Stormy Monday

Monday was a holiday, and while it was nice to have a long weekend, it was (of course) a stormy one. The wind howled around the house, and watching the trees toss their heads, I told myself to accept the fact that the power was going to go out.

As usual, I ignored my well-meant advice, and neglected to fill the pot with water to boil the noodles for the spicy stir fried noodles I was planning to make for dinner and to do the dishes that had accumulated from the prep for said dinner. The power went out at 6:00 pm as the sky darkened for the evening*, and I sadly went to get the flashlight and lantern from Rob’s magnificent cabinet (I now have a box inside it with power outage equipment, making it easy to find in the darkness).

Cooking by flashlight was as problematic as you’d expect, though the recipe was delicious. I skipped the eggs and salt (isn’t soy sauce basically salt?) and will increase the amount of sauce next time. I will probably scatter some chopped scallions on top along with the peanuts.

Also as usual, Mark fired up his generator a split second after the blackness descended. I was still on the phone reporting the outage to our friends at PG&E when I heard the racket start. Conventional wisdom holds that the shortest amount of time is between the light turning green and someone honking, but I’m pretty sure it’s between the power going out and Mark starting up his generator.

Much like snoring, where the noise is deeply annoying to those trying to sleep, hearing the noise of a generator next door making sure they have heat and light when you have neither of these things is also unenjoyable, especially since it deprives you of your much-needed beauty sleep on a school night.
I soon realized that I could not sleep upstairs, with just the balcony door between me and the Dreadful Rauw, even with earplugs and a pillow over my head. I tossed bedding over the balcony where I once tossed myself, and went grumpily downstairs to sleep on the couch. There I had the door to the studio closed as well as the studio and its outside door to shield me against the Awful Dynne.

It was hard to sleep, what with the grumpitude, curious cats, and the storm raging all around the house. I tried not to think about trees falling on the house. When the power came back on, the house blazed to life, waking me up just a couple of hours before it was time to get up for good. Or bad.

The rain is taking a break today, which means that it’s really cold with no clouds to insulate us. I could hardly yank my car door open this morning since it was frozen, and it took a while to warm up as a sliver of moon smiled down at us.

*This week, I noticed that it is no longer pitch dark when I drive to work, which means that the time change can’t be far away. As soon as there is a glimmer of light and hope in the morning, it is snatched away. It took me a while to realize that the entire point of the time change is to make sure it’s dark in the morning and that there are only two or three months of the year that I don’t get up in utter blackness. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

A YEAR AGO: Flea-O-Rama! Again!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Audreyness of Audrey. Also? It was 65 degrees!

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Cats and Dogs

It’s still raining them. And the forecast is discouraging:

I thought that Clyde’s increase in naughtiness was a fairly recent thing, but my blog archives tell me that it has been nearly three years since he started his early morning wake up campaign. This is why it’s so useful to keep a journal. You can see when things actually happened instead of relying on your ever less reliable memory.

He no longer asks to go out first thing in the morning. He has been significantly less interested in the Wide World* since we lost Roscoe. Some days, he doesn’t go outside at all. He still sits on my desk and watches the woods, even if the door is open. It’s hard not to think that he is looking for his brother or remembering him. Audrey too has decreased outdoor interest, perhaps since she will be 10 this year. She still has extra outside privileges, but she no longer stays out for hours.

Clyde has recently expanded his naughtiness to eating Audrey’s food. I realized that his evil plan is to eat all of hers while hoarding his. Oddly, Audrey, who has no problem bossing around humans and dogs, is apparently reluctant to boot her miscreant little roommate out of her dish.

Audrey, like her namesake Miss Hepburn, is already sufficiently sylph-like, so this is a problem. I have been putting her dish up on Rob’s masterpiece so she can eat in peace, but of course Clyde knows it’s there and jumps up as soon as Audrey leaves. If I were at home all day, I’d put her food away and bring it out every couple of hours, but since I’m gone around 12 hours a day, that’s not possible. I guess I will just have to let Clyde be naughty and fill up Audrey’s dish whenever it looks empty, no matter who ate it.

On this rainy morning, they are both curled up on the untidy bed as I write, looking cute as buttons and innocent of any domestic infractions whatsoever.

As for the “dogs” portion of this post, the one I attempted to murder with my car three months ago is finally home, looking none the worse for wear:

though his owner’s wallet will take some time to recover from the $8,000 vet bill. The dog was in rehab in the Bay Area and staying with his owner’s mother while he recovered, so they had a joyful reunion. I am hoping to stop by and see them both soon.

Stopped at a red light, I saw the guy in the truck in front of me put his arm around his dog and drop a kiss on his head. When the light changed, he drove off with his arm still around the dog.

*I have to agree with the River Rat on this one. Now more than ever: “Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.”

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather. I’m sensing a theme here.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob finally won his disability case after four long years.

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Flooded

Guess what? It’s raining! Y’all can stop your rain dances or waltzes or twerking, we’re good for now, especially in Oroville, wherever that is. I was touched at the international concern for my safety following the news of the Oroville Dam overflow. I still don’t know where it is, but I do know that the only flooding around here is the usual suspects (the Road to Civilization and the car eating ditches that border the Ridge). Cheerful yellow “Flooded” signs are popping up, along with their cousins, “Slide”. It’s late winter in California!

Calla lilies are also popping up by the side of the road, along with drifts of sunshiny daffodils in the rain. Cherry trees are hazed with pink blossoms, always a sure sign of February. This morning, I noticed that the air smells different, more like spring and less like winter, and this week I realized that it was no longer night dark at 5:30 pm. 5:30 am should take its cue from 5:30 pm instead of doing such an excellent impersonation of 12:00 am.

Valentine’s Day saw my desk flooded with love:

Inside the bag is home-made salsa and sugar facial scrub, among other delights. More cupcakes and even orchids arrived after the photo opp, making up for the fact that it was an extremely unromantic 12 hour Valentine’s Day. When I finally got home, I had some of the delicious salsa on a take-out burrito and watched an episode of “Victoria” before collapsing into bed surrounded by kitties.

It wasn’t all work this week, though. I made time to meet a friend at the charming seaside bar where Megan and I first made the delightful acquaintance of the cerise noir. The lovely bartender remembered that was what I had last time and set about making another for me, since she had already made an impeccable Negroni for my friend.

She hails from England, near where my father grew up, and we enjoyed talking about some of our favo(u)rite places there. The bar’s owner chimed in about a recent visit there. He and his wife found it an enchanting place. I have to say that there are few things more beautiful than a perfect summer day in England.

Of course, sitting in a pretty room with your friends, drink in hand, watching the sun set over the ocean isn’t bad, either. Despite the week of rain and the slate grey skies and sea, the clouds thinned just enough to allow us a peek of radiant pink sky as the sun slipped away, a wonderful parting gift.

A YEAR AGO: Enjoying being chauffeured.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Remembering my grandfather. Love you and miss you, Hoho.

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Stormy


Stormy Seas

On Fridays, it makes me happy to know that my siblings are happily asleep as I jolt workwards down the muddy driveway in the early morning darkness. The driveway is puddlier than ever thanks to the stormy visitors we have had lately. I am beginning to think that whoever did those rain dances to end the drought may have overdone it. The driveway is either dust or mud, depending on the time of year, and its muddiness has reached new heights (or depths, depending on how you look at it) this winter. I don’t think it’s ever been as potholed and puddled as it is now. I flinch for Wednesday as I am tossed around the car, even at less than five miles an hour.

Thursday’s storm was particularly intense, with heavy rains and high winds. We had already received five inches of rain this week before that storm. I hate to admit it, but I’m kind of done with the rain. At this point, everything is saturated and it’s just causing landslides and fallen trees, which in turn cause power outages.

We had a power outage at work this week. Oddly, it was calm and not raining when it happened, and it affected the entire Big Town and the Village while leaving Hooterville untouched for once. The generator kicked on to power the lights in the clinic area, and patients were still seen, using paper charts. The receptionists print out schedules ahead of time during stormy weeks. I used the time to catch up on my filing, which I had not done for a couple of months due to fundraiser madness and human nature’s* general dislike of filing.

I did enjoy the unaccustomed feeling of virtue, though, and the lights came back on shortly after I completed the filing so I could get back to work on computer-related tasks.

This morning dawned clear and bright. I was momentarily confused when I woke up and saw the moonlight, wondering what it was in my precaffeinated state. I will enjoy the lightness and brightness while it lasts. We are due to get more storms next week. The calm before the storm…

*Among my filing were some old personnel records, one of which included a resignation letter saying that working at the clinic had made this person grow as a professional and “a human been.”

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day with surfers, ballet and Thai food. What more could a girl want?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Poor Rob. And his pain in the neck.

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Saturday

For some reason, I decided that this weekend was the perfect time to attempt this unnecessarily elaborate dish for Sunday dinner*. Despite my lack of religious upbringing**, and the fact that I try to dedicate as much of Sunday as I can to my personal favorite sin of sloth, I usually make something nicer than usual for Sunday dinner.

So I set it to marinate on Friday night, while I threw in a load of laundry*** and made an adult beverage, and on Saturday morning, I was at stage two of frying the garlic chips when someone walked into the house.

I fully expected it to be Rob, but it turned out to be an unknown teenage girl:

Girl: Is everyone asleep?
Me: Who are you?

She was a friend of one of Mark’s daughters, and had mistaken my house for theirs. This is the kind of thing that happens when you have five doors, none of which lock. That, and surprise appliances. She was more embarrassed than necessary, but that’s all part of the joy of being a teenager.

I put the roast into the slow cooker for stage three, and Megan and I headed to the Village to meet Erica and our favorite teenager at the bookstore overlooking the stormy ocean.
The Great Catsby looked down disdainfully from his perch, enjoying the distance from those ridiculous humans and their grubby paws:

not to mention their tiresome adulation. Jessica was cashing in her Christmas gift certificate, and Erica was torn between Advanced Style and do it yourself taxidermy. It was great to catch up with our favorite girls as we strolled the aisles. We are already planning this year’s Junapalooza celebration. Erica and I had considered Jellopalooza, using her collection of vintage Jell-O molds, but we decided that not even a coconut water and fresh blackberry gelatin confection would win over the picky eaters in our family, so Plan B is Pizzapalooza.

Erica thinks we can make a cobb pizza oven at Megan’s birthday celebration, which is conveniently located on the Memorial Day weekend, when we should have maximum free labor and time. Then we can use it for the Junapalooza celebration. If not, I am pretty sure that the evil geniuses of my brothers can come up with a grill-related solution so we can make our own pizzas.

After the bookstore, we browsed around the toy store, where I was charmed by felted whales and stuffed hedgehogs, though I resisted buying them. You are never too old to look through kaleidoscopes and try on Halloween hats, especially out of season.

Eventually, we parted ways, the girls to see “Hidden Figures” and Megan and I to run a few errands. It was great to see them. I love those girls!

*It was delicious, though labor-intensive.

**Being brought up by atheists can have its drawbacks.

***I’m addicted to this sea salt and neroli laundry soap thanks to Monica, who gave me a sample. The first one’s free…

A YEAR AGO: A look around the storm-tossed garden.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Darkness descended.

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Surprise

I came home one day to find that I had a new refrigerator.

The appliance fairy had apparently come by while I was at work, leaving a gift that kept on giving.

The new refrigerator is bigger and blockier than the old one. It is unfortunately too tall to fit under the (admittedly makeshift) shelf on which I used to store frequently used items like salt, olive oil, and soy sauce:

So the shelf had to go, and I had to find alternative locations for its former residents. Some I consigned to the wilds of the pantry/laundry room/salle de bains des chats/flood zone, and some I squeezed in next to the bowls, etc. under the counter.

With the shelf went the (admittedly ugly) stove hood. I never used the fan, but I am surprised to note how much I miss the light over the stove, and not just for cooking. It had a friendly yellow light, and I had it on most winter evenings.

I am sorry to say that James’s (admittedly eccentric) electrical whimsy meant that Rob got zapped a couple of times during the stove hood removal process. Also that it disabled the outlet which formerly powered the microwave, so I now have a large orange extension cord leading to the bathroom outlet which takes up about 75% of the hallway/foyer and is almost guaranteed to precipitate an unfortunate Calamity Suzy episode in the middle of the night.

Having a giant, Giants orange extension cord sprawling all over is not a charming decorative motif, and neither is the shelfless kitchen at this stage:

Notice how the giant, Stalinesque lines of the new refrigerator dwarf the much more attractive, vintage Wedgewood stove. Oddly, the freezer capacity seems much less than the old refrigerator. And the manual which came with it warns that the new refrigerator may be “nosier” than the old one. So far, it seems to be as uninterested in my daily activities as the old one, but perhaps it is secretly taking notes or reading my emails after I go to sleep.

Rob is planning to make a new and prettier shelf. I believe he is planning to make it match the lovely shelving units he recently made. He also says that the hole you see above the stove can and will be made into an outlet for the microwave, so the extension cord will be banished. I am hoping it will be sooner rather than later.

A YEAR AGO: At the very fine (though very crowded) woodworking show.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Adventures in law enforcement.

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The Main Event

Well, I survived the annual scourge of the work fundraiser. Barely.

It was as Sisyphean as I remembered. No matter how many hours I worked, I never got the things done I planned/needed to, making me feel both incompetent and stupider than usual, feelings I do not enjoy. And being loaded down with event-related duties did not excuse me from doing my (ir)regular job.

Once again, I logged between 50 and 60 hours of work and several bottles of wine in the week leading up to the event. I was in my stress sleep pattern: fall asleep exhausted for three or four hours, wake up and worry for a couple more, drift off as alarm goes off, so I was also sleep-deprived.

I would have been really glad when Friday came, if I didn’t have to work for free on Saturday. Sadly for me, I no longer had the iron clad excuse of working for money on Saturday to excuse me from working for free on Saturday*.

Fortunately for me, Megan’s plans for the day included walking her dogs on the beach and running errands in the Big Town, so she chauffeured me to the event site, giving us time to chat and for me to enjoy the scenery and not having to drive. We met up when my shift was over and did our grocery shopping together, and then headed home, where I took an unprecedented nap for two hours instead of answering my emails (which I will do soon!), cooking, or cleaning up the house as I should have been. Sometimes a girl just needs her beauty sleep.

*The new CEO of the jobette quit just a few months after taking the job, though in those months he managed to cost me my Saturday jobette and lost all of the staff he inherited except for one person. He is going back where he came from, and not a moment too soon.

A YEAR AGO: Just guess!

FIVE YEARS AGO: A midnight caller.

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Rained In

Megan and I had grand plans to see the Bolshoi Ballet performing “Sleeping Beauty”, but Mother Nature had other plans.

The appointed day dawned dark and dreary, and as the day went on, it got rainier and rainier. We already knew that the Road to Civilization was flooded and closed:

and that it was very likely that the river over which the Road to the South Coast passes would flood, too, effectively stranding us on the South Coast if we made it that far. We speculated on how we might possibly get home if we were marooned, and decided that we’d have to keep going south to Jenner until we could find a road to take us to 101, then to 20, then from the Big Town back to Hooterville.

Since this winding route would take several hours and Megan was scheduled to work that night, we decided to stay home, missing both the glories of a beautiful ballet and the joys of Thai food.

We aren’t imagining that we’ve gotten a lot of rain this winter. Our friends at PG&E, those fearless repairers of power outages, say it’s been the wettest January in 20 years ’round these parts. The local message boards say we have received 16 inches of rain in January so far. I well remember the winter of 1996-1997, when it rained every single day in January and February. I worked in an old building in downtown San Francisco with exposed brick walls, and the rain ran down the walls – inside. I had clear plastic draped over my computer to cover it from the inside rainfall.

I still have inside rainfall. The laundry room has flooded as per usual, and the usual leaks have sprung to life. On the bright side, though, the drought is definitely on the run for now.

With no Thai food on the menu for dinner, I started rummaging around the freezer for a Plan B. While in the midst of this icy exploration, Rob came by to hang up a picture for me. Hanging up pictures on curved walls takes expertise and patience that are far beyond my mortal abilities, but are no problem for Super Rob:

After he hung up the picture, Rob also investigated why my vacuum cleaner’s performance had been suboptimal lately, and discovered a clog in the hose, which he removed, allowing me to vacuum up cat hair and pine needles with abandon.

With the house in order and the rain falling outside (and in), I curled up on the couch with a Patricia Highsmith novel under my grandmother’s ancient quilt, a cozy way to spend a winter afternoon.

A YEAR AGO: Adventures in cooking. It takes a special talent to need three takes in making mashed potatoes.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob was fixing things up around here then, too. I wonder how often he regrets his ridiculous sister-in-law moving to Hooterville.

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Muddy

I finally got around to clearing up the worst of the storm damage around my house.

Several good-sized limbs had been removed from trees, and a couple of smallish trees were uprooted. I dragged the corpses out of the way and into the remaining woods. I didn’t rake up all the smaller fallen pieces, though, because we all know that there are more storms and more mess to come.

Speaking of mess, the clean up process was rendered messier and more challenging by Mark’s latest project. For reasons unknown to me, but presumably known to Mark, he decided to dig trenches to bury the electrical lines:

in the rainiest part of the year. This does not seem like a great idea to me, but then my knowledge of both trench digging and electrical systems is limited at best.

Burying the electrical wires that festoon our houses and surrounding trees does seem like a good idea, though, since they a) look terrible and 2) are more likely to come down in a storm, leading to further power outages. So I am willing to put up with the extra muddiness:

for now. Hopefully the mud will be graveled over when the project is finished.

While I was out there, I took a peek at the rest of the garden. The daffodils are beginning to poke through the soil:

as are the tulips:

I think I planted the tulips too late again – I should have done it around Thanksgiving instead of Christmas. I always want them to bloom in February along with the daffodils, but they really show up around March. Though March is the secret winter month no-one ever talks about.

The camellias still don’t have flower buds. They have never bloomed. I must be doing something wrong here. The main point of having them is to have flowers in the winter. I should ask Lichen about this. On the bright side, though, both of the orchids have flower spikes:

so they should be blooming pretty soon.

All in all, the garden came through the storms pretty well. Hopefully the rest of the winter won’t be too bad.

A YEAR AGO: A couple of coincidences.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Gorgeous shoes to covet.

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Fine

On a sunny Saturday morning, Megan and I headed to the Big Town to see the fine woodworking show. Rob, who is a pretty fine woodworker himself, was unable to accompany us due to other pressing wood-related matters, like gathering more firewood before it started to pour again. I missed his insight and perspective – he has a unique way of looking at wood, and the world – but Megan and I had fun together, as we always do.

Last year, we made the mistake of going on the opening night reception, and it was severely overpopulated, to the point that Megan took one look and fled to the car, and Rob and I were barely able to move around. Also, whoever set it up thought it would be a good idea to stage the booze and food at the entrance, thus creating an instant traffic jam. It wasn’t.

This year, however, we had the place to ourselves and were able to meander freely among the lovely pieces on display. People come from all over the world to join the fine woodworking program here, and it is a highly demanding program, both in time and dedication. But the results are worth it.
This lovely cabinet has a wonderful wave shape, perhaps a little hard to tell from the photo:

This one was like a magic box:

Revealing layer upon layer:

I loved the texture of the wood on this shelf, looking rustic while being satin smooth and catching the light:

This rendering of a vintage radio was so clever:

It was so nice to enjoy the beauty of these pieces in the light and bright space. It is amazing how talented these artists are. They look at a piece of work and see an art form instead of a piece of tree. Michelangelo used to say that he released statues from marble, and maybe these artists feel the same about wood.

A YEAR AGO: Things were a little on the absurd side.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Power outages and a PC for work. Which is worse?

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Sun & Moon


Cheers!

Megan wakes up after her long night shifts on Thursday afternoons, and I get home from my day shift just a little later than that, so we decided to head out to the Ledford House to enjoy the sunset together, even though it was a school night for me and Megan had just finished her coffee. One of her super powers is the magic ability to switch effortlessly from coffee to wine.

The bar was bustling. Apparently many of our neighbors and visitors (I heard French and Russian being spoken) also didn’t care that it was a school night. Or maybe they were just glad that the days-long power outage was over. Megan and I decided to try a “Cerise Noir”, which you see above.

To make this delicious libation, the delightful bartender spoons some house-macerated dark cherries into a champagne flute, then adds cherry vodka (who knew?) and tops it off with local sparkling wine. It is a sunset drink to sip while watching the sun set over the ocean:

I’m afraid its deliciousness inspired us to have another one, which inspired us to order a little food to go with that second cocktail. Just being a responsible adult, you understand. We ordered a cheese and charcuterie plate:

It consisted of Dad’s favorite Stilton, Brie, and Manchego cheeses, along with salami, coppa, and prosciutto (auto corrected to “prosecution” – I didn’t go that crazy on a school night), served with house made Meyer lemon marmalade and spicy mustard, along with spiced olives and house made bread. It was all so good, and the marmalade was to die for. The owner makes it, and I told him he could sell it. He laughed and said, “I just did!”

It was a delightfully civilized break in the work week. On the way home, the full moon was blazing, so we got to enjoy both the sun setting and the moon rising.

A YEAR AGO: First engine light appearance of the new year! And cameo appearances by Bobbie Gentry and my old Mustang Josephine.

FIVE YEARS AGO: It was cold and hadn’t rained since Thanksgiving. We have more than made up for it now.

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Old & New

Twelfth Night fell on a Friday. I left work early that day to go to Angelika’s little salon in the big woods. Among my Christmas gifts this year was a gift certificate to get my hair highlighted, so off I went to get both my hair and my spirit refreshed.

Not only does Angelika do an amazing job, applying utterly natural looking highlights and cutting my hair so well that it never loses its shape, even after months, but she is an inspiring person to be around. She is always so positive that I kind of bask in the glow of her presence.

Even though she only colored in the front part of my hair, the whole process took about three and a half hours. She is a perfectionist. And I actually had somewhere to go and show off my new and improved ‘do.

I went home, fed the kitties, turned on some lights, and headed out to Rio’s place in the rainy darkness. The traditional Twelfth Night Christmas ornament removal would have to wait.

Arriving at her house, I found my siblings, Rob, and our dear friend Lu, back from her adventures fighting the good fight at Standing Rock. I also found a pot of my brother’s split pea soup on the stove. It is almost as famous as my cheese biscuits, and rightly so. To make it, he had to cut the Hamzilla bone in half with a hacksaw before making the broth. Like my hair, it is a lengthy but worthwhile process in the hands of a true artist.

With the soup, we had our hard cider, now approaching a perfect balance of apple-ness and dryness, and garlic bread. There was a fire burning merrily in the Franklin stove as we ate dinner together.

After dinner, we gathered around the 1950 Philco Predicta. You may remember that my brother got it in non working condition, but a guy who also made a non working NASA worthy telescope work had no doubts that he could also make a nearly 60 year old TV set work. And he did:

Somehow, he also managed to hook up a modern DVD player to the antique TV set, so we were able to watch a delightful retro program of Honey West, The Outer Limits:



and a chaser of Peter Gunn while we ate ice cream topped with strawberries from the garden that Jonathan had made into a sauce. It was nice to have a taste of summer in the depths of winter. And it was a wonderful evening.

A YEAR AGO: Consulting the experts.

FIVE YEARS AGO: You just never know where you’ll find Rob’s artwork!

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Tempestuous

It was sleep in your sweater night at stately Suzy Manor last night!

I accessorized my sleep sweater with the latest in sleep hats. It is so wrong to see your own breath in your own house.

The power obdurately continues to be out. We are solidly in Day Three now. Not only that, but we are also in the throes of Giant Storm II: the Sequel, with rain and wind bashing away relentlessly at the roof/walls even while we are still suffering the aftereffects of Giant Storm I. It’s like déjà vu all over again!

I don’t know when I will be able to post this, but I am writing it on Tuesday morning, when I should be at work. I took one look at the storm and texted my boss that I would not be braving the elements today. I’m not the only one. Yesterday, the local schools announced they would be closed today, and we moved our regularly scheduled Board meeting to next week. The Sheriff asked residents to stay home and off the roads if at all possible.

So I am sitting in bed under all the covers, wearing the hat, two sweaters, and two pairs of socks while my delicate pale breaths wreathe my delicate pale features.

I did make it to work on Monday despite the many downed trees on the Ridge, delightful surprises in the early morning darkness. I headed straight to the gym, where I took a hot shower and applied makeup and the other accoutrements of the convincingly faux adult. I guess we know what it takes to get me to go to the gym.

Even though I left home at 5:30 am, I didn’t get to work until after 7:00 am, so I clearly underestimated the amount of time needed to complete the grownupization process.

Our friends at PG&E have steadfastly declined to give an estimated time of restoration since long ago Day One, even while my coworkers all have power and I have seen on the local message boards the lights wink on across the county, just not in Hooterville. I think we are low priority, since we don’t have essential things like Safeway and the DMV like the Big Town does, and we aren’t a tourist attraction, like the Village. Also, so few people filled out their census forms last time that the official population of our town is 169. The PG&E map shows that 78 people are out of power in Hooterville, but I’m guessing it’s more like 1,000 or at least several hundred. When I drove home last night, the only lights I saw were on at the Gro.

At least I did a lot of cooking on Saturday and can heat up food on my (thankfully) gas stove, and spend some time with the cats and library books. Anyone want to make a bet on when/if the power will come back on, and whether it will remain that way once it does?

[Update: Power finally back on Wednesday morning. Hello, heat and light!]

A YEAR AGO: Consulting on Rob’s crumbling spine.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The technology problems continue. Rob gets a date for his disability hearing at last.

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Put a Bird on It

Stormy Saturday to you! The wind is howling, the glass wind chimes are tinkling frantically, the frogs are peeping with joy at the pouring rain, and I’m waiting for the power to go out. It has already blinked off and on again twice, so I’m writing on borrowed time.

[Update: Power went out at 6 am. No estimated time of restoration as of Monday at 7:30 am.]

Today is the saddest day of the year: the one when I take down the Christmas ornaments and lights, leaving the house looking stripped and dreary after a month of sparkle and shine. There should be another winter festival that calls for lights and fun in the depths of darkness. Ideas, anyone?

I had one less ornament to put away, since Clyde smashed the glittery heart shaped ornament to welcome the New Year. I went to the shop where it was bought to see if I could replace it, but like me (and Clyde), it’s one of a kind. I looked around the shop to see if I could find something else I liked as much*, but I couldn’t. As I left the shop, though, I saw whales spouting in the ocean on their annual migration to Mexico, and I wouldn’t have seen them if Clyde hadn’t broken my heart.

I wasn’t really intending to put the heart ornament away, but now I had a hanger with no ornament. I decided to hang the little bird ornament on it**:

If Dad’s bird can be on the eternal Christmas in Dark Gulch all year, surely the matching one I got can be on display in my house most of the year. I will move it to the tree when I put it up eleven months from now***.

A YEAR AGO: Appreciating the magic moments.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Technical problems reared their ugly heads.

*I told the giver about my failed attempt to replace her lost gift, and she said that although the shop had lots of lovely ornaments, that one was the only one that looked like me. And she was right.

**The little card with it says “Bonne Année”, or “Happy New Year”, so I don’t have to put it away just yet.

***With Rob’s help. He worked on the tree after I took off the adornments, so that all the branches will fit on it and it will look much better.

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Night and Day

Nothing like a bad night’s sleep to set you up for a weird day at work, I always say.

Clyde the cat decided the middle of the night was an excellent time to leap on my unsuspecting form. Like most males, of the feline persuasion or otherwise, he is decidedly pro-boobs*, persistently making them both his landing place and launching pad, to their owner’s varying levels of discomfort. In this case, I was unable to brace for impact, and my reaction affected his dismount, in which a back claw scratched the hell out of my nose. The Russian judge gave him a 1.0 and I applied Kleenex to the surprising amount of blood. Anything on your face just bleeds like crazy.

Despite my justifiable annoyance and Clyde’s characteristic insouciance – he was equally unperturbed when he celebrated the arrival of the shiny New Year by smashing a shiny new gift which had every reason to be on the shelf where he had no business being – I tried to get back to sleep. I was just beginning to drift away when I realized I was perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the leak in my ceiling. Given the height of the ceiling, the drips were able to achieve maximum velocity, and were able to achieve positively Clyde-like results of surprise and impact. I got a towel to catch the drips and relocated my head to other side of the bed.

Clyde, of course, was fast sleep through all of this. And the alarm.

The next day, I arrived at work to discover that my boss’s sidelight window beside her office door had been shattered by a person or persons unknown. I also had a phone call from the landlord of one of our doctors, complaining of, shall we say, some hygiene issues.

In disposing of lint from the dryer – they share laundry facilities and live on the same property – she discovered a very large and very dead rat in the garbage can. In addition to this non-paying rodential guest, he has failed to take out the garbage for months and his collection of detritus in the laundry room/garage/morgue features a moldering animal skin, or possibly skins.

When asked about this, he said that an injured deer had died near the garage. As anyone would in coming across free roadkill on the premises, he had butchered it and put the meat in the freezer. He considered the problem solved. I explained that memories of the deer remained in the skin and that it, the garbage, and rodents of any kind, alive or dead, needed to be removed from the premises before his landlord removed him. He promised to talk to his landlord.

It is amazing to me that he got through medical school. Though not that his daughter is a vegetarian.

**As Xander Harris aptly observed in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Men like sports. Men watch the action movie, they eat of the beef, and they enjoy to look at the bosoms.”

A YEAR AGO: Feeling powerless. ‘Tis the season!

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New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day arrived with a bang at Suzy Manor – literally.

Clyde was exploring the impressive collection of Christmas cards on the shelves by the tree, and in his excitement, he managed to knock off and smash the beautiful little ornament which was one of the gifts I saved to open on Christmas evening:

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I vacuumed it up sadly. Clyde, of course, had no idea that he had upset the help along with the ornament. I will ask the giver where she got it and see if I can replace it. Not a great way to start the new year. I hope it’s not an omen or anything.

On the bright side, I failed to have a hangover, despite my best efforts on New Year’s Eve. Megan came by and we drank champagne and Cointreau as we watched “The Princess Bride”. It had been a long time since I’d seen it, and it was as delightful as ever.

We paused the movie to watch the ball drop in New York, marveling at the crowds, the utter lack of restroom facilities in Times Square, and the ugliness of the official hats. We also watched the new year arrive in San Francisco, with fireworks over the Bay. It’s been a while since I stayed up late enough to see the new year in on both coasts.

A YEAR AGO: I was much more industrious than I was this year.

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2016

The sadness of losing my much-loved Roscoe at the end of the old year carried into the new year. A year later, I still can’t believe that his remarkable presence has been extinguished and that I will never have the joy of sharing my life with him again. I have yet to wash or dispose of his dish. I just can’t. A little spark of hope deep in my heart will never truly be doused, no matter what Logic decrees. I have never been a fan of Logic.

But there was light as well as shadow this year. I attended a beautiful wedding, some of my friends bought homes, and an unexpected visitor brought a lot of happiness with him on his epic road trip. I made a couple of little road trips myself, one south and one north.

Rainfall for the 2015-16 season was 55 inches. Rain started early for the 2016-17 season, beginning in September with a storm that dropped two inches in four days. Maybe this is a good sign for a wet winter. We can use every drop, a fact I must remind myself of when driving through it, especially in the ubiquitous winter darkness. So far for the 2016-17 season, we have received 23.4 inches, a good start.

Somehow, I managed to read more books than I did last year (103 vs. 85), despite working six days a week for most of it. Standouts included Sweetbitter, Dodgers, The Curse of Beauty, Everybody’s Fool, The Wicked Boy, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, and The Harder They Come.

Power Outages: I think we had three, which seems to be par for the course, but they seemed to occur more in the summer than the winter. What’s up with that?

Other than that, here’s what happened to our heroine this year:

January: I started the year off on a tidy note. It didn’t take long for the first power outage of the year to rear its ugly head. Same goes for Wednesday’s engine light. Some delightful coincidences. And some (mis)adventures in cooking. Trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to get everything done at work.

February: The wonderful woodworking show. A little preview of spring. A delightful day on the South Coast, with ballet and other pleasures. The first theater reading I have ever attended, though hopefully not the last. Our heroine finally leaves the County after a year and a half, heading to beautiful Monterey, where I visited the breathtaking Aquarium. Also beaches and farm stands.

March: A peek at our (eccentric) little corner of the world. And a delightful peek into its past. Not the most enjoyable morning ever. Family dinner to celebrate Dad’s birthday. The boys get the old grandfather clock running. Saturdays past and present.

April: Wednesday’s successful surgery. Road trips for everyone! Beauty inside and out. An early wake up call. Having the internet out for over a week is not the most festive way of celebrating my blogs 15th anniversary. Especially since the technician failed to show up. Our beloved Jessica turns 13! The kidlet is now a teenager. How did that happen?

May: Quilts, books, cats and dogs – just a perfect day in the Village. Rob’s incredible masterpiece. The last family dinner at Suzy Manor before they move to the family estate for the summer. The mystery of the cat in the night. A busy, but delightful, weekend. Out of season power outage. Celebrating Megan’s birthday in style.

June: An uneventful birthday for our heroine. Better than an eventful one! And the baby boy turns six, all by himself. Memorial Day BBQ with a side of bees. The joys of Junapalooza, showcasing the talents of the amazing Erica.

July: The ninth anniversary of Audrey’s reign. Lu and Rik’s beautiful, moving, wonderful wedding. It was such a joy to share that day with them and my family. I will always treasure that memory. A BBQ at the family estate with our extended family. A magical visit to the Botanical Gardens.

August: A bad omen, perhaps? Farewell to Jack, who first appeared in these pages as a dollar bill sized kitten. She was almost 17 and the last of the cats John and I had together. Much like when we lost Schatzi, it felt like Mom was really gone, losing Jack made me feel like our marriage was really over. Told you Logic and I don’t see eye to eye. Celebrating summer’s bounty with jam and a BBQ. Marking the 15th anniversary of losing my father and best friend. I will always love you, Dad. Thank you for always loving me, no matter what. A visit from our dear friend Clayton, garnished with a power outage. The two events were not connected. An obnoxious mountain lion made things a little scary for a while. He has since moved on – permanently, we hope.

September: September kicked off with a surprise visit that turned out to be utterly delightful. We had a great time going to the circus together, and having a BBQ at my brother’s place on his birthday. We sent our visitor on his way after giving his car a quick check up. Here’s to many happy returns! An exhausting visit from the Feds at work was followed by a delightful day at the Fair. As the month drew to an end, so did my jobette, for real-real this time. Lu, Megan, and I enjoyed dinner and a play together.

October: A look around my rather neglected garden, which still looks surprisingly good despite my lack of attention. It was a banner year for real estate for several of my friends. Megan and I enjoyed a cemetery tour in the Village. ‘Tis the season for scariness, but thinking I had lost my beloved Clyde was a little too scary. Fortunately, I was wrong. I love being wrong sometimes. Enjoying the rare gift of a day off. And a road trip north to the Drive Thru Tree and the One Log House. It was short, but sweet.

November: A trip to the magical South Coast for a play and some delicacies. A happy (and terrifying) Halloween. Speaking of terrifying, I hit a dog with the car. For the rest of my life, I will be a dog maimer. At least I wasn’t a dog murderer. My victim is recovering well and due back home from rehab on January 1. Regrets. I’ve had a few. Let the countdown to T-Day begin! Thanksgiving started a little earlier than I would have liked, but it was wonderful.

December: The traditional post-Thanksgiving craft fair. Going from the beach to the redwoods in one day. A candlelight shopping trip. Time to put up the vintage faux tree again! Taking Jessica to the Festival of Lights at the Gardens for the first time, but not the last. Getting ready for the big day. A merry Christmas celebrated on Christmas Eve, followed by a quiet Christmas Day.

A YEAR AGO: Remembering 2015.

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Happy Hannukah

Well, Christmas may be over, but Hannukah is just beginning.

A co-worker invited me and some of the other people we work with to her home on what is Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day in other parts of the world. Here there are no boxes or wrens (or, thankfully, the beating of female servants with a holly branch – between being the cat maid at home and the maid of all work at work, I would be in trouble), but there was a lovely spread of Jewish food, like latkes. Our hostess is Jewish, and it was fun to share her heritage food with her. She always says food is love.

It was also fun to hang out with my colleagues outside of work, talking about real life and laughing together. I was so pleased she asked me.

Her house probably dates from the 1920s. It has a lot of cute period details, like archways between rooms and crown molding. The kitchen cupboards look to me like they were original but have been painted and the handles replaced, as well as having the ubiquitous granite counter tops applied. Sometimes I think I am the only girl in the entire US of A who does not like granite countertops. I think they’re ugly and too prone to breaking wine glasses, but then, I have a wood countertop painted with chipping white paint, so I probably shouldn’t throw aspersions. There are French doors out to the nice little fenced yard, too. It’s a really cute place.

As I headed home in the brilliant sunlight, I felt so glad that I work with such great people and that we had such a good time outside of work, too.

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Christmas Day

The stockings were a great success this year. Megan and I may have set the standard too high for next year. But I’ll think about that later. Maybe a year from now?

Jonathan got a little extra this year. I couldn’t resist this set of planetary glasses for the guy with the NASA worthy telescope, and he was delighted with them, especially by the fact that the sun was a little bigger than the rest and Pluto much smaller.

He was even more delighted with Megan’s gift of a drill bit sharpener, which will come in handy over at the family estate. I could tell that Jonathan kind of wanted to test it out right away. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

As for Jessica, she received a fabulous fabric bag patterned with cats which was full of delightful things, including a gift certificate from the local bookstore and her favorite Whoppers. She was wearing the bag everywhere before she and Erica went home.

Christmas Day itself was pretty quiet. Megan the Christmas elf* had done most of the dishes, so all I really had to do was put away the heirlooms without breaking any of them and put away the wicker chairs outside before it starts raining again. I could have vacuumed, but I didn’t.

Megan came by before her night shift and we attacked the remains of Hamzilla together, slicing off seemly endless slices and then dividing them into portions to eat now and freezing some for later. We also froze the ham bone to make into soup later. Dad would be proud. His inability to waste food and ability to make soup out of anything live on.

After dinner, I poured myself a glass of wine, using the one of the beautiful glasses Monica gave me last year:

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and opened the presents from my friends. I saved them all instead of opening them as I received them. I am really glad I waited until Christmas. I felt so loved and happy! I am so thankful for my friends and family.

*Maybe it’s her status as the youngest of the family, but she always gets to (has to?) be the elf and hand out the stockings. When she’s not doing that, though, she is the matriarch of the family. Go figure.

A YEAR AGO: Chilly Christmas to us!

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Merry Christmas

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Christmas Jessica

Merry Christmas, y’all! Hope you are having a wonderful, festive day!

We had a wonderful, festive evening yesterday, though a much smaller gathering than at Thanksgiving. My brother’s girlfriend Rio was in Portland with her brand-new grandson; Clayton had to stay in the city to finish up a painting job; and Lichen scorned Christmas like an unreformed Grinch, as he had promised.

But Erica and Jessica swept in, bearing a silver platter of incredible truffles: dark chocolate with whipped white chocolate and peppermint filling, adorned with crushed candy cane:

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They were so good that I forgot to take a picture until they were nearly gone.

Jonathan arrived with Hamzilla, Turkzilla’s only slightly smaller cousin:

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He also brought a keg of our hard cider and a bottle of applejack, made by freeze distilling the hard cider. Jonathan reminded me that Hoho, our wonderful grandfather, used to make it using the plentifully available snow around his house in New York state. I had forgotten about that.

Along with Hamzilla, we had salad with roasted pears and fresh pomegranate, mashed potatoes from the garden, Erica’s refreshing salad of fennel and oranges, and of course, cheese biscuits:

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After dinner, we had the traditional reading of “Red Ranger Came Calling”, with Jonathan and Jessica alternating pages:

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I think Jessica would make an excellent actress. She is utterly poised and confident, and her reading is so expressive. She packs a lot of showmanship into her reading.

Jonathan had invited a couple of friends, and this posed something of a dilemma to us, since we did not have stockings for them. We had planned to open ours before they arrived, but this plan was foiled by their timing. We feared that we would have to be rude and open ours in front of them, but we procrastinated long enough that they left before we could open the stockings. As they left, they said to Jonathan, “You really undersold this evening!”

A YEAR AGO: A wonderful Christmas

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