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

Smallville

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

Junuary

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

Luna-cy

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

Stasis

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

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.

January:

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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Dec 30 2017

Heading Home

Published by under Family,Friends,Travel

It’s 4:30 am and I am drinking bad in room coffee and waiting for daylight. I’m sorry to say that the cold or whatever it is has not improved and I felt too miserable to sleep. It is going to be a long way home. Well, it would be anyway!

Jarrett picked me up yesterday and took me on a tour of Eureka, where he has lived for several years. Like Fort Bragg, it began with logging and fishing, and all that entails, like robber barons and brothels. But Eureka, a much bigger city still, boasted an opera house (the building still stands) and a Chinatown, populated with the people who built roads, did the logging camps’ cooking and laundry and basically kept to themselves until they were all deported to San Francisco in 1885.

1885 is also when this breathtaking mansion was built for lumber baron William Carson:

It is utterly magnificent and may be the finest Victorian home I have ever seen, even after living in San Francisco for so many years. It is now a private club, which is whispered about among locals, much as the Bohemian Club is in San Francisco. Though we peasants cannot enter its splendid interior, you can revel in its elegant excess here.

Right across the street is the fantastic pink house which William Carson built for his son:

Love the color and the stained glass.

We walked around the historic downtown, and I really liked the combination of old and new. The town feels vital and young, not precious like the Village at home. I really enjoyed our look around. We also stopped in at the local history museum, which has a great collection of Native artifacts and pioneer quilts. Needless to say the native people, like the Chinese, were also driven out by Europeans, just as they were in Fort Bragg. The age old story, I’m afraid.

We headed out to dinner with Jarrett’s beautiful girlfriend Kalli at one of their favorite spots. It was so wonderful to catch up on their news and spend some time together. I love those kids. I’d have to say: despite the cold or whatever it is and the long drive ahead of me, I’m glad I came.

Update: Left in the rainy darkness about 6:45 am. Stopped at the gas station and then headed straight for home. No traffic that early, though I did have to drive around two large, shaggy elk on Highway One. Arrived home a little after 10 am. Whew!

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Dec 29 2017

Eureka

Published by under Friends,Travel


Home away from home

Hi! I’m coming to you from Eureka! Eureka is what I said when I finally got here, too.

I thought I was mentally prepared for the long and winding road that is Highway One, but as usual, I was wrong about that. By the time I had reached Westport, I felt like admitting defeat, turning around, and going back home to the kitties. But I pressed on, and when I finally emerged from the horrors of Highway One and its bipolar ups and downs and curves so crazy they are signposted at 15 miles an hour, I was crushed to discover that I had another 90 miles to go.

Sigh.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, though. All signs had pointed toward Things Going Wrong. Megan woke up sick the day before we were slated to go, so instead of her capably driving while I was the passenger, the way Nature intended, I was demoted to driver, with no company and an increasing paranoia about the ever present engine light and lack of cell service.

My friend Janice’s son-in-law had unexpected surgery, so her daughter Julie could not join us at dinner, and once again I was demoted to chauffeur in a strange land. As I headed out in the near zero visibility night time fog, it soon became clear that I too was sick, or getting there. Why not? I tried not to look at the kitties’ lovely parting gift to me as a bad omen:

I did my best to ignore my body’s rebellion and thoroughly enjoyed a European length dinner with my dear friend Janice at one of her favorite local restaurants over a bottle of local wine. We had a lot to catch up on. She had a very challenging year, though she met one disaster after another with grace and strength and her head held high (and of course, her hair and make-up done). It was wonderful to just be with her, listening to her deep, lilting Southern accent, her vivacious laugh, and her astonishing anecdotes. Her friendship is a wonderful gift.

As for today, I am pleased to announce that I am not driving. Jarrett is going to play tour guide today and show me around his town, and tonight we are having dinner with his girlfriend, the beautiful Kalli, at their favorite local restaurant. And I will think about the drive home tomorrow…tomorrow.

A YEAR AGO: A post Christmas celebration.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A winter wonderland.

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Dec 27 2017

Aftermath

Published by under Special Occasions,Travel,Work

While the rest of you were celebrating your Christmas, I was cleaning up after ours.

Every year I tell myself not to bother cleaning up before hand, and every year, I ignore my own well-meant advice and am annoyed/horrified by having to re-clean everything I had cleaned the day before. This year, of course, was no exception, and by the time I had emptied out the somewhat disgraceful recycling, washed the heirlooms and put them carefully away (nothing broke!), re-vacuumed, and done a couple of loads of laundry, it was afternoon, and I was thankful that I had at least had the sense to take the day after Christmas off from work, both domestic and unpaid.

Arriving at work today, I discovered a plague of ants had taken up residence in my absence. I wiped them to a rapid and sanitary death with the atomic wipes they use in Medical, but the super ants were not deterred or their friends did not get the message that Doom awaited them in my office. Facilities Guy provided me with a gooey ant trap, which I have set on my windowsill for the unwary ants and which he assures me are more effective than the germicidal wipes of doom.

I was planning to work tomorrow, but Megan got sick last night and is unable to drive to Eureka with me tomorrow. The original plan was that she would pick me up at work in the late afternoon after she woke up from her last night shift of the week, but if I am doing all the driving on the sinuous and scenic Highway 1, I do not want to be doing it in the dark. I conferred with my boss and she decided that I should just take the day off and drive up in the morning, so that is now my new plan. Gotta love a one day work week!

I am going to see my friend Janice, who you may remember visited me a few years back with her lovely daughter Julie, and also our nephew Jarrett and his beautiful girlfriend Kalli. So the next time I check in with you will be from a whole new county! Wish me an uneventful journey.

A YEAR AGO:Cleaning up after a lovely celebration.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A warm and wonderful Christmas. Jessica looks like a baby!

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Dec 25 2017

Merry Happy

Published by under Family,Friends,Special Occasions


Christmas Jessica (with Jonathan in the background)

Merry Christmas! Y’all are a day behind us, since we celebrated yesterday. And celebrate we did!

I spent most of the morning making about a thousand of my world famous cheese biscuits, with an eye to bringing some to Jarrett later in the week. It’s a good thing I set some aside for him, since in spite of my Herculean efforts, I only have about half a dozen left.

After the baking blitz, I put out the Christmas crackers:

and set out the heirloom Wedgwood and silver:

as the tree twinkled merrily with its stockings beneath. Jonathan and Rio arrived with the ham glazed with his secret glaze and smoked for hours in the BBQ, a wild huckleberry pie and a keg of cider, and Erica and Jessica brought a stunning Bûche de Noël:

It was frosted with vanilla buttercream to match my ancient tree, and inside it was ginger cake with a butterscotch salted caramel filling. Needless to say, it was amazing.

So were the stockings this year. I think everyone was really pleased. Mine included a new electric toothbrush that looks like jewelry, glittery pens, and a gift certificate for Angelika’s indispensable services. What’s not to love?

In addition to all that, we had salad with roasted pears and fresh pomegranate along with shallot and honey dressing, our own garden potatoes mashed up with our garlic, the cheese biscuits, and Vietnamese pickled carrots and cucumbers. This was my first attempt at these and it was a hit. I will definitely make them again.

After dinner, we enjoyed the annual ritual of Jonathan and Jessica reading “Red Ranger Came Calling” out loud. I wish I could post the movie clips here, but they are on Facebook for your viewing and listening pleasure. I really don’t know which of them does a better job. And just a few days ago, Jessica’s BFF Bella was on Vachon Island at the very location of the tree!

After everyone else left, Megan and I sat back with a bottle of Limoncello and talked about the evening. We agreed, it had been a great one. Merry Christmas to you and yours from all of us!

A YEAR AGO: A merry Christmas.

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Dec 24 2017

Peter Panned

Published by under Bullshit,Car,Special Occasions

Yesterday Megan and I both enjoyed getting up after the sun did, putting the heat on in our frigid houses, and scampering back to bed with coffee and our neatly paired animal companions (two dogs for her; two cats for me) for more than an hour. How luxurious is that?

Eventually, we got up and got dressed. I headed over to Megan’s place and we then made our way to our brother’s place with a bag of mesquite, the Christmas ham, stockings for him and Rio to stuff, and a mason jar of Jack Daniel’s, an integral part of Jonathan’s masterful ham glaze.

We had a brief discussion about Wednesday’s ailments, and had independently arrived at the conclusion that he should buy the expensive parts and fix the non threatening emissions issue, on the grounds that one day the ever-on engine light might mean something is really wrong and I would ignore it, thinking it wasn’t, until Something Bad happened, like permanent stoppage of said car. So he will order the parts and we’ll get that particular show on the road. Wish Santa shopped at Napa.

After that, Megan turned her little red car toward the magical south coast. As we wended our way past the lavender ocean and the wind-twisted trees, we talked about how we hadn’t seen Lichen in ages. For both of us, the most recent interaction was texts on his birthday last month. Passing through Elk, Megan spied Lichen himself at the side of the road, with his sweet dog, Keeper. She stopped immediately and raced across the road shouting his birth name so he’d know he was in trouble. By the time I caught up, we were hugging and laughing and being introduced to the guy with him.

This town being as minute as it is, the guy turned out to be a neighbor of my friend Alison, who I had just met for a drink this week (and said drink was interrupted by the appearance of my old boss, my current boss, the event coordinator from work, and others). He was supposed to look after Alison’s dog over the holidays, but she got the flu and her plans changed at the last minute.

As for Lichen, he has been training as a massage therapist and now has his own little studio! So that’s what he’s been up to instead of hanging out with us. It was good to catch up with him, but we had a schedule to keep, so we continued south.

Arriving in Point Arena, we went straight for Franny’s, as any right-thinking person does, where we equipped ourselves with delicacies before going even further south to acquire still more delicacies for dinner at Anchor Bay Thai.

We were worried about being late for the play, but we made it back to the theater in time to wade through throngs of kids and into balcony seats right by the wall, a decision we would come to regret in about 10 minutes.

The play was a production of “Peter Pan”, streamed from the National Theatre in London, and our Sleeping Beauty deprived hearts were looking forward to it. Our hopes were dashed almost immediately by the weirdness of the production, in which everyone looked about 45, Nana the dog was played by a guy wearing white ruffled pantalettes, and Tinker Bell by a squat gent with lights on his bicycle helmet and a speech impediment. Also there were songs, which we had not been warned about, and all the magic had been removed.

We wanted to remove ourselves, but were trapped at the wall end of the row. I was all for pushing past everyone and hightailing it out of there, but Megan thought it was too rude. I felt that it would be a momentary inconvenience for people we would never see again, but she won out and we spent the rest of our sentence wondering if we could get over the railing in front of us without undue damage to Self. When the welcome release of intermission finally arrived, I raced out of there so fast I forgot my coat (with my phone in the pocket), which Megan grabbed and then chased me down the stairs.

As we peeled out of the parking lot, I observed that we had finally found something that was not fun to do together. It took us a while, but we did it!

A YEAR AGO: Merry Christmas to us!

TEN YEARS AGO: A somewhat dizzy Christmas.

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Dec 22 2017

Frosty Solstice

Published by under Country Life,Weather,Work

I’m sitting in bed with the heater and Audrey purring away (Clyde has been Adventure Boy lately, spending more time in the woods than I personally enjoy). I got up when it was actually light out, turned the heater on, made coffee, and took it back to bed. I love doing that.

It’s been pretty chilly lately. The house is about 42F when I get up, and it’s been hovering around the 32F or lower outside overnight. On solstice morning, I discovered that Wednesday’s windows were iced up hard. The door creaked when I opened it. I left the car running for about 10 minutes before heading out to the Ridge, which was a winter wonderland, sparkling with frost. That’s about the closest I have ever gotten to driving on snow*, and I’m happy to keep it that way.

The shortest and darkest day of the year also happens to be my boss’s birthday, much to her displeasure. Besides those two disadvantages, her birthday has historically resulted in the dreaded combo gift, and when she was in school, everyone was always on break, so she never got the little school parties with her classmates, either.

We tried to make it up to her by taking her out to lunch at a restaurant overlooking the harbor. It was a sunny, postcard day, and fishing boats chugged in and out while seals played in the frigid water. I am pleased to report that she was showered with gifts by coworkers (including me). One came in to drop off flowers on his way to a hunting trip, and her husband sent an arrangement that was so beautiful that another colleague took one look and called the florist to order the exact same arrangement to be delivered that day to his own wife.

I left work after lunch, stopped by Monica’s shop to exchange gifts, dropped off library books (sadly, there were none to pick up, though I am observing my own sort of advent by re-reading “The Box of Delights”, timing its 12 chapters to end on Christmas Day. Dad used to read it out loud to us in that manner), and made one last stop at the post office, where I was overwhelmed by a tide of cards and presents to the point that Darlene helped me to carry it all to the car.

Let the holidays – and the celebrating – begin!

*I learned to drive in San Francisco, in the beautiful Presidio.

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Dec 21 2017

Taking a Break

Published by under Special Occasions

To recover from the crazy week, I took a little staycation at the same lovely hotel where I took some refuge after the devastating loss of the one and only Roscoe, who I will never stop missing. Or loving, for that matter. This time, the hotel manager very generously gave me a free room, which turned out to be an apartment, complete with living room:

and a lovely kitchen. I coveted the side by side refrigerator with its capacious freezer drawer. It even makes ice automatically from filtered water! Wonder if the kindly hotel manager would consider a trade for my new-ish, Stalinesque appliance?

Probably not.

There was a balcony overlooking the estuary:

where I could watch the sun set:

and the stars come out from the comfort of the capacious hot tub. Thoughtfully, the balcony and hot tub can be accessed from the bedroom as well as the living room. The bedroom had a desk and a walk in closet with a light! This was very exciting for a girl whose house has no closets whatsoever and whose clothes are stored in bags under the bed. I’m pretty sure the closet was bigger than my bathroom at home.

I realized how long I had been a bumpkin when I was so delighted with having central heating and not having to wear a sweater inside, or experience the microclimates of my house with its unheated bathroom and drafts, the relative warmth of the propane heater stopping about three feet from its epicenter*.

And I kind of burned myself on the hot water in the sink and bathroom, since I’m so used to having the facet turned to the hottest possible and not adding cold water at all in a vain attempt to make it warm enough to wash Self or dishes. Here the water was instantly super hot. Surprise!

I had pizza and watched Hitchcock’s “Family Plot”, which I hadn’t seen in many years and enjoyed very much. In the morning, I had coffee on the balcony, watching the water birds at play in the sunshine. I ran a couple of Christmas errands and then headed home to cuddle the kitties. It was a great break, and I am so thankful for that gift!

A YEAR AGO: A sparkly outing with the inimitable Jessica.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting ready for Christmas. With a cameo by our beloved Schatzi. We miss you, sweet girl.

*Speaking of which, I slept through an earthquake last week which freaked out one of the temporary docs who is working here for a few months. She called Facilities Guy in a panic, thinking that a wild animal was in her oven, crashing around (how?). She was not at all relieved to hear that it was only an earthquake.

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