Packing and Parking

We are just pilgrims, struggling on our paths through this world, seeking knowledge. Sometimes knowledge finds us.

Paula called me to tell me she had learned an important lesson. When taking your car to the car wash on Sepulveda, it is a good idea to remove all your drugs and guns from the trunk before turning it over to the attendant.

The reason she knows this is that the police had someone spread-eagled in the parking lot. No cars were being washed. She and the Basset were hiding in the office. Continue reading

In a Pig’s Ear (or Two)

Let me first make it clear that I do not, contrary to what you may have heard, spoil my dogs. Or, as you will see, my employees.

The people to blame for this one are Lili and Mary. They came over for dinner one night, years ago. As they walked in the front door, Mary pulled something from a paper bag. “Do your dogs like…” she started, as my wolf levitated across the room, grabbed it from her hand and ran out back with it. Thus were we introduced to pig ears.

Yup, real dried pig ears from real pigs. You may have seen them in the pet store, along with lamb lungs, cows’ ears, and other things I’d rather not inspect too closely. They are truly disgusting. You can see the little veins, and sometimes there are hairs. They might be notched. They smell pretty much like you would expect. One of my friends asked me if they kill the pigs first, leaving me with a lasting image of fields full of frolicking piggies with little Van Gogh bandages on their heads… No one in their right mind (sorry, Mary!) would ever purchase these. Except for one thing–dogs adore them. When two big hungry dogs are on a pig-ear jones, baby you’d better go shopping. Continue reading

Breaking Things is Hard to Do

You’re probably wondering how it is I came to spend part of my birthday at the Department of Motor Vehicles. In the desert. Several hours from home. (If you, too, spent your birthday at the DMV, I don’t want to hear about it. I’m cranky enough.)

As in most of my life, it wasn’t what I had planned. I thought a nice quiet week at Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs was exactly what I needed. Peace, quiet, a little hot mud bath (if it wasn’t too windy). I could have taken the Explorer, but the car phone needed adjusting. And since I would only be on the road for a few hours, why bother to bring the phone? So I decided to take the Jaguar, and off I went. Continue reading

Why I Have No Christmas Tree Lights (and other seasonal revelations…)

Okay, perhaps it was a mistake to watch Martha Stewart’s Christmas Special. Martha has led me astray before. In retrospect, choosing Martha’s caramel recipe as my first-ever candy-making attempt last year might have been a bit ambitious. Though my friends assured me the results were well worth the effort, I have my doubts. Some of my friends might just say that to make me feel better. Others are known to be highly sarcastic (you know who you are!).

I thought I’d be OK. I was, after all, hanging hand-crocheted all-cotton snowflakes in all the windows. (No, I did NOT crochet them myself. That would be depriving Kathie Lee Gifford’s child sweatshops of much-needed revenues.) But then Martha was making swizzle sticks for her punch out of orange peels, swirled around sticks and cured in sugar water. Suddenly my efforts seemed, well, inadequate.
I did plan ahead. I found a catalog (yes, my nickname is still Janine, Janine, Direct Mail Queen) that had artificial trees with the lights permanently attached. No wires to string, just unfold it and plug it in, then fold it up and stow it away when you’re done. I’m thinking of adopting this approach for boyfriends. They told me 3-5 shipping days. I was excited–I donated all my old tree lights to charity, sorted the ornaments, and got ready. Continue reading

Car Karma, Which I Haven’t Got


Well, I’m off to my cosmic chiropractor, since I obviously need an adjustment to my car karma.

Though I never got a notice, a friend heard Ford Explorers were being recalled for defective brakes. Since I often use my brakes, my assistant, Paula, made an appointment at Santa Monica Ford, brought it in, and left it overnight. The next day she went to pick it up and was informed they hadn’t done the repair, since they didn’t have the parts. You’re probably wondering why they didn’t tell her this the night before. We’ll never know for sure, but we think the folks at SMF are either incurable optimists (believing FedEx would show up during the night) or impossible romantics (believing in the Parts Fairy). Either way, Paula decided to try another dealership.

Metro Ford was delighted to schedule the repair. She left it overnight. The next morning, they asked her to wait a few minutes while they finished the work (a good sign: no evidence of fairy dust on the floor). She brought it home, and I drove it happily, braking with wild abandon. About three weeks later, I got a notice asking when I was bringing it back to Metro to get the work done. Paula called and inquired, and was referred to Tom. Tom explained that they never actually did the work. “This was a miscommunication between Russell, who no longer is employed at this location, and myself,” he explained. Apparently Russell was supposed to tell Tom to do the repair. He didn’t and didn’t ask anyone whether it had been done, but released the car. However, if Paula would return the next day, she would have “first priority” to get it done.

Well, we were a little disconcerted by this. Is it some sort of Ford corporate policy to schedule and charge for, but not perform, repairs? Some sort of ancient Druidian ritual, or perhaps a Zen concept (the repairs are visualized and empowered by the scheduling, and do not need to be done by actual mechanics)? Is Ford even CAPABLE of a corporate policy, considering their apparent dependence on fairies and former employees named Russell? Now, the other disturbing thing is the notice we received. Metro is so disorganized that they release a car without knowing whether the work has been done, but so organized they send out a notice that it hasn’t? If so, can we do the repair by mail? (This recalls a disturbing experience I had with Jaguar, where they apparently expected me to fix the parking brake myself and notify them so they could bill me. Jaguar is now owned by Ford. Coincidence? I think not.)

Paula duly showed up the next day, waited an hour (thank god we had “first priority!”), and they took the car in the back. Two minutes later they were back to inform her the work had already been done, and why had she brought it in?

So the car may or may not have functional brakes. I suggest, if you’re in front of any Ford Explorer in a traffic situation, you pull over and get out of the way. Personally, I’m keeping a bottle of Jack Daniels in the glove compartment–it doesn’t make the brakes work any better, but I find I don’t care as much. (This may be another reason to avoid Explorers…) And this week they announced that some Fords (including–surprise!–Explorers) may spontaneously burst into flame at any moment. They’re not recalling them because they’re not sure why it happens. For some reason this does not astonish me.

Now, during all this, my car phone developed an annoying tendency to hang itself up as soon as I dialed it. So we called Carphone Guys, who came out and were mystified. They finally decided to send the whole thing back east (where I guess the repairmen who actually know how to repair must live). So Paula asked if we could get a loaner. “I don’t know.” Well, could they find out? “I don’t know.” Apparently this is the first time in the history of car phones that this question has come up. I love being a pioneer. It only took three visits from Carphone Guys to get a working loaner phone. One can only imagine how long it will take to get my own phone back and working. I’m lighting a candle to the Phone Phairy.

And you’re thinking, at least the Jaguar is working. HA!!! The thermostat on the heating/air conditioning system is on drugs–it’s either Arctic or Saharan. The driver’s seat occasionally adjusts itself up or back an inch on a whim. The rear antenna doesn’t retract all the way (possibly to continue to receive alien transmissions? I’ll believe anything at this point). However, it’s got a working phone, and I’m so grateful it’s not spontaneously combusting, I don’t mind at all. You may remember my friendly but Kato-esque Jaguar service manager, Sam. I have instructed Paula to call Hornburg Jaguar and ask for Russell. If they say just a minute, be afraid. If they put you on hold and disconnect you, be very afraid. A Sam/Russell collaboration is too frightening to contemplate.

My friend JoAnn went to her psychic facialist (don’t ask) and discovered the root of our problems. (No, it’s not that troubling Ben-&-Jerry’s dependency, which we will address when we’re ready. We can quit whenever we want to. Really.) You see, the moon currently has a “wobble”, and it especially affects those of us in Aries. The last big moon wobble was 19 years ago, when the biggest earthquakes ever recorded occurred (assuming we accept facialist as seismic experts, and hey, I go to Metro Ford so call me gullible). Moon wobbles especially affect transportation (duh), moving (which I’m doing in two weeks) and dental work. I can practically guarantee a broken filling at any moment.

Now she didn’t mention moon wobbles affecting communing with the earth, but she should have. I just spent the best birthday of my life. (Well, yeah, it was the first after my divorce, but that’s not why. Though it didn’t hurt…) It’s because I spent it at Two Bunch Palms Resort, in Desert Hot Springs, California. WHY didn’t anyone tell me about this place before???? By the second day I was so relaxed I couldn’t walk straight. There were 3 bunnies in my private back yard. I was sunbathing, looking up at a palm tree on one side, and a snow-covered mountain on the other. I was in heaven.

The only unusual event was my mud bath. I’d never had one before, and I loved it. I’m outdoors, soaking in hot wet mud, looking up at the trees whipping around in the wind overhead. This is very relaxing. I’m all blissed-out. I might stay here forever. Then the attendant, Joseph, wanders in and announces, “We have a problem.” He points up, to where the tree has fallen on the power line directly above us. The lesson we learned here is: there is NO graceful way for a naked woman to climb out of a vat of hot mud while in danger of imminent electrocution. However, it does not matter, because your faithful attendant has long since fled to save himself, leaving you to your muddy demise.

As I drove home, the temperature in the Jaguar at 30, at 90, at 30, I resolved to read up on this moon wobble business. Perhaps I could change my astrological sign, to one of the not-in-danger-of-auto-immolation signs? Though, if the astrologer is named Russell, count me out.
Names changed: “Sam”. He means well….

Copyright 1997 by Jzine. Not to be reproduced or distributed without permission