Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mom's Weekend

Yes, February is officially Parent’s Month in Venice. And yes, both of my parents hit weekends where the weather was less than perfect. Luckily, mom stayed an extra day to celebrate her birthday. At her request, Pete and I took the day off of work, and hell if the sun didn’t get the memo. We FINALLY had a gorgeous day on Monday.

The weekend was incredibly uneventful. My mom and I have a habit of lying around the house, eating and catching-up with each other. I swear every time we are together, there is a point when we glance at the clock and say, “Holy shit! How’d it get to be noon (or 1, or 2)???” The incredulousness never fails us. It happened again on Saturday. Mom and I decided to walk to the Third Street Promenade to get her t-shirts from Zara, but by the time we changed out of our pajamas, it had started to rain.

Rain and Los Angeles don’t meet very often so when they do, I welcome the opportunity to catch-up on movies, lounge in bed reading or just plain not feel badly that I’m not experiencing the wonderful sun. So, having guests on rainy weekends leaves me flummoxed as to what to do with them. Usually, I like to walk around the area –Abbot Kinney or Main Street or one of the piers that we are sandwiched between. There is lots to see within a thirty-minute walk from our apartment. People swing from rings, hula-hoop, roller-dance, surf, or are just plain freaky. We love it. But rain?

We ended up buying yarn at this cute store I pass on my way to work, coming home and watching an Oscar movie. We chose “The Valley of Elah” over “La Vie en Rose” only because we couldn’t knit and read subtitles. We should have scrapped the knitting. I agree with the Academy that Tommy Lee Jones did a great job acting in “Valley,” but it is DEPRESSING. I don’t like being reminded how awful humans can be to each other.

After recovering from watching the movie, we headed over to El Cholo for some Mexican food. I choose it because in the past I’ve had excellent enchiladas there plus it is lively and fun. In the past, I’ve gone during the week. In the future, I will go during the week. I am never going on a Saturday again. “Lively and fun” became ear-deafeningly loud. Excellent enchiladas were mediocore at best, which I blame on the volume of food processed on a Saturday night. Wrap that one up as an experience.

Sunday was more of the same (except this time we were disappointed by the very bland, poorly written Academy Awards – and yes, Hollywood needs a hug!), so no need to elaborate other than to say we squeezed in some beach time during a brief moment of sunshine. But Monday, Mom’s birthday, dawned gloriously. She must have asked for sun because we got a gorgeous day.

For any of you who think Los Angeles is a wasteland of cement, I have news. It is ringed by mountains most people never set foot on, which means, great, empty hiking trails. After a half-hour drive, we were greeted by deep green grasses and muddy trails, and we loved it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dad's Weekend

A few weeks ago, my dad came for a quick weekend visit. My parents, unlike most, are completely fearful of over staying their welcome. I think my dad even quoted that old saying about how you want to leave before the stink of fish starts So, my dad did a Superman-like visit. He flew in from the east coast on Saturday morning, and out on the Sunday red-eye. I’m a hard-core traveler, and have been known to fly in for birthday parties and baby showers, but even I stay longer than a night (at least 2!). I think we convinced him that we truly do like him, and we would LOVE for him to stay longer. Only time will tell….

Anyway, we had a great time despite the rain, cold and grey that permeated the weekend (he planned very poorly as the following weekend LA broke heat records with temperatures soaring into the mid-80s). After a fabulous lunch of German fare at 3 Square, a favorite local eatery, I dragged him to the Japanese market to buy ingredients for sukiyaki, which he taught me how to make on Sunday.

The market excursion, for me, was incredible. I love going to the Japanese market and buying random things to try like yam noodles, but most things I have no idea how use or even what they are since most of the packaging is in Japanese. Enter Dad. Not only could he tell me what most stuff was, he could tell me what to do with it. I was picking up all kinds of things and demanding to know how I could use it.

After the exciting trip to the market, we squeezed in a walk by the beach before heading off to a Mardi Gras party where we all ate way too much gumbo (soooo good!!!). Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos because Pete showed up in his Christmas tree costume and I ended up with a Mardi Gras thong on over my jeans. I wonder what we would have done if Dad wasn’t in town….

Sunday was an ode to food. We started the day at the farmers’ market (I swear my dad likes the markets), then headed home to figure out how to spend the rainy day. We were at a complete loss since rain isn’t very common in the Southland. Luckily, Pete decided it was a good time to make spaetzle for us with our new spaetzle maker. Just as our bellies were expanding from the spaetlze, the rain gave us a reprieve so we headed out for a walk on the beach.

The temperature wasn’t that bad, but the winds were blowing hard and the sand was whipping us in the face. Unfortunately, I left the camera at home yet again because the light was magnificent that afternoon. The stormy grey clouds had bursts of sunshine streaming through and the winds made interesting piles of sand.

After walking home INTO the wind, we were all exhausted and passed out in front of the Super Bowl. It ended just in time for my sukiyaki lesson and dinner before taking Dad back to LAX to catch the red-eye home.

He said when he retired, he wouldn’t mind coming out to cook Japanese food for us for a week (pretty please!!). His only requirement was that he have his own room, which is just a little more incentive to buy a house. If only the housing market could crash back to reality.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Old Lady

I think I’m old. I mean, when did this happen? I look at photos of myself, and there are wrinkles next to my eyes. (I prefer “crinkles” because it sounds a little less permanent.) I can handle the “crinkles,” but my idea of fun has changed. Today is Friday and I’m excited for the weekend because it means I can watch movies and exercise. I used to get excited for parties and meeting guys, but not now. I have time to cook soup and maybe even bake some cookies. Really. It’s just LAME! And pathetic and sad.

I’m not so old that I think digital things are for “the kids.” I’m on Facebook. But, other than finding friends and giving friends a cyber cupcake, I’m not really sure what I am supposed to be doing with it, but I’m on it, which brings me to my point. I was bored so I started scrolling through some “friends” photos on the site. I have friends of all ages, and this one happens to be in her low 20s.

Before I go on, I have to repeat, “Ya’ll, I’m old.” I’m old and farty. Ten years ago I would have thought her photos were so cool, and they still are if I was flipping through an album while sipping a beer in her living room, but they are online. Where people at work can see them. Her pictures aren’t exactly raunchy or even too out there. She’s posing with her girlfriends at a bar, martinis lined up in front of them, cleavage hanging out. She’s almost kissing a girlfriend in another. Apparently, she either goes to a lot of costume parties or likes Halloween a lot because she has embraced the slutty costume whole-heartedly. Again, there in NOTHING wrong with her photos. It appears that she is having a blast with her friends, but my beef is that they are online for co-workers to see. Set the privacy settings higher, for god’s sake!!!

Why do people want to so much of their live their lives on-line? (Remember, this is coming from a blogger who writes about her life online.) Don’t they know that employers might be able to see things like their photos? Under likes, she has porn. Again, that’s fine, but do you want everyone to know you like porn, or is it just cool to like porn now?

I graduated college a few years before it was cool to like porn (unless you were a frat boy) or be a lesbian. I’m sure there were women watching porn and LUGs at my school, but it wasn’t main stream. When did all of this change? And more importantly, when did I become someone who looks at the generation behind mine and says, why do they think ______ is cool?

It’s true. I’m officially old.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Non-Toxic Update

I’m drinking out of metal! One of my good friends read my post about the super-fund site I was drinking out of, and turned me onto Affirm Water bottles. I hopped on-line, and ordered 5 of them right away because you can never have too many bottles (plus I saved on shipping and handling since it costs the same amount for 1 or 5 bottles). I got 3 small ones and 2 large ones. I am planning on giving my water drinking Mama one of them for her birthday, and maybe the other to another water enthusiast. We’ll see.

Other than the fact they look almost exactly like the fuel bottles I used to take camping (back when I camped), they are great. They came with two different caps – a sports top and a screw top similar to my fuel bottle. I’m not a big fan of the sports cap mostly because I can’t squeeze the bottle to force the water out. I like to gulp water and it’s more like a trickle. I’m going to take the small one to spin class this week, which will be the true test.

Sometimes, there is a slight metallic taste with the first sip (and it doesn’t happen all the time), but overall, drinking directly from the bottle works for me. I would prefer a more exciting graphic on the bottle, or something more design inspired, but that’s just me being picky. Overall, I’d say get a metal water bottle. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. I just have to get used to it – especially the fact it’s smaller than a Nalgene (26oz. vs. 32oz.).


Also on the testing front, I bought “healthy” nail polish this weekend. The verdict: I miss my chemicals. When I’m standing, it looks fine, but it’s lacking the luster and shine of a traditional polish. The ridges in my nails show through. Also, the color choice is sort of lacking. There wasn’t an eye-popping bright red or pink. I settled for a pinky, red, purple-y color that is nice, but subdued. The polish was $7.50 and the special remover was $8.00. (Regular remover doesn’t work.) I think I like my bare nails better.

There are more brands to try so I’ll keep you posted. This quest for natural beauty is sucking money.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Taste of Hell

Poison oak sucks. I can’t even pretend to not mind it. It’s been a week since I raced to the doctor, and you know what? I still have the crap. I still wake up itching. I fall asleep itching. In fact, my whole body itches in solidarity with the poison oak parts.

Two different friends told me about this miracle stuff called Tecnu, which washes away the oils and helps you heal faster. I think Pete and I thought it would be an elixir from the gods, and would wake to find milky, smooth skin after we used it. We’ve both used it 4 times (morning and night – maybe that’s why I’m itchy). The rash is subsiding slightly, but it might also just be time. I’m not sure it is quite the miracle worker I was led to believe.

Here’s the real kicker: the damn oil must be on something we touch regularly because now I have new spots of poison oak on my hands, inside of my right leg and my ass. HOLY CRAP!! I’M OVER IT!!!

We both feel like we’ve woken up in some version of hell. We’re scared to touch stuff in the house, scared to drive the car we used to take the hike (it’s been sprayed with so much rubbing alcohol it smells like it). Our laundry pile grows exponentially every day since we only use a towel and wear clothes once. Hell, Pete even stripped the couch covers to wash because he is sure he lay on the couch with his contaminated hiking clothes on.

This morning, when I told my friend we “pulled off the trail,” she asked if it was to get busy. All I have to say to that is, Thank God L.A. has too many people to even consider that! Ouch…

I’ve heard tales of using poison oak/ivy to wipe after peeing in the woods. All I have to say is, you have to have some pretty bad karma for that to happen.

So, 7 days down. Hopefully, less then 7 to go.

UPDATE: It's 9 days later and it is basically gone, but my skin still has blotches on it. The stuff is straight from the devil.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Oh the Itch

I’ve always had crazy skin. It breaks out in a rash if the temperature changes. I was allergic to milk, wheat and eggs as a kid (and yes, it completely sucked). Besides being congested and slightly asthmatic, I got a rash behind my knees. If I ignored it and kept eating cookies and ice cream, it would spread up my inner thighs, then jump to the crooks of my arms and sometimes even under my arms. Add a little heat and humidity, and oh, those were the days.

Luckily, I’ve mostly grown out of the allergies (there’s hope for all those kids today), but I still get rashes occasionally. I’ve had eczema on my eyelids and an itchy rash on my belly, which were both treated by acupuncturists. (My system runs hot so I should avoid spicy things that “heat” my system. Add it to the list.) So, when I got a rash on the back of my arm and a few spots on my hip, I didn’t think that much about it. I just decided to start following my acupuncture diet (no wheat, no diary, no red meat, no spicy stuff, no sugar, no night shade vegetables – yes, there are still things to eat). In fact, I was kind of happy because it gave me a reason to lose some of the marriage weight I’ve put on.

Then, on Tuesday, I show Pete my hip in a search of some sympathy, but instead, he yells, “I’ve got that on my arm!” Bells went off in my head. I wanted to faint. I was sure we had some awful, contagious skin condition. I’m used to rashes that don’t spread, but this? My lord, I’d given it to my husband! We’re one of the gross couples with rashes! I quickly called the doctor, and rushed over that afternoon.

I was prepared. The quarantine we’d face in our apartment. The piles of laundry we’d have to do. I was ready. Just give me the antibiotics. But, she said it was just poison oak. Poison oak? From where?

Pete and I have been on a get back in shape kick (why does marriage make you fat?), and we’ve been hiking every weekend. Prior to meeting Pete, I hiked most weekends and never, ever got poison oak. EVER. So, a few weekends ago, we were hiking in Temescal Canyon after one of the drenching rains, and happily staying on the trail. Then, at the very end of the hike, there was this group of people with a net wading through the creek. It was an odd sight since a) if you caught a fish in the stream it would most likely be about 2 inches long and b) it would most likely be full of toxins. Of course we stopped and asked what they were doing. (The words, “Move along, folks. There’s nothing to see here,” ring in my ears.)

Apparently, one of them had seen a koi swimming in the creek earlier and they’d come back to rescue it. (You have to love LA. My street is packed full of homeless people and they are saving koi.) We didn’t stay long enough to find out if they found it, but we pulled far enough off the trail to step in some poison oak.

At least this is what we’ve deduced. My dad was here last weekend, so we didn’t go hiking. But, we did get poison oak. The only thing we can figure out is that it was on the shoes we wore for the walk we took with my dad.

Since Wednesday, I’ve been all over the net reading about poison oak and urushiol, the pesky oil it contains that can stay on things for YEARS and infect you. YEARS.

Since we aren’t 100% sure it was the shoes, we are washing everything. Pete started the laundry last night, washing all the towels and his clothes. I have piles of sheets to wash plus my clothes (fair division of laundry). I’ve sprayed the couch and our shoes down with rubbing alcohol. We’re hoping this covers any places the oils may be lurking.

Today, the spots are getting bigger, but softer around the edges – more blister-like. This is supposed to last 12-20 days. On the bright side, my obsessing has made the week fly by, but I have no idea how I’m not going to itch for that long. Pete’s already ripped the tops off of most of his blisters. I guess I did learn something from all my rashes as a kid. Although, it still feels great to just sit back and itch sometimes. Only 10-18 days to go…