Monday, March 30, 2009
There's nothing like spending some time outdoors to put my head back together. It's been stressful around here lately - trying to get our home loan modified, trying to get out of debt. My husband and I are both feeling the strain and we both show it in different ways. Yesterday we decided we needed to take a nice, long hike together. We woke up early, fed the dogs, then headed out to a local waterfall. Spring was evident all around us - poppies carpeting the hills, wild flowers lining the trail, trees dripping with birds. It was a really beautiful day. We packed a bottle of wine and some trail mix, hiked to the top of the waterfall and settled in next to a quiet little pool. We don't usually (read; never have before) bring wine on our hikes, but we were going for a sort of romantic mini-getaway theme. Hehehe. Of course the minute we opened the bottle, three girls came hiking up the trail, emerging right where we'd settled in. *sigh* More people began arriving soon after. We realized the peaceful morning we were hoping for wasn't going to happen, and headed back down the trail. On the way back we kept passing Chinese people! Dozens of Chinese people!! Coming up the trail like ants!! What the? I heard one of them explaining to some hikers that they were part of the Conejo Chinese Cultural Association on an outing.
So..it wasn't the peaceful retreat we'd originally intended it to be, but just being out in nature, soaking up the sunshine did a lot for my well-being. When we got home I carved a new stamp set, as you can see above. True, cherry blossoms aren't part of our local flora, but they're such a good representation of Spring!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
If this week had a theme it would be "wasted time". And that would make sense in more than one way, but mostly in the got-nothing-productive-done way.
Today was supposed to be a platelet donation day, but I wasn't able to donate. I only found this out after making the hour-long trip to UCLA and having two of my fingers pricked to reveal a low iron count. CRAP!!! This wasn't an issue the last 3 times, but I guess the process of donating can sometimes have that effect. If I'd known I was getting low, I'd have started taking iron supplements. The friend that I always donate with was still able to, which meant I had to sit around for a couple hours waiting for her and feeling useless. It was really disappointing. I'm going to try again next week, and in the meantime will be taking vitamins and eating a diet rich in iron.
That was pretty much four hours of my day that I could have spent carving. I'm behind on custom orders and it's driving me crazy. Tomorrow morning I have a dog training revisit, so that's another couple hours gone. Once I get home, I'll have a little time to carve, then I have to attend my daughter's school play. Not that my daughter is IN it, but her best friend is, and we can't miss that. I want to see her, of course, she's like family to us...but things just keep preventing me from working. It's weird. It's just the way the week is going. I have a dog training session on Saturday, so even that day isn't entirely free. Sunday and Monday will have to be reserved for carving.
I did finish one custom order today, pictured above. This was a fun project - a bit different, a traditional Korean Dojang (name) stamp. So...one stamp down.
Many many more to go...
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I got nothing done yesterday, I'm so frustrated. A couple of my husband's co-workers from Missouri (his department interacts with theirs via instant message all the time) were out here on vacation. We planned to meet them in Hollywood for lunch but it turned into an all-day thing. They wound up having to change hotels, which took all day, and they didn't meet us until the evening. That meant we had to hang out in Hollywood for hours..which of course resulted in stopping for drinks at a bar or two. Or three. Long story short - the drinks caught up with me and I got nothing done most of today as well. *sigh* I'm so annoyed with myself.
Tomorrow is a platelet donation day, which is a good thing, but it's also another day in which I won't get much work done. I've got several orders I need to catch up on, auuuggghhh!!
I did managed to get one stamp of a 3-stamp custom order carved today, as you can see above!
I need a few extra days to be tacked onto this week.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Lots of ink was flung in our house today. I spent the day carving stamps as usual, which of course involves ink. Today was different, though, because for once I wasn't the only one with inky fingers at the end of the day. While I sat and carved, my husband tattooed himself. He's been learning to tattoo for a while now, and practices on himself sometimes.
The weather is weird today! This morning was cold and rainy, now it's clear but really windy. Not very Spring-like, at least for SoCal.
Unsurprisingly, I haven't heard back from the woman who called the other day trying to sneak an extra dog onto her contract. I hope I don't. I don't even want to do a paid lesson for someone so willing to rip me off.
I added another new stamp to the shop, as you can see above. This one stemmed from a joke we have about our dog Dewey. My daughter, despite being 14 now, still wants me to read to her at bedtime every night. The dogs seem to enjoy it too, and they all pile into her bedroom when we read. Dewey, our male Corgi, usually listens from over by the bedroom door, but for some reason he's REALLY into our current book. It's about a mermaid, and whenever I start reading it, he gets into the bed, wedging himself between my daughter and me, nose touching the book. We've decided that, being a Corgi with no tail and stubby legs, he loves the idea of being able to grow a tail and swim gracefully in the ocean.
This stamp represents Dewey's wish - to be a fish!
Friday, March 20, 2009
So yesterday I got a phone call from a woman needing help with her dog. Yay! I thought, a job! Unfortunately, she was already a client of the company. Let me backtrack - I own a dog training franchise, so it's a large company and each trainer owns their own franchise territory. We offer a lifetime guarantee, which means a client pays a flat one-time fee and is guaranteed as many follow-up visits as they need for the rest of the dog's life (with some exceptions, but I'll keep this short). That's all well and good - the training techniques are effective and most people don't overly take advantage of the guarantee. If they're doing what I've taught them and truly need my help, I'm happy to go back from time to time and help. One big drawback of this guarantee (for the trainer, that is) is that sometimes a client will move to your territory from someplace else. You, the *insert corporation name here* trainer are now obligated to follow up with them despite the fact that you will not make a cent for your time. It's a bummer but it doesn't happen often. On the rare occasion it has, I haven't minded much. I'm happy to help out and they usually don't try to take advantage. This time, however, was different.
This woman called me yesterday saying she'd moved here from out of state and had been trained by another *insert company name again here* trainer, and needed my help. One of her dogs was having trouble adjusting to the move and was showing aggression toward other dogs in the household. At first she just wanted phone advice and I was glad, because she's in the farthest area of my territory and it's a long drive. I listened to the issues and gave her some good advice, told her to call if she needed further assistance. She called again later, problems had escalated, she decided I did need to come out. So I asked who her former trainer had been so that I could contact them and get some insight, see what issues had been addressed, etc. She was rather vague, couldn't remember, didn't have her paperwork, it was still packed, blah blah. But she of course made sure to schedule a time for me to drive out and help her. Oh, and she also decided I need to sort of "train" the people she's moved in with so they can understand the methods as well.
Today I tracked down her previous trainer, only to find out that the dog she's describing isn't even one of the dogs she had our company train! She didn't even HAVE this dog yet. I also found out she's moved twice since her initial training and made sure to contact trainers in those states and use their services. I talked to one of them and she knew for a fact that the breed of dog she is asking me to come train was not one of the dogs she paid to have trained. She had just gotten it as a puppy a few years AFTER her initial training. So this woman was going to knowingly make me drive to her house, almost an hour away, knowing I wasn't going to be paid and that I'd lose money in gas, and basically steal my services by making me train a different dog. Um.....Idontthinkso. I left her a polite voicemail saying that I'd spoken with two of the trainers she worked with previously and that there seemed to be a discrepency in the information she'd given me. I said I'd be happy to train the dog she is currently having problems with, but would have to charge my training fee, as this dog was not included in her initial training contract with us.
You know....I'll be 39 years old this year, I'm not new...but I'm still always blown away when people do things like this. And man, was she playing to my sympathies...telling me how desperate she is, how upsetting it's been to have her dogs fighting all the sudden after this big move from out of state, and I was all set to run to her rescue. In this freaking economy when small business owners are struggling for every penny they make, she was going to knowingly rip me off. And from what I hear from the previous trainers, she's not shy about asking for follow-up visits, so she would have had me driving out there several times, I'm sure.
Okay..must settle down. I added a new stamp to my shop today - the photo says it all. Om......let it go...om...karma will kick her butt...om....why do people suck sometimes?.....om......
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Judging by the sudden boom in bunny population in my back yard, I'd say Spring has arrived. There is the tinniest bunny outside my bedroom door right now, he's sooooo cute! Yes, I realize that by nature of being a bunny, he's supposed to be tiny. This bunny, though, is tiny EVEN FOR A BUNNY! As a point of reference, despite it being someone gross, note that he's sitting by some average-sized dog poop. **Note to bunny-sorry, my daughter obviously didn't do her chores.** Due to his small stature, I've named him Tinybunny. I'm really good at coming up with creative names. A couple days ago we were also visited by a gorgeous merlin falcon. In the first shot, notice the dove that was caught in action about to land on the power line near him.
In the second shot, I caught him just as he took off.
I wish the picture hadn't blurred the way it did, but it's still a pretty cool action shot.
The presence of the falcon doesn't bode well for Tinybunny, but that's just the way nature works.
Again, sorry Tinybunny.
I posted a brand new stamp in my shop today, by the way.
I originally carved it for an eraser carving swap I'm participating in. Now that the swap is complete I decided to offer it in my shop.
And there ya have it. Happy St. Patty's Day!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Happy Friday the Thirteenth! For some reason that's always been a lucky day for me. While I can't say anything particularly lucky happened to me today (oh wait, I did get a discount on dog food at my local pet store because I'm a trainer), nothing UNlucky happened. Plus I had a dog training job today and still had time to fill stamp orders when I got home. Yeah, finances are still pretty bad - but my two jobs are carving stamps and training dogs, and I love my little family. All in all I have to say I'm lucky.
Oh - another dog training perk for which I'll always be grateful is that sometimes vet technicians are willing to do me very kind favors. A HUGE favor was done for me by one of my favorite vet techs a couple days ago. He cleaned my two olders dogs' teeth at a very deep discount, saving me hundreds of dollars. I can't convey how much it meant to me, they needed it SO badly and I'd been putting it off and stressing over it for months because of the cost. So now they've got nice clean teeth and no longer have horrible breath, and I didn't have to go deeper into credit card debt to make it happen.
Yup, I'm feeling lucky right now.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
It's been a busy week! Had a dog training session on Tuesday, went to Disneyland with my husband for his birthday Wednesday, we spent the night there and went to California Adventure the next morning, came home that afternoon and yesterday was another platelet donation day. I'm tired! This morning we had a training re-visit and this evening we're going to a friend's house for a little birthday gathering for my husband.
Disneyland was awesome because it was a cold, rainy day. That might not make sense at first but when you factor in how many people that deters and do the math regarding the crowds, it does. If you're prepared to suck it up and carry an umbrella, a rainy day is the best day to go. We walked onto every single ride we wanted to with barely a wait. Because we had a hotel room, we were even able to go back to the room for a short nap and then hit the park again. This is the first time in a long time that we've stayed til it closed. Usually we're so daunted by the prospect of the drive home, as well as dealing with the cattle drive to the parking lot upon closing, that we leave early. This time we got there when it opened, rode several rides, went to House of Blues in Downtown Disney for a cocktail or two, went back to the room, then back to the park til closing. It was awesome! And right now they're offering "two-fer" tickets - which means on a different day (within 30 days of the day you visit the first park) you can visit whichever park you didn't visit, free! Since we knew we'd never have the time or inclination to go back to Anaheim within the next month we decided to briefly check out California Adventure the next morning.
What we did, basically, was walk in, go straight to the Tower of Terror (which we've never ridden and I've been dying to check out), rode it, LOVED it, turned around and got right back on it, then left. It was perfect. And Tower of Terror is my new favorite ride. I LOVE freefall rides!!!
Yesterday's platelet donation was my least favorite experience of the three I've had so far. The person who inserted my needle didn't place it well and had to keep coming back and f*cking around with it because it was hurting me. With platelet donation, they actually separate your platelets from your blood, then return the blood to you. The machine draws blood from you, separates the components, then returns blood back to you in cycles. So each time I was on a "return" cycle, I could feel the fluid blowing against the wall of my vein. It was quite unpleasant, and no one seemed able to fix it, and then the fixing itself hurt and I made them stop. I just dealt with it for the hour and a half. Bleh. Maybe next time I'll try my other arm, I've used the same one the past 3 times.
AND...so hopefully I'll be back to my normal schedule this upcoming week. I've got a LOT of carving to catch up on, I got behind this past week with everything going on. And...okay, that's all for now. I should be working!