Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Happy Wally Wednesday! (Thanks, KingsFan for the reminder).

Here's the little man from a trip to the lake earlier, today.

Also, after weeks of simply running around on the shore and being generally timid and afraid of the water, Grace decided to swim today! Her inner Labrador finally came out!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Charles is away at a track day today and won't be back until late this evening. I actually have today off, so after I cleaned the house, I didn't really have much to do other than vegetate in front of the tv. (I have all of Damages Season 2 on the DVR so I've been catching up). Still, one can only watch so much television before they get bored of that. When Charles is away, it becomes more and more apparent how lonely it can get here when you don't know anyone in town.

So, I started to search online at to see if there were any meetup groups for anything that I'm interested in so I could get out and meet some people. Boy, are there a LOT of meetup groups. There are many, many scrapbooking and wine tasting groups, groups for Harley riders and groups for people who like to eat at fancy restaurants, but none of those interest me. I'll show you some that caught my eye - you can tell me which one you think would best suit me.

Saved & Sassy Sistah's
Saved & Sassy Sisters is a group for Christian Women between the ages of 30-45 who enjoy having fun, traveling and meeting new people. Some of our activities include: Ladies Night Out, Sunday or Saturday Brunch, Sistahs Weekend Getaway, Bible Study, Community Service through the Tamar's Circle Mentoring Program and more!

North Texas Transplant Riders
Meet with other local Motorcycle Riders that are transplanted organ recipients!

Fort Worth Ghost Group
This meetup group is for Ghost Trackers, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal Researchers, Psychics and anyone interested in all areas of the paranormal, including ghost hunting, UFO's, psychic abilities, past-life, etc., that live in the DFW area. (I shit you not, there are 236 members of this meetup group).

International Guild of Knot Tyers - Texas Branch
The International Guild of Knot Tyers (IGKT) is an association of people with interests in knots and knotting techniques of all kinds.

The Bedford Renaissance Faire Meetup Group
Meet with people who have interest in attending/performing in renaissance faires.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Today is Wally's ninth birthday! I can't believe my little boy has grown so old. It seems like just yesterday when I picked him up and he cried all day and all night because he missed his real mommy. Every year, I usually get him a cake from Three Dog Bakery. There are several across Los Angeles and one in Pasadena right up the street from my old place. Sadly, there is only ONE Three Dog Bakery in Dallas and it's way the hell up past the airport. Charles stopped by on his way home today (good boyfriend) and brought Wally's cake home. We'll be giving it to the dogs later this evening.
To celebrate the day, we did Wally's new favorite thing which is to go to Joe Pool Lake and play fetch with tennis balls in the water. Here are some photos from this afternoon:

All in all, Wally says it was a pretty good day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I wrote a very long time ago about all the mail I receive from the Church of Scientology. I'd like to report that, as of today, it took them less than a month to find my new address. Back when I used to go to AA meetings, I made friends with a guy who had been an alcoholic and heroin addict prone to violent crimes (like robbery and hold ups) back in the days when he was still using. He was also on the Scientology mailing list. He said once, he was on the lam, out in the middle of the desert crashing at a friend's place, someone who had no phone or TV. He went out to the mailbox one day, only to discover a piece of mail addressed to himself...from the Church of Scientology. It really is creepy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Charles and I finally went and applied for our Texas drivers licenses yesterday. We tried to do it the first week we were here and ran into a huge snafu. For starters, there is no DMV in Texas - you have to go to two different places - one to register your car, and one to get licensed. We decided to get the license first since, on the day, I wasn't 100% sure where my registration info was.

We drove out to the nearest office, 20 minutes away in Arlington and went in. You can't make an appointment and we were lucky there was no line when we got there. Unfortunately, we were informed we couldn't get a license until we registered our vehicles. The process is this:

1) Get your vehicle inspected. It's much less involved than a SMOG test for California, but every vehicle has to be inspected (you must also show proof of insurance during the inspection). Cost: $45 per vehicle (the motorcycles will all have to be done individually, as well).
2) Once you get your slip from the inspection, you then take it to the Courthouse with your registration and proof of insurance. The cost: $90 per vehicle (including all motorcycles) initiation fee for it being the first time registered in the state, plus the applicable fees. Just for my car, it was $189.
3) Take your new Texas registration and proof of insurance to the office where you obtain your license (the Office of Public Safety). For me, there was one other hitch. In the state of Texas, you must provide to get your license - your out of state license, a birth certificate or passport...and your actual Social Security card. Now, I haven't had a physical SS card since the early 90s when my wallet got stolen. I know the number, and I've always carried a passport, so I've never been required to provide the actual document. This meant I first had to make a visit to the Social Security Administration to obtain a new card. Would you like to know what they asked for as identification to get my card? My passport. Right. It wasn't good enough as ID for the Office of Public Safety, but it was enough for Social Security.
4) I waited two weeks to get my card, then went with all 15 pieces of required information and headed to the Office of Public Safety. This time, there was a line. We waited and waited, finally got in, and paid to get our licenses. Annoyingly, instead of just punching a hole in my old license, they confiscated it so the only photo ID I currently have is my passport, until my DL 4 to 8 weeks!!

I asked the woman at the office why they required so much paperwork just to process a DL and was told that "all border states" do it. I pointed out that I had come from California, also a border state, and didn't have to do ANY of that to get my license when I moved there. The girl at the window next to us was a foreign student, and the woman then told me, "Well, we also have a lot of foreigners here." I again pointed out that I was from Los Angeles, where I assume there are more foreigners in the city than in the entire state of Texas.

Well, at least it's finally done. Texas plates, Texas license. Yeehaw!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I met an old friend for lunch on the other side of Dallas today, and since it was so nice out I decided to take the motorcycle. For once, it was warm but not hot, and cool enough to not be humid, which would have been really uncomfortable in motorcycle leathers. On the ride over there, I had to continuously shake my head at the amount of motorcyclists riding around without helmets on. In fact, I must have seen 10 bikers on the way there and back, and I was the only one wearing a helmet. It's so weird to see them out there, t-shirts flapping in the wind, a pair of sunglasses the only thing between them and a rock in the eye. I shudder to think of what would happen in a collision with no helmet. A friend I worked with who grew up in Texas refers to the lack of helmet law as "social Darwinism." I think they only recently enacted an open container law here, as well, and someone else told me the state only recently lowered their legal level for DWI's to .08 because they couldn't get federal funding for their roads if they didn't comply.

If you've never ridden a motorcycle (or any two wheeled motorized vehicle, for that matter), you may be unfamiliar with the "club" you enter into when you're on two wheels. Anyone else on a bike will wave at you, a subtle move with their hand to let you know they see you. I always feel like an ass when this happens because I'm such a novice rider. I feel like I should be wearing a shirt that says, "Hi! Thanks for waving! I'd wave back, but I'm terrified to take my hand off the handle bar!"

I have a hockey game later this evening. The regular season isn't quite over here yet, so the person at the rink put me on a team for the remainder of their games...we have three left. The designations for the skill level in the divisions is different here than in southern California. I didn't want to get into a league where I wasn't strong enough to play competitively, but conversely, didn't want to end up on a team where everyone sucked. I ended up in the latter division. There seems to be a lot of hockey here. There is a surprising amount of ice rinks, and I'm told Dallas considers itself to be a "hockey town." However, the quality of the leagues is pretty low. Most of the rinks don't have adult levels higher than what I was already playing at in California, which means there are a lot of novice players across the city. It's better than no hockey at all, and the guys all seem really nice (pretty much everyone I've met in Dallas has been very nice). I will say it's weird to be sitting on a hockey bench hearing guys talking with really strong Texan drawls, and I've already been called "honey" on the ice a few times. I've also heard guys talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs AND NASCAR in the same conversation, which just seems wrong.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I think my boyfriend may be the worst person in the world at music trivia. We're painting today and have Pandora playing in the background. At one point he said, "This is Air Supply, right?" To which I responded, " This is Duran Duran." Later, while "Hey Jude" was on, he asked, "Who's this?" When I said it was The Beatles, he said, "Oh, right...The Beatles...John McCartney."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I made my first foray into Dallas proper today to pick up a coffee table I ordered from Crate & Barrel. The 30 minute drive confirmed the opinions I already had formed about Dallas driving - it sucks. There are many, many reasons why it sucks, but I'll give you just a few.

First off, people drive really slowly here. I must admit, people seem to drive pretty slowly wherever I've gone outside of Los Angeles. Having lived for 15 years in a city where the police have other things to worry about than speeders, I've grown used to driving around 80 mph pretty much everywhere, as long as traffic is moving. You can do that most of the time in L.A., and as long as you're not weaving in and out of traffic, you'll never get a ticket. Not so here in Dallas. Everyone seems to want to drive around 60. In the fast lane. Granted, that IS the speed limit, but come on!

Secondly, the freeways here are a mess. There is a freeway, highway, or other such major thoroughfare seemingly every 100 yards. Every other exit leads to some other 2 lane divided highway. If you look at a map of the Dallas-Ft Worth area, you'll see the freeways spread out in a wagon wheel from the center of town. This means that ultimately, if you head into the center of town, you will reach a place a very confusing place where the freeways collide. Trying to follow Google Maps directions can be puzzling as a freeways often turn into something else then back again, and will then end, inexplicably, in the middle of the city...only to pick up again two miles further heading out of town. I-35, which heads south from Oklahoma City into Dallas splits into two freeways - the 35W and the 35E - both of which run north-south. WTF?

Third, there is the Texas Turnaround. Much of Dallas is made up of divided streets and one way frontage roads. This makes it nearly impossible to make a left out of a parking lot, and I often find myself driving for blocks through parking areas looking for an outlet to turn left. Wikipedia describes the Texas Turnaround as such: "a lane allowing cars traveling on one side of a one-way frontage road to u-turn to the opposite frontage road (typically crossing over or under a freeway or expressway) without being stopped by traffic lights or crossing the highway traffic at-grade." Here's a diagram.
Sometimes they work great - you can make the u-turn without waiting for the light. But if you don't know where you're going, you're screwed, going in the other direction when all you wanted to do was make a left turn.

For now, I'll remain happy that I'm working at home and only driving about 10 miles a week.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hello blog! Long time no see!

Here I am, finally in Dallas. We've been here about two weeks now, though it's been three weeks since we left Los Angeles. It's a long story, but it ended up taking our movers 8 full days to get our stuff from Los Angeles to Dallas, so instead of going straight there, we stopped for two days in Oklahoma City, where Charles' mom lives.

The drive from Los Angeles was really long. It would have been one thing if it had been the two of us in one car where we could have switched off driving. Unfortunately, we have two cars and three morotcycles between us so we caravaned in two separate cars, each of us towing a motorcycle trailer hauling the bikes. To make matters more interesting, we also have three dogs. Kraut rode with Charles and Wally and Grace rode with me. Since Wally gets really anxious in the car, I asked the vet to give him some sedatives. He was still anxious, but much MUCH better than he would have been without them!

Our first day was the longest. We left Los Angeles around 6:30 in the morning. We could have easily been in Flagstaff, AZ in about 7 hours, but wanted to see the Grand Canyon since we were so close (I'd never been there). I'm glad we made the side trip, but it took us almost 3-4 full hours as a side trip, and it was probably the quickest tour of the Grand Canyon ever taken!

We stayed the night in Flagstaff, had lunch with friends of Charles' in Albuquerque the next day, then ended the day in Santa Rosa, NM. New Mexico was really beautiful. I wish we would have had more time to explore, but it was hard, especially with two cars and all the critters. On the third day, we made it to Amarillo, TX just in time for lunch at the Big Texan, home of the 72 oz steak (eat it in an hour and it's free). I settled for only 16 oz and was STUFFED. We made it to Charles' mom's outside Oklahoma City by nightfall.

The dogs loved Charles' mom's little farm. She has a huge yard, a couple of horses, and a bunch of goats, including some kids (baby goats - I think). All the dogs had a ton of fun running around in the long grass, and Grace really REALLY wanted to play with the goats.

The next day (Sunday), it took us only about 3 1/2 hours to get to Dallas from Oklahoma City. Unfortunately, the movers wouldn't be there until Wednesday, which meant too may nights on a very uncomfortable air mattress. (I don't care what anyone says, air mattresses are NOT comfortable)! We spent three very long days painting my office and our master bedroom to be ready for the movers on Wednesday. Our entire first week in Texas was spent either painting, or unpacking for long hours every day. We just started back to work last week and are still busy, but not as much so as before. We're continuing to get things unpacked little by little.

Living in Texas has already been both educating and entertaining, from their ridiculous regulations to obtain a drivers license, to the way the streets are set up, to the way people just ARE here. Hopefully, I'll have many things to blog about in the near future. Until then, stay tuned.