Tuesday, July 29, 2008

guys don't make passes...

...at girls who wear glasses

Especially ones sporting no makeup, just-got-back-from-the-gym hair and yes, that's a zit on my chin. *sigh*
In other news, we had an earthquake a couple hours ago, woohoo! Only one of the three dogs even bothered to emerge briefly from her nap and look at me. I told her everything was ok and she laid right back down. California dogs.

Alrighty then.

sea glass

So my husband, daughter and I were at the beach in Carpinteria last Friday. She and I went walking, in search of cool rocks for the tumbler. It was high tide and we didn't find any rocks, but we DID find a really unique piece of sea glass. As we walked along she noticed what looked like a marble partially buried in the sand. As I reached to scoop it up, however, it became rapidly obvious that it wasn't a marble. Not at all. It was a glass marijuana pipe!! Complete with a very fragrant coat of resin in the bowl. I told her what it was and she rapidly pulled her hand away from it as if it would burn her. It was a really nice blown-glass pipe, probably expensive and I bet someone is really pissed that they lost it. I kept it because it's too pretty to throw away, heheh.

I have about nine stamps to carve for various orders!!! I never, ever thought I'd reach a point where I'm thinking "Oh man, I HAVE to carve these things today!" as if it were a job. It's cool but a little overwhelming. Bring it on!! Especially since I don't have any dog training jobs scheduled this week. I like the art projects better, but dog training pays more. Don't get me wrong, I love dog training too, but art is always going to win out over any other form of work.
Unless sitting poolside sipping cocktails ever becomes a job...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

fish burps, fish burps...

Hmmm. So, I'm having Lasik done this Friday, and I've been given some instructions for preparation for the proceedure. One, I have to use eyedrops as often as possible throughout the day to keep my eyes moist. Two, I have to stop wearing contacts starting tomorrow (bleh, I get to look like a nerd til Friday), Three, I have to start using an antibiotic eyedrop the day before the surgery..and last, but not least, I have to take fish oil capsules every day. Something having to do with eye moisture again. When I went to buy the stuff last week I was dazzled by the sheer number of different brands of fish oil capsules are out there. I finally settled on one by NatureMade because the bottle boasted "no more annoying fish burps". I am so glad I saw that bottle because I had no idea that the other brands had this potential side effect. None of them warn you about it except the one that purports to not cause it. Imagine that little elevator moment - you're riding along, studiously ignoring the other passenger, and you have one of those little silent, normally unobtrusive burps. Only THIS time, the air around you suddenly inexplicably reeks of fish. The passenger glances at you. You glance at the passenger. You truly have no idea you're the cause of this mysterious development, because THE BOTTLE DID NOT WARN YOU!!!
So I am one of the lucky ones.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

where are the maids when I need them?

...oh yeah, that's right, we can't afford maids. Dammit. Party tonight, so the house needs some serious cleaning. I finally finished the stamp (see image above) I was carving as a trade for the lovely banner in my Etsy shop. I feel bad that it took so long. I was waiting for mounting blocks to be shipped, and then wound up re-carving the stamp because I didn't like how it came out the first time. I don't like sending out anything I'm not happy with. I'm sort of cursing myself for putting that particular stamp in my shop now, it was hard to carve!! As I was working on it, I was thinking "How the hell did I do this the first time??". The sad thing is, I carved it about 12 years ago when I worked as an operator for the phone company. And, get this, I carved it WHILE I was working. As in, taking call after call after call (about 1700 a day), typing on a keyboard, and picking up the stamp and getting a few cuts in while each customer was talking. NOW, sitting there at the table doing nothing BUT the carving, I had a hard time with it. Oh, to be in my twenties again. Shit, I sound like an old person. But I can't be old, because I used foul language just then. Did you notice? I said "shit". If were truly old I'd have said "darn" or "fudge". Whew. As long as I still swear, I must be young.
Fuck yeah!!
Time to go do my chores.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

off my back

Yesterday marked the first time I gave an annoying client a partial refund just to avoid dealing with her anymore. The way my training works is that you pay a flat fee for unlimited training sessions - either for a year, or the life of the dog, depending on which package you choose. The first sessions lasts two hours and covers a LOT of ground. The owners are then given "homework" to do with their dog, which I tell them to work on for 2-3 weeks and then call me when they're ready for a follow-up. I call them a week after the first session to see how they're doing, and then leave it up to them to let me know when they're ready for the next visit.

Pretty straightforward, right? Yet some people just CAN'T grasp the concept. I'll explain it to them when they first call me to enquire about training, and still, some of them will ask "So...how many sessions does that cover?". And others interpret unlimited follow-ups (as needed) to mean "I expect you to come to my house weekly, at a set time, and train my dogs for me.". This client fell into that group. The first session was about 3 months ago. I called a week later and they hadn't even started working with their dog because they'd all been sick. No problem, I told them to go ahead and get started, work on it for a couple weeks, then call me when they're ready.

Three months later I finally get a voicemail from her. I call back and leave a message on their voicemail. I don't hear from them. Meanwhile, I'm busy with all my other clients and am not going to keep calling this one til they answer. A couple weeks later I get an irate voicemail to the tune of "We've had NO contact with you since the first lesson! You need to call so we can schedule a regular time for you to come train our dogs!". Um...first off, we HAVE spoken since the first lesson. Second, I returned your call and never heard from you. Third....you wait three months to schedule a follow up and now think you can write my schedule for me??

So yeah, I showed up at the house and the client was just as short with me as she was on the phone. Very terse and unfriendly. She didn't even say hello when she opened the door, she just said "come in". She seemed to expect me to come weekly and do all the work for her, as she has no time to work with her dogs. First of all, me working with your dogs once a week won't get the results you want. Any training requires daily practice in order to get results. Second, I never told you that follow-ups are weekly visits. They are as needed, to help if things aren't going well, and to continue the training as the dogs progress.

Blah blah..anyway, I could tell she was just not going to accept this, and was going to be extremely difficult to work with and would never be happy. So I offered her a partial refund, I just charged what I would have for a single visit (which I normally don't offer, because spot-treating just doesn't really work) and gave her a check for the difference. I lost money, but I think in this case I made the right choice. As I learned from the last nightmare client, sometimes the money isn't worth the grief. She actually seemed kind of shocked - I don't think she was expecting that. She kept trying to goad me into a confrontation, and I just wouldn't take the bait. She wasn't expecting a refund. I basically told her that I'm sorry, but I have far too many clients to allow me to do weekly visits and that rather than have an unhappy client, I'd rather give her money back and allow her to find someone who could meet her expectations. (good luck with that, honey) It was kind of funny. It's always amusing to see someone's face when they're looking for an argument and instead get an "I'm sorry you're unhappy, here, have a refund.".

Eh, I've been successful with 98% of my clients, have lots of satisfied dog owners..they can't ALL like me. And I didn't particularly like this woman when we first met anyway. She's sort of stiff and humorless, not much personality. And, obviously, expects things to be done FOR her.

Meanwhile, on the art front, I sold my last tree painting yesterday! I was kind of sad to see it go - it's actually the first one of that series that I painted. There were three, and the first two sold right away. This one sat around for months, I was begining to think it'd never go. A few days ago I posted a better photograph of it, and it sold. It's kind of like seeing your kids leave home when you send a painting off. I'm happy someone wants it in their home, but I'm sort of attached to it and a bit sad to see it go. Hehehehe. I'm a dork.

I've got some stamp orders to fill - one that I'm doing as a trade, and the other is a custom request for a set of a dozen or so. I'm working on drawings for that one still! I better go get busy instead of whining here. :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

as though the universe knows...

Yes, I managed to book four lessons in one weekend! Lately, I'm lucky to book four lessons a month. And so, because I'm on the verge of possibly being able to pay myself this month, one of my dogs decided to start peeing blood. Thanks, Molly. I wonder if the vet bill will be the exact amount of money I just made, or slightly more? *sigh*

I keep trying to avoid that negative mode of thinking, but it's hard sometimes. I really need to get ahead, and right now I'm just struggling to not get even FURTHER behind. Nevermind getting ahead, just catching UP would be nice. I hope I book some more lessons before the month is out.

Today I have revisits in the afternoon. Revisits are...well, they usually suck. See, the way my dog training works is that you pay a flat fee, which covers as many training sessions as the situation dictates. More often than not, things improve so much during the first session, and the dog owners practice what I've taught them, that a revisit isn't even required. And then sometimes maybe a follow-up or two is needed, and that's all well and good. When the revisit is with an owner who is truly doing the work, and just needs more help or wants to further the training, I love it. But then there are the owners who simply don't practice AT ALL, and then call me back over and over to show them the same exact thing, continue to not practice, and then become hostile because their dog is still misbehaving. Some people feel that because they've paid me, I should be at their beck and call and do all the work for them. So today I get to go see two of those people, who will hem and haw and look at me accusingly as though I should be able to magically train their dog without expecting them to do any of the work. And I will go home feeling like a failure even though I know I'm not the reason the training isn't working. There is NO dog training technique that will work without the owner actually PRACTICING said technique regularly with their dog. *sigh*

So, yeah...a sick dog requiring a potentially expensive trip to the vet this morning, then an eye exam followed immediately by annoying revisits (that I'll be doing with dilated pupils, woohoo!). Should be a fun day.

WOW....isn't it rewarding to read my blog?? Wasn't that uplifting and entertaining?? Sorry. I swear I'm not always like this.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

dog tired

*yawn* Oh, so tired. I had back-to-back lessons today, that always wears me out. From 9 to 11 I was training a poodle, and then from 11:30 to 1:30, a stubborn chocolate lab. I'm glad I'm busy, I NEED to be busy, but it's tiring when it's all crammed together like this. I have the same deal again tomorrow. Still, may the business keep rolling in!

My eyes are still pretty swollen and goth-looking from yesterday's tattoo session. I had to explain to both sets of clients "I don't normally look like this, I just got permanent eyeliner..". Weird way to start a training session. When you first get the eyeliner done, your lids get really puffy, and the eyeliner itself looks a LOT darker than it will when it heals. So I look like someone who's been crying really hard and then overcompensating with heavy eyeliner. Not a good look for me.

Somehow this weekend I have to buy and read an entire book for a book club meeting on Tuesday. Some of the women in my cycling class started a book club/reading group, and one of them was supposed to lend her copy to me because she'd finished it. I'm a fast reader, and she was going to give it to me Thursday. That would have been plenty of time. Welp, here it is Saturday and she finally let me know that she can't find it. So I'm going to have to go buy it and manage to read it despite having dog sessions half the day tomorrow, and a couple of revisits on Monday, and the gym Tuesday morning. OH, and I have to re-carve a stamp I did for someone, because it came out awful and there's no way I'll send it to them this way. It's a really complicated one to carve, too. BLEH.

So why am I sitting here on my ass? Good question...

Friday, July 18, 2008


Ouch. Had to endure another cowbell-filled spinning session yesterday morning. Again, I think I work out a little bit harder in this guy's class, but only because my legs, not realizing the bike is stationary, are simply trying to escape. If they could speak, they'd most likely say to the rest of my body "I don't know about you guys, but we're OUTTA HERE!!". I'm looking forward to the return of our regular instructor.

It's a little after 8 in the morning and I'm hungrily waiting for my daughter to wake up (wait, that sounded like I eat children..) so we can go to breakfast. Come ON, I'm hungry!!! She must sense it somehow, because if I'd wanted to sleep in, she'd be up, telling me she's hungry.

I'm going to have my eyelids tattooed later today. Sounds fun, right? I had permanent eyeliner done a few weeks ago and it's time to go touch it up. I want to make the top line a bit thicker. I know, fascinating blogging here, right?

On the art front....I really need to get in gear and start painting again. There's a resturant in Santa Barbara that displays paintings of local artists on the walls. I asked the owner how to get a show and he told me to send him some pics of my work. But I really need to have a few more paintings than what I have now. My favorite ones have sold, time to stock up!!
Meanwhile, I need to go annoy my teenager until she gets out of bed!!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

...and the only cure

What comes to mind when the following items are listed; drumsticks, a supersoaker, and a cowbell? A spinning class, right? Of course. I take spinning classes at my gym twice a week, and they're usually taught by a really cool woman. This week, though, she's on vacation and her classes are being taught by the gym's other spinning teacher. His approach to spinning is apparently to scare the shit out of everyone in class, forcing them to pedal faster and faster in the hopes that the stationary bike will actually begin moving. Away from him.

If you're familiar with spinning at all, you know that it's typically done to music, which sets the cadence for the pedaling, and the teacher dictates how often and how much you increase the tension on the bike. Tension is increased and decreased, mimicking climbs, downhills, flats, etc. The teacher will remind the class to stay on cadence. THIS particular teach reminds the class by walking around with drumsticks, beating out the cadence on various students' handlebars. Or banging loudly on the cowbell. He also periodically sprays everyone with the supersoaker, as though being soaked with sweat isn't enough. He also encourages (ie; demands) the class to yell out whenever tension is added to the bike. Um.....when I'm working my ass off, pedaling like mad and just trying to breathe, the last thing I feel like doing is yelling "ahhhhhhh!!!" each time the difficulty level is increased. Anyway, it was weird. I look forward to our regular instructor's return.

Yesterday I had a two-dog training session. The dog owner had been turned down by two other trainers because, they said, you can't train dogs not to run out of the gate (she lives on a large ranch where a gate must be opened to let in cars). Both trainers told her that A.) you can't train more than one dog at a time and B.) the only thing that'll stop them from bolting out the gate is an electric fence/shock collar setup. And so yesterday saw me running madly back and forth outside the gate (mimicking people passing by, because the dogs like to rush the gate and bark insanely) and later, riding a bike back and forth past it. The dogs also get a kick out of scaring passing cyclers. So after working for a while on just sit/stay commands, we were able to teach the dogs to sit and stay in a designated area while the gate is opened. It was successful - we even got an opportunity to put it to practice when an actual car needed to be let in. When I had arrived two hours earlier and was let in, the dogs ran in and out of the gate, and ran circles around my car, barking their heads off. When this next car was let in, the dogs remained seated, allowed the car in, and didn't move til we freed them. No electric collars (or any other pain-inducing devices) were used. Guidance, repetition, and positive reenforcement (with praise, not treats) was all it took. If the owner keeps practicing daily, things will be fine.

I'm amazed that other trainers passed up the opportunity to help her. I get that a lot - people call me and say a trainer turned them down because you can't teach a dog to (insert various dog behavior here), or that you can't train more than one dog at a time (as the lady with the four dogs and piss-soaked house was told). It seems like a lot of the local trainers will only take a situation that has a simple solution that'll make them look good every time. Anything challenging, that might take some work or possibly not leave the customers dazzled and impressed right from the start, seems to be not worth it. Which is fine with me, I need the business and like the challenge. And usually even if I don't get an awe-filled "WOW!!" at the end of a tough lesson, I do after we've finally gotten the problem resolved. And more importantly, someone gets to enjoy their dog a little more. OH, and in this case, I got to meet the bass player for a rather well-known band, since his wife was the one who hired me. I don't want to name names in a blog, but let's say the band's name involves something you do with numbers, and some very common black birds.

Anyway, it was a good experience. I hope the other trainers in my area continue to turn down clients, cause I'll take em! Unless, of course, I detect even a hint of the craziness of the rottweiler owner in previous posts.

Okay....I should go paint or something.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

urine big trouble..

Ugh! Just got home from a 4 dog training session. The owner's home was quite possibly the most disgusting home I've ever visited. The carpet was completely saturated with urine, so much so that my eyes watered the entire time I was there. And I have practically NO sense of smell - I'm always the last one to notice yucky smells, and am usually not as bothered by them as everyone else. I'm guessing a person endowed with a normal sense of smell would have been knocked flat the minute they walked in. NASTY. In addition to the Eau D'Piss, the place was just a sty. The dogs had chewed up most of the furniture and ripped most of the linoleum off the kitchen floor (and judging by the look of what was left of it, they did her a favor).
The dogs responded really well to the training, but given the fact that the owner let things get this bad before hiring a trainer, I don't hold out much hope for her consistency. Hopefully she won't become another client from hell because I'd have to wear a gas mask and hazmat suit on my next visit. OH - I forgot to mention (and this shouldn't surprise anyone) that the back yard was so covered with dog crap that I could barely do any leash work with the dogs. I was so intent on watching the ground to avoid stepping in one of the gazillion steaming, wasp-infested piles, I could barely keep my eye on the dogs. I STILL managed to step in one, though. *sigh*

On the art front, I'm working on a painting and also a prototype for a unique way of mounting little hand-carved stamps. If it comes out the way I'm hoping, it'll be a cool thing to put in my Etsy shop. I haven't seen anything like it, so we'll see.
And now it's time to light some incense to clear the remnants of pee smell from my sinuses.
Happy weekend!

Friday, July 11, 2008

shame on me!

Wow, I've been dreadfully neglectful of this poor little blog. I see that I last wrote in March about the paint job from hell I was doing for one of my dog training clients. (hello, run-on sentence!) Well, that situation turned into a giant nightmare. As the weeks dragged on, it became more and more obvious to me that the client has a prescription drug addiction. She is so zonked most of the time that she can't remember any instructions she's given (by me) regarding her dog. Consequently, she failed miserably at it, and pestered me DAILY. Really. She called at least once a day, slurring and rambling about what was going wrong. I visited her every week for two months, painting that Godforsaken furniture and training the dog. The dog always responded beautifully for me. Then I'd leave, the client would disregard everything I taught her, and all hell would break loose. Long story short, she wound up returning the dog to the shelter and trying to get me to refund the training fee. Riiiiiight. After ten revisits and fielding daily phone calls, there is no way in hell a refund is warranted. Not only that, but clients sign a contract acknowledging that the guarantee we offer is NOT a money-back guarantee. It's a guarantee that we'll continue to visit and train the dog as many times as is necessary to get the desired results. And I MORE than held up my end of the bargain. Unsurprisingly, she never paid me for the painting project. It came out great, by the way. *sigh*

SO....lately I've been carving a lot of stamps, and have actually sold a few on Etsy! Hopefully I'll be successful in that endeavor. I've been painting a lot too, and have sold a few paintings as well. That makes me happy.

I turned 38 a couple days ago, happy birthday to meeee! And to OJ Simpson and Courtney Love. I'm so lucky to share a birthday with such admirable characters. I had a lovely birthday, which is being dragged out as long as possible. We're going to dinner with my ex-inlaws (long, weird story there) tonight, and having a party at the end of the month for me and two other friends whose birthdays are in early August. So, yeah, I've managed to expand my birthday into a birthmonth. Not too shabby.

Um...what else? I shouldn't overload this entry. I plan to start updating regularly now, so I'll save some stuff for later, mmkay?
Over and out.

About Me

Hippieville, CA, United States
This is the story of life after losing the "real" job and the house, trying to find the middle ground between making a living and actually living.