I haven't lived by myself very much. Growing up, there's family. In college, if there weren't roommates, there were hall and housemates. After college, I lived with a series of boyfriends and roommates, interspersed with short periods of actually living in a house or apartment without roommates. While I enjoyed these times of solitude, having all the space be my own, and the lack of psychic noise, having someone around wasn't really a bad thing.

For one of these living alone adventures, I lived in a condo I had just bought. The complex had four building and sufficient underground parking that every condo had a spot. I had what I considered the best spot: the one right in front of you as you came down the stairs from the complex, minimum distance, minimum effort.

And, maximum target.

One morning, after unlocking my car and hopping in, I noticed something wrong out of the corner of my eye. When I turned to look, I found a garage door opener sitting on the passenger seat. Now, my car had been broken into before, resulting in a few thousand dollars worth of damage, a destroyed dashboard, a broken seat, and an amazing story of my friend Dan Frumin chasing down the would-be thief down streets, over fences, around corners, with his roommates in pursuit in a police car watching the merry chase around the streets and backyards of Pasadena. A story worth telling over bonfires and beers.

This time, however, the only evidence of breakin was the remote.

I jumped out of the car, left the door open, ran upstairs and called the police. They came out, dusted the car for prints, and looked for the car jack that came with the car. Honda car jacks were (and possibly still are) the scissor jacks, which can effectively be used to spread fence bars for breaking into, oh, parking garages to steal cars. I talked with the officer for a while, becoming less and less assured that anything could be done about the attempted theft of my car.

Six weeks later, they caught the guy whose prints were on my car, in the process of stealing another car. He was part of an Asian gang from Los Angeles that were stealing cars in Pasadena where it was easier to steal them. Like a small Honda was worth that much effort.

So, today, as I was hopping into my car, I was reminded of that whole event when I turned around to look over my shoulder before backing up, and saw something shiny sitting on the back seat of my car. I sat there, staring at the 2"x3" shiny metal, thinking, "What is that?" Note the obvious level of stun in that question: there were no curse words.

I hopped out of the car, hustled around to the back seat, passenger side door, opened it and grabbed the silver object. I quickly realized it was a business card holder.

I opened it and realized, to my joy, it belongs to Mike.

Car still safe.

Mike, I have your pile of business cards.






Liza's been out of school for the last week or so, having had her tonsils out. Mike's been telling me his childhood horror stories with his tonsils, all of which made me alternate between laughing and being mortified at his experiences. I have my tonsils, but not a third of my teeth. I wonder if there's a correlation to that tradeoff.

Mike came down the mountain to pick up the tiller, and, much to both my surprise and delight, brought Liza with him. Mike and I were going to head over to the frozen yogurt place that Katie introduced me to, and holy moly, is it awesome. My favorite is the original with graham cracker crust: tastes like a light, cold keylime pie. Mmmmmm.....

So, we went off to the yogurt place. I kept trying to get Liza to talk, because I thought her voice had changed. Kiii-iiiitt! Sure enough, Mike confirmed that her voice had changed because of the tonsils.

On the way back home, I noticed Liza's homework on her lap. She had just pulled it out of her backpack, when "Kathleen" caught my eye. I asked her, "Why did you put 'Kathleen' on your homework?"

She turned to me and, in a way I thought you had to be at least a teenager to perfect, rolled her eyes at me. "That's my name, Kitt."

Well, aren't I put in my place?

Mike explained that she's been waffling between her first and middle names, not quite sure which name she wanted to use. Nothing like defining yourself young. I would, however, like to honor her choice: if she's going to be Kathleen, I'll switch what I call her, just give me some time to do it right. So, I asked her, "What should I call you then?"

"You can call you whatever you want," she answered.

I reached over, grabbed her in the biggest bear hug I could manage, and asked, "Does that mean I can call you 'the Awesome Daughter of My Good Friend?'"

"NooooOOOoo, Kiiiiii-iiiiiiitt!"

Ah, that's the Liza voice I love.




Abandonment issues


I think I'm beginning to have abandonment issues. No, I take that back. Allow me to restate.

I'm having abandonment issues.

I realized late last week that with the one client I have, the one that broke me, I've been abandoned by Mike for the third time.

First, he moves away.

Then, he goes to work for another company.

Now, he's left this company where I'm doing contract work.

I have to say, I'm starting to become annoyed. If I didn't like Kate and Liza and Maeryn and Mike so much, a fondness which I will use as a shield to these feelings of abandonment, I'd think he's trying to avoid me long term.

Yes, yes, I'm kidding.

Hi, Mike. Stop abandoning me.

And the battle begins!


Last night, after we finished the lights installation, we were greeted by a knock on the front door. When I opened the door, two of my favorite people tumbled into the living room, giggling and calling "Kiiii-itttt!" followed quickly by another favorite person.

Mike, Liza, and Maeryn were on their way some, but stopped by to drop off the truck and some other items, including a pile of books. I handed Mike back two of the three books in the Old Man's War series, having devoured them rather quickly. I received a slew of Percy Jackson and Grimm Sister books in return.

While Mike and I were chatting, Liza and Maeryn wandered around the room looking for something to entertain themselves, with Kris hovering somewhere close. At one point, Liza picked up my foam rollers and asked, what are these for?

Kris picked up the other foam roller and the foam roller sword fight began.


After a few swings, Maeryn tackled Kris to save Liza. She managed to wrestle the foam roller out of his hands, and started swinging it in his direction. She was successful in her subsequent beatings of Kris with the roller, until Liza took a swing and accidently hit Maeryn. That changed Kris' fortune, as the two girls entered a fierce battle for supremacy.

Not to be outdone, Kris retaliated with the Big Red Ball™ move, conquering one of his foes.


There are some peple who are slow to anger but fierce when provoked. When Kris had captured of of his girls, Mike, one of these slow to anger types, couldn't resist any longer. He came in with pillows flying, and balls bouncing off heads, including the basketball which had until this point been a quiet observer of the war raging around it.


The hilarity of the battle scene soon became overwhelming for me. I doubled over with laughter, my stomach cramping so hard it hurt. The battle continued until, well, someone poked her eye out with a stategically thrown pillow, and we all had to calm down while the medic checked out the injury.

After a few moments, said medic asked, "Are we done yet?" To which the injured party said yes and stopped crying. We were all subdued enough that the war was clearly over.

I can only hope the forces battle again some time soon.

Marshmallow wars


Mike stopped by tonight with the girls. He was in the area on errands, just had dinner with the girls and wanted to pick up seasons two and three of the Wire. Apparently, Mike hates me and Kris, because he loves the show. Too addicting. Chalk another victim up to Jason's DVD recommendation prowess: I originally purchased the first set after he recommended it in some post. Kris was hooked, as were Heidi and John and anyone else we lent the DVDs to.

Too bad I never really enjoyed the show. I watched enough, however, to know the characters and some of the references (especially the episode where like 20 minutes of dialog consists of one word, and that word begins with f). I might some day actually want to watch them. Until then, eh.

Kris and I were eating dinner when they showed up, but Liza was not to be stopped. She bounced around for a little bit, before asking me, in a quiet, unassuming, deceptively shy way, did I know where the marshmallow guns were?

Oh, boy, did I know where the marshmallow guns were!

I pulled them out, as Kris tucked the dogs into their crates. Liza and I spent a few minutes loading each of the two guns full of marshmallows before the firing frenzy began.

Liza and Mike/Maeryn shot the first round, with marshmallows flying everywhere. "Yeah, the dogs are going to love this," Kris commented. They'll be looking for those for a few days, to be sure.

After the first round was done, Liza picked up a bunch of the marshmallows to refill her launcher. Mike too that opportunity to fire marshmallows at me. He had to shoot a number of times before we were able to time the shot with the camera. Note Mike's evil red eye:

I did manage to capture a shot from Liza a few moments later, without trying:

Though, I later discovered I had caught a near hit very early in the first round:

When we were done, and the dogs has managed to clean up the "mess," Mike asked how six kids with marshmallow launchers would do over Christmas. I said we had four, and it was totally awesome. The best idea is to plant marshmallow ammo all around the field, so that you don't have to travel far to reload.

Here's hoping they capture some video of the event.

Chipper shredder blade

Daily Photo

A couple years ago (probably more, now that all of my years are blurring together), Mike came over to borrow my chipper shredder. It was a small electric chipper shredder, more shredding than chipping. I would continually tell Kris to stop cramming that 3" branch into the feed, smell that burning smell? that's the branch you're trying to shove in there, nothing over 1" wide.

I should have told Mike 1/2".

MIke took the chipper home and started chipping the branches he and Kate had cut down around the house. The chipper was so loud, not that I knew this when I was using it, that I could easily hear it 100 yards away.

I could also hear when it went from straining to BAM to clackity-clackity-clackity-clackity.

"That didn't sound good," was about all I could manage at the time.

A few hours later, Mike wandered back over to the house. "Yeah, well, how much was your chipper-shredder?"

"Couple hundred bucks. Why?"

"Well, it's more expensive to replace the blade than it is to replace the whole thing."



I kept the blade, because the story was so humourous to me. This may just be the first of my discard-with-a-story items.

Breakfast in the woods


Kris and I dashed up to Mike and Kate's for breakfast this morning (where dash means "show up 40 minutes late"). Of course, I forgot my camera in the car when Kris and I went in. Kris hasn't been up to the house very much, so when he walked in, Liza was quite surprised. She looked up at him, put one hand on a hip, and announced, "I usually see just Kitt here."

Kris managed not to laugh.

Katie and Alex were up at the house, too. He and Maeryn played well together, though spending time with Liza means Maeryn behaves older than any other kid her age.

I managed to make pumpkin waffles again, this time with nutmeg instead of cinnamon, in deference to Mike. They were still tasty. I swear, that waffle iron (thanks Bharat and Jen!) is getting more use than any other appliance I own.

Except maybe the dish washer.


Greener grass


Talked to Mike today. He took today off, having worked until midnight for the previous two nights trying to complete a Herculean task that, well, really was more than one person should have to do. He was just tossed the task and told to make it happen. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to hire the people he needs to delegate.

He was in good spirits, but told me several times, "The grass isn't always greener on the other side."

Yeah, I know this. I understand the amount of freedom Doyle and I have with the current working situation. I realize there are exchanges made: time for money, freedom for security, flexibility for comfort. It happens. The trick is finding the balance that doesn't chafe, that fits well, that, well, just works.

I haven't found it yet. Here's hoping I find it soon.

Time for a change


I asked Mike today if I could exchange cars with him, handing him the new car for his Volvo station wagon. He laughed at me, and said sure, what's up? When I explained Kris couldn't drive a stick shift offered to show him the pictures, Mike declined.

I hadn't seen him in a while, with his being off at a client for the last, well, few months, so after exchanging cars, I kept talking. We chatted about life, the kids, the dogs, spouses, the company, our clients. Mike mentioned the client he's been working at has made him an offer that, well, having refused the previous two, is so good, he's inclined to take. "An offer you can't refuse?" "Yeah."

Honestly, after leaving with his car, I felt relief. I was happy that a decision had been made, that we were going to move forward with the company. Part of me was a little disappointed, as I had finally come to terms with the current work situation. That part is small, though. The overwhelming feeling is of excitement of opportunity.

Mmmmmmm... Alexanders


Mike was in the office yesterday. Having him in the office is fun, since we rarely see him anymore. One client is kicking his butt, which is worrisome given Mike's propensity to give his all to the detriment of his own health. (Gee, do we know anyone else who does that?)

Somehow, we ended up on the topic of last names. I think it was after Mike found some Lake Doyle and commented that Chris had a lake named after him. I mentioned that Doyle isn't exactly an uncommon last name (is it even an uncommon first name?). We talked about last names this and last names that, when Mike said that, hey, Gull isn't as common of a last name as you might think. Well, I don't know, how common did he think I thought Gull was?

Not that common, he continued. I'm not sure which of us said it first, but both of us believed that our own name was less common than the other's name. Doyle excepted, of course. No way, no way, he said, Gull is less common than Hodsden. No way, no way, I insisted, Hodsden is less common than Gull.

"Wanna bet?" he asked.

"Sure. What's the bet?" I answered.


"Oh? Home cooked or out?"

"Alexanders, of course."

"You're on."

Doyle pointed out that we had to agree on the spellings we were looking for. Hudson is a lot more common than Hodsden, as is Hodgson, too. Gulll with three Ls, probably even rarer. We were going with how each of us spelled our last names on legal documents. Fine.

We then started looking online for resources on name commonality ranking. The few sites he checked my last name gave an error, so Mike went on to other sites, looking for the relative rankings of the popularity of our last names. Site after site after site had Gull, two Ls, ranked around 33669, and Hodsden unranked. After the third or fourth site, Mike conceded, just as Andy walked in to my loud, boisterous cheers.

"I just won a $600 dinner! Whoo!"

Andy looked a bit scandalized. Who would pay $600 for a dinner?

Well, Mike would when he lost a bet. A doozy of a bet.