Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Top Ten Kodak Moments of 2008

As I mentioned in my Year in Review post, it's been a good year (despite a rocky start). Below are my Top 10 Kodak Moments.

10. The California Girl Finally Sees the Hollywood Sign

I grew up in California, and I can't tell you how many times I've been to Disneyland (at least 5 that I can think of). But I had never seen the Hollywood sign until this year. I was so happy to catch a decent shot of the famous sign from a moving bus.

Despite being in charge of 30-something teenagers, the trip was actually quite fun.

9. Daffodil Hill

I remember going to Daffodil Hill years and years ago, as a kid, but in recent years, it's always so busy and crowded, so we never really went back. Daffodils became my favorite flower when I spent a semester in London in 1999, so going to Daffodil Hill this year was a treat. Daffodils everywhere, of every variety. Lovely!

And according to the people who work there, this wasn't even their best year!

8. Let's Go Racin'!!!

Meeting Jamie and Tiff, showing them around the City by the Bay, and attending the NASCAR race at Infineon made for a great weekend.

Seeing Junior in the National Guard/Amp #88 was awesome.

7. A High School Teacher No More

My last day at Oy Vey High School came on June 12. School let out at 12:39, to my intense relief. Finally, I was finished with a job that made me miserable, and even though I didn't yet know where I would end up, I knew I'd be better off.

I took a picture of the clock to commemorate the moment at which I knew I had made it.

6. A Chance For Bliss

In May, Mom, Dad and I met the fine people of A Chance For Bliss, and we have forged a friendship that I hope will last for a while to come. Woody, Deanna and Guy are 100% committed to giving their animals a good life, whether the animal is there for three days or three years.

Mom and I just love the smell of horses, and the thrill of winning the trust of a skittish horse is marvelous.

5. Voting For Snoopy

Back the Beagle! When my students asked who I had voted for, I responded, "Snoopy." Hey, it's none of their business!

Election Day was exciting for me this year--it was such a passion-charged election, with record turnouts in some places, and history was in the making. I couldn't help but be thrilled to live in a country in which I have the right to vote at all. There are many in this world who still don't have voting rights. I thank God all the time for my freedom.

4. Having a Permanent Scrapbooking Station

With my move to Stockton, I gained a craft room. Actually, it's a library/Snoopy Showcase/craft room, but hey, it works.

Of course, this was soon after I moved in, and the room is now much more organized.

3. Yosemite Adventure

Finally seeing Yosemite was an adventure I won't forget. What a gorgeous place! It is truly a gem in a state full of beautiful places. I can't wait to go back some time.

2. Adopting a Little Dude

Adopting Harley was, of course, a big moment. He joins Millie in being one of the most-photographed cats on the planet.

1. Millie, Healthy

The best moment for me this year? Knowing that my beautiful Millie is feeling better.

Here's to many more years with both of my furbabies, well and happy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Newest Blogging Venture

On Mom and Dad's computer (where I am blogging from tonight), I have 276 sign pictures. There are even more, of course, on my computer at home.

I LOVE taking pictures of signs. Wherever I go, if I see an interesting sign, I get a picture of it. Even in my own town, and yes, I've started snapping pics of the great signs that Stockton seems to have in abundance (the first I got was Pacific Bowl).

The habit started when I went to London for a semester in 1999. I loved the pub signs, and took pictures of a few because some were just downright funny (Filthy McNasty's, anyone?). I kind of forgot about my sign fixation for a while, but when I went back to England in 2004, I started finding them again.

So tonight, I started a new blog, Sign of the Times. I just made 20-something posts, all scheduled to post themselves at 10:00 in the morning, for most of January. There will be new material posted often, I guarantee it. Posts are short, and the emphasis is on the picture, though I do often include links to the places I'm taking pictures of.

Anyway, check it out, tell me what you think. And, if you go somewhere with me, please humor me when I take pictures of signs.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Calvin's Snowmen, Part 10

A (Post) Christmas Miracle

Mark this date: On December 29, 2008, at approximately 7:30 pm (Pacific Time), Millie gave up growling her way into the Sweet Spot (Harley was there first) and simply decided, "If you can't beat them, join them."

We're at 20 minutes of sharing the Sweet Spot and counting. A few minutes ago, Millie even licked Harley's little head!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Year In Review

Another year passes, and it's on to 2009. Here's a look back at sometimes tumultuous, often crazy, but definitely good year.


The New Year started with me at Yoshi's Jazz Club in San Francisco with Heather and Arturo, enjoying the Count Basie Orchestra. New Year's morning found me resolving to never drink that much again on an empty stomach.

Despite a monumental hangover, I had a gut feeling that 2008 was going to be a GREAT year. I had no idea what was in store.

On January 24, my Grandma Cooper passed away, leaving me with details to see to before flying to Salt Lake City for the funeral. Most of my visits to Utah have been in the summertime, so experiencing Salt Lake in the snow was interesting. I was glad for my hats, gloves and scarves.

I ended January with a big "oy vey!" moment when one of my choir students passed out in my classroom.


February was, by far, the hardest month this year. I blogged a grand total of four times, which is not a lot. The economy was starting to get shaky, and a friend advised me to think about staying in my current teaching job at Muckety-Muck High School. I responded, "Oh, no chance of me leaving! I'm not happy so much with the job, but I can give it another year."

The next day, I was fired. On Valentine's Day. Well, not fired, so much, but told that it had been nice, but they wanted "a different dynamic." I was not alone--at leat four or five other teachers (most of us just on the cusp of becoming tenured in the district) were laid off at this time. I was the lucky one who got told on Valentine's Day...they're just lucky I didn't have romantic plans that evening.

"Bitter" hardly begins to describe how I felt. I had just lost my job because a serial womanizer and a man who needed 5 or 6 tries to pass the California BASIC Educational Skills Test (I passed the first try, at age 20) decided I wasn't "dynamic" enough. I took a day off from work to recoup, and that weekend found me on the first of four Winter Drum Line competitions with my hard-working, ever-faithful drum line.

I had an uphill climb ahead. I had to find a new job, and dust off my bruised pride.


I blogged exactly twice in March. I had so little to talk about...well, so little that could be said in a public forum, anyway. I was starting to figure out that getting "let go" had been a gift. How happy had I been in Diva Central? Not very. I hated the fundraising, I resented the kids thinking that my sole purpose in life was to cater to their every whim. Being made to leave was a gift--even if those first few steps were very, very scary.

At the end of the month, I happily found myself enjoying Spring Break with a new hairdo.


In April, I was happy to survive a 3-day trip to Anaheim (with a stop in Hollywood) on which I was in charge of 30+ teenaged choir students. My kids, normally a mostly diva-ish group that made my days miserable, actually behaved beautifully. I guess Disneyland really is the happiest place on earth. Plus, I didn't have to be around them much, and got a free trip to Disneyland and my own huge hotel room.

For Earth Day, I made a few resolutions, and even stuck to a few of them.


May Day was a blessing this year. I woke up. By this, I mean I finally started conquering the depression and anxiety that had plagued me in two years of teaching high school. I woke up that morning, and it was grand.

Mid-month, I came oh-so-close to getting a K-8 music position in Loomis, which would have been great. I came in the Top 3, but ultimately, someone else was hired. I was a wee bit disappointed, but heartened that they liked me so much and felt so honestly bad to turn me down.

That month, my parents and I met Woody, Deanna and Guy of A Chance For Bliss, when they held an open house to raise money for their animal sanctuary. Mom started volunteering to groom the horses, goats and donkey every other Monday. I go with her when I'm in town. The farm is kept clean as a whistle, and those animals are adored. It's a great place to visit.

Meanwhile, I was counting down the days 'til the end of school, and going through stuff in my apartment to sell on eBay or take to Goodwill. This explains how one Saturday found me washing and ironing my old doll clothes.


Ahh, June. This month found me packing the contents of my apartment and frantically figuring out what I was going to do about a job. I decided to save money by getting out of my lease one month early, and staying with Mom and Dad. I figured I'd stay through July and August, and start a new job later in August. I figured wrong--but more on that in a minute.

On June 12th, I officially ended my time as Choir Teacher at You're Kidding, Right? High School, with an exhausted, "I am done" texted to friends and family.

Packing hilarity continued, and then, finally, it was time for a much-anticipated bright spot: Meeting up with fellow NASCAR Nuts Jamie and Tiff to show them around San Francisco and attend the race at Infineon Raceway. This was the start of what I called "The Summer of Turning Thirty."

By the end of the month, I was up to my eyeballs in boxes, and ready to start a new chapter (even though I hated leaving my adorable apartment--the one bright spot in Anti-yuck).

June 30th was Moving Day. I woke up bright and find that my car had been vandalized. To this day, I still don't know why the people who sprayed mustard on a bunch of other cars chose to do $3,500 worth of damage to MY car only. Thank God I'm insured.

Rosie Pro went to a body shop, and I found myself driving a rented Toyota Camry (also covered by insurance) around for a week. It was during this time that I drove to Stockton for a job interview. I remember thinking, "Eh...Stockton..." because let's face it, the city does have a reputation. But I also remember leaving the interview thinking, "This is exactly the job I want."

I managed to have a GREAT Independence Day, enjoying a truly wonderful parade in downtown Lincoln.

And then...the phone call. I was offered a job in Stockton, teaching K-8 music. I accepted readily, and then listened with some dismay as the personnel lady said, "And...we start school two weeks from today."

"YIKES!" was my first thought, followed by, "Waitaminute...I bet we get a Fall Break...AWESOME!!" I LOVE modified year round!

This was Tuesday, July 15th. On Wednesday, I drove to Stockton to sign a contract and get fingerprinted at the SUSD Police headquarters. Sharon, the personnel lady, asked if I sing. "Yes, and I just saw a web site for Stockton Chorale!"

"I was just going to tell you about it! I sing with Chorale."

It was decided that I must try out in September.

I can't even begin to tell you how nervous and scared I was that day. What was I getting myself into? How would it all end up? Would I find a place to live, or would I have to commute from Lincoln for the first couple of weeks?

Turns out I worried in vain. On that eventful Wednesday, I found an apartment that was available that weekend (they were delighted to fill it so quickly). The apartment is older, but it had been recently renovated--all new carpet, paint and appliances. Sweet!

The next day, I found a mover, who was willing to work on a Sunday to help a gal with her last-minute move. It all fell into place so easily, I know it was meant to be.

School started on July 29th. I met my new charges, and, while it took us a few weeks to get into a routine, I found that managine a classroom full of middle school kids is so much easier than high school. On the first day I worked with a Kindergarten class, I texted my parents with glee. "You are in the right place," was my dad's simple reply.


August found me settling into life in Stockton, setting up my apartment, and finding myself really happy with my new gig...even though I had to learn (all over again) that when you teach Kindergarten, frequent handwashing is a must.

It also found me celebrating my 30th birthday, one I'd been looking forward to, as it signifies the beginning of my real adult life in some ways.

I had a super celebration that weekend. Any birthday celebration that ends up with me singing "Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine" in a gay bar can't be bad, right?


In September, I auditioned for Stockton Chorale. With my musical background, the director laughed after hearing me sing for a few minutes and said, "Well, you're in like flint!" He decided that he liked my soprano voice (in the past, I've been put on soprano to "improve the head voice," but I guess two years of teaching high school choir improved that to "wow, lovely sound up there!").

A few days later, I found myself acting as liason between my friend Shae in Houston and a group of gals we're friends with, posting regular updates on our private message board as Shae texted me about Hurricane Ike. Her first text came Saturday morning at about 6:30 Pacific time: "Ike is a bastard."

I started thinking of my life in children's songs (occupational hazard), and felt perhaps a bit too much glee at the start of Season Five of Grey's Anatomy.

I ended the month with a two-week fall break, and a three-week series of Crazy Cat Lady posts, as I babysat Bella and Duchess.


Most of October seemed to be break time. I visited Yosemite for the first time in my life, and enjoyed every minute of it. What a beautiful place!

Stockton Chorale had it's first concert of the season, and I experienced the Costume Nazi first-hand (I now know she does this to lots of people, and I have decided that if she ever pulls that on me again, I will point out how she is always looking down during concerts, and barely glances at the director. What looks worse, her bowed head or a teensy bit of white on my shoes?).

Halloween as an elementary teacher is always a ton of fun. I did the Minnie Mouse thing, even wearing my costume to Target and Safeway after school.


November was an interesting month. No matter what your politics (and I generally keep mine out of the LPB, and focus on more trivial stuff), history was in the making. We might have had a female V.P. Historically, a black man was elected president. I was just proud to exercise my right to vote--and I thanked God that I have that right.

For the first time since my student teaching assignment, I chaperoned a middle school dance, with hilarious stories coming out of that. Those kids make me laugh on a regular basis.

Also in November, I became a fan of Twilight, watched my parents tear up at an Alan Jackson concert, and kicked off my annual soup season.

A Happy Thanksgiving was had by all, too.


What can I say? December has been Wild and Absolutely True.

I won't bother linking everything, because it's all very recent. Anyone who reads this with any regularity knows that Millie got pancreatitis, and is recovering beautifully after a two-day hospital visit, a lot of tears on her Mama's part, and the prayers and best wishes of some much-appreciated friends.

And, of course, I adopted the adorable Harley Dude, who is proving to be a delightful addition to the family. My parents love him.

Chorale sang the first part and Hallelujah Chorus of Handel's Messiah, followed by a well-attended and really fun Holiday Pops concert with Stockton Symphony. I enjoyed eyeing a handsome cellist, and even made a chance to talk to him briefly after the concert.

I had a lovely, quiet Christmas with Mom, Dad and the four kitties. Harley has bonded with my dad and doesn't have much time for me. I'll have to take him home soon and reprogram him (Dad is threatening to keep him). Millie is back to her usual self, showing affection and a lot more spunk than she was. She's eating and keeping herself clean.

What's In Store for 2009?

The fun, my friends, is in unwrapping each day as it comes, like a gift. My wish for all of you is a happy, healthy year of wonderful surprises and lots of laughter.

As for the end, I was right. It was a great year.

Thinking Pink

In 2003 or 2004 (Whoa! Can't remember!), Mom and I participated in the Sacramento Race for the Cure for Susan G. Komen. We are not runners by any stretch of the imagination, but we laced up our walking shoes and walked the entire course, surrounded by so much positivity, it was amazing.

All around us were women wearing the pink shirts of survival. Some had heads full of hair; others, a few whispy strands growing back. All of them wore smiles. The atmosphere was merry--a definite vibe of, "We can beat this!" Whole families walked the course, with babies and toddlers in strollers or being pulled along in wagons.

Because of time and other issues, I haven't had a chance to do the Race for the Cure since then, but this year, I resolve to change it. So far, I can only find to California races this year: Los Angeles and Sacramento. The Sacramento one is scheduled for May 9, and I hope to be there, walking the course.

I would love to have friends, colleagues and family join me, so if you (and a friend!) want to do it, let me know. Registration is not open yet, but I hope to put together a team. I guarantee you won't be sorry you did.

Calvin's Snowmen, Part 9

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Calvin's Snowmen, Part 8

As Seen On TV

I don't watch a lot of TV in my apartment. I have a few specific shows I enjoy, and I tend to tune out commercials by grabbing the nearest Penny Press Variety Puzzle book. At Mom and Dad's place, though, the TV is almost always going. I've noticed recently that Dad's news channel of choice, Fox News, tends to play an overwhelming ammount of commercials that are selling stuff.

I laugh at the commercials, even as I sometimes secretly think, "Hmmm, that would be useful, actually." Here are some favorites.

The Snuggie

Are you tired of running up your heating bill? Are regular blankets just not enough? They slip, they slide, and you can't read with them, or change a channel on the TV. What is a person to do?

Try the Snuggie!

The Snuggie is a blanket with sleeves. No more blankets slipping from your chest. And it comes in Burgundy, Sage Green and Royal Blue! Call now, and you'll get TWO Snuggies and TWO reading lights for $19.95!

My thoughts: Actually, if I had the option of buying one Snuggie, without the crappy reading lights, I'd probably try it out. The first time I saw it, I laughed long and loud, but seriously, I get cold (I'm not a fan of using the heater, as it then gets too warm in the apartment) and need something to snuggle in. Sleeves on a blanket? Actually, that sounds kinda cool.

The Aqua Globe

Tired of killing off your houseplants? Overflowing water from the pot to your counter/shelves/whatever? Try the Aqua Globe! It will perfectly water your plants for two weeks!

Call now and get FOUR Aqua Globes--that's two FREE!--for only $14.95 (plus $7.95 S&H).

My thoughts: As a perpetual black-thumbed plant murderess, the idea intrigues me--and I hear that they actually work, so long as they don't get plugged with soil. I guess there's a trick to putting them in so the water doesn't get stuck.

My only question is, after two weeks, would I remember to refill them?

Hanger Cascader

Too many clothes? Not enough closet space? Are your hangers procreating at alarming rates and you just can't keep up?

You need the Hanger Cascader!

The premise is simple--hang both ends of the Hanger Cascader on your closet pole, and put a hanger in each of the six little notches. Then remove one end of the Cascader from the pole and voila! Space. They hold up to 20 POUNDS!

Buy your set of four Hanger Cascaders now, for only $14.95 ($7.95 S&H). BUT WAIT! You'll also get five Bendable Hangers to use for blouses that slip off normal hangers, or to keep the shoulders of special blouses/sweaters rounded and unstretched!

My thoughts: As a neat-freak, I love the space-saving idea of these, but I also love the idea of simply going through my closet and getting rid of stuff I won't wear again, or that doesn't fit, and keeping my wardrobe down to the basics (with a few special items thrown in).

Flingshot Flying Frog

(Note: I haven't seen this commerical, but just found it on the official site for As Seen on TV.)

Are you and your friends hard to entertain? Do movies bore you? Books leave you dry? Is conversation a drag?

You need a Flingshot Flying Frog!

You and your friends will spend HOURS laughing at this flying stuffed frog, as it "ribbets" (ed. note: I thought it was spelled Ribbit?) across the sky! No more boring parties, where all your boring friends have nothing intelligent to add to the conversation. Entertain them all with the Flingshot Flying Frog!

BUT WAIT! Order now and you'll get not one, but TWO Flingshot Flying Frogs for the low, low price of $9.95 ($6.95 S&H). It's the PERFECT gift for that hard-to-buy-for person in your life who has no use for books, movies, or other intelligent forms of entertainment! While you're at it, buy the Pig and the Monkey, too!

My thoughts: Wha?!

Doggy Steps

Does your favorite pet have difficulty getting up onto the couch or bed? Get him Doggy Steps! These are the perfect solution to help small/overweight/older dogs get where they want to go. And their plush, sheepskin look is machine washable!

Yours now for only $19.95 ($6.95 S&H).

My thoughts: Actually, when my cat Missy started having trouble getting from the floor to my bed, I used a small stool. Mom did the same thing for her Maggie, and it was a great little hopping point for the kitties to get up on the bed for cuddles as they got older, fatter and more arthritic. I think paying all that money for something you could essentially improvise on your own is silly, but the idea is pretty awesome.

The Bedazzler

No explanations needed. All I will say is that I didn't want one in the 80s, and I don't want one now.

There are TONS of items on As Seen On TV. Some are somewhat useful (I LOVE my Vidalia Slice Wizard and Chop Wizard that I found at Linens and Things), some are intriguing (I actually tried the Kinoki Foot Pads--found them at Target) and others downright amusing. The commercials are the high point though. I think they go to the Acme School of Acting to find people who are good at looking like thrilled idiots, and Billy Mays provides at least thirty seconds of entertainment.

The As Seen On TV stores are fun to visit, and I admit, I've tried a few things. But once I'm back at my apartment, I think I'll stick to my puzzle books at commercial time.

Post-Christmas Drag...

Oy vey! I have a cold.

It started last night. My nose was running excessively, and I just knew. I didn't sleep well, finally getting up at 7:50 this morning. Dad had let Harley out, who came in for some foot-pouncing and cuddling with his mama.

I drank a special Throat Coat Tea this morning, and took a Robutessin capsule. The tea was vile (it had a black licorice taste, which I just can't stand) but it seemed to help. My throat doesn't hurt as much, but I'm still going through Kleenex like they're going out of style.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas! Mine was relaxed and enjoyable. We opened all of our presents on Christmas Eve, and slept in on Christmas Day. Mom and I cooked a nice dinner on Christmas Day, of roast beef, potatoes, green beans and ambrosia salad.

Yesterday, I took my cell phone to Yakety Yak--they will be able to fix the LCD screen easily, and even had LG screens in stock. If you missed the blog about it the other day, I dropped my cell phone about four feet, from in front of me to the hard, tile floor of Raley's. The phone works as it should, but the screen is messed up. At least it's fixable.

The best news of all is that Mille truly seems to be better. She finished off her icky yellow goopy meds last night, and has maybe one or two more servings of the white, goopy, nasty-smelling stuff. I haven't seen any vomit (excepting one bit a few mornings ago, but I think she just ate too fast), and she is keeping herself very clean. She's been very cuddly, too, and feisty with the little dude.

Speaking of the little dude, Harley has made himself right at home in Grandma and Grandpa's house. He loves Dad, and spends a lot of time cuddling with him. Dad is usually the first person awake in the mornings, so he lets Harley out of my bathroom. The little dude has a tendency to ambush Millie, Bella and Duchess. Millie gives it right back, while Bella and Duchess tend to growl and run away. Harley takes it all in stride. He makes us humans laugh.

It's been a lovely, quiet Christmas. We didn't make a huge deal of it, but just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. That's the best way to do it!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Here Comes Santa Claws

I Believe

The most beautiful Christmas editorial ever.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Yes, Santa exists--he exists in the hearts of children, but also adults who believe in good, love and joy. I believe in Santa Claus--not the jolly man in a red suit, but the idea of loving others and giving of yourself.

At my favorite time of year, Merry Christmas to all. May you be blessed.


Meg of the Little Pink Blog

It's the Day Before Christmas

At the home of the Coopers
We've been quite busy
We've been troupers.

Daddy played Santa
With help from my Mama
While I stayed at home
In fleecy pajamas.

To an old friend's house
Santa Claus ran.
Because it is raining,
He traveled by minivan.

The Kindergatos are showing
Less attitude
And there's a shiny new collar
And tag for the Little Dude.

There are cookies galore
Of sugar and ginger.
Piled on plates,
Each one is a winner.

There's presents and cookies
The candles are lit
Lemon Drops mixed--
We're relaxing a bit!

The kitties in Sweet Spots
Are happily napping
And I've got a couple
Of presents needing wrapping.

But for the moment I'm sitting
And re-reading Twilight
So Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night!

RockYou FXText

Calvin's Snowmen, Part 5

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Watch Your Savings Disappear! Fa La La La La La La La Laaaa!!

Oy vey, what an expensive month December has been! And I've been very good about the Christmas presents.

They say bad news comes in threes. My savings and checking accounts certainly hope this is true. Here's why:

1. Sick Cat

To quote Mastercard, having Millie get better has been priceless. But it doesn't lessen the impact of the $800+ vet bill for two nights in the hospital, all the procedures and tests done, special food, two different medicines, and an IV.

I love my cat, and she is worth it. Seeing her eyes brighten, her tail go back up, and hearing her rumbling purr as we fall asleep at night is so worth the cost. I wouldn't take it back for one second.

But that dented my savings account pretty badly.

2. Car Service

My car is at about 62,000 miles, so it was time for the 60,000 mile check-up. I took it to Autowest Mazda in Roseville yesterday, and was given the quote of $525. MUCH less than I expected. Mom and Dad had offered to pay it as a Christmas present, so I was feeling pretty good.

Then the guy called me today. My brakes need attention, and I need new spark plugs and a fan belt. There are a couple of fluids that need changing out that aren't part of the normal service at 60,000 miles.

"Okay, how much?" I asked, warily, standing in the middle of Raley's.

"Well, when I combine the $525 I quoted yesterday, with the other stuff, it comes to $1,625."

Somewhere in Raley's is the egg I laid when I heard this ammount.

"Oh, and, you can get away with your tires for another month or so, but those will need to be looked at soon, too."

Holyfreakinhell!!! Pardon my language, but really! Oh! My! God!!

I told him to go ahead. I rely on my car too much, and live too far from my family to not get this stuff done. Mom and Dad are still going to pay, but I'm going to pay them back for half of month, when I have my next paycheck.

Mom and I got in the car to run some other errands and I started crying. There goes my London Fund.

But wait! There's more.

3. Cell Phone Woes

In July, I treated myself to a cell phone upgrade. I traded in my dinky little free phone and splurged on the LG Shine. It's a nice phone, and I really like it.

Today, in Raley's, I dropped it. No, not when the car guy gave me the new cost, but actually before.

The good news is, my phone is working for what I need it for: phone calls.

The bad news is, the display screen is all wonky now. Mom had to go to Sears, so I ran a short distance to the AT&T store. There is a crack in some part that affects the screen. The guy there gave me a card of a business and said, "Mention us, and he'll give you a good rate. I dropped my Blackberry, and he fixed it beautifully, and cheaply."

I don't have an estimate yet, but am assuming it will be another expense to take on.

But There's Hope

When I go back to school on the 5th, I will be starting a new thing: teaching the two preschool classes every day. My school is one of five in the district experimenting with the preschool program, and they want daily art/music to be part of it. So I'll be working with the itty-bitties every day. Thing is, the AM preschool session's music time will interfere with my prep, and the PM preschool sessions music time will be from 2:30-3:00, which is after my normal teaching time.

Because of this, I'm getting paid extra, according to my principal. I've just looked up my hourly rate, and if I'm looking at the right column (I don't remember off the top of my head and don't have access to a check stub at the moment), my hourly rate is $34.56. I'd be teaching an extra hour each day, and so earning that much extra per day.

Multiply that by five days in a week, and you have $172.80. Multiply that by four (average) weeks in a month and you've got $691.20. Multiply that by the five months I'll be working until summer vacation, and you've got $3,456. That, my friends, is a London trip, even after Uncle Sam takes his share.

I can live off of what I already earn, and put the preschool earnings in my savings account each month. So yes, December has been expensive...but my cat is better (*knock on wood*), my car will be running (and my tires are under warranty), and my cell phone will be back to normal.

*sigh* When it rains, it pours, right?

Calvin's Snowmen, Part 4

The Real Reason Cats Climb Christmas Trees

Monday, December 22, 2008

Kitty Update

Millie continues to recover nicely. She is eating a little more, drinking water, swatting and Harley on a regular basis, and I haven't seen or heard any vomiting. She's also bathing herself very well, which is a sign that her tummy is not bothering her. Her eyes are brighter and she doesn't seem as worn out as she did last week.

I could NOT be happier.

We still have some meds left, and I'll make sure she finishes those off. She hates it, of course, but I'm not in a position to let her stop now.

And let me just say that her vetrinarian through this ordeal has been WONDERFUL. American Vetrinary Hospital in Stockton is great. They didn't mind me bawling all over the place when I left her, and they let me visit her to see her for myself and comfort her. They understand that the bond between a cat and its human is special, and were honestly delighted at her reaction to seeing me that Monday afternoon.

Her vet, Dr. Singh, took time to answer all of my questions whenever I called. The ONE time he wasn't able to talk, it was because he was in surgery on another animal. He was kind, reassuring, and honest about his concerns. He treated Millie with utmost care and concern. Since she came home last Monday, he has called every couple of days to ask how she is doing, and has sounded genuinely happy when I report that she's eating a little, not vomiting, and cleaning herself.

I will recommend these people to anyone in Stockton looking for a good vetrinarian, and I will always be grateful for their help with my girl.

Harley, meanwhile, has won over his grandparents with both paws tied behind his back. He made himself right at home. Needless to say, this pissed Bella and Duchess off to no end, but they're getting used to him.

He has shown that he is an equal-opportunity cuddler, and he is proving the superstition that orange male cats are the friendliest right. He spent an entire day being cuddled and played with by three kids, and he loved every minute of it, never once leaving the room to hide.

Harley is still wearing the purple collar he came with from the shelter. His grandma does not approve. Purple is too girly for her grandkitty, and tomorrow, we will brave the pet store so I can get a more appropriate color for him. "He needs blue or green," Mom insisted earlier.

I joked that I should look for a Harley-Davidson cat collar. Guess what? Turns out such a thing exists.

Yes, I'm tempted!

Meanwhile, Mom and I went to see Twilight today, and do a bit of last-minute shopping (it's a madhouse out there!). When we got home, Dad was in his recliner, bundled up in a fleece blanket, with Harley cuddling him. Harley wouldn't let Dad read his magazine, insisting instead that he be cuddled and petted.

So, both of my babies seem to be doing very well. Harley spends his nights in the bathroom, and Millie curls up with me. I'm a happy mom.

A Day of Baking Madness

Yesterday, Mom and I fired up the oven and turned the kitchen upside down in preparation for what has become an annual event: Baking with the Fridays.

We became quite close to our neighbors in Folsom, and kept in touch when we moved. Lucy and Chet are parents to Justin, Logan and Morgan. To put everything in perspective, let me just mention that when Mom and Dad moved into the Jobson Ct. house, Justin was 4, Logan was 2, and Morgan wasn't anywhere near existing.

When we left Folsom in 2004, the kids looked like this:

Mom and Dad have seen the boys since; I've only seen Morgan. Yesterday, when Lucy pulled up, the boys were with her. Let me just say...YIKES!! They've grown up so much! Justin is in 8th grade, Logan in 7th. Morgan is in 2nd grade, and I feel a wee bit older than I did on Saturday.

They've always been nice kids--very sweet and friendly--and that hasn't changed a bit. The boys helped a little with decorating cookies, but were mostly content to visit with Dad and watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. They took to Harley immediately, proclaiming him to be a "cool cat," and Harley ate the attention up with a spoon. He played, he purred, and he allowed them to cuddle him and carry him around. Turns out I found me a people purrson.

Meanwhile, in the kitchen, we were busy, busy, busy. Mom had me make magic bars, which, unfortunately, I lost track of and allowed to get a little too brown. They still tasted good, though. I redeemed myself when I made Turtle Cookie Bars from a mix--it's basically two layers of chocolate chip cookie with gooey caramel in the middle. Every bit as yummy as they sound.

Lucy's first job was to make peanut butter balls dipped in melted chocolate and left in the fridge to set up. They taste like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Mom and Morgan got busy making sugar cookies. The rolling pin belonged to my Grandma Bean. At the end of the day, Mom said, "Mama would have liked this."

"Yeah, Morgan is cute."

"No, she would have liked baking with YOU."

I would have liked that, too.

Lucy, of Italian descent, made her famous biscotti.

At the end of the day, we had a ton of cookies, bars, biscottis, and fudges (I am particularly proud of my first-ever attempt at fudge--I added crushed candy canes and it turned out marvelous), a clean kitchen (that was my big job all day, keeping up with washing out mixing bowls and keeping the washing water from getting too nasty), and one tuckered putty tat.

All in all, it was a busy, fun, and tiring day. Mom and I were pooped last night! We sent most of the baked goods home with Lucy and the kids, but kept some biscotti, a few cookies, and my peppermit fudge. In a few minutes, I might just have some. : )

Gee, If I Could Only Have My Two Front Teeth...

Then I could wish you Meowy Kissmas!

Calvin's Snowmen, Part 3