Sunday, September 30, 2007


I've got to figure out how to make this Michael's thing work. Yesterday wasn't what I'd hoped it would be.

First we had a meeting of all the instructors. Then we dragged some tables and chairs out to the sales floor and set up for the demos. We were all scrunched in, two or three to a table, in this dead area of the store. Everyone set to work making their stuff. And yapping. Now, everyone was very nice but if I were a customer I would feel uncomfortable checking out the demos while everyone was having a conversation around me. People just weren't coming over to look at what we were doing. I think I handed out three flyer cards yesterday.

These women were kind of overbearing and loud. Really, I'd rather sit at a table by myself and chat quietly with customers on my own. I don't need someone else hawking my wares. But how do I say I want to sit away from them without offending everyone? There was one woman there, who was a new instructor, who had brought her own table and was sitting off to one side. At first I felt bad that she wasn't included with the rest of us but I quickly changed my mind. Lots of people stopped and talked to her.

The best part of my day was when I got up to get some supplies and saw some customers looking kind of lost. I asked them if they needed help finding something and they said YES like they were grateful for the help. I helped them find what they needed and sent them happily on their way. Then I saw another lost-looking person and helped her. I'm not really supposed to do that but damn, I can't ignore someone who obviously needs help. Almost all of my past jobs were in retail and I really did enjoy helping customers. So, I've got to find a way to blend teaching classes, promoting my classes and interacting with customers.

I can really see how having my Michaels blog will help promote my classes. My flyer cards will be very useful as mailers. Tracie said she makes up 500 calendar sheets a month and people take them but don't sign up for classes. We need to figure out how to fix that. There are big display boards that advertise the classes but I think they look kind of shabby. I'm going to be thinking about how to make that whole thing look better. There's a big tv that they have in the classroom. Maybe we can move it out into the store and run a slideshow on it.

Ooh! How about a locking display case that showcases student's work? At the paint-it-yourself ceramics place in Santa Rosa they had a shelf in the front window where they displayed the best stuff that their customers made. It was always kinda fun to check and see if any of our stuff made it to the shelf (it always did).

Ok, that's it. I need to take a tour around gallery stores and such to see how they display their stuff. I think that's the attitude we need to take about this stuff. Present the pieces as something you might want to buy instead of having them look like dowdy crafty items. I'll drag Tracie along. I think the whole thing needs a fundamental shift.

Blogging is good. It helps me think.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Be a swan

Last night at Joe's we had a fun waitress. She was quite jolly and joked around a lot. When she brought us our drinks the tray was heavy with four large glasses and our cucumber salads. After she unloaded the tray she shook her arm. I said, "Yeah, that must have been pretty heavy." She said, "My mother always told me you must be like a swan. Above the surface, grace and beauty. Below, lots of kicking and hard work." We all thought that was a pretty cool metaphor.

I was thinking about that on my walk this morning. I am awesome. I woke up at 5 and decided that after last night's huge sushi dinner and birthday cake and ice cream the best thing I could do for myself would be to get my ass up the Rube. I'm so glad I did that. Anyway, I was thinking about what being a swan would look like for me. I've been working a lot on getting ideas for future Michael's classes. I've got one that's completely ready to go and another one that I'm developing. I've thought about how I want to present myself, how I'm going to dress. One one episode of The Office there was a scene where the women all had a meeting with the power bitch from corporate. She told them, "Don't dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want." I know that saying has been around for a long time but I hadn't heard it in a while. Apparently none of the women at Michael's has ever heard it. I think it makes a lot of sense. I already have some nice clothes but I'm going to buy more.

As I was walking and thinking about all this I passed a couple of women on their way up. We smiled and said good morning. Then one of them made power fists and said, "VICTORY OF THE DAY!!" Yes, getting up that mountain that early in the morning was my victory of the day. Now I had a new phrase to think about.

So, be a swan and have a victory every day. I can cruise with that for a while.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

Fifty-one. Been a legal drinker for 30 years.

Lots of exciting things planned for today. After doing morning meds with Dad I'm going to Michael's to pick up supplies for the class I'm developing. Then I'm off on a whirlwind tour of Home Depot to buy paint and supplies for the big birthday bash I have planned. Tonight I'm painting a big prop for Ramona's band! I'll be whisked away to the football field where the fake bridge will be waiting for me to apply my artistic genius making masonite look like slats of wood. I can hardly wait! I'm gonna party down with some of the A-list band parents. I'm so looking forward to the witty conversations we'll have. I can never get enough of listening to people bitch about each other. It's gonna be an exciting night and the sore back I'll have tomorrow will be totally worth it. Hey, if you're gonna have fun you gotta pay the piper.

But it'll be hard to top last year's birthday. I still think the best way to celebrate an important milestone birthday is to dig up a broken water pipe with your crazy dad. Drew was there too but all he did was act sane and do a bunch of work. Boooorrrrriinnnggggg!

Tomorrow night the girls are taking me out for sushi. I guess I'll put up with it just to make them happy.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Slipping fast. Last night Drew called and said he was bringing Dad home. They had gone out to a game. He said Dad needed a pain pill ASAP. I took some of his prescription Motrin over. I made Dad half a salami sandwich and set one pill out and put the other in a little plastic bag with a note in it about when to take it. That's my little system for leaving pills with him. I have these tiny ziplocks that I use for my vitamins. I'll put pills in them and insert a little note. I also made him half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so he could have food handy for the middle-of-the-night dose.

When they got there Dad was good and surly. He's been in pain for about a week because of a shoulder strain. The doc gave him Motrin, which has to be taken with food. It also takes a bit longer to start working than the Vicodin I was giving him. Dad kept saying he wanted me to leave him all of his pain pills. He of course got really mad at me. I was trying to explain to him why I couldn't do that and about him needing to eat when he takes the pills. Drew tried to step in and help but Dad said, "You don't know what she does. She's always doing this." He and I both stayed calm and I kept explaining about what he needed to do.

I gave Dad the salami sandwich. It was weird watching him eat. Almost like a dog, stuffing it in and biting hard. So much anger. He took a pill. Then we went into the bathroom to take his evening meds. I brought the peanut butter sandwich with me and set it on the counter with the second pill in a ziplock with instructions. We went round and round with me explaining about when to take it, why he can't have the rest of the pills, no, leave the sandwich for later when you take the next pill, no don't take it now, just follow the instructions, no, don't eat the sandwich now, you just had one, no don't take the pill now, you just had one... His hands were grabbing.

This morning I gave him another pain pill and made sure he ate some cereal with it. Then we went into the bathroom for morning meds. Last night's pill was still there with the sandwich. Again, more explaining. I gave him two more pills in ziplocks. He said he was going out after church and needed pills that he could take with him. Who knows what will happen with those pills?

His whole way of being has changed. He's more angry, more vacant. His attention span is much shorter than it was. It can be measured in seconds now. I'm wondering if maybe he shouldn't go out with the church ladies anymore. They might not be able to handle him. His confusion is constant. I know we're getting down to the last few months but I think he should go into assisted living as soon as possible.

Things are getting pretty bad pretty fast.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More stuff

Had a good band practice with Ken and John last night. It's the first time we've played together since John's surgery. He looks pretty damn good for a guy who's had a big chunk of his face taken off. He showed us photos of the surgery. Man, they cut a big ol' hole in his cheek and jaw. The scars will mostly be hidden in his beard.

It was a fun night. The three of us are sounding pretty good. The vocals are strong, especially on Tell Him.

We're going to hold off on making an offer on the house. We're going to submit a letter stating our interest and ask the seller if they'll let us know if someone makes an offer that they're considering. We may come up with a better one. In the meantime I'll keep looking. Still, I'd love to get this house.

Yesterday I called Michael's to see if Tracie has gotten back from vacation and if she's seen the samples I left for her. The woman I left them with never told her about them (grrr...). She left the phone to go get them. I could hear her on the way back saying, "Oh these are sooo CUTE!" I'm going there today to fill out paperwork so I can start. Yay!

This morning I went to Ramona to work on painting a big prop piece for the band's field show. It's raining so that will have to wait. On the way home I saw two people standing over a small dog that was laying by the side of the street. The dog had been hit by a car and was still alive. I turned around and went back to see if I could help. Poor thing was laying on the cold, wet street struggling to breathe. I got a box out of the back of my car and we moved him onto it and lifted him up to the sidewalk. The young man who had stopped covered the dog with his under shirt and the woman ran home, grabbed a towel and covered the dog with it. While she was home she called animal control. We all stood around and waited. The dog lived for about 20 minutes and then died. Poor little dude. We waited a little longer for animal control but they were just taking too long. The man (his name was Damon) had been walking to work when he came upon the dog. I gave him a ride to work and then came home. As I drove back past the dog I saw the animal control truck. That guy's going to find a little red dog laying on a flattened box covered with a tank shirt and a towel.

It was kind of a weird scene. The woman was very nice but she kept patting the dog as it was convulsing and saying, "It's ok, baby. Just go to heaven. You're already there. You can meet my Poppa and he'll take you for a walk." Damon and I just looked at each other like, whoa, this is a little nuts. I was wondering if the dog was thinking, "Jeez, lady, I'm dyin' here. Leave me the hell alone!"

Ok. I guess I'll see what I can get done before I leave to go to Michael's. It's raining. What a nice sound.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This afternoon I walked around the barnyard and the junk yard checking out the garbage situation. Hoo boy, there's still a lot of stuff out there. Like, really a lot. If we're going to do it ourselves we'll need to hire some help. I don't know. It might be better to have the grader deal with it. I wonder how much it would cost?

I went past the dirt pile where we buried Maggie. Some critter has dug her up. The carcass is almost completely exposed. I think this answers the question of why Boz smells so bad. I think he's been rolling on Maggie. Cripes! We need to cover her up again.

Then I went into the barn and started going through the records. Found some more gems. It's going to be fun listening to this stuff. It's supposed to rain for the next few days. I need to get some tarps to cover the records. That roof looks pretty leaky.

Going through those records is dirty work. I need to clean them before I move them to the new house.

Dad says his arm is still hurting him. I called the VA to get an appointment.

This dirty woman needs a shower.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


This morning when I went to Dad's I found him sitting at the kitchen desk with a knife in his hand, bloody fingers and a cut on his toe. He was using a penknife to slice his toenails off. After some discussion I was informed that he's been doing this all his life. That's how these things always go. Dad does something dangerous and stupid and when we try to tell him he shouldn't do those things he says he's been doing it his whole life, which is another way of saying "buzz off".

I reminded him that he's diabetic and any foot injuries, no matter how small, are cause for concern. I told him that he's had foot infections before that had started off as small and in less than a day flared up into something serious. We went into the bathroom and poured hydrogen peroxide on the cut. When he lifted his pant leg I could see his ankle was discolored with many dark blue veins just under the skin. He said, "A few days ago this was all black, all the way up my leg." Then he said that his left armpit has been hurting him. So, I don't know. I just called Dede and told her all this so she can ask David about it. When I go over to do evening meds I'll have another look at his foot.

On a happier note...

This morning Lindsay saw Spiral in the back yard. He escaped Friday night and we hadn't seen him since. So, hooray, we know he's still kickin'. We're going to keep Lindsay's window open and we've set up a table in front of it so he can get up there when he's ready. Lindsay put a bowl of food on the windowsill.

Yesterday afternoon Sherri and I went house hunting. I saw one that I really liked in their neighborhood. The only problem is the lot. It's an odd shape, kind of a pie wedge, and it's almost all front yard. A huge expanse of grass. Seriously, I'd have to buy a rider mower to maintain it and the water bill would be ridiculous. The back yard is a nice size. I could make it work if I took out most of the front lawn and replaced it with some kind of non-thirsty ground cover.

We looked at another house that's in the same price range and is in a nice neighborhood. As soon as we opened the front door we were almost knocked out by the smell of generations of spraying cats. This house was majorly effed up. The garage had been weirdly converted in to a bedroom with a full bathroom. We'll call that one a "no".

Yippee yahoo!!! Lindsay just caught Spiral! He'll go to Kyle's tonight and when Ink gets her stitches out she'll go live with them. I'm back down to three cats!!! So, now when we move we'll have 3 cats (one of them is almost feral), 2 rabbits and 2 dogs. Probably 3 dogs since it looks like I'll be taking Lady. But since she's pretty old she won't be with us for too long. Ok, good, my animal situation is getting better.

Sherri and I are going out again this afternoon. We saw some good-looking houses on the MLS last night. She's having an office meeting this morning so she'll ask about how to work the deal so I can move in a couple months early and pay rent until the purchase money becomes available. Things are looking up.

Now I'm just waiting for that call from Michael's...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Puppy party

Yesterday Bill and Virginia had a party at their house. It was supposed to be a party for their niece and nephew but it turned into a puppy free-for-all. And it was cool!

A few months ago they got a new dog, Mocha. A few weeks later they learned she was pregnant. She had 6 puppies. Bill and Virginia kept one and found homes for the rest of them with Jeff and some of their friends. Yesterday all but one of the puppies came to the party with their humans. It was hilarious! These guys are 3 1/2 months old now and just as cute as can be. It was like moving through a river of puppies. And it was so fun watching them play. At one point one of them discovered an empty water bottle and pretty soon they all wanted to play with it.

Lots of people and lots of good food. Bill barbequed burgers and dogs, there was a pasta salad, veggies, beans and snackies.

Here's my bean recipe. The amounts are approximate because I usually don't measure when I'm throwing this together. I use canned beans. If they come in a sauce I use it. If they're canned with water, drain them.

1 large can baked beans
1 large can kidney beans
1 can each of black beans, butter beans, white beans, pinto beans
1 can of tomatoes
1 large yellow onion, chopped and browned in olive oil
1 package Jimmy Dean sausage (any flavor)
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of molasses
1/2 cup of ketchup
a splash of Tobasco

Brown the sausage and drain. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. It might take longer. When the sauce is thickened they're done.

That was a great party. Bill and Jeff's sister, Pam, was visiting. It was nice to see her. I wish we'd had more time. I enjoyed talking to Bill and Virginia's friends. They know some very nice people.

And the puppies were awesome.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Photos just because

Click on the photos to enlarge.

This is how the Langs do the Rose Parade. Rent someone's front yard, bring two big trucks, put bleachers on them and invite the whole church to come along.

Doni the flower girl.

Mom and Dede. Beautiful woman, cute baby.

One of our wedding pictures. My mom made all the dresses and Jim's shirt. What a great day.

Peace cake. This is an old photo from one of our family albums. 1940's I think.

I think I'll do this every once in a while. Now that I know how to post photos it'll be fun to show some of the more interesting ones.

Overdue Photos

Miss Ink

Paige in a bunny cage.

Bozzie bullet head.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The first workshop

It's gonna be this little guy.

But rats! Most of my photos are out of focus! I didn't know it until I imported them into iPhoto. I'll have to make another one! Next time I'll take several pictures of each step. I want to use them to make instruction sheets that the students can take home.

Making this first one was a very useful exercise. I should have timed it, though. I think it took about 2 hours. I made detailed notes of each step. The last time I made one of these was when I worked with the kids in Paige's 4th grade class. This was good for refreshing my memory and refining the steps. It also showed me that I need to get a new quarter inch drill bit before teaching this class.

I'm probably going to make several of these little skeletons. Each one will be just bit better than the last.

A happy conversation

Today I called John to see how his surgery went. I actually didn't expect to talk to him. I figured he'd still be in the hospital and I'd get an update from his wife. I was pretty surprised when he answered the phone. Surprised and SO happy that he could talk!

The cancer was on his face. There are so many ways it could have played out, one of them being that they'd have to cut into his tongue and he'd lose the ability to speak. But it didn't go that way. He said they took off half of his face (Really? Half?) but it was mostly skin and the cancer had well-defined margins. They're 98% sure he is now cancer free. No chemo, no radiation.

But the best part was hearing his cheery voice. This has been weighing on him for the last several weeks. Ken and I both noticed that he seemed much more subdued. Phone calls were short and normally phone conversations with John NEVER lasted less than half an hour! Today I talked to the John we all know and love.

He said he was awake for the whole procedure! AND his brother was there and took pictures! So gather 'round, everyone! Popcorn! Slide show!

We're so happy that he can just get on with it now. I'm looking forward to playing music with this wonderful man who is now just a little bit more funny-looking than he was before.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Jump into the deep end

Last week I picked up an application from Michael's. I had also applied online but since they had a Now Hiring sign in their window I figured I'd give it a try. This morning Lindsay helped me print out some stuff that I could include as a mini portfolio. This afternoon I took it to Michael's. I saw one of the sales gals talking to a woman about classes. After she was finished I asked her if I could leave my application with her. She looked it over and was very impressed with the photos. She took me into the back room for an interview! Turns out she's the coordinator for the workshops. She wants to fast track my application through and hire me as an instructor! Ka-boinnnggg!!!

She had me take this weird-ass management test with questions like "I used to steal from my former employers but I don't anymore. Agree? Disagree?" I also had to sign a form giving them permission to dig into my sordid past. That stuff will take a week to process. Also, she's going on vacation next week so she'll call me when she gets back.

So, here's the deal as I understand it. I have to develop my own workshops. I get to keep 90% of what I charge. I have to promote my workshops and pull the students in myself. That means sometimes I have to sit in the store and demo what I'm going to teach. I'd also be a Michael's associate and work the floor helping customers and stocking shelves. When I'm doing that I get paid $8 an hour.

So... I guess I have a job! I need to get to work putting some workshops together!!! EEK!!! I had already been working on developing some workshops for Rancho Curioso so I'm kinda already halfway there. I just need to streamline and refine and figure out how to present this stuff in a two-hour class. This week I'm going to dig into the Halloween stuff and get out some of my old projects. I'm going to go through ALL of my stuff and see what can easily be turned into a workshop. I'm also going to attend some of the Michael's workshops to see how other instructors present their classes. I've got to pull this together FAST!

I'm kind of stunned.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I don't know if I should believe him on this...

This morning I closed up Dad's house and turned on the AC. Just now when I went over there to do evening meds the AC was off and the house was wide open. I didn't think he'd just leave it on. I told him I was there to help him with his pills. He said he had started looking for them at 4:00 but couldn't find them. Of course they were right where they should be.

As I was leaving he said, "I've been trying to fix these lights here." He pointed to the lights in the tv room. That's when I noticed the ladder. "I've been crawling around all over up there". I said, "Up where?" He said, "Up there! In the attic." I said, "WHEN?" He said, "Just now. I just got out."

I told him he should NOT be up in the attic. I also told him he shouldn't be up on a ladder. He did his usual cocky I've-been-doing-it-my-whole-life thing. Now, the ladder that was in the tv room was a small, step ladder. If that's the one he used to get into the attic I don't know how the hell he did it. But if he really is climbing up into the attic we need to do something about it. I'm going to try to steal that ladder.

I've been waiting for something like this to happen. His judgment is like, gone.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dean!!!!!


Last night I called Dad to remind him to take his evening meds. Fifteen minutes later he called back and said he couldn't find his pills. He said there were no pills, not even the bottles, in the bathroom. I told him to go look in the blue bathroom. We recently changed bathrooms because the sinks in the pink bathroom are hopelessly clogged. He had forgotten. No surprise there. Then he called back and said they weren't in the blue bathroom either. He said he had searched whe whole house.

This has happened before. Even though there's no reason why he should move his pill box off the bathroom counter, sometimes he decides to carry it around the house. I usually find it in his office, sometimes with the pills rearranged. I told him not to worry about it and we'll look for them in the morning. I was wondering how he could lose the pill box AND the bottles.

This morning the first thing I did was check the blue bathroom. Everything was right where it should be. The evening dose was in a pile on the counter right next to the box. When I asked him about it I got all kinds of goofy answers. He said the box had been "put away someplace". I asked him about the evening pills and he said, "Someone got them out". I didn't press it any further. He really had no idea at all what had happened with the pills. But it looked to me like he had gotten out the evening dose and then didn't know what he was supposed to do with them. Usually when I ask him about things eventually he'll remember. I can kind of guide him with my questions and jog his memory. This morning he didn't even try to think it out. He just threw out an answer.

This fogginess had a different quality to it. Usually when we go through the pill thing he has some kind of explanation of the why and how, even though it might not be right. He does goofy things but he always has a reason. This morning he really just didn't know and he didn't care. I wish I had a video of him wandering around his house last night looking for the pills. Did he go into the blue bathroom and see the box sitting on his counter but didn't recognize it? He had called me three times to tell me he couldn't find it.

I know this is a long post to describe one little event but the way he was this morning has me a little worried. He's different today. He's disinterested. He doesn't care. And it's not because I upped his meds because I only did that yesterday and he didn't have the evening dose. So, no more evening phone calls. I have to go over there.

So, ok.