Archive for April, 2009

As you probably know if you’ve been reading my writingz with any regularity across the eight — count-em: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 — years that I’ve been a-bloggin’, I’m pretty much an open book. For gooder or badder I have little issue with sharing the highs, the lows and I’m pretty frank about my joys and my pains.

Before the post came down, I don’t know how many of you (beyond my friends Ted and Annika whose supportive comments I greatly appreciated) found what I wrote Tuesday morning relating the mindblowingly bombshell news passed on to me by my 19-year-old daughter Monday afternoon via email that I am now a grandfather to a five-week-old baby boy.

While I spent some three hours that night crafting a careful response to her email, the next morning with aggravation and frustration set in I blogged my lack of enthusiasm at the revelation on several levels. Upon my daughter subsequently reading it, not surprisingly she found my feelings and opinions unallowable and intolerable and expressed as such in the comments.

Following an even more defensive follow-up email from her I volunteered to remove the post that same day, not because I felt it was in any way wrong to write, but in the interest of placating her. The attempt was to no avail. She’s ignored my last two emails and has made it clear that I am once again unworthy a place in her life or of anything but her disdain and disrespect.

Her rejections are heartbreaking and defeating, but I’ll never accept them and will always be ready to work together with her to put the past behind us and get to a future where we can be the dynamic duo we could be and should be. But until she wants that too and finds that strength to put down the old and take that journey forward with me to the new, I will always be an easy target and a person conveniently disposable and irrelevant to her. That’s something I can never accept.

So until that wonderful day I always hope for where we agree to move forward together, we can only disagree to stay apart.

But that ain’t all folks! In addition, manifesting itself suddenly on the bike ride home from work after being runover by that news Monday night was the bonus onset of a weird illness — thankfully not swine flu, more stomach-centered. In the two days since I’ve had lingering low body temps down in the 95s and flash fevers beyond 101 (one broke last night jolting me completely out of bed at 11:30 in a literal pool of sweat that reminded me of the scene in the Genesis “Land of Confusion” video when the Ronnie doll drowns in his own sea of perspiration.


Pretty much anything I’ve eaten this last couple days give me head and back aches and I won’t even go into the troubles down below. And I’m so fatigued that even standing up for short periods wears me down. I should go to the doc’s but I’m too weak, and at least the symptoms aren’t getting any worse (or pig-flu related).

Susan sees it as partially daughter-related.


I don’t even know… it may have only been a couple/three weeks ago, but it seems a lot longer since we converted the dining room into our bedroom to make way for the renovation work making its way down from the second floor.

However long it’s been is about how long our cat Bink — the member of our menagerie least tolerant of radical change — has stubbornly exiled himself outdoors, refusing not only to so much as set foot inside, but also to bolt the moment he’s spotted outside (even if the spotting is done through a closed window or door).

Worry about him? Of course, but I don’t blame him one bit. The bedroom was his evening domain and the bed his throne and from his perspective it suddenly got shoved into a common area so not worthy a cat of his demeanor and distinction. On top of that there’s all the strange men tromping around and hammering and sawing and nailgunning and such.

In fact, the last time he went AWOL to this degree was a couple years ago when workmen spent the better part of a month painting the place. He HATED that.

Still, it defies logic that Bink would rather fully immerse himself in the life of a hobo cat for so long. After all, wherever he’s spending the nights outdoors can’t be any better than the dining room. But then, what do we know? Maybe he’s outfitted himself with a comfy place. We rarely see him. In the weeks that have passed, I’ve laid eyes on him four — maybe five — times, and that includes last night when I was in the kitchen doing dishes and I happened to glance over out the back window and see Bink chowing down on the bowl of Fancy Feast that Susan’s dutifully leaving out for him. The moment we made eye contact: poof.

The good news is that least he’s sticking around, thanks no doubt to Susan’s morning and evening ministrations.

A week or so ago I set up a webcam in the laundry room, pointing out through a louvered window and screen at the patio table where we keep bowls or water and dry food replenished for him. But the main images it caught from that vantage point during the day were of cats Pepper or Jig having a snack, or maybe Ranger patrolling in the background. At night it was too dark to pick up anything. So this weekend I relocated the set-up outside and left the patio table light on all night and it managed to find Bink sneaking a 3 a.m. nibble.

Then came today’s capture seen at the top of this post. As you can see, Bink looks none the worse for wear. He’s still as big as he’s ever been and his coat looks good. There’s relief in that. For all the preturbment and stress it’s causing Susan and me not having Bink safe inside after dark, the fact is outdoor life seems to suit him.

But it does not suit us. We miss The Bink hogging up the bed that he deigns to let us sleep in, and we’re looking forward to the renovation being completed so we can clean up, get the furniture put back, and then go about the frustrating business of luring Bink back inside (or finding a way to trap him) and beginning the process of welcoming him to his new and improved home.

As our renovation project nears closer to completion (still some 3-5 weeks out), we’ve begun letting dogs Ranger and Shadow up into the second floor for lookabouts, and to get them more comfortable with the (still-unfinished) stairs. Ranger has the legs to allow a smoother more refined traversal, but Shadow with her stunted stems demonstrates a somewhat more unorthodox method of galumphing down the steps, finishing things off with a stair dive at the end that fully skips the starter step, but she sticks the landing. I score it a 10!

Back about a month and a half ago, I wrote “Cactus As Teacher,” a brief photo-post about the lessons in perseverence and resilience learned from a decrepit prickly pear cactus pad that was still managing to nourish five flourishing offspring sprouts even as it lay dying across the top of the fence separating our property from our neighbor’s.

What I neglected to update the post with was the discovery a day or so later that the terminally ill pad was all on its own. While I had thought it was connected on the other side of the fence to the sprawling succulent next door, I found that it had broken off and was wasting away using whatever it had left to keep its baby pads growing.

As I’m the kind of sentimental sucker that gets moved by stuff like that, and seeing that without intervention those kids weren’t long for this worls, I went into immediate if somewhat risky action in breaking the five nubs of varying littlenessesses from their perishing parent and plunking them into a pot of soil that I placed  where it would get a fair amount of sun.

I started to throw away the pad that had gotten them this far, but because I’m such a sap I couldn’t even bring myself to do that and instead left that piece in the pot for posterity’s sake.

Well, I’m happy to report all five kids are continuing to acclimate to their new home — even the tiniest one juuuuuust visible at the bottom or the frame (click to enlarge):


Since I typically ride home from work after the main part of the so-called “rush hour,” whenever I deviate from that time frame I’m forced to remember that the streets of Los Angeles at 6:30 p.m. bear the burden of a far more selfish, impatient and less-accepting motorist than they do even as little as an hour later.

I was reminded of this fact several times yesterday after leaving work earlier than my usual exit time, but no incident was more stark and telling than the one I witnessed and ultimately involved myself in while waiting at 4th Street to cross La Brea and continue my way eastward.

As I sat at the red, a lady on a bike pedaled past me, heading south on La Brea. She was in the curb lane and owning it, smack dab in the middle like a saavy and smart cyclist should.


Then, speeding up immediately behind her came an older Mercedes four-door, its driver getting right up behind the bike and laying hard and heavy on the horn.


Almost immediately upon letting off, the driver blared the horn again. The hackles on my neck rose, but to the cyclist’s credit (whether aided by headphones, I cannot say) she completely ignored the assault and held her line without changing her pedaling cadence in the slightest.

Me? Not so much. By the time they were halfway down the block the driver honked a third time and that was enough for me. I set off in pursuit, catching up with the Benz in the center lane she’d lurched into only to get stacked back from the red at 6th Street.

Pulling alongside her passenger window I asked her why she was honking at the cyclist.

“Because she needs to get off the road!”

“You’re the one that needs to get off the road,” I said.

She didn’t like that much and suddenly brandished a steering wheel locking device telling me to get away from her car and quit harassing her.

“If you don’t like me harrassing you, imagine how that cyclist feels from your harassment! That girl has every legal right to the road and you have no right to do what you did!”

While apoplectically reiterating her demand that I move away from her vehicle, in a really lame attempt to strike me with the lock she poked it out the window toward me. I considered yanking it from her and either pitching it to the curb or using it to reshape every accessible body panel of her worn sedan, but instead I just let her look a fool for a few seconds, until advising the witch that it would be in her best interest to quit looking so stupid in attempting to harm me.

She didn’t agree and kept up her silliness.

“Then I’ll tell you what,” I said,  “You go ahead looking like an idiot waving that thing at me all you want, but you damn well better not get behind that cyclist or honk your horn at her. If I see you doing so I have your license plate and I’ll report your recklessness to the police. Do you understand me, ma’am?”

She didn’t, so I leaned in and asked again in my really real outside voice. Of course, that gave her the opportunity to club me if she’d so choosen, but she didn’t. While I like to think it’s because I finally got through to her, the reality was the cars in front of her started moving again and so she dropped her weapon and gunned it down the road.

But as I watched her out of sight past Wilshire, she didn’t get behind that cyclist and she didn’t honk her horn.

On the heels of last week’s “Pit Stop” in South Los Angeles while on the way to work, I had another last night coming home through the Crestview neighborhood near Venice and La Cienega boulevards — specifically under the 10 Freeway overpass.

She was a big bold beauty. Had a collar but no tags. She was traveling with another smaller dog noses to the sidewalks and gutters in search of food. The little one didn’t hesitate to run off from me when I pulled to a stop, but the pit, though warily skittish, didn’t bolt.

Pit Stop II

And when I poured my requisite bag of kibble out onto the concrete she came right up to chow down, though she’d shy away from me if I made any moves to dismount my bike.

Eventually she calmed enough to accept my company and she rewarded me with her closeness and some kisses in between gobbles of food until it was all gone and she left to continue her search while I continued pensively on my way home.

Here’s the timelapse video from my handlebar cam.

So the backstory is I dropped $1.40 on a Diet Pepsi from the vending machine, but the contraption is really basic and lame because it literally drops the bottles free-fall style down the front of the case. And this time the soda got wedged in near the bottom row. I went to get my camera to get a picture of it and coworker Chris came into the breakroom while I was snapping it. He saw my dilemma and suggested what I had been reluctantly thinking of attempting: drop another $1.40 on another Diet Pepsi in the hope that it’ll drop and dislodge the first one. It was a risk, but I figured what the hell, and I decided to capture footage of the event.

Let’s let the video tell the rest of the success: