Dairy Crack

There is an obesity epidemic.  In Siberia.  I do not imagine Siberia is a hopping place unless you are a mammoth hunter.  The reward for losing pounds is a lump of coal.  Coal is worth a nice sum of money in Siberia.  I’d use it to get the heck out of Siberia to someplace warm.

I lost weight due to Jack choosing to join a new gym.  I shoulder some of the blame as I found this particular gym while searching for choices close to home.   The gym offered once a month personal training and nutritional counseling.   Jack liked the idea of personal training.

Now I count calories, work with a personal trainer app and my pants no longer fit me.  Jack complains about the workouts as we’re doing them together and wears the same size pant.

I know, its weird talking about counting calories during Thanksgiving.  Its a pain in the ass but it works for me.  I don’t eat as much at Thanksgiving.  I did drink a bit much last night.  Its all good because I entered those calories ahead of time, wine and all.

Counting calories doesn’t stop me from imbibing wine, cheese and other addictive stuff.  I just imbibe in moderation, especially cheese.  I love cheese.


Yes, its addictive according to the latest scientific research.  I tried soy cheese once.  Once was all it took.  Never going there again.

I asked Santa for a gift certificate for a place which sells clothes.  I’m tired of walking around holding my pants up.


Messaging for Money

Today is #FreelanceIsntFree day.  I’m lucky.   I usually get paid for my freelancing work.  I do get most of the work through freelancing sites which generally assure you get paid.   I also find jobs outside of those sites and once I spent over a year chasing down $30 from a client.  I managed to collect in about 15 months, which totally surprised me.  My first foray into collecting payment for my voice over work paid off.

Voice over is a different way to get paid.  There are many weirder ways.   I searched on “funny ways to make money” and “funny ways to get paid” on Google.  Selling your bits, like your hair or plasma, will net you baubles at Wal-Mart.  Unless you have extremely soft, luxurious, virgin locks and those will net you an entire designer outfit.


Won’t fetch much money

There are smart phone apps which pay you for shopping.  I fail to see the advantages of this, unless you’re being rewarded for buying cheap stuff.  You can tell I’m not a shopping addict, can’t you?  Other apps pay you for gathering marketing or inventory information.    Still seems like spending money to make money to me.

You can RentAFriend.com.  I’m not kidding; there is a site where you sell your companionship.    Its legit, platonic purposes only and there are pictures of your possible friends.   If your renter has some bucks, and lots of time, those designer shoes are looking possible.

The winner, in my book, of the most unusual way to make money is sending text messages.  Yes, as a ChaCha guide with a hankering for knowing how to remove cats from dryer hoses and fast fingers, you can cover your grocery bill for a week.

Shop till the Bath is Cold

I wrote this about 3 years ago, never imagining applying it to myself.  Just to be clear, I haven’t resorted to shopping from the toilet.  I do confess to reading my emails.   Always one to use my time efficiently, it seemed like a good idea to utilize my hands being free and my tablet’s portability.

The new shopping place

The new shopping place

In 2012, I ran across an article that 18% of us shop while on the toilet.  An update in 2015 claims its now 26%.   Why? Smart phones and tablets make it convenient to shop anywhere and we spend more time researching our purchases.   It is efficient, a good way to use down time.  You really can’t do much else, except read.  Jack keeps a library in the bathroom.  He loves to shop, too but thank goodness he’s still just reading or playing tank battles on his iPad.  It’s a good thing as our house is already too full of his bargains.

Turns out 43% shop while in bed and 14% in the bath.   Personally, I love to luxuriate in the bath, and relax; if I could get a hot bath that is.  The old pipes in our old house combined with a DIY guy who installed one of the hot water on demand systems he got off eBay conspire to deny me a hot bath.  That means I’ll save a few bucks this holiday season.  Shopping while in a relaxed mood makes the merchandise look worth more than it is so you spend more money.  15% more according to the article in Today Money so remember, not shopping after your massage will save you a little chunk of change.  Shopping while bathing gets more expensive if you drop the tablet or smart phone, not to mention dangerous.

The holiday shopping season is upon us.   Please shop responsibly.  Remember to stop when your toes wrinkle or your foot falls asleep.

Shopping the Neighborhood

Look what I found in our neighborhood this morning.

Free items, pick up at own risk

Free items, pick up at own risk

A few things to furnish your home with and improve your wardrobe.  A couch, which needs a little cleaning and if you don’t pick it up by Friday afternoon, will also need drying out.  Its the rainy season here now.  A piece of electronic equipment which looks impressive.  No idea what it does, but that makes it a conversation piece.  And a black shirt.  Everyone needs a black shirt.  There are more things available to add to your closet, too.  JJ, Benny and I noticed a woman’s sweater on a fence, one glove on the ground and shrubbery wearing a small pink hat.  Shrubbery does not need a hat but maybe you do.

You don’t need to go to GoodWill or Value Village.  Just take a spin around our neighborhood and you will find housewares, makeup and furniture.  Within the last 6 months, for absolutely nothing, I mean zero dollars, you could have picked up 4 dining room chairs, a sink, an ironing board, an orange mattress, a desk, an exercise bike and book shelves.

We do have a few garage sales in the summer.  The preferred method for getting rid of unwanted household items in our area especially stuff which only fits in a truck, is to slap a free sign on it, haul it to the curb and wait.  Or just plunk it down near the curb.  Oversize items on the parking strip near the curb are assumed to be free and ready to be hauled away, no sign required.

Shopping hours are 24/7, and recommended months are July through September.  Product is available year round but you will risk water damage October through June.  Unless there is a drought.  Bring your U-Haul or truck and lots of your friends for the most favorable shopping experience.

Wash shrubbery before Wearing

Our neighborhood gets into Halloween which brings back memories of Halloween past for me.

Halloween in Hawthorne Hills

My mother always dressed up for Halloween, she loved it.  I loved the candy part, sifting through my treasure once we arrived back home.  We resided in rural Michigan at that time so some of our friends lived miles away. Trick or treat meant piling in the car and spending an hour or so on the road, in the dark.  Halloween meant spooky adventure in the dark, bombing around the country roads.

The older I got, the more I liked to dress up for Halloween.  One Halloween, I imagined myself as a wood nymph.  Being into realistic, I grabbed some shrubbery on the way home to enliven my costume.  About halfway through the party, little tiny bugs crawled out of the shrubbery I’d adorned myself with.  Being realistic is good, but you need to wash the shrubbery before you wear it.

I work for a live entertainment agency, Live Wires.  I used to perform lots of singing telegrams and comic roasts before the Great Recession of 2008.  I’d go out dressed like this.

Madge the Bag Lady

After going out dressed like a freaky character several times a year, the desire to dress up for Halloween sort of expired.  It felt like Halloween every month.  I never quite recovered.

I accepted a Halloween party invite for tomorrow.  Its time to pull one of those freaky characters out of the closet.

Unbidden Licks

The gray haired gay gentleman’s eyes open wide and he says “Oh my”.  Oh shit.  I duck under the table.  Sure enough, JJ is licking his sock.  I pull JJ away and apologize.  He giggles.  “Its ok”, he says.

The gray haired gay gentleman’s partner glances under the table and says “ I keep forgetting your dogs are there.  I feel this hair against my leg, so either I’m peeing my pants or its your dogs.”

Most people are like the gay couple, happy to meet our dogs.  Occasionally we get dirty looks from our neighbors on the table, those who don’t appreciate a JJ kiss.

Its summer concert season at the U Village and dogs are welcome in the beer garden.  Kids are not.  Kids are welcome outside the beer garden where there is face painting and balloons.  The weather is a tad hot but the buildings around the parking lot provide a bit of shade.  The beer garden is packed and at times there isn’t even a spot at the long tables.  You must be there exactly when it opens to claim a small round table with stools.  We’re never there when it opens.  We’re lazy this year, not even biking to the concert with the dogs, but driving.

When we elbow our way into a spot at the long standing tables, the dogs stay under the table.  Unless JJ spots a piece of popcorn lying just out of reach.  JJ stares intently at the morsel and creeps closer.  There are never scraps of any food under or around our table, Every spot is inspected for edibleness.

Benny is not a smoocher.  He hates the clapping and loud noises.  He wants to be held but at 55lbs that’s not realistic.

JJ and Benny are both at attention when the pizza arrives.  Summer concert  night is beer and pizza  night.  JJ and Benny agree pizza crust is the best.  Licking and barking at the loud noises are forgotten while they wait for their crust.

JJ and Benny at U village concerts

I Like My Fish Ready to Go

The director unwraps the fish.  It rolls out on to the cutting board, a whole dead fish.  Its dead eyes stare at me.  I’m definitely getting my hands dirty today.   Is it gutted? he asks.  I poke at its belly.   No, its not gutted.  I have no idea how to gut a fish.  The director says he thinks you cut open its belly and pull out the crap.   Yuck.

I’ve frozen my ass off twice on location for films, once dressed in a power suit laying on the concrete outside the convention center in November and once in a flimsy cotton dress on a hill in July at midnight.  Today, I get to gut fish.

He hands me the special knife used in the other meal prep shots and I center the fish on the board.  He says action and I cut.  More like I begin sawing and it goes well until I hit the bone near the head.  The knife is not particularly sharp and the fish bone is darn hard.  Its like beef bone.  I gingerly scrap the entrails out using the knife.  My character would probably stick her hand in there and yank.  I can’t quite bring myself to do that.  So much for throwing myself into my craft.  Next up is cleaving the head off.  I’m much better at that.  Upon the word action, I give a good whack which only sinks into the flesh.  I saw and it works, the head separates with only minimal effort.  So does the tail.  Hacking at fish is much more my style.

Next up, the trout, which is already gutted.  Yay!  The director then dumps the smelt on the cutting board.  To our surprise, smelt are soft and not easily gutted.  They fall apart as I handle them.  We decide to line them up for one shot only.  Out come the squid.  What am I supposed to do with them?  The director says cut off their heads.  I’m not totally sure where the head is at but I figure its the non tentacle end.  A quick easy chop.

We move on to Brussel sprouts and fennel.  What a relief.  The sprouts are still attached to their branch.  My cutting method sends them flying across the board.  You need to watch out when I’m in the kitchen with a knife.  You may take a Brussel sprout to the head.

I throw some dough around in flour for the rolls which thoroughly powders my black Victorian costume.

Vows - by the Beach

I attempt to wipe it off but I only spread it around.  Good thing we don’t need body shots of me today because the black costume now smells like fish with flour spewed down the skirt.

It takes a shower at the gym 3 hours later to finally get the fish smell off my hands.  And I will never ever buy a whole fish. I want them ready to go in the oven, no guts, no scales, no skin.

Proportional Analysis of Lawn and Dog Mess

The dog walker carefully bags their dog’s little gift in a green bag and then drops it discreetly in the bushes.  This stealth bag and drop dog walker is the star of our new neighborhood social app, with 30 some replies to the subject “whoever is leaving dog poo around in green bags”.   The app is like a combination of Facebook and Craigs List for the neighborhood. You get to know your neighbors, the local police and what’s happening in your neighborhood.  The big topics are crime, crime prevention and at this moment, dog poo.

The app works well for tracking the latest car prowls and crazy homeless guy who turns on outside water faucets.  But not as well for poo.  We’re unable to nab the bag and drop dog walker.  Much less explain why they bother to bag and then discard the evidence.  Such behavior is anti-social according to some in the neighborhood and others find it nonsensical.  Apparently the bag and drop culprits like the texture but not the odor of their dog’s little gifts.  They scoop it up but leave it on the sidewalk, the lawn or under a bush.

We do have the other sort too.  The “leave it where it drops and don’t touch it” which includes the sidewalk.  You’d expect more of this other sort, but its about even.  The “leave the mess” dog walkers used to frequent our yard until Jack installed a squatting metal dog with an big No emblazoned on it in the yard.  This worked but upset our neighbors.   One left a note by the metal dog intimating our slightly messy front lawn deserved to be pooped on.

Now, I have seen metal signs in other lawns as I walk our dogs which say “No dogs” or the like.  I consider analyzing the lawn mess to dog mess ratio to determine if I leave the boys walk on the lawn(or do anything else).  I’m not up to the proportional analysis, its too subjective.  I opt to just enjoy walking the boys.  When I see those full little green bags, I do not stoop to pick them up, I’m not dealing with other people’s shit.

Bag of Shit

My Victorian Breakfast

Wild Rice Soup with Butternut Squash

Wild Rice Soup with Butternut Squash

Katie my coworker said she thought of me when she smelled KFC yesterday morning as she loaded her 3 year old into the car.  I’m one of those people who eat lunch for breakfast and sometimes breakfast for lunch.  I haven’t eaten cereal since I was a kid for breakfast.   I will admit to eating cookies and the occasional pastry for breakfast, but that falls into the lunch for breakfast category.  I used to eat fruit for breakfast but as I age I want hot food in the morning.  I hate hot cereal so I heat up left over’s from dinner the night before;like Wild Rice Chicken Soup with Butternut Squash.  Katie finds my preference for flounder stuffed with crab as a breakfast dish disgusting.  She eats cereal for breakfast.

I don’t think cereal is the typical breakfast food around the world, so I asked around.  Angie from Thailand says she eats noodles for breakfast.  I searched the Internet for standard breakfast fare throughout history.  According to current historical records, breakfast started around 10,000 years ago and consisted of grainy porridge.   Okay, that doesn’t sound appetizing to me, but seems hot cereal’s been around for a really long time.    In the middle ages, they added beer alongside the grainy porridge.  That filled you up and gave you a buzz to get through the day.   The word breakfast became official in 1463.

Office work in the early 1800’s ushered in the English breakfast, which still started with porridge.   Really, what is it about that stuff?  But then the good stuff followed, toast and eggs with bacon or fish.  They ate fish as part of breakfast in the 1800’s so it’s not so weird as Katie thinks.  Those Victorians did take things a bit too far when the Martha Stewart of her day, Isabella Beeton, suggested cold meat, game pies, broiled mackerel, sausages, bacon and eggs, muffins, toast, marmalade, coffee and tea as the everyday breakfast buffet.  I don’t know how you’d haul yourself out the house after that breakfast, I’m sure I couldn’t.  It caused a backlash against such extravagance and claims that meat breakfasts led to ill health.  So, John Kellogg and C.W. Post invented cereal which caught on big time and is the standard breakfast today for those who take time to eat it.  Just don’t ask me to eat cereal in the morning.  As far as breakfast goes, I’m just a Victorian at heart. Give me one of those game pies and some bacon.

Gift from the Wind Gods

Jack shakes a large rectangular piece of plastic in front of my face.  “Do you know what this is?”  He asks.  I’m like, no.  “It’s one of those plastic cutting boards,” he says.   “I found it stuck 6 ft up in our pine tree.”

Really, our huge pine tree is catching crap that flies by.  Why can’t it catch something useful?  I don’t like plastic cutting boards and now I have a free one.  I balk at using it.   I don’t know where it came from.  Jack washed it but still, just look at it.

Treed Cutting Board

I wonder if the wind anywhere else picks up kitchen accessories and tosses them into a tree.  A search of the Internet turns up nothing.  This is my singular Does This Happen to You moment.  The items arborists find in trees are mostly nails, stones and wire.  I figure people or birds are responsible for that.   Golf balls show up.  The wind may be responsible or just a golfer with terrible aim.    One arborist claims he pulled thong underwear out of a tree.  That has to be the wind or a crow with a fetish.

We had 45 mph winds that day.  Maybe if we have gale force winds our tree will catch a new stove or a Cuisinart.  I’d love either of those.