Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!


Hi to all.

I'm sorry I've been gone for so long from this poor, neglected blog, but I've been without internet since September. It became too difficult to pay the huge electric bills plus cable & internet, so I chose to have electricity :)
 
I'm hoping I can afford to get internet in January, so I can go back to blogging.
 
In the meantime, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a New Year of happiness and peace.
 

 
 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Autumn

Fall has finally arrived to California's Central Valley, thank God, because the heat and humidity were making me crazy. I HATE hot weather, so I'm praying for a long, cold winter. But for now, I'm loving the cool mornings and evenings, a few brisk days here and there, and watching the leaves start to turn orange and red. Although the season's change isn't as noticeable here as it is in the Midwest or Northeast, it is certainly more so than I was used to Southern CA, so I will enjoy it while I can. On weekends in the autumn, I take Tallulah to the park for her walk, and while she sniffs and romps with wild abandon through the piles of leaves, I enjoy all the fall colors. I think I may have posted these photos last year, but I'll share them again. LOVE this time of year. I can't wait until the park looks like this again. 
 
 







The past couple of months have been crazy money-wise. Summer bills are VERY high here: electric bill over $300/mo, water bills about $120/mo (and my grass still looks half dead). I even had to discontinue internet and cable because of the cost, which explains my long absence from the world of blogging. And, of course, there are all the other bills, plus food (why is it that produce is so expensive in California’s Central Valley, when we grow something like 80% of the fruits & vegetables grown in the US?! It’s insane!)
So, summer is a really tough time of year for me. I spent May through September cranky, hot, broke, bored and lonely. And I’ve come to the conclusion that this will never change as long as I live here. So I have decided to move back down south, closer to my sister and other family. Still can’t afford to buy in OC, and will likely have to downsize to a condo in the desert (with a small yard for Tallulah – goodbye big ol’ garden), but I’ll be much closer to family and friends. So even if I’m broke, at least I won’t be bored and lonely.
Thus, I’m getting rid of stuff left and right, and keeping only my favorite books and collectibles, which is really hard when you have a dozen collections, and you love everything, and you see your books as beloved friends. Tough, tough, tough. But it must be done, because this stuff is, after all, just STUFF.
So, I had a garage sale last month. I got rid of some furniture, a bunch of china and some craft items. I’m doing another garage sale next month, concentrating on selling Christmas decorations, more craft supplies, maybe a few books and anything that might make a good Christmas gift.

My job here is contracted through the end of next April and I don’t anticipate them renewing the contract. I’m not sure I’d want them to anyway. It is the most boring job on the planet, the pay is low (more than minimum wage, but not much), most of my co-workers aren’t very friendly, and management is a bit cold and indifferent. When I interviewed for the job, I was told that everyone there was like family; I wish they had told me it was a dysfunctional family!

So, come early spring, my job hunt down south will begin. Ack! I hate job hunting; it seems like that’s all I’ve done for the past two years.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying what I love about Central CA (because it’s not all bad, for crying out loud). I’m enjoying my house (because I really do love my cute house) with the big beautiful kitchen, and the brick fireplace, and my big yard, and the cool autumn weather, and the upcoming cold winter, and my nephew and his sweet wife, whom I shall miss, and farmland all around, and no traffic.

And while I’m enjoying what’s here, I’m also looking forward to what might yet be: to finding a job where I can actually support myself, to being able to hang out with my sister again, to finding old friends and crazy family members (yup, we’ve all got crazies in our families), and having a Barnes & Noble and a Trader Joe’s less than 50 miles away, and milder summer weather, and lower bills, and a new start.

But no matter where I am, this one is always a constant.


 
When I adopted her, I thought I was rescuing a big giant dog who would never get adopted because of her size. Well, the joke was on me, because I didn’t rescue her, she rescued me.  She loves me no matter how much I weigh and no matter how crappy I look. When I am at my worst, she still loves me. She comforts me every time I cry (and it has been quite often in the past few months), and she looks excited when I laugh, like she's just dying to share the joke (and maybe she does). So, I can't say that the past two years here have been a waste: I found the sweetest companion I could ever find. Lucky me!!
 
Thanks so much for visiting. Hope you leave a comment; I love reading them.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Random Things

If there was an award for the worst blogger, I would surely win it. I can't believe it has been two and a half months since I last posted, or visited anyone's blog. No excuses. I've just been a lazy procrastinator lately about anything other than work and cleaning up my house.
 
Since I don't have any pretty pictures ready, or any completed projects to talk about, I thought I would tell you 20 Random and Possibly Weird Things About Myself.
 
1.  I have a really loud laugh. A REALLY loud laugh. I get in trouble all the time at work for laughing.
 
2.  I cannot whistle. I've tried and tried, but just can't.
 
3.  I am the worst athlete on the planet. The WORST! I can't run. Can't catch a ball worth a damn. Can't throw a ball, for that matter. I'm uncoordinated and dorky. In PE class at school, I was always the last one picked for team sports. When we played baseball, if someone hit a fly ball, everyone else held out their mitt to catch the ball. I ducked. I used to play outfield, and I would station myself way, way out (in the next county, if I could manage it), all the time praying that no one could hit that far. Well, by golly, someone finally did, and I actually caught the ball, sans mitt. It hurt like a son of a b. I was shocked that I caught it, and there was this stunned silence on the field. Then someone said, with wonder in her voice, "She actually CAUGHT it!" Then someone else yelled, "THROW it, Julie." So, I threw the ball, and my moment of glory ended, because my aim sucks.
 
That semester, I got an A in PE. It was the only time.
 
4.  I am very nearsighted, and have worn glasses since third grade (which may explain #3).

5.  I love anything Snoopy. I have a Snoopy collection with probably close to 2000 items - stuffed toys, Christmas decorations, a little Asian teaset, even a Snoopy Hanukkah gift bag.
 
6.  I went to 12 years of Catholic school (Kindergarten in public school). Unlike those who say they "survived" Catholic school, I am glad I went, and am grateful to my parents for making the sacrifices to give their children not only a great education, but a school atmosphere that protected us, and instilled good old-fashioned values in the students. To this day, I am still a churchgoing, practicing Catholic.
 
7.  I am a grammar and spelling snob. Yes, I am that Grammar Nazi that you hate.
 
8.  I talk to my dog all the time, and on occasion, I've caught myself expecting her to answer.
 
9.  My favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla. I'm boring that way.
 
10. I've never seen snow. In person, I mean. I know, I know, I've got to get out more.
 
11. When I was 8, I wanted to either be a dancer, a secret agent, or a nun when I grew up. What kills me is that when I tell friends this today, they only laugh at the nun part.
 
12. One of my best friends, Cindy, and I were in the same kindergarten class, but did not know each other until 17 years ago, when she came to work as the dept. secretary at the company I worked for. We discovered we were in the same class entirely by accident. But we weren't 100% sure until Cindy found the class picture from 1966, and sure enough, there we were.

13. I used to read the encyclopedia when I was a kid. What can I say? I was a klutzy nerd who wore glasses. Not a popular kid, but I'm tough to beat at Trivial Pursuit.
 
14. Up until I moved to Central CA two years ago, I lived in Anaheim, CA my entire life - 50 years.
 
15. I love, love, love fabric, have stacks of it, but don't know how to sew.
 
16. I have never weighed what my driver's license says I weigh. I don't know why the DMV even bothers to ask anymore.
 
17. I am very shy and quiet with people I don't know. Once I get to know you, you can't shut me up.
 
18. My favorite book of all time is Go Dog Go. When I was a toddler, I made my sister read it to me over and over again until I had it memorized, much to my sister's relief. It was the first book that I actually read (I clearly remember that moment when I realized that I was reading the book instead of reciting it by rote). I credit Go Dog Go with my lifelong love of reading and my love for dogs.
 
19. I was an "All My Children" devotee back when Erica was married to her FIRST husband. It amazes me that my very conservative Catholic mother not only allowed me to watch it, but followed it with me.

20. I admit it: One of my favorite guilty pleasures is reading The National Enquirer. Shame on me!!

I will share one photo I with you. These are some of the gladiolus I grew this year. They bloomed very early, so I haven't gotten any new blooms in about a month, but I enjoyed them while they lasted. I loved having fresh flowers in the house every couple of days.
 




Hope everyone has a great day. Thanks for stopping by, and thanks in advance for your comments. I love reading them.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cinema Sunday: Good Sick Day Movies

Ugh! I've been fighting a summer cold/bronchitis for the past few days, and it can be misery, since we're already in triple digit weather here in California's Central Valley.  Yesterday, I didn't listen to my body's urgings to lie down and take it easy. Instead, I pruned the wild rose bushes, weeded the garden, did two loads of laundry, baked a cake, cleaned house, went to the library and went grocery shopping. So, today, I'm really dragging. Big surprise!
 
Since the forecast says it will be 101 degrees today, I'm spending the day on the sofa watching old movies. As I'm sure you've guessed, I'm a big fan of mystery and suspense films. To me, these are the perfect movies for a sick day spent on the sofa. I don't need heavy drama that makes me cry; I have enough snot right now, thank you very much (sorry, I know, TMI). And I really don't need a big-laugh comedy. Every time I laugh, I sort of laugh and cough at the same time, and I sound like I've smoked a pack a day for 50 years. And then I choke and gag and scare the hell out of the dog, who is, of course, on the sofa, snoozing next to me. So, laughing is out.
 
Soooo, mystery and suspense movies are perfect for today. I thought I would share some of my favorite sick day suspense films. None of them are too long. The plots are interesting enough to hold your attention, but not so intricate and involved that you would be forced into any deep and heavy thinking - that just makes your headache worse. These movies all play on TCM on occasion, so if you see them on the TV schedule, set your DVR and enjoy.

 
1. "The Blue Gardenia" (1953). Anne Baxter plays Norah, a young woman who wakes up after a night of drinking with a womanizer, and realizes that she may have killed him. Norah tries to remember the details of that night, eventually teaming with a newspaper man to solve the mystery. Raymond Burr plays the womanizer quite well; he played the villian in most of his films. Quite hard to believe if one only knows him from TV's "Perry Mason" and "Ironside". An underrated actor, in my opinion.
 
2. "A Kiss Before Dying" (1956): Robert Wagner is deliciously evil as a college student plotting to kill his pregnant girlfriend (Joanne Woodward in one of her first film roles). I love Wagner as a villian.
 
3. "Midnight Lace" (1960): Doris Day is being terrorized by an unknown caller who tells her that he will kill her. I love Day's wardrobe in the film, the eerie foggy London locale, and, of course, Myrna Loy (one of my favorite actresses), who plays Day's aunt.
 
4. "Northern Pursuit" (1943): Canadian mounties pretend to be Nazi sympathizers in order to learn Nazi plans for invading North America. It's a fairly typical World War II propaganda film, but pretty enjoyable all the same.
 
5. "Stage Fright" (1950): Jane Wyman plays a young actress desperately trying to shield a man from a murder accusation.  I had to include something by Hitchcock, and even though it's not one of his best films, it's still a pretty good movie. Mediocre Hitchcock is better than 3/4 of the crap movies made today. I love Michael Wilding (Elizabeth Taylor's 2nd husband) as the police inspector and Marlena Dietrich is her usual over-the-top self. 
 
 

6. "The Spiral Staircase" (1945): Dorothy McGuire plays the mute companion to an ill and elderly Ethel Barrymore. Young disabled women in town are being murdered and McGuire, Barrymore, and the doctor who loves McGuire (the handsome Kent Smith) fear that McGuire may be next. I first saw this movie when I was a teenager, home alone, on a stormy day much like the storm in the film. I spent the rest of the day looking over my shoulder and jumping in fright at every little noise. Needless to say, a VERY affective film.
 
7. "The Mad Miss Manton" (1938): This is very funny, and I shouldn't be watching it when I'm sick (that coughing and gagging thing), but I had to include it anyway, because it's so much fun, and because it stars my favorite, Barbara Stanwyck. When the murdered body discovered by beautiful, madcap socialite Melsa Manton disappears, the police and a reporter (played by Henry Fonda) label her a prankster until she proves them wrong.

8. "The Two Mrs. Carrolls" (1947): Humphrey Bogart and Barbara Stanwyck. LOVE them! Is Bogart trying to kill his wife, played by Stanwyck? Did he kill his first wife? Watch the movie and find out!

9. "The Stranger" (1946): Loretta Young plays Mary Longstreet, in love with Prof. Charles Rankin (Orson Welles), who may or may not be an escaped Nazi named Franz Kindler. Edward G. Robinson is determined to find Kindler. Robinson's only clue? Kindler's fascination with antique clocks. Directed by Welles.



10. "Laura" (1944): Dana Andrews plays Detective Mark McPherson, who is investigating the killing of Laura, found dead on her apartment floor before the movie even starts. McPherson gets to know Laura by interviewing the murder suspects, who all seemed to love her. He finds himself falling in love with her too, as he gazes at the striking portrait of Laura hanging on her apartment wall. Then one night, halfway through the case, something bizarre happens that changes his entire investigation. Gene Tierney is gorgeous as the late Laura.

Of course there are many others that are great for sick days, but these were just a few that I thought of off the top of my head. Leave a comment with your favorites!!

 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hello Again!

If you've been wondering if I would ever post again, here I am. I'm sorry it has been so long between postings this year, but I've been pretty busy working on accomplishing all the stuff I said I want to accomplish, back in this post in January.

To start with, I finally accomplished something I've been working on for the past 18 months: I have finally found a full time job! I'm doing data entry/customer service in a billing department, Monday to Friday, 7:30am to 4:00pm. No more working weekends, no more weird hours, no more working holidays, no more minimum wage, no more tired achy feet! I've been at the job for five weeks, so I'm finally starting to get out of the New Job Stupid Stage (I HATE feeling stupid at a job!). I just received my first paycheck this past Friday. Unfortunately, since I had to wait so long for it, I had to use it to catch up on bills, but now that I'm finally getting regular, full time checks, the finances will improve dramatically. Which means I won't have to get a roommate to pay the summer bills. Yay!
 
The only downside is that the job is temporary, for 12-15 months. I'm hoping that they will either extend the contract, or will hire me permanently, as this is a very large, international company, with a great reputation as an employer. But, we'll see what happens. I'm continuing to job hunt, but with a 17% unemployment rate in this area, I'm certainly grateful to have this job for the time being.
 
Tallulah is doing well with her training, but it is an ongoing process. Sweet T. is so sweet and loving, but she definitely has a mind of her own. I know she knows the commands; she just doesn't WANT to do them, and thinks that if she just looks cute enough, that she won't have to obey. Okay, I'll admit that on occasion, that ploy works, but most of the time, I expect her to toe the line. So, training continues. Her trainer has suggested getting her certified as a therapy dog, so we can make visits to nursing homes, physical rehab centers, etc. That training will start in early fall.
 
My Sweetheart!
 
The garden is doing pretty well, at least those plants that have not burned in the heat. One thing that I really do hate about the Central Valley is that summer weather starts in April and doesn't let up until October. Gardening is hell in the summer heat, even at 7:00 a.m. So, I'm enjoying my garden in those brief moments when I venture outside from the sweet air conditioning.
 
These were the wild roses in April:
 
 
The wild roses now:
 
They've gotten pretty scraggly, so I've got to prune soon.
 
A couple of gladiolus have bloomed:
 
 
More roses:
 

 
Since I've accomplished (or am in the process of doing so) three of the things on January's list, I can start working on the other two: Growing and improving this blog (and my photography skills), and plainting the inside of my house.
 
I bought a new camera a couple of months ago (Tallulah chewed up my old one!) and I'm still in the process of figuring out how to use all the bells and whistles it has. Also, because there is a lot of down time on this job, but I'm not allowed to read at my desk, I can handwrite blog posts during slow days. So, I practice with the camera on nights and weekends, and write blog posts between phone calls/duties during the day.
 
So, I'm hoping you'll see a lot more posts from me, and maybe something a little more interesting than me whining about life, since I'll now have the money to actually have a real life, with, gasp, mini vacations, more thrift store expeditions, a little bit of antiquing, and some excursions into exploring some neighboring cities.
 
As for painting the walls, that may wait. I'm toying with the idea of looking for a job/house closer to OC when this job is over, depending, of course, on whether they do decide to hire me permanently, and whether the real estate market has better recovered here. After 18 months, I've come to realize that this area isn't ultimately where I want to spend the rest of my life. I miss my sister, who is my best friend, more than I ever imagined. I miss my friends, and really struggle to make new ones here. This doesn't feel any more like home than it did when I moved 18 months ago. I wish it had worked out as this is one of the few places in CA where I can afford a 1/4 acre, 1800 square foot single family home, but still be within a few hours of family in Orange and LA Counties. But, so far, it just doesn't seem to be working, for a variety of reasons, far too many to list. Sometimes, you've got to try stuff to figure out whether or not it's going to work. And speaking as someone who has spent much of her life afraid to try new things, I'm proud of myself that I did step out into the unknown to try.
 
So, the goal to paint is put on hold until I get a better idea as to when I may sell, But I've got a new goal now of downsizing my collections and stuff in anticipation of living in a smaller home (condo, perhaps). Hello china sale!!! Believe me, that is a monster of a goal, as the family members who helped me move can attest.
 
Soooo, I'm back to blogging more regularly. I've already written a couple more posts, so you should see something from me in a day or two. I hope everyone has a great weekend. Leave a comment if you get a chance. I love reading them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blooming

I am so embarassed that I've neglected my blog (and reading yours) for more than a month.  In my defense, I have been working a lot of hours, and anyone who has worked part time retail knows that if you can get extra hours, you take them, because you never know when hours will get cut.  So, I've been working a lot, which has helped pay the property tax bill, and has kept Tallulah and I fed.  Also, it has allowed me to indulge my current passion: gardening.

Last year's garden was a huge disappointment, mainly my fault. I was pretty lonely and depressed last year, what with money troubles, a job that sucks, a demoralizing job hunt, a problem roommate, and a lot of difficulties acclimating to all the changes that I had made.  So, I didn't plant all of my seeds or bulbs, and really didn't take very good care of what I did plant.  Last year was also a bit of an experiment in gardening. I'm pretty much a novice gardener, and the climate here is not what I am normally accustomed to, so what I did do was pretty much trial and error. I figured out what works, and what ultimately turns out to be a waste of time and money.
 
This year, life is easier. I think the worst is over, and once again, I'm looking forward to the future. My new attitude is apparent in my garden, because, well, I've gone hog wild.  In the past couple of months, I've planted 14 rose bushes, bougainvillea, three hydrangea bushes, 250 gladiolus, ranunculus, jasmine, more amaryllis, gardenia, larkspur, sweet alyssum, California poppy, four o'clock's, nasturtium, wildflowers, stocks, freesia, bleeding heart, lily of the valley, hosta, lavender, hollyhock and zinnia. Still to be planted this week: zucchini, bell pepper, cherry tomato, green onion and carrot; also foxglove, peony, carnation, dianthus, lupine, johnny jump up, and sweet pea. Whew!
 
Most everything is either just recently planted, or the seedlings are still too tiny to photograph, but I do have a few things that I either planted early, or bought plants (as opposed to seeds or bulbs) from Lowe's:

This is just one of the six sections in this planter, filled with gladiolus.  I can't wait for them to bloom. I've planted mixed colors with no discernible pattern, either to the colors, or to arrangement. 
 
 
 A couple of the amaryllis have bloomed already. Still waiting for the other four:


I don't know what this ground cover is (my friend-neighbor-gardener transplanted a bunch of these from his own garden), but I love the periwinkle colored flowers:

My little bougainvillea looks kind of sad right now.

The flowers look pretty though. And it will get big soon enough. In full bloom, it will be gorgeous!

These are wild roses in my backyard. I debated with myself over taking them out, but I decided to give them another year. I gave them rose food when I planted the other rose bushes in January.

Right now, the wild roses have about 200-300 buds on them. Only one has bloomed.



All of the rose bushes I planted have buds on them, even though every bush is still a foot tall or less.

It sounds silly, but ever since I read the Nancy Drew mystery The Password at Larkspur Lane, I've wanted to grow larkspur. I've gotten my wish.


These freesia smell heavenly, as do the dianthus and the lavender.




Ranunculus and alyssum under the Charlie Brown tree.

I know I probably sound like a dork, being so excited about this, but, in case you haven't noticed, I just adore flowers, and have always wanted to be able to scatter bouquets of fresh cut flowers around my house. I am so looking forward to everything being in bloom, hopefully most everything at once, so I can share pictures of the entire outside.  So, I'm crossing my fingers that everything grows and that this Moose doesn't dig everything up:

She is awfully sweet, and the training classes I've been taking her to are doing a lot of good, but Good Lord, she can be destructive when she digs!

I hope everyone is having a great week.  Hours at work have been cut (See! What did I tell you?), so I'm back to blogging more often.  Hope to read some of the posts that I've missed on your blogs, and am working on a couple of posts for this week.

Thanks for your visit. Feel free to leave a comment; I love reading them!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Graduate

Tallulah graduated from obedience school last week.


She was so proud. So was I.



I signed her up for another set of classes because, well, she needs it:

 


For the first time in my life, I can honestly say, "The dog ate my homework."


And yet, I can't imagine my life without my Sweet Big Doofus.

Thanks for your visit. I hope you leave a comment because I love reading them.