Bitch in which I sweated a little, brought The Ugly Thing, fondled Faith's yarn, made a totally normal conversation into The Time She Said Cameltoe, and only mentioned porn once. Yet I feel totally normal. Would you care to know why?

Tami pointed something out to me last night. Something I had never before seen, and hope to God I never see again, because ya'll, it was unnatural. Tami and Lori spotted these two people, a guy and a girl obviously out on a date at the Farmer's Market, and these were two young, attractive people. Who appeared to have all their faculties about them. And the woman WAS FEEDING THE MAN his dinner. Not the sexy feed-you-a-strawberry kind of thing, I mean she was holding his chin like you would a baby and practically doing "here comes the airplane spoon!" And she was wiping his mouth. AND CUTTING HIS FOOD for him. And they were on a DATE.

And at some point the man noticed that perhaps this big table of women across the room was WATCHING this display of emasculation, and I guess he got mad at his girlfriend who was treating him like a TWO YEAR OLD and then he pouted.


I am not lying. And of course I have no class so I took pictures of the whole thing. Because they were in public and what you do in public may or may not be forever enshrined on the Internets:


Kind of makes you want to hide inside your ugly knitting.


Posted by laurie at 12:32 PM

July 7, 2005

London, are you OK?

I just do not understand the world we live in.

I hope ya'll are all OK, is everyone all right? I checked on acer this morning already, she says she's fine on her website. I just don't understand. These are normal folks, going about the workday, when did the whole world lose its damn mind?

On the local news they keep telling Los Angeles to be vigilant, too, attacks put everyone on alert I guess, and that there is increased police presence on the subway and trains and buses.

But of course, by increased they mean there is an actual police presence today. Los Angeles must be the only major city in the entire world to have an "honor system" subway. You should buy a ticket, but there are no turnstiles or ticket-takers to verify that you bought one. THE HONOR SYSTEM. Because that works so well in Hollywood!

About five years ago, the entire subway system was "patrolled" by Sheriff's Deputies -- in other words, on the first week of the month (when most people forget to buy their new passes) two deputies checked tickets at 7th & Metro. Occassionally you'd get a spot check during morning rush hour. But night time on the subway (and all the time between rush hours) is an empty void, the whole of the transit system is a place for the homeless to sleep, for panhandlers to work the crowds, a warm spot for the various crazy and brokedown folks on cold nights.

I took the subway twice a day, five days a week, for almost three years. I remember crossing Pershing Square at 7:30 p.m. one night and walking across to the stairs which lead down to the subway platform. A homeless guy was holding the hand rail and defecating on the stairs. It was such a normal occurrance that people were just walking around him, shaking their heads, keeping a distance. No deputies in sight, again.

Eventually, the Sheriff's Department didn't have enough manpower to keep an eye on the subway, so about a year ago they moved to a private security guard company. Now you get an occassional 19-year-old girl in a black jacket checking tickets outside the Universal Station. In other words, we went from bare minimum security to no security in less than a year.

Today, however, Sheriff Lee Baca is telling Los Angeles that we're on Orange Alert and there will be increased law enforcement on the transit system, and all citizens have to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Pardon? Suspicious activity? HAS THE SHERIFF EVER BEEN ON THE SUBWAY? It is one big old party of suspicious activity! This past January, I waited at the 7th & Metro platform for an evening train home. The man in front of me got onto the subway car with one of those red gasoline cans, full of gas. You could smell it.

I decided to wait for the next train. In fact, that was the night I decided to start taking the bus, even if it increased my commute time by half an hour. I love mass transportation, I do, and I support it, but I had a tenuous relationship at best with the subway and the open gas can sent me over the edge.

And working downtown on the 19th floor of a big tall landmark building is scary. People tell me all the time that I'm just worrying over nothing, and I guess they're right, and there's nothing to be done about it exactly. It's just a feeling of being slightly on edge all the time. There are police and fire trucks all over downtown today. No one in my office seems the least bit sad or scared or interested by the news, what's happened in London. I don't ever want to be that way. I don't ever want to get to a place where loss and destruction and horror don't phase me.

I just wish it wasn't happening.

I hope ya'll are all OK.

Posted by laurie at 9:21 AM

July 6, 2005

Humpday Birthday to you-know-who-dude...

Today is Drew's bithday. Everyone knows him as The Crochet Dude, and he is, but there are some inneresting things you may not know about Drew that do not involve yarn! He's traveled to all sorts of places and met all sorts of folks. In fact, the way he discovered crochet is a whole story in itself!

Back before he was The Dude, he phrased all his answers as questions and won a ton of cash on Jeopardy:


A few years after his Jeopardy win, Drew went went through this very athletic phase where he was trying out new sports. Eventually he created a whole new branch of martial arts, known as Drew-Fu. This was his last big Drew-Fu competition:


As Drew's love of Fu began to wane, he developed a need. A need for speed. He moved to an air base in Miramar, California -- but he was always riding to the DANGER ZONE and then that thing happened with Goose and no one wanted him as wing man. But he met a hot chick there, callsign "Charlie," and she hooked him up with some secret government files, so it worked out OK in the end:


And actually, did ya'll know that Drew learned to crochet on the planet Dude-alon? I know! That's where The "Crochet Dude" was actually thunk up, on planet Dude-alon. He got there all warp-speed style with a few of his friends and they all transported some yarn and crochet hooks back to Houston, which is where he lives, and that's why we now have that phrase, "Houston we have LANDED!" and anyway, they brought back all kinds of yarn he ditched the crew of that Enterprise thingy and became The Crochet Dude!


So, that's just a few things you may not have known about him! Happy Birthday Drew! Hope you still like your ol' Aunt Purl, you know how I am with the photographs! Happy Birthday!

Posted by laurie at 8:56 AM

July 5, 2005

Mo' Money, Mo' Shoes


Whenever my financial outlook is particularly uncertain, I have the inconsolable urge to shop. I can only assume this is a plot hatched by the government and key retail establishments (mainly Target, and anyone who sells cute shoes), and they have implanted some kind of reverse financial homing device in my brain. I bet all those years of getting salmon to swim upstream was just a beta test.

Remember when Americans were urged to go out and shop right after 9/11 to keep the economy going? Yes. Well. Let's just say I can be a very patriotic woman. Each time I was faced with a new purchase, I could practically hear the Star-Spangled banner playing. I was a single-handed economy-buoying machine.

So ya'll know. With money.

I must be a social throwback. At any moment I'm just going to show up in a hoop skirt and corset, because I swear (embarrassing as it is to admit) I just assumed that I would be married and happy my whole life and have some nice manly man there to do the bills and paperwork-filing and insurance and these evil taxes and so on, and in return I'd be real pretty and do the cleaning and cooking and we'd all have kids named John Boy and be living on fucking Tara.


That did not happen. And before ya'll go thinking I have not a single brain in my head, can I tell you that I kept my end of the bargain, and I work some long hours, and do laundry like no tomorrow, and make amazing fried chicken? And that I do indeed provide value in areas which we shall not detail here because my parents read this here website? And that in my defense I did once wear a hoopskirt to Old South week?

Also, in my defense, I am a dumbass.

All people, even those who have been caught in embarrassing photos with hoopskirts over their heads, need to be intimately involved in their financial well-being, and that is a fact. Take it from me, your friendly local cautionary tale. I had no idea what the total of my personal debt was (Oh, I had an idea, but the exact amount? No. Hi! Denial much?) And all the bills, and how exactly to tackle the debt -- it was all scary and depressing and looming up at night in the form of this:

One nightmare in which me and the cats live in a storage shed in North Hollywood and eat beans out of a can. And I am surrounded by boxes of cute shoes that I cannot wear anywhere 'cause no one invites me to things anymore because I live in a storage unit with four cats and my imaginary friend named Zappos who eats beans from a can with me and tells me about new shoes I can never afford to buy. And there are bugs.

But once the whole singleness and spinster life and so on began to sink in, I decided that someone has to bring home the meow mix and cute shoes and so of course I called a house meeting. Unable to convince the four cats to go out and find gainful employment ("Sobakowa, you would be a great LAPD officer! You can hit people! Legally!") I decided I must have a PLAN and this PLAN is to 1) find out how much debt I'm actually in and 2) Figure out how NOT to be in debt my whole life. And also get a checkbook.

Ya'll would never know I work at a bank, would you?

Before the spinsterdom, I never needed to know what anybody at this place was talking about since I am the artiste, and they can't tell a pixel from a pigeon, and it all worked just fine. But I was suddenly in a dire need to KNOW what goes on in checkbooks and bill paying and high-interest rates, and luckily here at the bank there are all sorts of people who know about money and banking (No way! Ya'll come bank here! We know about banking!) and it occurred to me I might be able to ask questions, financial questions, and no one would be the least bit surprised or offended for two reasons:

1) I use a ziploc baggie as my change purse.


2) These people love to talk about exciting things like BANKING.

So I picked some brains and learned some stuff and I put all my bills in one room and one long afternoon I had a party with some wine and a calculator and this guy I met, named Microsoft Excel. He is Excel-lent.

(Actually he sucks, but anyway. I needed like 27 people to help me do this spreadsheet budget thingy so it adds where it should add and tallies and looks purty, because any spreadsheet of mine shall be pink.)

And I made up a budget to track every single thing, what comes in and what goes out. And it works! I mean, if you have to type up on the computer to Mr. Excel that you spent eighty hundred dollars on yarn and shoes, ya'll know. You can cut back in appropriate areas. So anyway, if anybody out there wants it, you can click here and get a copy. It's got placeholder numbers but you get the idea. You just put in what you make at the top, what all your bills are, and then it adds and subtracts and stuff. MAGIC! Gnomes! I do not know.

Now, through the mystical world of Excel, I have figured out all these ways I can save money (like bringing my breakfast and lunch to work, and not shopping at the 7-11 for groceries, and so on) and it's so liberating to be 100% totally in the know about my money. It's still depressing as fuck, because debt? Looming like that storage shed nightmare. But the key to all success in life is just having a PLAN.

And I PLAN to pay off my bills and I PLAN to then save up a whole pile of cash and then I PLAN to buy all the shoes ever made. Everyone needs a plan! Now if I can just get the reverse-homing device to stop telling me I need to go shopping, all will be jimdandy. Target... target... target.... storage shed. Budget. Hoop skirt. Ya'll know.

Posted by laurie at 11:26 AM

July 1, 2005

July 2005 Hor-O-Scopes

Note to all signs:
That stupendous planetary behemoth named Saturn is finally FINALLY moving out of Cancer on July 16. The big planets way out there in our solar system -- like Saturn and Jupiter and Neptune -- are the Large Marge elements of the zodiac. They come into your house, stay way too fucking long, eat you out of house and home and heart, and teach you all these life lessons you were sure you could live without thankyouverymuch. Even signs not directly in Saturn's path will feel the change at the end of the month. Except, uh, Leo? Hope you made up the guest room, because Saturn is moving into your house. So long and thanks for all the memories, Saturn! Enjoy Leo! See ya, wouldn't want to be ya!

- - - - - - - - - - - -

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 - Feb. 18)
Saturn has ruled your 6th House for two years, sucking the fun out of your day-to-day. You've learned important lessons. For example, you now know that games are only fun when both players are equally interested. And there are some games that have no winners. Still don't see where this analogy is taking us in July? Spend this month consciously playing mental checkers: Move forward, never backwards, and don't be afraid to double your power. Jump over your obstacles rather than get trapped, and keep your eye on the other side of the playing field. Be flexible. Most importantly -- if it looks like a stalemate, don't play nasty just to win.

PISCES (Feb. 19 - March 20)
Wax museums are clever places. For the price of an entrance fee you can see people posed in all sorts of dioramas, perfectly capturing a moment, forever frozen in time. If you were carved in wax, what scene from your daily life would be assembled around you? Would it be the image of you pouting because no one loves you enough? Or would it be the time you didn't speak up, or the time you didn't make a decision? Ah, Pisces. With Saturn leaving your 5th House (the 5th house rules love, fun and creativity -- which, by the way, Saturn totally sucked dry) on July 16, you're better-placed than ever to solidify a romantic or creative pose. Wax optional.

ARIES (March 21- April 19)
Lately I have been watching Spanish language TV, well... just the telenovelas. Spanish soap operas have a little something for everyone: tons of dramatic pauses, lost loves, plot twists, longing gazes, ominous music in the background, fantastic sets with great furniture. Imagine that your July is a steamy summer telenovela, set in a lovely villa on the beach. Plenty of bump and grind, rhythm and rhyme, with dialogue like "want, need, desire." Now you get to fill in the blanks ... what is it you want, need, desire, Aries? Before you can indulge in your happy ending, you have to sort out the twists and turns of the plot, made much easier by Saturn leaving your 4th House in mid-July. All the bad luck and high drama you've had with home-related matters will start to smooth out like a well-written season finale. Fantastico!

TAURUS (April 20 - May 20)
Saturn is leaving some of us and encroaching upon others, like you darlin' Taurus. But it won't be the horror story I've had -- in fact, Saturn will move into your House of Home Stuff starting mid-July and all the turmoil you've been getting from your up-in-the-air living situation will calm down a little with the seriousness of Saturn. Now's a great time to make up a new superstition. For example, each time someone tries to make you feel unsettled, knock once on wood and then dump dog poop on their shoes. Your job this month is to conjure up your own little wives' tale. Pretend your wrist-watch is a powerful talisman. Each time you're up against another muckraker or manipulator, use your talisman instead of apologizing for things that aren't your problem. Don't worry, it can be something as simple as "Look at the time! Gotta go!" And Saturn will back you up, you lucky dog. Sans poop.

GEMINI (May 21 - June 21)
Summer is here. Take some time to inventory your SPF -- Sabotage Potential Factor. Who or what is currently dragging you down, keeping you burned, blistered and red in the face? Forget about the wave of bad financial karma incurred during Saturn's two-year stay. Saturn -- that pissant of planetary poverty -- is leaving your financial house on July 16 and money matters will begin to turn green and lush by month's end. Now is the time to be the big summertime blockbuster, the sizzling mid-season replacement for mediocrity. It's finally your turn to scrutinize who or what in your life is standing in as your personal Roger Ebert, holding the perpetual thumbs down. Purge! Cleanse! Vaccuum! Do whatever it takes to loosen up, enjoy summer, relax, socialize and be the star of your own summer movie.

* * * * *

CANCER (June 22 - July 22)
Bye Saturn! Don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out of my 12th house of HELL! So long and thanks for NOTHING!

Cancerians get the longest Hor-O-Scope here, because I am a Cancer and because we've had to put up with more crap since early 2003 than any other sign, bar none. Saturn has put the screws to us, sitting right in Cancer since June of 2003 and ya'll, WE ARE TIRED. Even though we've lost some of our softness, lost some of our faith in the world, we're resilient little creatures and the stars say the months ahead will finally let us be happy again. (Of course, as a Cancer who has lost my faith in life, I almost don't believe it. But then again, I'm a Cancer. I NEED to believe it's going to get better. I need to have faith. Such a little contradiction, us crabs.)

So, Saturn is finally exiting on July 16 and GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE. Crabs born later in the sign (those mid-July babies) won't feel the relief as intensely at first, but it will come. Listen, it hasn't been easy for any of us since early 2003. And the full moon around the 21st will make you think Saturn is back to torment you, but after that you should be able to FINALLY finally, once again, breathe. We're tough little crustaceans of the zodiac, but we're too soft for this Saturn shit. I'm ready for it to be OVER. Aren't you?

* * * * *

LEO (July 23 - August 22)
I wish they had a Driver's Ed class for navigating your family. With Saturn moving into your sign and making family a central issue, even a little handbook would be helpful right about now. Suppose you could test drive your family and find out what their speed limits are and how safely they can parallel park before you burden them with too many expectations. You'd know the rules of all the interpersonal highways and byways, and you wouldn't be taken off guard by sirens or strange left turns. Well, while we're waiting for the Interpretive Guide To Driving Your Family Life, let's start by laying down our own ground rules. Respect the currently posted limits, watch for signals, negotiate curves with caution, and try to arrive on time. It's a good start to a two-year Saturnfest, Leo, when you'll be forced to have patience and put a cap on your road rage.

VIRGO (August 23 - Sept. 22)
Kin Hubbard once said that "the only way to entertain some people is to listen to them." I know it seems trifling and boring to listen the rest of us, day in and day out. We're not talking fast enough for you, or getting to the point as quickly as you'd like. Your first impulse is to turn a deaf ear to the incessant chattering. But beware -- you could miss out on some valuable eavesdropping. Your next move will be determined by something that will be said to you in conversation this month, let's hope you're listening and not just nodding while mentally planning your grocery list. Saturn's move out of your house of work and career will give you a much-needed break from professional strife... and the office gossip could be juicy, so listen up, Virgo. With both ears.

LIBRA (Sept. 23 - Oct. 23)
You are in need of nourishment... not the meat-and-potatoes kind, but a real meal of critical success, a full buffet of acknowledgement and reward. Now is the perfect time to look at the menu and decide to eat all the good stuff life can cook up. There are more vital nutrients and vitamins coming your way now that Saturn is laying off your sign and easing up on the pressure both career-wise and personally. Don't forget to order up a healthy serving of heightened awareness, followed by a dessert of whipped emotions. Oh, and by the way... you can't get this meal home delivered, you have to go out to find it. Hint, hint.

SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)
Um, hi. How you doing? Because, well. Saturn. And you. Going to get very close for the next two years as you have this big planet hanging out with you at work. Good news: Boy, will you get a lot accomplished! And people will love you! And you'll be a shining star! Bad news: Dude, a planet is riding shotgun with you to work every day. There's a fair amount of heaping praise coming your way on the career front -- and, because of Saturn, a fair amount of hard work as well. There's only one way to handle this: with a metaphor. Let's say your grandfather's beautiful pocketwatch stops ticking: immediately take it in to be fixed and polished, and always treasure its unique beauty. When you're late to work (again!) because your crappy, ugly, unreliable, piece of junk alarm clock died in the middle of the night, be glad to be free of it. Yes, this is a metaphor for something in your life that is broken and you have to decide whether or not it's worth fixing. And no, it's not an alarm clock.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)
Some people look great in those loud Hawaiian shirts that have scenes featuring surfboards, coconut trees and pineapples. Other people wear those shirts and look like they had an accident in a bowl of fruit. That's because creative expression is uniquely personal, and when you try to meld into a style that isn't genuine ... well, you can end up looking like a casualty on the Fashion Freeway. Better to trust your instincts, especially in the coming weeks. An outside influence is going to make you believe you're the Hawaiian shirt-wearing kind, even if you're strictly a T-shirt girl at heart. Chin up! Saturn is exiting your money house and you will finally be able to afford to change your look as many times as you need before you get it just right.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 - Jan. 19)
Next to Cancer, ya'll have had the worst time with that shitheel, Saturn. It's especially drained your emotional fuel tank these past few weeks. The cost for filling up your Cappy engine can be exorbitant -- gas prices notwithstanding. But finally, the time is right for you to drive the car of your own life. Take an alternate route this summer and you won't be disappointed. Capricorns will be able to see clearly, breathe deeply, enjoy the scenery and maybe even love a little. I can see a road ahead that is marked with gratifying pit stops and unlimited natural resources. There will be people along the way who may be asking for a free ride -- don't let that discourage you. No one can see more clearly into a person's itinerary than you, Capricorn. Trust your internal navigation system and you'll get unlimited miles per gallon.

Posted by laurie at 11:15 AM


Uh, yeah, about that thing? That I had to go do? With the law?

Pretty much it couldn't have gone worse. After about twenty minutes it became very clear: if the judge stipulated that I would immediately have to remand all the cats and all my cute shoes into the custody of Mr. X, it would just be par for the fucking course.

It's kind of still at that place where you can't really laugh about it yet. But it went something like this: "And also you, Ms. Purl, Ugly Female Respondent trying to get anything from this man who left you, much like I left my Ugly Wife for a younger woman, anyway, you have to immediately hand over posession of every good thing you ever buy from now on to the ownership of one Mr. X and if I could jail you for being a woman, then I would!" So ya'll know. It's a crap shoot. It happens.

Anyway, I'm going to take a little break to wrap my mind around it and I'll see ya'll on July 5th. Enjoy our nation's birthday and remember: all those little American flags? They sprung fully formed from the brain of A WOMAN. I love you, Betsy Ross. Sure, historians have tried to strip us of the Betsy Ross story for years, g-ddamn woman haters, but I BELIEVE. She had a needle and thread and a great idea and she sewed it right up between her knitting projects and doing the laundry, and ya'll know the only reason she didn't knit up a flag was because they didn't have good acrylic blends back then.

I named my first kitten Betsy Ross when I was six years old. Talk about foreshadowing.

Posted by laurie at 11:00 AM