Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cat Pee and Me

My cat Puddles is a tiny little thing, and she's close to 20 years old. If she were a person, she'd use a walker and wear Depends. I wish.

Three years ago, she almost died from renal failure. Her BUN and creatinine levels were crazy off the charts. Everyone, including the vet, scratched their collective heads in wonder - why is this cat still alive? Three years later, no less. She's on a special low protein diet that I can only buy through ONE online pet supply place, and it costs about 10 times more than the most expensive pet food you can buy at the pet store. This cat eats better than people in third world countries.

Puddles no longer uses a scratching post. We have to cut her nails, or they start growing back into her paws - which happened about a year ago. We also have to brush her alot because she doesn't lick herself quite as much as she use to. She throws up some hairballs, but not much. Her breath is horrifying. Sometimes, we have to clean poo off her butt. She rarely leaves our bedroom anymore. Her litterbox, to my HUGE dismay has to be - yup - in our bedroom. Needless to say, we have to change the linens when we least expect it.

Romance is NOT smelling cat poo.

I sweep up pebbles just about every day, mop, and the hub changes the litter several times a week. She pees alot because she drinks alot because her kidneys don't function well. Fortunately, she uses her litter box. Unfortunately, she can't seem to keep her butt down when she's urinating. Cat pee has been dribbling out over the edge of the litter box and onto the rubber drip tray that's under the box. Daily. No, more than daily, sometimes several times a day. This means that the whole area needs to be washed down with enzymatic cleaner and a truckload of paper towels. The good part is the litter is almost dry. No, actually there is no good part about having to clean cat pee all the time. Cat pee is evil. If you have a cat, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't, count yourself lucky.

Although I think we'll all mourn her when she goes to the big ball of yarn in the sky, I find myself fantasizing what it will be like to NOT have a cat. What will it be like to put a white bedspread on the bed, or to not discover cat barf with my bare feet in the middle of the night. Then I feel guilty, because, well, for one, my son is looking over my shoulder while I write this, and he loves the cat, and he made me erase what I really wanted to say.

Suffice to say, I won't mourn the pee.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Can't Get In My House

My front door broke.

When you spend close to $300 for some door hardware, I think you're allowed to have some expectation that said hardware will last a good long time.

We purchased the Baldwin door handle/latch plus deadbolt when we bought the new front door. The hardware is solid brass with a bronze finish. Style name: Madison.

A few days ago, the usual assortment of kids were running in and out of the house. I was ignoring the noise associated with this activity, until the clickity clack of the door latch became more pronounced, and was accompanied by a voice whining 'Mom, let us in, we can't open the door!'

"Whattaya mean you can't open the door? Why did you lock it?" If I had thought about this statement, I would have realized that it was impossible to lock the door from the outside without the key, and they had no key.

"We didn't lock it - it won't open!"

I opened the door. "It's working fine, what's the problem??"

My son proceeded to demonstrate that the outside thumb-operated latch wasn't functioning. Sure enough, the latch refused to do anything other than to hang there, limp.

"Damn it - what did you guys do to my door??? Your dad is going to go balistic! Do you know how much this thing cost?????!!!!"

"I didn't do it..."

"I didn't even open the door!"

"I don't know..."

I stomped around the house, irritated at this latest inconvenience. Money streams out of this house like an old garden hose leaks water. Darn money pit.

"Just wait 'til I tell your dad." At this point, my son breaks into tears. "Mom, I didn't do anything!"

At the sight of how upset he became, I relented, because I'm a marshmallow push-over. "Nick, it may have just broke by itself - although it shouldn't have given what we paid for it - I just want to warn dad before he comes home and finds he can't get in the house."

Later that evening, my hub brought out the neccessary tools and inspected the door hardware. He confirmed what I perceived was pretty obvious, but he did it with more technical terms and flourish - 'I've examined the latching mechanism...I can see the problem - it's not working.' My hero.

"I have the receipt, and I'll call the place we bought the door." He kept the receipt? I make a mental note to not nag him again about keeping every little crummy scrap of paper.

It paid off that we didn't buy a big-box-store-piece-of-crap. I believe most of Baldwin products are designed and engineered domestically, and manufactured in plants around the US, Canada and Mexico. The company is sending, free of charge, a replacement for our door. We don't even have to pay shipping. However, it chaps my hide that a heavy chunk of brass that looks like it was forged by Mars himself, and cost $300 would break at all. It was supposed to last a lifetime. So far, it's lasted the lifetime of a very old hamster.

In the meantime, I've closed the door on myself at least 8 times, and have had to make the less-than-convenient trek to the side of my house through the back door. If that lock doesn't come soon, I know it's just a matter of time before I lock myself out of the house, and will have to resort to crawling through a window, or sitting on the front porch until my husband comes home.

So Baldwin, please hurry and send my new hardware. I can't get in my house.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Las Vegas is Hot

We've been in Las Vegas since last Friday, hence, no blog. Spent most of my free time at the Monte Carlo Lazy River doing laps - which I suppose is counter to the concept of 'lazy'. I don't gamble, nor do I drink much, although I did have a giant mai tai served up in a big football shaped container while at the pool. It was darn good too.

My son played in a basketball tournament in air-conditioned comfort at one of Las Vegas' many modern high schools. His team played well, and although they came in third, they lost two games by only 1 and 3 points. The third game they played was a blow out, and they led by over 20 points.

Althought the games are important, the kids have the best time swimming, playing at GameWorks, and bunking down in one chaotic room. A couple of the kids bought magic tricks at a shop in New York New York, and spent the remainder of their stay perfecting their skills in presdidigitation. Look out, Lance Burton.

It was hot everywhere, except inside. Vegas is steamy this time of year. I saw a stray dog wandering down the street and wondered how long it would last in the 105 degree heat.

Watched the news later that night, and saw that Iraq makes Vegas look downright cool. It reaches temperatures of up to 120 degrees. Couple this with the heavy garb our soldiers wear, no air conditioning, and exploding bombs and I realized I had absolutely no right to complain - I did anyway, but it helped me keep some perspective.

I wish all those soldiers had the equivalent of a Monte Carlo Lazy River, and a football full of ice cold mai tai.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Weekly Gewgaw, Telephone Timer

I can't imagine anyone using one of these anymore, but I remember when...

This item is an hour glass time keeper, made of lucite and glass. In the day when your teenager would hog the phone for hours at a time - and I confess I did - and there was no call waiting, or cell phone, and only one phone line for an entire home, this was a life saver.

How Much Is It?

Paid my parents a visit today. Nick demonstrated his 'talent' on the trombone. Grandparents are proud in a way no one else can be proud. Nick beamed. Grandparents beamed.

Took my mom on a shopping trip to the new '99 Cent Store' that just opened in Torrance. I get a perverse thrill from buying crap from this store, telling people where I got it, then asking 'guess what I paid for this??' Yes, I need to grow up.

Mom didn't think there would be much to interest her there, but once she walked through the door, her little cloudy eyes brightened up. She peered at the canned peas parked in front of the entrance, then commented 'hmmm, off brand' which of course they were, but then, what can you expect for 2 for $.99? She bought two cans.

She ended up buying quite a bit of stuff, but she couldn't really grasp the whole 99 cent concept. She kept asking 'how much is it?' which gets kind of annoying in a store where everything is...well, you get the picture. When the idea finally set in, she happily bought a bunch of bananas, tomatoes, towels, cough candy - all with the comment 'oh, it costs this much at K-Mart' or 'it costs $1.99 even at Costco.' Mom was happier than a pig in mud. I steered her away from the canned peaches from China - no reason to press our luck.

Once we got home, she cracked open the canned peas, as canned peas are one of the four green things my dad will eat. She commented that they were larger, hence, less desirable than the Del Monte brand she usually buys. I argued that, in fact, peas are peas, especially when the life is boiled out of them, and they're sitting in briny tin can bath.

I think she'll go back, but I don't think canned peas will be on her list - even if they're 3 for $.99.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Eastview Little League - Get Real!

I've been following San Pedro's Eastview Little League since Target decided that the citizens of San Pedro couldn't live without a big box discount store, and they booted out the Little League field that had been at that site for decades.

With my son enrolled in Torrance Little League since he was a tot, I had hoped Eastview would find a field to relocate to. But, real estate doesn't come cheap, nor does usuable land fall from the sky, or become available just because we cross our fingers.

Things began to look up when a Knoll Hill location became available. It wasn't a great solution - the fields would displace an existing dog park, and, come to find out, the property is only available for three years, as it will become the future site of a K-9 training center and a port facility. Any additions or structures must be strictly temporary. Still, the league would be forking out $300k of their own funds to get the field up and running.

$300k? That would buy a lot of baseballs.

Then, a miracle happened. The Navy offered a four acre site - for free. Yes, you heard me right - FREE. Not only that, it's a permanent site.

Sounds great, right? Not so fast. Apparently, looking gift horses in the mouth is a popular pasttime this year, and beggers CAN be choosers. Eastview found the site 'unworkable'.

I'm sorry, but since when is FREE unworkable?

It's not a perfect site. It's adjacent to some fuel storage containers. It's a weird shape. But Lomita Little League fields are directly adjacent - and they've been at that location for 20 years. Other fields, including our own, are built on landfills. West Torrance fields look like a rock quarry built on a landfill.

I believe Eastview will lose the support of their community if they reject this generous offer. Even I, an avid baseball fan, pro-Little League mom and generally nice person cannot envision why this site is so repulsive to Eastview.

I think the real problem comes down to this: board member do not want their own children to lose this upcoming season. To hell with the kids playing 4, 5 or 10 years from now. OUR kids might miss out if we don't do something quick.

And another thing: why isn't Eastview working with Lomita Little League? Lomita has been losing enrollment for years - they're financially unstable, and may possibly not have a league this year. Why not, dare I say it, cooperate?

Rejecting the Navy fields makes Eastview look like a bunch of self-serving bums, only concerned with this upcoming season. The reality is the 2008 season may already be a bust - it's an absolute guarantee in three years it WILL be a bust, if they choose to ignore this latest offer. It's taken Eastview three years to come to this. If they start today, maybe they'll have the good fortune to find another 'unworkable' site.

But I doubt it.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Writers Block

In the movie "The Shining", one of the more memorable scenes was when Shelly Duvall's character discovered the 'book' her husband had been writing.

Did you know the character's name was Jack Torrance?

News on the Torrance front has been pretty dry the last few days. I'm having a bad case of writers block.

I'm not sure a backhoe digging up the lot behind my home qualifies for news, other than the impressive time they started digging this morning - 7am on the nose. I must admit I really wanted to run up that big mound of dirt.

Nor do I think the peach crisp that I baked today qualifies for news - although I cheated and used white nectarines instead of peaches, and I didn't have any butter, so I had to use Smart Balance instead.

Discovering a replacement for the online game "Psychobabble" isn't noteworthy.

Oh, I just thought of something... Crazy Guy in Trucker Hat Driving White Toyota Camry.

I met him earlier this week in my rear view mirror at the corner of Arlington Ave. and Torrance Blvd. He honked, which I certainly didn't appreciate - the roads were busy, and it's the type of left turn you can't take too fast - you'll bottom out. Of course, honking at me, the curmudgeon that I am, made me want to move wayyyyy more ssssllllooooowwwllly.

Crazy Guy apparently had to be somewhere, and I was an inconvenient obstacle. He tried to pass me several times, weaving and infringing on my rear bumper. Which, as I mentioned earlier, made me ever so much more conscious of the 25 mph speed limit. I could almost see the steam exiting his ears.

He finally passed me, but just as quickly, came upon the rear bumper of Grey Van, who, I believe, was in the same mindset as myself. Crazy Guy lived up to his moniker. He leaped in his seat, gestured wildly, weaved and revved to pass Grey Van; alas, with no success. Grey Van positioned itself in the middle of the lane, denying Crazy Guy space to pass.

Gaudy expetives richocheted off the beige interior of that Camry, and leaked out in muffled groans.

Crazy Guy drove into the left turn lane at Sepulveda Blvd. and veered around 8 cars waiting at the light. Smoke billowed, brakes screeched. I almost lost sight of him when I witnessed the craziest thing of all.

He had pulled into the Rite Aid parking lot and parked. As we drove by, we saw him sitting quietly and calmly in his car. I think he was giving himself a time out.

Today, I saw him again - same time, same Crazy Guy maneuverings. I guess he's a regular.

If there's any police out there, and you're in the vicinity of Arlington Ave. at around 5pm, be on the look out for a late model white Camry. Crazy Guy needs another time out. Be nice, though. He cured my writers block.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Susan Simpson

Hey, I'm a Simpsons character. Sort of dikey looking, if I may say so myself, but there were no frilly dresses and high heels available - not that I wear those, but they might have helped my image.

I think I'd look better as a 'Life in Hell' character.

Of course, I can't stop there - here's a family portrait.