Mar 16 2018

Once (or Twice) Upon a Mattress

Published by under Calamity Suzy,House

Decision-making is not my forte. I tend to wait until a course of action becomes inevitable and then just go along with it, like the artist Edgar Degas, who believed we were all just “corks* in a stream” and that life was just a random series of events.

If I do make a decision, it almost always turns out to be the wrong one. You know, like getting married. And selling my apartment for a pittance just a few years before it was worth well over a million dollars. And moving to Oaktown. I could go on, but you get the gist. What was I thinking?

Maybe it’s only having two brain cells.

In my finite wisdom, I decided that it was time to replace my ancient Ikea mattress. In my defense, I have had it well over a decade, which is past the normal lifespan of a mattress, and resorted to mattress pads and a featherbed to make it more comfortable. I did a fair amount of research and settled on one that had new technology and rave reviews. I confirmed that they would deliver to what my beloved stepmother used to call “the back of beyond” and that they understood how long it would actually take to drive here from the Bay Area.

It also cost about a billion of my hard-earned dollars, but I had decided – there’s that word again! – that it was an investment in better sleep and hopefully an at least marginally improved Suzy.

So I was pretty excited.

Delivery Day arrived, and the truck pulled up within its delivery window. Its arrival also released the hounds, and it took some persuading to get the delivery guys to get out of the truck and into the midst of Mark’s flock of enthusiastic and enthusiastically barking dogs. The dogs failed to eat the delivery guys, living up to my claim that while there was considerable bark, there would be no bite.

They dragged the heavy new mattress upstairs, removed the old one, and went on their dog-free way back to Civilization.

I couldn’t wait to make up the new bed with the new comforter set I had bought for the occasion, which as you can see got the Audrey seal of approval:

Audrey’s opinion is always important, but since she spends most of the day on the bed getting her beauty sleep, it’s especially important when it comes to new bedding.

With promises of fabulousness dancing in my head, I got into bed under the Audrey-approved covers, and…meh. Rather than the cloud of blissful comfort I expected for the exorbitant price, it was unyielding and implacable, much like Audrey herself. I did not wake up notably more refreshed, or wake up less, either. Nor was it a haven of bliss.

I have to admit I was pretty disappointed. Yes, it met my usual goal of less crappy. It is much less crappy than a decade old Ikea mattress. But it also cost about 100 times as much, and is not 100 times better. And I spent a bunch of money on something that is not wonderful. I steeled myself to spend the money to indulge myself in a luxury, and it’s not. All that money and no enjoyment.

I have 100 days to return it, but now my decision deficient mind has to decide whether to keep the horribly overpriced yet utterly underwhelming mattress, ort search for another one when I have lost what little faith I ever had in my mattress buying acumen.

The entire process is additionally hampered by the fact that the delivery guys took away the old mattress, so if I do get another one, I have to do it before I convince the delivery guys to risk life and limb to come back and pick up the expensive mattress. No matter what I do, it’s going to be a hassle. And whatever I decide will undoubtedly be the wrong thing. Maybe I should be like George on Seinfeld and do the opposite of my instincts, and everything will turn out fine.

As so often happens in life, none of these options are appealing. What do you think? Some of you must be better decision makers than I am!

*It turns out Degas was something of a cork expert, or at least a cork aficionado, since he stuffed his statues with used wine corks.

A YEAR AGO: The local message boards were all aflutter about birds.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Almost time for Dad’s birthday. I still miss him so much, even after 17 years!

TEN YEARS AGO: It looks like I was counting down to the Sex & the City movie, but the post is having technical errors.

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Mar 12 2018

Dark & Light

Published by under Country Life

Zombie Monday wasn’t as bad as I had feared, at least physically. I felt fine, despite getting up at 4:00 am, disguised as 5:00 am, and hating the fact that I was plunged back into darkness on my way to work, yet again needing a flashlight to get to the car and high beams once I was in it.

The animals in Hooterville apparently did not get the memo that the humans were doing something stupid again, since the skunks, deer, and rabbits were going about their usual business by the side of the road as I drove by and startled them. I will never understand why we put up with this craziness twice a year.

Work has been crazy, too, with more drama than my two brain cells can comfortably handle, and winter is trying to make up for skipping most of the season by jamming all the rain into two weeks, the rain version of summer school.

So it’s pretty much been gloomy inside and out, which made it the perfect time to go and see Angelika and get both the inner and outer Me looking and feeling brighter.

I dashed into her little salon in the big woods, where everything smelled like soothing lavender and there was soft music and a smiling Angelika. This time, we decided to go a little lighter, and thanks to Megan putting 100 “Angelika Bucks” in my stocking, my wallet was not lighter.

My spirits were, though. Angelika is such a wonderful, positive person and being around her always makes me happy.

On my way home, I was behind the school bus on the rainy Ridge, and I saw a little girl get off the bus. She was quite small and wearing a little white wool cap. Her father met her at the foot of their driveway, and enfolded her little body into a big hug. I could see her hugging back and their dog bouncing around joyously, wagging his tail. How’s that for a welcome home?

Back home, I discovered a formerly festive red skirt lying forlornly in the yard:

Sometimes I wonder what goes on around here when I’m at work. Mark’s herd of dogs gave me my own enthusiastic and muddy greeting, so there were at least two happy girls on the Ridge that afternoon.

A YEAR AGO: Of cats and dogs.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Trying to get divorced.

TEN YEARS AGO: Nothing worked, except me, of course.

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Mar 08 2018

Leaps & Bounds

Published by under Country Life,Weather

It’s been chilly lately, the grass by the side of the road furred with frost most mornings. In the winter, I only use hot water in the shower, since the well water is so cold and the flash heater, positioned outside the house instead of inside, where it belongs, can only get the water so hot. It’s been months of barely acceptable showers, bordering on the intolerable, which made the truly hot shower at the hotel last week so enjoyable (though I kept burning myself on the hot water any time I used it, being used to water that needs to run for a while to even get warm. You know you’re a bumpkin when….).

We got a few inches of rain over the past few days, and some hail, too. We are slated to get more rain on and off over the next two weeks. It’s like winter finally realized that time was running out and it had better get going before it was too late. We’ve gotten about a third of the rain this year that we did last year, and the Sierra snowpack, which provides much of the water in northern California, is way below expectations. Anyway, we all know that March is the secret winter month no-one talks about.

We were getting a break from the rain on Sunday, when Megan, Rio, and I headed to the beautiful South Coast to see the ballet. Not having to drive allowed me to enjoy the passing scenery as well as our conversation. The ocean was calm and deep blue, birch trees were hazed with new leaves and the rolling hills and grass beside the road were winter green. Fields blazed with blooming mustard plants and cows showed off their new spring babies under the witchy, wind-swept cypress trees.

We skipped our usual pilgrimage to Anchor Bay Thai Kitchen, since a Facebook post had alerted us to the fact that they were unexpectedly closed that day, to our disappointment. The next ballet is the last of the season and is during my birthday week in June, so I have decided to attempt making my own. I have tamarind paste and curry paste, so look out!

We had our favorite balcony seats to enjoy the Bolshoi Ballet’s Flames of Paris being streamed from Moscow to the little Art Deco theater in Point Arena. The ballet was wonderful and dramatic, the story of two sets of lovers set against the backdrop of the French Revolution. There was a scene set in the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, which included a ballet within a ballet and breathtaking costumes on the royal couple and courtiers, particularly the men’s embroidered coats.

It was originally written in the late ‘20s, and I think they were quite inspired by a monarchy being toppled by a republic at that time, since Russians had recently done the same thing. My favorite male dancer, Igor Tsvirko, was absolutely magnificent and gravity-defying, and the pas de deux were stunning. We had a wonderful time, but we were all shocked by the ending*.The last ballet of the season is Coppélia on June 10, my birthday week. Later that month is Macbeth, streamed from the National Theatre in London. Lots to look forward to!

*The lovely aristocrat Adeline is guillotined, and her head dropped in the lap of her lover Jérôme. How’s that for an ending – for Adeline and the ballet?

A YEAR AGO: I was sick and being shunned by the cats. What’s not to hate? Oh, and it was raining then, too. A lot.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Taking our beloved Schatzi to the vet for a check-up. I still miss that wonderful girl, and her boyfriend Yellow Dog still trots by my house, looking for her. She was remarkable.

TEN YEARS AGO: Politics were annoying me. They still are. It seems that not much has changed in the past year, five years, or decade.

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Mar 04 2018

Art Show

Published by under Family

I thought you might enjoy a look at some of Rob’s most recent ceramic works. He has been taking classes at the local college, and I think it has really kicked up his skills a notch. His work has always been beautiful and as unusual as Rob himself, but I think it has achieved a whole new level.

I am enchanted by this fish, which swims above Megan and Rob’s kitchen sink. The colors and details are remarkable. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but he hand-textured all the scales. I love how the tail is bent forward toward the viewer.

The clock is also in their kitchen. The hands glow in the dark. It has a sort of crackly glaze over the strongly geometric pattern and the numbers are hand-painted in a deep blue.

Rob surprised me with my own clock for Christmas:

As you can see, he like geometric shapes, and has always enjoyed the work of MC Escher*. But this tile was not made from a mold – he made all the shapes by hand:

These penguins are utterly adorable:

They are so cute that Megan refused to part with them. I can’t say I blame her!

*My friend Alice’s husband Claude, who is Dutch, has a letter from Escher. He was from the same village and Claude’s dad bought 4 originals when he was unknown for about 80 Euros. He sold them when they were worth 800 Euros, but should have kept them because they are worth a lot more now.

A YEAR AGO: A cold and windy day for the annual Polar Plunge, but our hearts were warm.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Experiencing a few technical difficulties.

TEN YEARS AGO: A recap of the Film Noir Festival in San Francisco.

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Feb 28 2018

Taking a Break

Published by under Country Life

When I was getting ready for work this morning, I thought of how my sister calls the scrubs she wears to work in the ER her “armor”, noting that it’s funny that her armor is basically pajamas. My armor is even more insubstantial: lip gloss and perfume (Atelier Cologne’s Cèdre Atlas in the fall and winter and Cédrat Enivrant in the spring and summer). But they are integral parts of my faux adult persona.

With all the craziness over the past few weeks, I decided to give myself a break from the madness. I picked up dinner at Mayan Fusion and then headed to the little hotel on the estuary:

I was surprised and delighted to find sparkling wine waiting for me, which I enjoyed as the sun set:

Having a complete kitchen in the room, which is far superior to my kitchen at home:

meant that I could heat up dinner whenever I was ready, which was quite nice.

After dinner, I curled up by the faux fireplace:

and listened to the Leafs game on the radio. I love how wonderfully fake the fireplace is, and it felt so cozy to sit by it on a winter evening.

It was really nice to sleep in until it was light outside, especially knowing that the madness of the time change is upon us once again and I will be getting up in the dark for the foreseeable future. I took my time getting ready, though no lip gloss or perfume was involved, and ran a few errands around town. Usually I try to squeeze them in during or after work, so it was nice not to feel rushed. When the errands were complete, I indulged in luxurious Eggs Benedict and freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice while reading the paper.

It was a beautiful day, as it often is the day before storms are due. The ocean was a deep, thrilling turquoise with foamy white waves. The sun beamed down on the blossoming cherry trees and magnolias. Arriving home, Mark’s dogs greeted me enthusiastically, though they failed to help me unload my luggage. Inside the house, my heart lifted at the sight of little Clyde scampering happily toward me. Audrey, of course, is far too cool and imperious for such silliness, but she did deign to come downstairs and allow herself to be petted, which is the Audrey version of being happy to see me.

It was nice to have a break, but it was good to be home.

A YEAR AGO: I was at church. For reals. And I wasn’t the grumpiest person there.

FIVE YEARS AGO: I’s rather watch my brother jump into a freezing cold river than do it myself. This has not changed.

TEN YEARS AGO: A book report, despite not being in school. I have no one to blame but myself.

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Feb 24 2018

Wild, Wild Life

Published by under Bullshit,Work

Well, Thursday was a day and a half. Or maybe more…

It kicked off with a power outage about 10 minutes after I arrived at work, out of the proverbial, and in this case, literal, blue sky. In keeping with the theme of the day, the weather would alternate in a schizo manner between blazing sun, high winds, blasting hail, and intense rain. There was snow on higher elevations.

As usual, I was the first one to report the outage to our friends at PG&E. I guess everyone else thinks someone else is doing it, and they’re right. I am.

I texted my boss to let her know what was happening, and looking out of the window, discovered that the people who were running the scrubs sale scheduled for that day had arrived early. They had made the long drive from Oregon and were good sports about unloading their wares into the dark and heat-free conference room.

I held the door open for them since the lack of electricity meant that the doors would not stay open on their own. A behavioral health patient turned up half an hour early for her appointment, in floods of tears. Since she was half an hour early, there was no qualified staff available so I did my best to calm her down while doing my Carlton imitation in the chilly early morning.

Eventually all the scrubs were decanted and the patient delivered into qualified hands, at which point I discovered that there were a couple of conflicts with meetings scheduled in the conference rooms that day. It was too late to cancel anything, so I had to somehow, some way find alternate spaces for said meetings, which I did, moving furniture and trying not to inconvenience anyone more than necessary.

On the bright side, the power was back on by then, so there was light and heat.

I had barely settled back in my office to deal with things needed for a six hour meeting on the following day when one of the meeting participants came out and said that her fellow meeting goers were asking about food. I pointed out that it was 2:00 in the afternoon, and she said that they thought I had made dinner reservations, which I had not, since a) no-one had asked me to; and 2) this was the first I heard of it. Later I had to set up a conference call for them and then call the guy who was supposed to be on the call, only to find that he was on vacation and had to, yes, call yet another person.

I got that sorted out and was then notified that we had been contacted by a doctor who was interested in interviewing. I can’t even tell you how hard it is to find doctors who are willing to work in the middle of nowhere for way less money than they would make working somewhere that is somewhere, so I wanted to schedule the interview with my boss and the Medical Director as soon as Suzily possible.

I went over to medical to check on his schedule, and while checking on it, he appeared. I asked him what his schedule was on the day in question and he said he would be in San Francisco that day and the day before it. I pointed out that there was a standing meeting with all the doctors that day which he led, and asked if I should cancel it. He said yes and disappeared, leaving me unsure of what to do next.

For those of you who do not work in the medical field, I will just say that scheduling doctors’ days is very complicated. The good news here is that the doctors could see patients instead of spending non billable time in meetings, but the challenges are that they have things they need to talk about and letting them know that the meeting was canceled, since many of them do not work on Fridays and others do not work on Mondays. Also finding someone with the correct credentials to open their schedules.

I did get it done, though, and somehow survived the crazy day.

Arriving home, I discovered that the underachieving amaryllis had attempted suicide and was lying on the rug beside the heater with its bud broken off and its blossoming flower was damaged and poured a glass of overdue wine. On the bright side, the Leafs beat the Islanders, unlike the time I actually saw them play.

*I see my photo included the glorious Mats Sundin, number 13. The Leafs have never had such a captain since Sundin retired.

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather and darkness.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My brother took a courageous leap.

TEN YEARS AGO: A mental vacation in the pages of the New York Times section section.

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Feb 21 2018

More Message Boards

Published by under Country Life

Well, hello there!

Not much to report from stately Suzy Manor these days. Fortunately, there is always something to report from the local message boards. Indecent slugs? Body parts? Random goats? We got ‘em all, and more! Syntax and punctuation are original.

Looking for used organ. NO body parts please. Looking for a used musical organ. Please call Kate @ xxx-xxxx or email. Thanks!

If Howard can figure this one out, he’ll be a rich man. At least around here:

Does anyone know of a bear proof compost bin? Or a method of making compost that doesn’t attract bears? Thanks. – Howard

Think I’ll pass on this one:

For sale…two cattle prods….c battery’s. Needed….one hundred for pair ..his. Hers…call Bob…xxx-xxxx…Mendocino area

You may not have warned about Bob and his hobbies, but you have been warned about livestock loitering with (or without) intent:

A herd of goats are on the ridge right now 7:45 a.m. There are six of them, above the fire station right now.



Ever wondered about the love lives of slugs? Me neither. For those non-locals reading this, “nanners” refer to banana slugs. Google them at your peril – they are really gross.

[Original Post]:

I’m giving away a fresh collection of smallish slugs. Mostly grey garden slugs, with a fair number of juvenile ‘nanners, and some full-size ‘nanners tossed in. They number 386 in all.

These are /young/ slugs, but they are /not/ innocent. Quite, er…”precocious” actually, as they say. Many found lasciviously viscid, intertwined with one another along my beet patch, which I’ve now dubbed Sluvers Lane. The promiscuous punks were even wrapped in Eros’ embrace around my leeks. I was going to EAT those leeks, for crying out loud! Have they no decency? No, no they do not.

These indecent slugs could be yours, as feeder slugs or breeder slugs, your preference. You could try them out as a one-time deal, or we could have a regular schedule for pick up/drop off. I obviously possess a slug hatchery, and am constantly getting new ones. Earlier this week alone, I cleared over a thousand slugs in two evenings.

This is a SERIOUS OFFER. I’m hoping to connect with a duck wrangler, or someone who would have an ongoing need for piles and piles of slugs. This particular pile weighs short of two pounds, with some stray tatters of disheveled chervil and fornicated-upon fennel. The bucket is not included in this FREE offer, so either bring a bucket to trade out for the transfer, or give me a buck so I can buy a new “buck-a-bucket” at Corners.

I am willing to meet you in Fort Bragg, tomorrow (Sunday), before 1 PM.
That’s when I absolutely need to let them out of the bucket, at the latest… you know… /SOMEWHERE/. So… it’s a bit urgent.

[Response to Original Post]:

This smells a lot like slugspam – fair warning to the community! A lot like bait-and-slime schemes proliferating on-line and on-vine. Think of how much you can lose getting taken by a slug-charmer! Don’t do it, people!!

Never a dull moment in our little corner of the world!

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather. And cats and dogs.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A Valentine’s Day spay for Jonathan’s mini cat, Scout.

TEN YEARS AGO: Megan laid her dog Bear to rest in the red light of a lunar eclipse.

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Feb 15 2018

Past Tense

Published by under Country Life

Well, February is back, in temperature if not in rain. It’s been chilly and frosty in the mornings this week. It is definitely lighter both earlier and later in the day lately, which must mean the madness of the time change can’t be far away. This morning, the sky was the ethereal enameled blue found in Renaissance paintings, set with a silvery crescent moon.

Megan and I went to a little exhibit at the Kelley House last weekend. The Kelleys were one of the earliest settlers in the Village. Mr. Kelley built a lovely house on Main Street:

to lure his bride all the way from Nova Scotia to remote Mendocino. It worked! The house is now a museum, and has interesting exhibits about local history. It still has a lovely view:

This exhibit was about medical and dental treatments on the coast, and included a very early x-ray:

which Megan could not figure out how to read – is that part of someone’s boot beside the heel? – and a sign for a long ago dentist which was unearthed a few decades ago:

That was about as close as I wanted to get to any dentist after two appointments and three shots* in three days last week. I’m sure that was more pleasant than anything that went on in the delightfully named Dr. Gunn’s office, though.

There were beautifully written poison registers:

and little black bags and brass microscopes. Even now, the area is remote, and some specialists and treatments are not available locally, meaning either a long drive if you’re lucky or being helicoptered to Santa Rosa or San Francisco if you’re not. I imagine you would have had to be pretty tough to live here a century ago or longer. I’m thankful for anesthetic, even when it takes three tries, and antibiotics, among other things.

*It took an hour and a half and three shots to get me numb enough to replace a minor filling at the second of two appointments last week. Good times.

A YEAR AGO: Unlike this year, it was pouring. Like this year, I was watching (and loving) Victoria.

FIVE YEARS AGO: At the fine woodworking show. I missed it this year, but hope to see the year end show in May.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ah, Oaktown. I do not miss you, Sam I Am!

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Feb 11 2018


Published by under Car,Country Life,Family,Work

It was the smallest of small town days.

The tone was set right from the start, when I arrived at work to find Megan’s car already there. Knowing she had just finished the third of her 12 hour night shifts for the week, I wondered what she was doing there.

She was planning to finish working on a chart for a patient who had a visit that day, thinking it would only take a little while, but of course, Technology had other plans. By the time she left, she had been awake so long that I asked her to text me when she got home. You will be as glad as I was to hear that she did.

Meanwhile, back at work, I received an email with a patient issue. Emails sent to our website come to me, and I try to get the questions resolved as soon as I can. This one turned out to be from the same person whose dog I hit with my car (and who looked like his old and handsome self when we had lunch recently). I got her issue taken care of quickly and she was very happy. Truly, I do this for every patient when it’s possible, but it is a little nicer when it’s someone you know. Also in keeping with our small town theme of the day.

Unrelated to my attempted murder of a local celebrity dog, Wednesday has been having some issues of her own. When I last had the tires rotated, the tire guy mentioned that I needed to have the brake pads replaced. So I ordered those, and in consulting the little orange notebook that details the adventures of Wednesday, I noticed that she was also overdue for an oil change, so I bought oil and filters. Needless to say, the car parts guy asked me which kind of filter, and as usual, I had no idea, so he sold me both and said I could bring back the runner up.

I gave all this stuff to my brother, and reminded him about the eternal engine light. He and Rob changed the oil no problem, but noticed when applying the new brake pads that the rotors needed to be smoothed out (or something). He jetted into town to get this done so he could continue to work on my car, and when I picked them up later that day, I noticed that the name immediately ahead of mine in the handwritten book of jobs to be done was that of one of my coworkers.

With the manicured rotors safely in the car, I headed for the library, where I found Rob pulling up across the street from me just as I arrived. I asked him if he was interested in some previously enjoyed rotors, and fortunately for me, he was, moving them from my heap to his. Now all we have to do is wait for the parts Jonathan ordered to arrive to complete the brake repair extravaganza. In the meantime, we are a little car-challenged, but we’ll work it out.

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An update on Jarrett’s puppy, Archimedes, aka The World’s Cutest Puppy. They are still each other’s best friends.

TEN YEARS AGO: Taking a break from Oakland’s homicides for the peace of Mendocino County. Moving here was one of the best decisions I ever made!

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Feb 08 2018

The Screw Up

Published by under Calamity Suzy

It is yet another beautiful day in a series of beautiful days. Hmm…I wonder what I can screw up today?

Monday was Mondayer than usual. My dentist’s office called to see if I could come in on Monday instead of Thursday. Working at the clinic has made me understand the importance of filling a schedule, and I figured why not get it over with anyway, so off I went.

Arriving at the dentist’s office, I pulled up right behind Rob’s car, another small town moment. I was slightly dismayed to discover that my beloved hygienist no longer works there, and the one that now does unearthed a cavity (well, to be fair, a filling that needed to be replaced) in a rather painful manner. I was glad that she found it, but ow. Although I had a full set of x-rays done the last time I was there, the dentist did another one* on the afflicted tooth to be sure it wasn’t worse than it appeared to be. It wasn’t, but I was somewhat disheartened to learn that the repair job was slated for Wednesday. Two dental appointments in one week is definitely a suboptimal experience**.

Back at work, I managed to book my boss’s plane tickets for the wrong day, an error one of us who was not Me noticed right away. I called the airline and rectified the matter. Oddly enough, the new airfare was actually cheaper than the wrong one, and there was no change fee. In fact, I thought the new and improved plane fare *was* the change fee.

I stayed at work late to correct my error, once again having no one to blame but myself. On my way home, I noticed that it is now light until 6:00 pm.

Dinner plans were chicken soup I had made and baking bread from dough I had made on the weekend from this simple recipe. I decided to make one loaf instead of two, and although the outside was brown, crusty, and perfect, the inside was doughy and uncooked, or at least insufficiently cooked for my admittedly not particularly high standards. No matter what I did, the inside stubbornly refused to turn from its caterpillar dough state to a butterfly bread state, so it is now artisan compost.

The recipe involves putting a baking dish with hot water in it on the bottom of the oven. I managed to remove it without burning Self, but unwisely put it in the sink, where there was an intolerable amount of water. The dish broke irrevocably, to my dismay. As I looked at the latest disaster I had created, a final shard popped off the already broken side of the dish like an exclamation mark.

The demise of an admittedly ordinary looking Pyrex baking dish upset me out of all proportion, partly because I used it all the time and partly because it was the last one that had belonged to my parents and was part of my childhood. Admittedly, it was also more than half a century old, which is ancient in dish years, especially a dish that has been used by Calamity Suzy for so long, but I mourn it for both practical and sentimental reasons.

Well, tomorrow’s another day. And a whole new opportunity to screw things up!

*As J. Frank Parnell said in the classic Repo Man, “Everybody could stand a hundred x-rays a year! They oughta have ‘em, too.” Just doing my part.

**I am also scheduled for jury duty on Valentine’s Day. So far, February is not looking that fun.

A YEAR AGO: Just another Saturday. Teenage intruders, bookstore cats…the usual.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A cold and frosty winter, so unlike this one, wrought some havoc with the plumbing.

TEN YEARS AGO: The bête noire of utilities was the water company. Now it’s propane. Guess there’s always one.

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Feb 04 2018


You guys! It was 70 degrees yesterday! Above you see the magnificent magnolia in blossom outside the library on Friday afternoon, when it was a mere 65 degrees. Last night, I slept with the balcony door open. It is February, isn’t it?

I stopped at the post office on my way to work one day this week (I was also the wino fairy, dropping off the unopened giant jug of cheapo red wine someone brought to Christmas dinner outside the Gro, undoubtedly to someone’s delight) and discovered that they had just installed a bank of new parcel lockers next to the old one. But apparently not for me, since I found two yellow slips inside my post office box.

The delivery problem is especially annoying since Amazon refused to ship to my PO box in the first place, forcing me to use the street address where I do not receive mail. Last weekend, my landlord Mark turned up with a letter marked “extremely urgent” and a postmark of over a year ago. This is why I have a PO box. Often things that are directed to the street address end up at the PO anyway, like these packages.

I expected one of the packages to contain a DVD among more mundane things, which although mundane, are not readily available in our little corner of the world. When I finally got my hard-won packages, I was displeased to note that it did not include the DVD, though everything else was present and accounted for.

Looking up my account on Amazon, I discovered that I had, in fact, failed to order the DVD along with everything else. So its absence was entirely my fault, and you know how I hate it when I have no one to blame but myself.

I rectified my ordering error – and had the new package delivered to my PO box – and grumpily went to open the second package. Imagine my surprise to find it was a beautiful book sent from a dear friend (and wonderful writer) in Alaska, containing several of the articles he had written. My grumpy mood vanished as quickly as it came, and I have hours of happy reading ahead of me.

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day with the most delightful girls.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An avian intruder.

TEN YEARS AGO: The surreal water bill.

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Jan 31 2018


Published by under Country Life,Work

My friend the Moon has been showing off this week!

Yesterday, she was huge and golden, beaming down on the black trees and the quiet ocean. I could almost hear her laughing, and I gasped with shock and delight at my first sight of her as I drove down the Ridge in the early morning darkness.

Today, I got up at the peak of the eclipse, and watched for a while in the cold stillness, remembering that other lunar eclipse a few years ago when my much loved ex father-in-law left this earth and bade farewell with a shooting star. As I drove workwards, the Moon kept slipping out from the eclipse’s shadow, bathing the dark, calm ocean with a luminous path, growing larger every moment, surrounded by a dazzle of glittering stars.

Winter is beginning to give way to spring. It’s not here yet, but the vivid green grass at the side of the road is starred with daffodils and calla lilies unfurling their flags. And my camellias are blooming at last! Well, one bush is anyway:

As for me, I once again made it through the hell of the annual fundraiser, somehow staying afloat on a sea of last minute tasks, stupidity, and minor and major emergencies. It was a battle at times, and a lengthy one, but I prevailed.

Megan worked at the Clinic on the first day of the fundraiser, which conveniently fell on the last day of the week, and offered to take me out for a drink if/when my work day ended. I went home, fed the kitties, put on some lights, and headed over to Megan’s place.

We reached our favorite watering hole just in time to catch a last glimpse of sunset:

before pulling up stools at the bar and ordering a Lavender Lemon Drop:

It was as delicious as it was beautiful, and it was medicinal as well, having a magically tonic effect on my previously bad attitude. I felt the civilization suffuse my being as I enjoyed chatting with my sister, the wonderful bartender, and some fellow locals as the sun slipped into the sea and the lights twinkled in the bar.

It was a two drink kind of night, and when the bartender gave us the bill, she said that the first round was on her. We of course protested, but she insisted, and I have to say that it was a first for me, having a bartender buy me a drink. It’s a lovely experience, too. The perfect end to a crazy week!

A YEAR AGO: You guessed it: the horror of the annual fundraiser. Is anything annual ever fun?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Nothing like a game of heirloom lost and found, I always say.

TEN YEARS AGO: Enjoying the film noir festival in San Francisco.

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Jan 28 2018

Surfin’ Safari

After my garden tour on Sunday, I went over to Megan’s house, where I admired and petted the magic pelt of the beautiful (and ancient, at 17) Harriet. Harriet the Spy sightings are rare, but always welcome.

We were headed to the ballet in Point Arena, and this time we had a special guest with us, our brother Jonathan’s girlfriend Rio. We hopped into Rio’s car and off we went. Being liberated from her designated chauffeur duties allowed Megan to enjoy the scenery for once. The ocean was a pale aqua that day, contrasting with the electric green of the fields and hills. Rio said, “Ireland has nothing on us!” Yellow acacia flamed among the dark, wind-swept cypresses.

Our first stop was Anchor Bay Thai, where we all ordered dinner to go. I for one would be very glad of this later, since we didn’t get home until nearly 6 pm, after leaving the house at 11 am. Arriving back in Point Arena, we had a little time before the ballet started, so we headed down to the pier, where we got sandwiches and watched the intrepid surfers in the cove. They wear wetsuits in our chilly clime, and it is a joy to watch them skim over the mighty, curling waves as they sweep toward the rocky shore.

There are no visual aids because true to the old adage “Red in the morning, sailors take warning”, the beautiful dawn had given way to rain. It didn’t seem to bother the surfers at all, but I was disinclined to venture out in the rain to take pictures of them.

We ran back to the car and headed to the movie theater, where we found our favorite balcony seats were available. We even had an escape route available, not that we needed it this time. It was a beautiful production, from the costumes to the sword fights to the romantic pas de deux, and of course, the tragic finale.

Megan took over driving duties on the way home. After many years of night shifts, she doesn’t mind driving in the dark, even with rain blowing sideways, as it was that night. On our way home, she regaled us with tales from her ambulance days, which are always fun. It was so nice to have Rio share our pleasure in the ballet, and I hope she will come with us to see the last two of the season.

A YEAR AGO: Plans to see the ballet were foiled by the weather.

FIVE YEARS AGO: File under miscellaneous.

TEN YEARS AGO: Attending the SF Noir Festival.

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Jan 24 2018

A Look Around

Published by under Garden

Sunday morning dawned quite beautiful, as you see above. I took advantage of the rare situation of being home in daylight to take a look around the garden.

I planted the tulips in a more timely manner, I think around Thanksgiving. They are sprouting up, but my plan to have flowers in February seems to be foiled again, looking at the size of them so far:

Maybe I need to plant closer to Halloween than Thanksgiving to make my floral dreams come true.

The orchid is doing just fine without my intervention, with at least two flower spikes that should blossom soon:

And the volunteer daffodils in the jasmine planter in the front of the house are right on schedule:

And the overachieving amaryllis is about to pop into flower:

At the rate it’s going, the underachieving one will blossom around my birthday. Again, I thought I planted them early enough, but apparently not. I was hoping for flowers at Christmas, or at least in time for the Saddest Day of the Year.

As I took the coffee grounds out to the compost, robins were hopping around cheerfully, and frogs were peeping, both sure signs of winter. I never did get the water buckets filled this year. It’s like I was in denial about winter – welcome after the heat waves last fall – and power outages, since there were so many last year and lasted so long. So far, we haven’t had any major storms this season, or much rain for that matter, at about 14 inches. I’m hoping I can get through the rest of the winter with the power on and no need for buckets. A girl can dream!

A YEAR AGO: The muddy beginning of the Great Trenching Project, yet to be concluded.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some random notes.

TEN YEARS AGO: Meet the neighbors! Or not…

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Jan 21 2018

Back Up

Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Work

It took me three tries to get home on Friday night.

Wednesday and I had turned onto the long driveway, with its astonishing collection of water filled craters (or super puddles), and I was looking forward to an adult beverage after a long and crazy week at work of preparing for the annual fundraiser, among other things*. Not so fast, missy!

The driveway is also only wide enough for one car, so when Mark’s wife Citlali came down the driveway headed straight for me, I had to back up. Now, backing up is not one of my special skills. Instantly knowing whether someone is a guy or a girl? You bet. Guessing which piece is the most expensive in “New Yorker” jewelry ads? Absolutely! Choose the perfect wine for dinner? I am your girl. But backing up? Not so much.

My lack of talent in this arena is exacerbated, or possibly enhanced, by Wednesday’s infamous gangsta dark windows. In the spirit of full disclosure here, I will just say that I long ago ceased using my rearview mirror and rely solely on the side ones. So I backed up slowly, hoping that I wouldn’t hear the distinctive sound of huckleberry bushes and rhododendrons scratching Wednesday’s paint. Or, you know, hit a tree.

Whew. I made it to the loop in front of the Front House, and then started drinkward once again. Another car came down the driveway toward me. I said out loud, “Are you kidding me?” and retraced my steps, or tracks. I didn’t realize it was Megan until she was already past me.

I figured I must be through with backing up practice, hopefully for the rest of the year, but as usual, I was wrong. An unknown grey car was the next one to get between me and a now necessary cocktail. I backed into the loop for the third time, and when the coast was clear, drove as fast as I could to Stately Suzy Manor, where Kovu greeted me with a plastic Santa in his mouth. Much like Me, the Santa had seen much better days, but Kovu was very proud of it anyway. I petted him and told him what a good boy he was, and he trotted off to show someone else his prize.

Welcome home!

*One of the “other things” was rodential in nature, if not in Nature. One of the doctors and a couple of the staff had noticed the presence of a rat in the courtyard, and did not welcome the new neighbor. We set a trap, and the new neighbor was smart enough to get the bait without being trapped. But rats don’t seem to have as many lives as cats, and at the end of the day on Friday, I discovered it was also the end of the rat’s days.

I asked Facilities Guy if he could dispose of the undearly departed, after apologizing for the poor timing of the request. He had just returned from his 108 year old great aunt’s graveside service. He laughed and said, “Two funerals in one day!”

A YEAR AGO: The wonders of the fine woodworking show.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The delights of Drybar.

TEN YEARS AGO: The joys of a new library card.

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Jan 16 2018

More Cats & Dogs

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Dogs

I think I can safely say that I survived The Plague. I was laughing at myself when I was running around cleaning my bathroom before getting ready for work on Friday. I figured I must be feeling better if I actually cared what the house looked like. When I was sick, I could not care less and anything and everything seemed like a giant effort, from getting dressed to breathing. For some reason, I had a fervent fantasy that day of coming home to a tidy house. I love it when my fantasies come true.

The next day I had a cooking marathon, including Ottolenghi’s mejadra and All’Amatriciana sauce for pasta, so you know I’m back.

Mark’s dogs were back in force yesterday. I was too slow getting out of the car for Kovu’s taste, and he leaped in joyfully. Fortunately for the health and welfare of my work wardrobe, the muddy paw damage was confined to my winter coat.

Usually, they trot off homewards after telling me how glad they are that I have returned, but yesterday, they decided to hang around. They apparently wanted to come in the house, since the whole herd hung out on the back porch, some of them barking, which drew Audrey’s irate attention. She was incandescent with rage that they dared to be on her turf, and she was growling louder than they were barking. She puffed herself up and kept flinging her small but furious body against the sliding glass doors, making them shake. Here she is preparing for another assault:

Note the puffy tail and air of fury.

Clyde withdrew to the stairs, his eyes huge, where he could watch Audrey take on the interlopers while yet being safe. He is a lover, not a fighter*, and of course he is an excellent supervisor. I decided to close the rarely used drapes, thinking that out of sight might be out of mind. This ploy eventually worked, and Audrey depuffed after stalking around the house and looking carefully out of all the windows and doors before going huffily off to take a nap.

*Having said that, I recently noticed that his left ear is slightly shredded. Audrey strikes again? I didn’t mind Roscoe’s torn ear – it seemed in keeping with his wildness – but I don’t love seeing the baby boy with a battle scarred ear. I hope he doesn’t secretly have a tattoo under his fur.

A YEAR AGO: A civilized break in the work week.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The glories of my favorite San Francisco museum.

TEN YEARS AGO: Hockey and Devo. It’s how I roll.

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Jan 10 2018

Cats & Dogs

Published by under Calamity Suzy,Dogs,Work

The Plague is finally beginning to lose its death grip on our heroine, but after all this time, I am still not fully restored to health and sanity, though of course I am back at work, having burned through 42 hours of paid time off without the advantages of having fun, getting rest, or restoring my severely depleted batteries.

I also failed to enjoy the short weeks over the holidays, being fully occupied with being sick, and now I’m back to the five day a week grind, staring down the barrel of a 12 hour day yesterday and the ordeal of the annual fundraiser, which is of course this month. Basically I am still living on Vernors ginger ale and Jacob’s Cream Crackers.

Plague: 5,042 Suzy: 0

I haven’t seen Mark yet this new year, but I see his dogs every day when I get home from work, and they greet me with outsized and muddy enthusiasm. The current dramatis personae is sweet old Luna; pretty Lupe; cute little Blue; and super bouncy Kovu. This is Kovu:

For some reason, Kovu used to be horrified by me, but he got way over that stage, and now he has the enthusiasm of the converted. If I don’t get out of the car fast enough to suit him, he climbs muddily in, to the detriment of Wednesday’s upholstery and my work wardrobe. I think he would like to move in with me. I might like that too, but Queen Audrey would object and little Clyde would be scared, so for now, all Kovu petting has to take place outside.

As for inside…I went to dig out some potatoes from the buckets in the studio the other day and discovered that potatoes were not all that was in the buckets.

It appeared that Audrey decided that the potato buckets were her personal litter boxes. Undoubtedly, she considered it very thoughtful of the Staff to have so many of them available for her exclusive use, since Clyde has never thought outside the box in his life.

The Staff, however, was less thrilled. An informal survey revealed that Audrey’s contributions were more than surface deep, so I ended up hauling all the buckets outside in the rain, with plans to empty them into the woods if/when I feel up to it or can persuade the long-suffering Rob to do so for me.

A YEAR AGO: The power was on an extended vacation amidst stormy weather.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Be careful what you wish for.

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Jan 06 2018


Published by under Bullshit,Calamity Suzy

It’s a good thing I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions, since I have not done a thing this entire new year except Be Sick. Either I am really good at it, or really bad at it, since I have been plague-stricken for over a week now, with no signs of the malady’s departure.

So, yes, I was sick the entire time I was off work, and even when I returned to work, I failed to work one entire day all week, leaving early for two days and finally taking yesterday off in the desperate hope that I would be restored to humanity today, but once again my hopes were dashed by whatever the Plague is.

Despite my apparently eternal illness, at some point I will have to get out of bed and get on with the Saddest Day of the Year, when all the Christmas ornaments are stowed away and the bleak winter house is stripped of its temporary sparkle and finery, just when we need it most.

So far, not a great start to the new year.

A YEAR AGO: The power was out on the Saddest Day of the Year. Things can be worse!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Back home with the kitties.

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Jan 01 2018

Happy New Year

Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

Happy New Year!

It dawned sunny and beautiful here in Hooterville, though I’m sorry to say I am still suffering from the plague. At this point it appears that I will spend all the time I took off from work being sick. Come to think of it, the last time I took time off was the Worst Long Weekend Ever. Maybe taking time off is not a good idea for me.

Despite the Malady’s inexorable presence, I celebrated the departure of 2017 with champagne. It’s medicinal, you know. Vogue even touted its champagne diet back in the 1960s, in which the dieter had a glass of champagne with each meal. If only the pictured Harry Winston diamonds came with the sparkle in the glass!

And I managed to stay up to see the new year in on each coast. I have to admit that I consider the New York ball drop the “real” new year, despite having spent most of my adult life on the west coast. The fireworks over the Ferry Building just aren’t as impressive to me as the ball dropping in a frigid, thronged Times Square as the immortal Frank sings “New York, New York”.

And it wouldn’t be New Year’s Day without the Winter Classic. I am curled up on the couch under my grandmother’s quilt, watching the Rangers play the Sabres. The Rangers won in overtime, keeping their unblemished record of winning every outdoor game they have played. I love watching outdoor hockey, and enjoy the gentlemanly tradition of the teams forming a line to shake hands – or hug – with their opponents after a hard-fought game.

A YEAR AGO: I managed to see in the new year on both coasts last year, too. I did not manage to replace the ornament Clyde accidentally broke and still regret it.

FIVE YEARS AGO: I started the year in San Francisco. My old apartment had just sold for half a million dollars. A month ago, it sold for $1.2 million. There’s a slightly bigger regret.

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Dec 31 2017


Surveying the hellscape of 2017, I can’t say I’m sorry to see it end. Including a nightmarish government, a seemingly endless plague of disasters, natural and otherwise, and the deaths of those too young to die, it was just one bad thing after another. The word “apocalypse” crossed my mind more than once.

In the midst of all this despair, there were bright spots, like a visit from our beloved Ben.

I failed to note it in these pages, but this October marked the 8th anniversary of my move to Hooterville. It’s one of the few good decisions I have ever made.

I read 114 books, surpassing last year’s 103. Standouts included Richard Russo’s Trajectory, a collection of short stories set in a small town, where Russo’s gifts for language and storytelling shine; The Girl Who Was Saturday Night, about a dysfunctional family in Montreal which manages to be funny, heart-breaking, gritty, and poetic all at once; The Man from the Train: The Solving of a Century-Old Serial Killer Mystery, which uses a combination of old and new technology and logic to unveil the identity of a man who murdered his way across America in the early years of the 20th century; Little Fires Everywhere, an engrossing and beautiful novel about families and how choices we make can have far-reaching and unforeseen effects; Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas, showcasing the fascinating and sometimes tragic lives of the women who inspired some of his great work; Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption, a haunting book about a wrongly convicted man who never gave up trying to prove his innocence from the depths of prison; and the truly astonishing Blood In the Water: The Attica Prison Riot of 1971 and Its Aftermath. I couldn’t put it down, and it haunted me for weeks afterwards. I will just say this: the riot was the least of what happened there.

Standouts in TV shows ranged from the regal (Victoria and The Crown) to the retro (The Deuce and Feud) and the truly excellent Ozark.

Power outages: I lost track. One of them lasted for days, and we were still having them in May. May, my friends! The same goes for rain, though it was around 70 inches. Or more than 6 feet. I thought we had the drought on the run until this season’s paltry 10 inches so far. If only we could get the hideous heat waves on the (permanent) run. I don’t think I will ever really recover from The Worst Long Weekend Ever. I may be one heat wave away from moving to Alaska. Look out, Tim! And keep your bail money handy.


The new year arrived with a bang. Day One of a lengthy power outage. Overcoming the annual bummer of Twelfth Night with a new hairdo and an old fashioned party. A civilized break in the work week. Enjoying the beauty at the fine woodworking show. It was too floody to go and see the Bolshoi’s “Sleeping Beauty”, to my everlasting regret. I once more survived the horror of the annual fundraiser.

February: I came home from work to find a new refrigerator had taken up residence. Meeting the girls at the bookstore. A delightful (though rainy) Valentine’s Day. Guess what? Yes, the power was out again. A strange, but memorable baptism.

March: Time for the Polar Plunge! Feeling under the weather in still more bad weather. Possibly the world’s cutest new neighbor. A hail storm. Why not? Celebrating Dad’s 86th birthday. A delightful surprise encounter with Erica and Jessica.

April: A fun evening at the theater with Megan and Lu. Remembering Mom on her birthday. Family dinner with Clayton. Buying tires again for Wednesday. Jessica’s birthday, and my blog’s. I actually remembered this year! The joys of taking a day off.

May: A very sad, and upsetting memorial service. A sense of place. Yet another power outage made it impossible for me to revel in the glamorous joys of the Kentucky Derby. A fun outing on Bookstore Day. The adventure of the flat tire. Going in style and in good company to family dinner. The adventure of the dog in the night.

June: A good start to my birthday week. A completely perfect birthday, part one and part two. A peek into the past, my favorite place. It was hard to tell one job from the other one Saturday. A wonderful visit with Jarrett and Kalli. It’s Rob to the rescue yet again, adding a new shelf to the kitchen when the old one is displaced by the sudden appearance of a new and unimproved refrigerator. The month ended with a perfect Junapalooza.

July: There was much to celebrate. At last! A sleepover with Jessica! An unexpected visitor after a long day at work. Rob the artist. A less than stellar week. A summer Saturday. The annual horrorshow. But hey, I survived!

August: My Junapalooza gift appears, along with a former Jay (hint: Not Alex Rios). A lovely visit with our friend Carrie, her daughter, and her oldies- singin’ posse. The sudden loss of a coworker. I still miss her smile. Plumbing problems. The anniversary of Dad’s death rolls around again. I will never stop loving and missing him. A lovely sunset drink. My brother’s eclipse adventure. The beginning of the hellish heat wave.

September Celebrating my last working Saturday with a delicious dinner at Rio’s place. The Worst Long Weekend Ever will live on infamy. My brother’s birthday party. A visit from our beloved Ben. At the County Fair, no less! Playing tour guide. We all enjoyed seeing Ben again. I hope this becomes an annual tradition.

October: The eternal trenching project rears its interminable head again. The local message boards are as eccentric as ever. Awakening to find the worst wildfire in California history was raging, in our County and our neighboring counties. Devastating and heartbreaking. As always, our community reached to help the evacuees, but it’s going to be a long recovery. A couple of reasons to celebrate in these dark days. A look at some lovely gardens. The ballet season begins.

November: Halloween with our favorite kidlet and her precocious BFF. A chilly day for cider pressing. You can’t go home again. Or at least you shouldn’t. Car problems, which preoccupy my limited brain space when I should be worrying about Thanksgiving prep. An unexpected Thanksgiving without Erica and Jessica. Thanksgiving II: the sequel. Christmas – or at least Christmas decorations – arrived a little early.

December: Enjoying the always spectacular (though not very Christmassy) Festival of Lights. File under miscellaneous: lingering car malaise; the endless project; and hanging out with friends. Another delightful annual tradition: Candlelight Shopping Night. A successful office party. And a little mini-break was the perfect thing after all the party work. A very odd version of Peter Pan. And a very happy Christmas. A trip north to Eureka did not turn out exactly as planned. But it was still fun.

No resolutions have sprung to my shallow, sparkly mind for the new year, which I hope will be kinder to all of us. Thanks for coming along on the ride this year!

A YEAR AGO: A look back at 2016.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Reviewing 2012.

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