Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bad Sheebs

   My weirdos are back, featured as number two on this list of Shibas being cute, funny, and bad:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

LA oasis

   I got up early this morning and hiked up to one of my favorite spots in the city: Runyon Canyon. I felt like I was cheating on my dogs… They would absolutely love to join me in an off-leash park in a canyon like this one!
   We don't see a lot of cactus growing in Kansas City!
   That was a little art sprinkled around the park too.
   My favorite were some bumper stickers on all the trash cans that said, "everyone matters" and "the day of non-judgment is near." :)
   They made me think. In Kansas City, the seasons are so harsh that we don't see a lot of homeless people. In LA, they are prevalent. And we had several who came and hung out with us throughout the event yesterday. Since we weren't busy, I talked with them.
   They shared interesting stories: one woman who was 50 years old said that she has seven kids, and 14 grandkids. She used to be a choreographer and dancer. Her skin looks so good that she didn't look her age. She told me she was religious about using Roc. An older gentleman claimed to be a pretty famous blues harpist. He showed me pictures on his phone of him surrounded by groupies at some of his gigs, and even a billboard with his name on it. Every other word was an expletive.
   Life in LA is certainly very different than I'm accustomed to, and especially people like this. I don't yet know why we met, but we did, and I was glad to have the experience.

Northpole at Hollywood & Highland

   Great day one helping kids experience the magic of Northpole here in Hollywood. Hollywood and Highland Center is a remarkable and imposing structure that provided a grand backdrop for our event. (if you look very carefully through the arch in this photo, you can see the iconic Hollywood sign!)
   And the experience was even cooler at night... Literally and figuratively. It was actually chilly in Los Angeles, down to about 50°. So we were not upset to be donning our red Northpole  jackets, hats, and candycane striped scarves.
   Nighty-night, Northpole!

A familiar Visitor

   Of course, my favorite part of day one was our very first customer of the day… I looked up to see my sister pushing a stroller with little guy Aaron, and big guy Sean riding along. Kelley's neighbor, Shirley, came along. Not only was Sean the first kid in Los Angeles to get to talk to the elves at Northpole, because it wasn't yet busy, he got to talk to not one, but all three elves!
   The rest of the day was fairly slow, as many kids in LA are still in school. We expect the next few days to be crazy busy, so it was nice to have a day to get everything figured outI had brought a few snacks with me, but I walked upstairs for a quick lunch overlooking the plaza at Cho Oishii sushi. 
   One of the things that I love about traveling to larger cities is the dramatic increase in diversity from what I'm used to in Kansas City. All day long, we invited kids to talk to the elves, only to learn that the child only spoke Dutch, Chinese, Afrikaans, Japanese, you name made me sad that they couldn't join in.
   I had a tiny joiner moment while I was eating lunch. A cute, older Japanese couple walked by and the man quietly said something to his wife, not expecting that I could understand.
   After the event closed for the day, I shopped for the last couple hours that the stores were open, then sneaked into The Grill on the Alley for dinner, shortly before they stopped admitting customers. I was lucky to get in: the bartender who served me was super friendly, and the food was really amazing. The manager came by to ask how my mail was, and complimented me on my selection, the Idaho trout with hazelnut butter sauce, stuffed with jumbo lump crab meat, and sides of roasted broccoli with lemon and Parmesan, and incredible crusty sourdough bread with a top and nod of sun-dried tomato, olives, and anchovy. He said it was his favorite dish on the menu.
   What a great first day, and I'm looking forward to two more!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Triple Trouble travel woes

   When the suitcases come out, let the moping begin! Triple Trouble hates it when I travel. But I sure love coming home to them!

From Kansas to Cali

   Fresh pow in the am and palm trees in the pm... If today actually included snowboarding & diving, it would have been perfect! Photo above was taken upon arriving in LA. Below, upon leaving Kansas... We got 2-4" of snow overnight. And I happen to be one of maybe four people in KC who like the snow--love it, actually--so I was THRILLED to wake up to it. But let's be honest... This is NOT a black & white photo. Kansas winter color is not always stellar. LA is in full glory.
   I caught a ride on the wrong Flyaway to westwood, then talked to some good Samaritans who steered me to the Lyft app (and a backup, Sidecar... Screw Uber for being run by hateful a-holes). And now I'm hanging out at Kelley's while she's out with Aaron. Little Sean is supah sleepy, and I can hardly wait for him to wake up!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A gift for Amy

   I talked my friend Amy into traveling to run a half marathon together. This will be my fourth, unless I run any before then. And likewise, this will be her first. She is understandably excited and nervous, just as I was last year when I was anticipating my first half.
   I wanted to get her a meaningful Christmas gift, and of course I thought it would be fun to do something related to our impending run, to give her confidence. So I found a small box and typed up dozens and dozens of training tips and power songs. There were so many I could barely fit them all in the box! It made me realize how much I have progress in my own running in a short amount of time.
   She loved it, and I love her courageousness to try something that she wasn't sure was possible for her. I know she can do it. My hunch is that she'll become as addicted to the feeling of achievement as I have.

Goodbye Kyra, Hello Aki

   My little friend Kyra went to her new foster home, with my good friend Kathy, last night. There is little other choice, since Aki suddenly decided that this house isn't big enough for two girls. Kathy fostered both of my dogs, as well as both my friend Jen's dogs. She is extremely experienced and kindhearted, and will be an even better foster home than I was. I am happy for Kyra. I wish her the best in her journey towards true freedom, her conquering of heart worms, and of course on her sixth birthday, which is tomorrow.
   Meanwhile, I had some problems to address in my own household. Joni came by on Saturday and spent several hours with us, walking around the neighborhood and retraining Aki. Her chief issue is that she highly dominant and wants to control other dogs, and she is fearful of small children who rush her. Both could potentially be serious issues, so we are putting a stop to it now.
   I have seen the pinch collars, also called prong collars, and like many, assumed that they were cruel. After being taught how to use one properly, not only do I think they are not cruel when used in the proper manner, they are a secret weapon that helps the dog quickly understand what the trainer is looking for and respond accordingly. Aki needed something to help interrupt her overactive mind when we approached a strange dog, and understood the exercise almost immediately. She wore the collar with only a couple of corrections. I was amazed at how quickly and easily it works, and it gave me a huge amount of confidence that we will conquer her issues.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sybarite5 show

   A string quintet that plays everything from Mozart to Radiohead? Find out when Sybarite5 is coming to your town & see them. They're accurately described as, "Classically trained to rock your f***ing socks off!"
   Christy nabbed the tickets to see these guys at the folly theater, and M'kiylah and I were the lucky benefactors. I'm a fan of stringed instruments, particularly the violins and cellos, so this was a real treat. The Radiohead things came out of left field since I had not done my homework on this group. It made for a neat experience to know so little about them going in: just that they were a modern string quintet from New York. In actuality, there was so much more to them than that.
   The group met at a music festival in Aspen, and hails from the far reaches of places like Boston, New York... And Argentina. Their name came from the ancient Greek city of Sybaris known for their outrageous pleasure seeking, and indeed the group plays whatever they love. Eclectic and delightful in every way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


   I have wanted to figure out a way to satisfy Kismet's urge to scratch, to save my decrepit old furniture, so that I can replace it finally. For months, the simplest solution has been staring me in the face, and I finally noticed it. I took a carpet remnant that was left over from my bedroom rug, wrapped it around the column in the basement, and secured it with some simple straps. This way, the column won't be harmed, and the cat has a place to climb.
   It was a big hit before it was even complete: she began to climb it immediately! Hopefully it will keep her attention for a long, long time.
   Or, I could just keep wrapping Christmas gifts and shipping them. She seems to like the boxes even more. Maybe I'll just cover the entire house and carpet and empty boxes…

It was inevitable.

   Bad days are just part of human life. But today's was epic. Here is my crazy, stream of consciousness drawing I did on the bus this morning to describe mine.
   Unfortunately, my foster girl who has been doing so well is no longer tolerated by my girl. We are looking to place her in a new foster home immediately. So sad.

Monday, December 8, 2014

I'm Santa.

   Not only have I been the very happy recipient of some very wonderful, generous gifts this time around, I have also been a Santa myself. The name I drew was Carlos, who sits on the opposite side of the floor from me, and whom I have never met--i'm not even sure I've ever seen him before. Ordinarily that may have daunted me, but Carlos said one thing on his form that sparked my imagination: his wife wants him on a diet.
   So I decided to help out Carlos by bestowing him with "healthy" gifts. Or at least, gifts that look healthy and would please his wife if he were to send her a photo of what he received. I turned this:
Into this:
   Carrots, broccoli, rice cakes? How could his wife not love this? You are welcome, Carlos, whoever you are. I get to meet him at the big reveal on Wednesday…

Couple of random drawings

   First off, two drawings inspired by real life. Today I brought a grapefruit for lunch. A particularly sour grapefruit. Which I love. But it's fun to draw myself with my face turned inside out.
   I drew this one last week on the bus. It was below freezing outside, and I swear they heat on the bus would rival that in Hades. I seriously didn't think that I would survive it.
    I drew this one inside a card for a friend whose family is going through a particularly difficult time. I hope their days get brighter.
   Last one requires more explantation. I paid Facebook for a one-week promotion of my art page, www.facebook/JenRareyArt. I have been trading emails with a Facebook representative, but it sure appears to me that Facebook screwed up. Instead of my ad being targeted to six countries which I was prompted to select, it was only promoted in South Korea. Suddenly, I have hundreds of new friends in Korea! 
   While this is of course wonderful, I was hoping to gather more of a worldwide following. I'm hoping Facebook will do the right thing and turn my ad back on for the other countries. But make no mistake, I welcome new friends, wherever they are.
   So I drew this quick sketch, using Google translate as my accomplice, to wish my new friends a warm welcome. If it doesn't say "welcome", I might be in trouble… ;)