Suzy Says
Radio Nowhere
Circus
July 10th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Special Occasions No Comments


Step right up!

I took two days off around the Fourth of July holiday, and I am pleased to announce that it was not boiling hot and I was not sick or injured, as often seems to happen when I have the temerity to take a day off.

It was nice not to get up in the dark to the tyranny of the alarm, to not drive to the Big Town, and not apply faux adult armor. I sat in bed in the morning with the boys, catching up on my fan mail while drinking coffee and contemplating getting up. It was nice to have the feeling of having time, though like most time off, it sped by too quickly.

The circus was in town – the Flynn Creek Circus, that is – and Megan arranged to go to work late that night so we could go together. That night’s show was a benefit for the local library, of which I am now Board Chair. Megan asked me why I didn’t get free front row seats, which I thought was a good question. Also, where was my limo?

I forgot about these questions as soon as the show started. It was a new one, featuring a rabbit who escaped from a magician’s hat, rabbit revolutionaries, and some very talented humans, to whom the laws of physics did not seem to apply:

The jugglers were phenomenal. They bounced ping pong balls off their arms and did things with hats that had to be seen to be believed:

Even though I saw them, I couldn’t believe my own eyes. I spent the whole show gasping with amazement, filled with wonder and delight. It was like being a child again.

At the end of the show, the artists lined up outside the tent and we had an opportunity to tell them how wonderful they and the show were, which I really appreciated. I was especially happy to tell the jugglers how amazing their act was.

They are doing another show in the Big Town next month, and I’m thinking we should go again. Encore!

A YEAR AGO: The annual quilt show, which I missed this year due to Megan’s changed work schedule.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My scenic drive to work in the Big Town.

TEN YEARS AGO: Surprisingly few of you wanted to swap housing with me back when I lived in Oakhampton. Moving there was not one of my better decisions. Moving away was.

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Wild
July 3rd, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,House No Comments

I finally felt an earthquake! I was watching Bohemian Rhapsody at the time, and despite the music, I heard the quake before I felt it, as I usually do. It was on the sharp side, but much quicker than they would have you believe on movies and TV. I didn’t notice any immediate damage, but the next day I did notice that a tree branch had fallen on the driveway, partly obscuring the exit, though I’m not sure if the two were related. As I expected, my ever-vigilant new landlord had removed it by the time I got home from work.

In addition to the inside and outside cat population, the new house seems to have its fair share of wildlife. A fox has come up on the back porch and the little deck outside the sliding doors in the kitchen, peeking in the windows. He is very cute. It may just be a drive by on his way to the compost pit, where I have seen his tail flying like a flag.

The compost is also a favored location for ravens, who swoop through the garden past the redwoods and into the compost. Hummingbirds buzz around the azaleas and jasmine, and I also saw a woodpecker last week. Steller’s Jays flash their vivid wings in the sun, and I saw a young deer, still with velvet on his antlers, stroll casually down the driveway.

There’s a certain spot on the new Ridge where wild turkeys like to hang out. They tend to congregate in the road and are unwilling to move for silly things like cars and humans, which do not interest or frighten them in the least. Quail also run across the road like little wind-up toys. It’s nice to see all the animals and feel like I’m at home amid all the nature.

A YEAR AGO: Yup, I am the whitest person ever. We are the Wonderbread family! And Mom’s origins remain a mystery.

FIVE YEARS AGO: There was much to celebrate. In the “some things never change” department, I texted Megan to wish her a happy anniversary on Monday and she had, yes, forgotten.

TEN YEARS AGO: Shopping: it’s all in how you look at it. Really glad I sent that fan letter to Karl Malden, though.

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Windows
June 29th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,House No Comments

Well, that didn’t take long!

I heard a thump one morning while I was applying my faux adult armor and looked in the bedroom, where the sound seemed to originate. I saw the window screen was torn. Looking out the window, I also saw Dodge standing on the driveway. I closed the window and tried to get Dodge to come back in the house. One thing I have learned about him is you can’t pick him up outside. He will claw you to death and he is one strong boy! It must be all part of his street survival multi pack of skills. So you have to wait until he’s ready to come back in, even if it’s 2 am.

I happened to be lucky that day and got him to come back inside before I left for work, but I was worried about the torn screen. I felt like I had just moved into the house and I had already trashed it. Also my landlord drives past my house any time she goes anywhere or goes home, so I was afraid she’d notice.

I managed to get it taped up until Rob could come by and take a look at the situation. He showed me that it hadn’t actually torn – it was pulled out of the frame and the string that holds it in (you can tell I have a 100% perfect grasp of the inner workings of window screens) was also intact. So he managed to make it look as good as new, which was a huge relief, and also put the errant screen back in its place without a giant ladder, making my house look like nothing had happened when in fact plenty had.

I made another unwelcome discovery while getting ready for work this morning. The cats had in fact snapped off a part of one of the bathroom window blinds and bent another one. Goodbye, $1,000 security deposit! I thought as I applied plum colored mascara. I’m wondering if I can super glue them together or maybe Rob can come up with something. I guess my worst case scenario is replacing the blinds when I move out. They will (I hope) be a lot cheaper than $1,000. In the meantime, I have rolled up the blinds to hide the damaged part.

Those kitties! What will I do with them?

A YEAR AGO: Heatwaves, bunnies, and birds!

FIVE YEARS AGO: A reading at the bookstore.

TEN YEARS AGO: A rude awakening.

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Cats
June 24th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,Country Life,House,Moving No Comments


A Rare Show of Togetherness

The cats seem as happy in their new home as the Staff is. They staked out their territory early. Audrey is Queen of the Couch, rarely, if ever, venturing upstairs, which is Boys Town. While she lounges on the couch, the boys lounge (and generally cuddle) on the bed. Much like human boys, they are happy with an unmade bed, but their Staff prefers the bed to be made and things to be tidy.

I placed two food dishes and a water dish in the spacious bathroom, along with the litterbox, which I cleverly concealed in the shelving unit there. I was surprised one day to note that both Dodge and Clyde were in the box at the same time, which seemed a little excessive in the way of togetherness.

Audrey’s dish and water are downstairs in her kingdom. It was soon brought to my attention that she did not care to go upstairs to use the facilities, so she now has her own inside the downstairs closet. I don’t love leaving the closet door ajar at all times, but it beats the alternative. Like I always say, compromise means nobody’s happy, though in this case, I’m pretty sure Audrey is.

The front door of the house is mostly glass, as is the sliding door in the kitchen and the door to the back porch, so I expected the cats to use those to look outside. Unfortunately for me, they prefer to sit in the windows, most of which have blinds which they walk through and disarrange. Fortunately, all of the windows also have screens.

However…I did not admit to the actual cat population when interviewing for the house. I only told my landlord about Audrey, who I expected to be the most visible and who might go outside eventually. Even to the owner of three cats, three cats sounds perilously close to crazy cat lady territory, and I didn’t want to jeopardize getting the house by admitting to it. So now I’m worried that she will notice them sitting in the windows and I’m not sure how to respond to that if it happens. I realize I should have told the truth in the first place and I brought it all on myself, but still.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the landlord’s cat has been stopping by to visit (and, on occasion, leaving dead birds on the front porch). She is a beautiful cat, slim and white, with grey patches and extra toes, making her slim legs look even thinner with the big, bunchy paws.

She is friendly and likes to be petted. However, Clyde and Audrey do not appreciate her visits. They both hiss and growl at her. I am always a bit shocked when Clyde does it, since he is usually such a cuddlebug. Dodge is completely uninterested in the visitor. Maybe he developed this laissez faire attitude while living on the mean streets of Fort Bragg during his formative years.

Maybe I’m worrying about nothing, though worrying is what I do. I’m (in)famous for it. Even seven year olds can tell!

A YEAR AGO: Some minor mysteries on the Ridge.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An eventful memorial service.

TEN YEARS AGO: Those naughty kitties!

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Appliances
June 18th, 2019 by suzy in House,Moving No Comments

My new appliances and I are getting to know each other. My lifelong record of having no dishwasher other than myself remains unblemished, but the new house has nice, deep double sinks and even one of those sprayers which are so great.

It took me a few minutes to figure out how to turn the oven on. The stove in the old place, which was a charming, apartment-sized old Wedgewood – lit with a match, but the new one is not so straightforward. Eventually I figured out which buttons to push to turn it on and set the temperature. Later, it beeped to tell me that the oven was at the correct temperature.

While the oven was warming up and stretching, I turned my attention to the somewhat intimidating washer and dryer. They look like you need to be a pilot to operate them, or at least have more than two brain cells.

Fortunately, they were up to this particular task, and I successfully got a load of laundry washed and dried, though not put away since the closet is still in chaos. It is a front loading washer and it seemed to take almost an hour to complete a load of laundry, which seemed like a long time.

In addition to the new appliances, I am also enjoying the novelty of having a house key* for the first time in over a decade:

I have gone from having 5 doors with no keys to having three doors with keys. Even the sliding door in the kitchen has a lock. I find it quite satisfying to lock them before I go to bed at night, even though I’m sure I’m as safe, or safer, than I was at the old place. There is also a gate to the property which opens with a remote control or a key pad, which still kind of feels like magic and makes me feel even safer. So far, I am loving my new house.

*It’s lurking somewhere under all the bling and my post office box key.

A YEAR AGO: Feeling grateful for things big and small. I note that I wore the bracelet today.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Car pooling and Stella smiles.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ghosts in the machines.

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Clock
June 13th, 2019 by suzy in House,Moving,Sports,Weather No Comments

I was really glad to see the fog this morning after four days of above 90 temperatures. Granted, the new house is much cooler than the old one, which had no insulation and a peaked ceiling which trapped the heat, but after baking in high temperatures day after day and not really cooling off at night, there’s only so much you can expect. It was strangely still with no breeze, and it didn’t cool off at night. This is unusual for us.

I was also pleased to see St. Louis win the Stanley Cup last night. Hooray! It’s their first win of the illustrious Cup, and also had the pleasant side effect of snatching it from the evil Boston Bruins, who defeated the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs to my dismay and consternation. Just looking at the ice on TV was nice, too.

But most of all, I was happy to see my brother and brother in law arrive to unbox the ancient grandfather clock and get it set up in its new home. It’s off center because that’s where the wall stud is:

It’s also better for the clock to be as far from the heater (at right) as possible. I’m hoping to balance it out visually by hanging my big painting “Russian Hill” between the clock and the painting:

We took the Styrofoam and coffin pieces upstairs, where Rob put a ladder to access the storage space around the water tank on the third floor of the house. There was a light so Rob could see what he was doing, and the first thing he noticed was how cool it was, probably due to the water tank. Then he said that there was “enough room for a family of five” in there. Unfortunately, the front and back of the clock coffin were too wide for the doorway/hatch, so the boys ended up stowing them under the house until the next time I move, which I hope is never.

With the clock relocated, Rob’s bookcase was moved next to the sliding glass doors and my few remaining books placed in it:

When I discovered that there was space left over, I regretted some of the books I had given away, but I should try to look forward instead of back. And focus on not accumulating more stuff. Lessons have been learned. The hard way, as usual.

Jonathan put my bed together while Rob was disassembling the clock coffin. An esoteric piece of hardware was lost in the moving process and could not be replaced locally, so Rob made one. I am lucky to have such handy brothers who are willing to help me out. It was nice to get the bed off the floor. I was also pleased to note that it’s much easier to sit up in bed now that I don’t have to position myself oddly in order not to hit my head on the curved wall/ceiling. Rio observed that living at my old house was living in an art project, and I think she was right.

So things are coming together at the new place.

A YEAR AGO: Wednesday and I weren’t feeling too well.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Wednesday was not at her best then, either.

TEN YEARS AGO: Life in Oakhampton was not very exciting.

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Unpacking
June 10th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,House,Moving No Comments

The day after I moved, there was The Mess to contend with. I kept fretting over where on earth I would put everything, even though I had given and thrown away tons of things and stuff.

The cats woke me up at 2:30 am one Sunday night, or early one Monday morning, depending on how you look at it, breaking a glass I had unwisely left on the bathroom counter. I discovered this by stepping on broken glass in bare feet. After I pulled the glass out, applied the non fun kind of alcohol to the wound, cleaned up the breakage without benefit of broom and dust pan, which were still at the old house, I tried to go back to sleep. You will be unsurprised to learn that this did not work. I decided to just get up and attack the reason I couldn’t sleep.

Thinking that I might just unpack a few boxes and then go back to bed, I started to work without benefit of caffeine, putting away the kitchen things first. It was nice to see my Dean & Deluca spice containers again, and the peppercorns my good friend Alice sends me when she goes to Cambodia and Thailand. Also the little ceramic blueberry jam jar I bought in Maine as a kid. These are the kinds of things that make a girl feel like she’s home.

Pretty soon I was stashing the 200 year old Wedgwood carefully in an appropriately wedge shaped cabinet and the familiar canteens of Grammie’s ivory handled silver above the cabinets. I had found a place for all the kitchen pots, pans, and et ceteras! There were quite a few et ceteras. I will probably have to tweak it as I use it and figure out what works and what doesn’t, but it looked a little better after my late night adventure:

Note the curious Dodge surveying the new improvements.

Encouraged by this success (though daunted by the rapidly accumulating pile of empty boxes), I started stowing food in the closet under the stairs. This space has some storage, room to hang coats and the washer and dryer, as well as a shelf which is now stacked with cans and dry goods:

Given the limitations of storage space, I should try to be more minimalist and less survivalist when it comes to stockpiling pasta, rice, coffee, tea, and canned goods.

By this time, the sun was up and the cats were interested in breakfast. I made a well-deserved cup of coffee and started going through the boxes of books. The only place I have to put them is Rob’s beautiful book shelf, so I sacrificed still more books – another 6 boxes. All my Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, Evelyn Waugh…everything I can get from the library if I want to re-read it. I kept some sentimental favorites, my Dad’s books, and some cookbooks along with a coffee table book or two.

While difficult on the emotions, it did make an even more serious dent in The Mess:

Once the boys have time to set up the grandfather clock and switch its location with the book shelf, the room will be mostly done and I will finished with most of the boxes. I am hoping that we can unearth the old cherry table we used to have in our dining room when we were kids. It might need some work from Rob, and it will certainly need chairs, but it would be nice to use it again.

All in all, a lot of progress in just two days!

A YEAR AGO: Some delightful discoveries in the Village.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob’s amazing bathroom makeover (supervised by Clyde, of course).

TEN YEARS AGO: Wonderful in white.

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Birthday
June 5th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life No Comments

My birthday dawned bright and beautiful, shining with hope that I would get the best birthday present of all: internet in my house!

Getting internet when you live in what my late, lamented stepmother used to call “the back of beyond” in her rich, plummy voice with an accent like the Queen’s, is not a simple thing. You don’t just call the internet company and get it switched on. Here’s what you do (or at least what I did):

  1. Make appointment for internet guy to come out and see if there is a good tree to house the receptor.
  2. Get stood up by guy after waiting for two hours.
  3. Make another date and hope he shows up.
  4. Guy shows up on second try. I am favorably impressed by this, and he is favorably impressed by the size and quality of the redwoods surrounding my new house.
  5. Call a couple of tree climbers. Find one who is available on the same day as the internet guy, which happens to be my birthday. Fortunately I had already taken that day and the following day off from work.

My new landlord Danielle was also interested in getting the internet service, which is far superior to and less expensive than the satellite service she was currently suffering. Satellite internet in my experience is both expensive and crappy. What’s not to hate?

When the guys arrived, she pretty much took over. It’s her place and I could see she was used to running the show. The guys chose a tree and the climber went up to place the internet receptor. I later asked him how high he had to go and he said 120 feet, observing that that after 50 feet you’re going to die if you fall anyway so it doesn’t really matter how high you go after that.

The internet guy got Danielle hooked up first and then me. So I was back in touch with the outside world in time for dinner, which was bruschetta, salad, and penne alla vodka from Luna, along with some pink champagne in a pretty glass. It was a great birthday.

A YEAR AGO: A sad and tragic birthday.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Another birthday tinged with the shadow of loss. I just realized I will never see Yellow Dog again now that I moved. I will miss his sweet, old face. I still think he misses Schatzi. We all do.

TEN YEARS AGO: A pretty good birthday average.

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It wasn’t just moving day, it was Megan’s birthday. So I left the cats and The Mess behind to go and celebrate at the family estate. After a long day of moving all my worldly goods, my brother was making burgers and Rio was making salad. Jonathan had already made a lemon tart the day before, so everything was ready to celebrate. When we all had a glass of our homemade cider in hand, I made a toast:

“Forty-eight years ago today, I was called down to the office at school. When I got to the office, the principal told me I had a little sister. I skipped back to my classroom and announced, “I have a little sister!” All the girls went, “Yay!” and all the boys went “Boo!!”

Our brother laughed, saying that he wasn’t happy at the time to have yet another sister, but he certainly doesn’t feel that way now. I am nine years and nine days older than my sister, who was supposed to be born on my birthday. Instead, she came home from the hospital on my birthday. She’s still the best present I ever had. Here’s a picture of us the year I turned 21 and she turned 12:

After dinner, we took a look around the garden. The late rains did not seem to harm the orchard, where pies are in progress:

There are tons of cherries on the tree in the carefully netted cathedral, more than we’ve ever had before:

It should be a good pie year.

There’s a new Meyer lemon tree in the greenhouse (far right):

We’ll see how that does. It would be great if we can make it happy there. I love Meyer lemons.

It was a long day, but a good one. And I am thankful for my family and friends, even more than I usually am.

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Move
May 28th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,Family,Moving No Comments

Moving day – which also happened to be Megan’s birthday – dawned bright and clear. As I took a last carload of things and stuff over to the new place, I noticed what an idyllic morning it was. The ocean was turquoise, the meadows drifted with wildflowers and dotted with glossy horses and cows. I drove past farms and through groves of redwoods, across a narrow one lane bridge that I always worry about meeting someone else on, and arrived at the new house.

After everything was decanted, I went back to the old house. I imprisoned Audrey in the bathroom with her fuzzy bed and the boys in their bachelor pad, which is also known more prosaically as a metal dog crate filled with a comfy quilt.

Jonathan, Rio, and Rob soon appeared, and together we took a trailer load of junk to the dump before starting to load up the furniture. Back at the house, Rob started to construct the box for the grandfather clock to travel in. Then the boys carefully loaded it and wedged it firmly in place with Styrofoam (sorry, planet!) before placing a final sheet of Styrofoam over the glass front of the face.

The first load was the box springs and mattress, with the clock coffin riding on top. We got some strange looks as we drove at a majestic pace down the curvy country roads and briefly on the highway.

The next load included Rob’s beautiful bookshelves and the deconstructed bed. When my brother went to reconstruct the bed, we discovered that some crucial hardware had been lost in the process. I tried at the small Hooterville hardware store, but as expected, they didn’t have it. Of course all the other hardware stores were closed for the Memorial Day holiday, so I have just been sleeping on the box springs and mattress on the floor.

I was saddened to learn that I could not take my fan palms, Japanese maple, or camellias with me. I admit that I cried over them in the privacy of my car on my way to the new house after getting that news.

The last but most important load was the kitties. The boys shared a carrier, since they are always happier together, while Audrey had her own, since she is always happier alone. Happy is relative, however. She howled the entire 11 miles, while the boys didn’t make a sound.

I had been expecting that Audrey would poop in her carrier, since that is her usual MO when going to the vet. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while she had peed, that was it. I was less delighted to discover that the boys had reacted the same way, so they were all running around with pee paws on the beautiful fir floors.

Clyde did not want to leave the carrier. I expected him to bolt out of it. I upended the carrier, and he was ejected by gravity, but immediately tried to climb back in, even though I was still holding the case upside down. He went and hid behind boxes. Audrey also vanished, while Dodge was Adventure Boy, leaping from box to box.

Here’s a peek at The Mess on Day One:

Impressive, isn’t it? You might be able to guess what my weekend plans were!

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Limbo
May 24th, 2019 by suzy in Moving No Comments

I am neither here nor there.

Yesterday, the boys moved the couch and sundry other things to the new house, leaving the bed and the ancient heirloom grandfather clock in what is now the old place. So I’m kind of camping at the old place since my unpaid movers are not available today.

Supposedly AT&T is going to install the landline at the new place today. I know landlines seem retro these days, but the cell service at the new house is exponentially worse than it is at the old one, where the cell phone never rings in the house. It is impossible to make a call on my cell at the new place, and texts may or may not go through.

I’m hoping the technician will actually show up, since I’ve been stood up more this month than in my entire dating life. My landlord didn’t make it to meet me there a couple of weeks ago, and the Further Reach internet guy didn’t show up this week, even though I waited for him for two hours. Fortunately, I had the fascinating The Five to keep me company.

While I was waiting, I took a couple more photos of the new place:

The Further Reach guy claims he will appear in person on Wednesday. This visit, if it happens, is only to assess the viability of the trees at the property as a location for the internet receptor. Then I will have to hire a tree climber to put it in. I have no idea how long all this will take, but I’m guessing that it will be a while, so I will be incommunicado in the meantime. If I have to resort to satellite internet again, which is both crappy and expensive (my favorite!), I will be sad. I have Further Reach now, and although pricy, it is excellent.

I’m hoping that the move will be finished on Saturday. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A one-two punch of tragedy. I still can’t believe this really happened.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Also a tragic time with lots of loss, including my wonderful friend Joel. He is missed.

TEN YEARS AGO: A lazy day. There aren’t enough of those.

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Past
May 20th, 2019 by suzy in Memories,Moving No Comments

It seems to be a universal truth that we all have more things and stuff than we think we do, and we find out how very wrong we were about that when the time comes to move. I thought I had a few boxes in the storage loft over the bathroom, along with the battered old white Christmas tree and sundry decorations. Imagine my horror when I discovered that there were TWENTY ONE – count ‘em, 21 – fun-filled boxes up there.

Going through them was a dust-filled extravaganza that brought up a lot of memories and not a few tears. I got rid of most of the books, including complete sets of the Dr. Dolittle books and Mary Poppins books, as well as all of my Miss Read. I sacrificed the complete collection of Trollopes when I left Oakhampton and I still regret that. I kept one box, which included my father’s childhood book Outdoorland and the Bible my grandfather carried with him when he went to fight in WWI. I also kept his letters home during the War.

I sobbingly threw out countless letters, cards, and postcards from family and friends, though I kept all of my father’s letters. I threw out so many photographs of people I didn’t know. I think they were friends of my grandparents’, but since I didn’t know who they were, off they went. The thought occurred to me that a few years down the road Jarrett or Jessica will be doing the same with the photos I saved.

I kept some color photos of my parents’ wedding, which I had never seen before, and a wonderful photo of my mother’s parents a couple of weeks after their wedding, marked with my grandfather’s hand, “US 8-24-’24”:

Also a breathtaking photo of my grandmother in the full flower of her youth and considerable beauty:

And a photo of my dear friend Alice* and me in her house in Amsterdam, just a couple of years after she stopped modeling. When I shared the photo with her, she noted that she was wearing Jean-Paul Gaulthier:

It brought back so many happy memories of the wonderful times we had together.

I ended up throwing out the old Christmas tree and only keeping my very favorite ornaments (I still miss the one Clyde broke). New house, new tree. I wonder if I had known this past Christmas was going to be the last one in this house if I would have decorated and celebrated instead of ignoring it. I guess a new house calls for a new tree and new traditions.

But for some reason, I was unable to part with the keys to my now million+ dollar apartment in San Francisco.

I told a coworker who moved here from New York about my travails, and she said that after clearing out two attics and a basement, she swore she would never put another thing in her attic. So far her attic remains empty, and houses here don’t have basements. Hopefully I can follow her example and not accumulate more things and stuff after I move. It’s hard to let go of the past, but maybe it can be liberating, too.

**We have been friends for 40 years now. We still email each other nearly every day. I am still thankful every day that she is still with us after that scare a few years ago.

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Water
May 16th, 2019 by suzy in House,Moving,Weather No Comments

When I first started the lengthy and horrifying moving process, I thought, “At least it won’t be raining”, but apparently I was wrong about that, as I am about so many things. It has been pouring since yesterday and rain is supposed to continue on and off until WEDNESDAY. I can’t remember when we have gotten this much rain this late. The radio cheerfully informed me that it will also be windy, with gusts up to 50 miles an hour, so I am just waiting for the power to go out. The fact that I was unable to close up my battered umbrella once I got to the office makes me fear even more bad luck as it drips into the carpet.

Also for the leaks to start in my house, which has been on the damp side anyway lately. Rob came over last weekend to remove some artwork, including the amazing vintage Toronto streetcar sign which I am selling on eBay*:

This required a large and heavy extension ladder, probably suitable for fighting fires, since the ceilings are so high. It was a lengthy and delicate procedure. When it was finally over, I asked Rob what was the strange hissing noise was that I could hear in the kitchen.

Rob’s opinion was that it was a water leak. He investigated under the house and under the kitchen cabinets, but finally had to cut a hole in the sheetrock under the sink, where it was revealed that due to the cheapness of the pipes James put in, there was a split in the pipes.

The bathroom, which is about 7 feet by 5 feet, promptly flooded as I watched in horror. Rob went to turn off the water to the house, while I grabbed a broom and swept the water out of the bathroom door which leads to the back porch. It was not the first time I was grateful for that odd, but useful feature. Then I mopped up the floor with towels and called Mark.

He got someone to come and fix it, but they came accompanied by dogs which they allowed to run into my house without asking me first, terrifying both me and the boys. I put the boys in the bachelor pad and banished the dogs. The fixers were notably Not Rob, since they were not only hillbilly looking, but took three trips to the store to buy parts and spent all day working on it. They still have to come back and replace the sheetrock.

As Rob said, I have picked a good time to move.

*A really nice guy who lives in the Annex area of Toronto bought it. Nice to know it’s heading back home!>

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Wild
May 12th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,Country Life,Moving No Comments

It was a wildlife extravaganza on the Ridge on Friday morning. Bunnies, quail, deer – you name it! Fortunately, both they and Wednesday remained unscathed. I can’t say the same for a sizable mountain lion who I came across unexpectedly last week on my way to work one morning.

I had just crossed the sweep of the Big River bridge, enjoying as always the beauty of the river meeting the sea, and was surprised to see a mountain lion sitting by the side of the highway. Across the road were two men on phones, standing by a truck and somehow looking vaguely official. They waved me onwards, and I later learned that the lion had been hit by a car, which explains why he was just sitting there. I wonder what the officials in charge of such things do with wounded mountain lions.

Of course, seeing it made me think of my beloved Roscoe. I have always thought that it was a mountain lion that killed him. Illogically, it makes me sad that I will be leaving him behind when I move, even though I don’t know where his bones are. But being rational has never been one of my few talents.

The wildlife at home definitely know that something is up, as their house fills with boxes and various things are hauled away. It is total chaos, and you know how I love that. I realized today that when things stop being a mess at my current house, they will start being a mess at the new one. I can conservatively expect another month or two of chaos.

Clyde in particular is perturbed by the change in routine. He is underfoot even more than usual, as he tries to stay close to me at all times. He has started sleeping on my head again, like he did when he was a kitten. He also looks beseechingly into my face, looking for answers. And he has been very hungry. Do cats eat emotionally?

Little Dodge, whose birthday was yesterday – I gave him my much-loved American grandfather’s birthday, May 11 – is enjoying the mess very much, thank you. For Dodge, it’s a great opportunity to play with paper, jump into boxes, and explore shelves and corners revealed by things being moved. Having said that, Dodge has started sleeping on my pillow at night, like my wonderful old cat Buddy used to do, so maybe he needs some comforting too.

Audrey has taken to sitting on the very top shelf in the studio. I have put a folded up blanket there for her, and she loves it. It’s the perfect place to sit and despise everyone and all the manual labor going on. Her food and water are on the shelf below, so she can avoid the boys. She appears to be completely unmoved by the whole thing. To be fair, she has moved a couple of times in her life, so she is a veteran at this.

I am hoping to give the new landlord a check on Monday and get an official move date. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A little garden-inspired road trip.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The beginning of the great bathroom remodel adventure.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ah, the annual optical adjustment from hockey to baseball.

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BBQ
May 8th, 2019 by suzy in Family,Friends,Moving,Sports No Comments

I was so busy packing and throwing things out on Saturday that I completely forgot about the Kentucky Derby. Can you believe it? Proof, if any were needed, that the stress and manual labor of moving prep has completely taken over both of my brain cells. It’s the first time I have missed it in years. Not only did I miss seeing what Dannielynn was wearing in her tenth year on the red carpet, I also missed the first time the first horse to cross the finish line was disqualified, apparently due to “interference” on the home stretch. This historic decision cleared the way for the winner Country House, whose odds of winning were 65 to 1. Some nice payoffs there*.

By the time I emerged from my dusty and depressing moving frenzy, it was time to head over to Rio’s place for the first BBQ of the season. It seemed a bit overdue, considering it was already May.

Arriving at Rio’s place, I found our dear friend Clayton, painter at large and fellow cider presser, along with our dear Lu, my siblings and Jonathan’s buddy Rich with his wife and daughter. Clayton was lending an expert hand converting part of the cider making shed into a guest room. Rio has four children and three grandchildren so far, so company is definitely a consideration.

Jonathan manned the grill expertly, while grousing humorously about those of us who preferred turkey burgers to “real” burgers. His view is that it should be real burgers or nothing. Fortunately he decided to overlook our unreasonableness this time.

The burgers were accompanied by a lovely salad:

And followed by angel food cake with sliced strawberries, accompanied by pacheco berry and strawberry sorbets:

Both sorbets were made by my brother from fruit we picked and froze last summer. Pacheco berries are also called ground cherries and are a member of the tomatillo family. They taste something like cantaloupe, but with a vegetal undertone. We all loved it.

Lu said that she has a big truck and a big cart like the one my brother has, which is five feet by 7 feet. She also has a hand truck to help haul things. Having two carts and an extra set of hands will be a real help. I am so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends!

The longest odds winner was Donerail, ridden by the delightfully named jockey Roscoe Goose in 1913 at 91 to 1 odds. Of course I have a soft spot for all Roscoes.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner with the girls. One of us is a grandmother now! (Hint: It’s not Me.)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shopping for the garden, accompanied by the very popular Stella.

TEN YEARS AGO: Adventures in making dinner.

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Change
May 3rd, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,House,Moving No Comments

It’s not exactly official! I’m moving!

I have been looking for a new place since last August. There’s not a lot of houses for rent around here, and my specifications (not in town, no visible neighbors, preferably Hooterville, not in the fog) winnowed the short supply down even further. I found the new house on the local message boards. The rent is about the same as my current house, but the house is newer and nicer. It also has character and architectural details, being a working water tower:

and having beams made of old growth redwood:

There is a kitchen with more than three feet of counter space:

And a spacious bathroom with an actual bathtub! Lush, here I come!

The bedroom is lovely and has – get ready, folks – a closet! No more storing my clothes under the bed!

It is located on a different ridge in Hooterville, also about five miles inland. The landlord has owned the property for about 30 years. She and her son also live on the property, but I can’t see their houses from my new house. She built my new house herself, even milling the wood herself. She owns a business in the Village and works 6 days a week, so it’s been challenging to catch up with her and figure out the formalities, like getting something signed (if there is something to sign), giving her a check, and figuring out when I can move in.

It was hard to tell Mark I am leaving after ten years, but it hasn’t been the same since he left and there has also been too much weirdness. It will be the first time a member of my family hasn’t lived on the property in 25 years! We have had a lot of joyful times here, and I love my quirky old house. But it’s time for a new chapter.

A YEAR AGO: Let tourist season begin! Again!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of Covered California. Just thinking about how expensive and crappy it was still makes my blood boil.

TEN YEARS AGO: the many joys of old movies.

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It looks like the rain is over for the season, and that’s good, because I am over it! We got close to 50 inches outside, and quite a few inches inside, due to the ever-increasing number of leaks in my aging hippie hovel. But the rhododendrons are in bloom and I have switched to my spring/summer perfume from my fall/winter one, so spring is here!

On a beautiful but windy spring day, Megan, Lu and I piled into Wednesday to go to the South Coast. It was Lu’s first time driving my car, so she had to get used to the eternal engine light and the gangsta dark tinting which renders the rearview mirror pointless. But she’s used to driving an ambulance on the South Coast roads, so it was no problem for her. It’s always nice to know you have EMS with you.

Not driving gave me a chance to appreciate the deep turquoise ocean with its white crested waves and the occasional passing whale. Trees were hazed with new leaves, that poignant color they only have this time of year, the rolling hills were still green from all the rain, vibrant with drifts of white, yellow, and purple wildflowers, starred with flaming orange California poppies. This has been a banner year for wildflowers across California.

Arriving in Point Arena, we stopped at Franny’s, as you do if it is a day they are open:

I invested my hard-earned allowance in a lemon champagne cupcake filled with lemon curd and topped with blueberry icing and candied lemon slices; a cinnamon twist; and a sea salt caramel pecan brownie:

We continued south to the Point Arena Lighthouse:

Where we could barely get out of the car with the wind blowing so hard against the car door and whipping up the waves:

It’s no wonder we didn’t spot the lighthouse cat:

Cats have too much sense to be out in the freezing cold wind, unlike silly humans. We later learned that the wind was gusting up to 40 miles an hour and the lighthouse had to be closed so that unwary visitors would not be blown from the balcony.

The lighthouse does tours every full moon. One of these days we have to go and check it out.

On this occasion, we were there to see Katy Tahja talk about female lighthouse keepers:

Katy’s ancestors were early settlers in this area, and she has written several fascinating books about local history, on which she is an authority. She is also delightful and charming and kept the audience rapt for over an hour. We gathered in the signal room, beside the beautiful Fresnel lens:

She regaled us with funny, tragic, and astonishing tales of the 142 women who kept the lights across America, starting during the Revolutionary War. Three generations of women were lighthouse keepers in the country’s first cast iron lighthouse, in Mississippi. Another’s fog horn broke during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, and she struck the bell by hand for more than 20 hours. Her mother was a former socialite who became a lighthouse keeper near Monterey at the age of 50, bringing her French poodles, antiques, and art with her.

While male lighthouse keepers had a uniform, female keepers did not, and improvised their own. In addition to their lighthouse duties, these women gave birth, raised and sometimes educated their children, as well as growing and preparing food. Many women kept these jobs for decades. When one female keeper retired after half a century of service, it took three men to replace her.

After this inspiring talk, we headed to Anchor Bay Thai, where we had a wonderful dinner and of course got take out as well. It’s a tradition! All in all, it was a wonderful and memorable day.

A YEAR AGO: Bookstore, cats, cocktails: what else does a girl need?

FIVE YEARS AGO: A wonderful visit to the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

TEN YEARS AGO: Thinking of moving. I’m glad I eventually did.

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Birthday
April 20th, 2019 by suzy in Jessica No Comments

My blog turns 18 today. And Jessica turned 16 five days ago.

Somehow, it never occurred to me that my blog was older than Jessica. I guess those pre-Jessica days are just the Dark Ages. Certainly, life has been a lot more fun since she arrived.

I was pleased to see that she actually wore her birthday card/tiara:

I hoped she might, as someone who was always happy to put on the hat from her Christmas cracker. Erica says that Jessica hasn’t taken off the key necklace since she opened it, so it’s good to know that she enjoyed her gifts – and that they got there on time. She is such a great kid.

Happy birthday to my silly blog, which is older but not wiser, and to Jessica, who has always been wise beyond her years.

A YEAR AGO: Happy birthday to my blog!

FIVE YEARS AGO: In which I finally realize my blog’s birthday falls on 420. A little slow on the uptake.

TEN YEARS AGO: A scorching birthday for my blog. 96 degrees at 5:30 in the afternoon is both inhumane and unacceptable.

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Surprise
April 17th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,House No Comments

My absentee landlord appeared as suddenly as he left, and with the same amount of notice. One day he appeared at the “front” door, which is actually at the side of the house. I couldn’t open it, though. That was one of the things I had emailed him about a few months ago, along with the alarming increase in the puddle population (in the foyer, above the refrigerator, the windowsill where Dodge sits) and some recently discovered termite damage.

I went out through the bathroom door so we could chat. It appeared that the main purpose of his visit was to shepherd the bank appraiser around the property. He is trying to get a loan using the property as collateral. Supposedly he will use the loan to fix things like my increasingly leaky roof and the driveway, which is now about 85% potholes and a joy to drive, even at 2 miles an hour, but I have my doubts about this and whether he will be able to repay the loan in a timely manner.

I kept these thoughts to myself, along with the fear that Mark’s overextending himself financially might lead to my living in a tent on the family estate. He claimed that the assessor was supposed to show up at 11 am on Saturday, but it was more like 12:30 before he appeared. He was somewhat surprised by having to come in through the door that leads from the bathroom to the back porch. Doesn’t everyone have an outside door in their bathroom?

He was an unprepossessing individual, to say the least. It was hard to imagine that he had ever seen the inside of a bank, let alone work for one. Let’s just say that I would not have picked him up if he were hitchhiking. It was quite unpleasant to have him looking around my house, and it gave me a creepy feeling as he measured things and poked around. I was reminded of having the appraiser at my now million dollar apartment in San Francisco making me feel like the place was a total dump.

Dodge disagreed with me, performing his patented jump while rubbing against the guy’s grubby jeans. Dodge is lucky he didn’t get a bath afterwards. The appraiser opined that Siamese cats were crazy, which did not improve my opinion of him, though Dodge’s opinion remained unchanged.

Eventually, the guy left, taking his creepiness with him. Now it’s a waiting game to see if Mark gets the loan and whether he can pay it back if he does.

A YEAR AGO: An exhibit of cookbooks, and some tales from the past.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A late season power outage for me and an unpleasant trip to the dentist for poor Rob. Is there any other kind?

TEN YEARS AGO: Jessica’s sixth birthday. Those among you who are not math challenged will realize this means she is now 16. SIXTEEN!

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Crowned
April 13th, 2019 by suzy in Bullshit,Calamity Suzy No Comments

The day of my crowning arrived appropriately gloomily. As prescribed, I had taken the Valium the night before, though I failed to sleep like a baby as promised, unless babies wake up every two hours worrying about doom. Maybe they do and that’s what fussing is all about.

I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the Valium I took for the actual procedure just made me feel messed up while leaving the anxiety in full control. So I was nervous in my body and stoned in my head, which is not an enjoyable combo platter, at least not for this girl. It somewhat saddens me that drugs are not fun for me. I hated how the Vicodin made me feel when I had the toothache from hell (and indeed, Advil was much more effective at handling the agony), and the same goes for the non-pain killing pain killers I took after falling off the sleeping loft onto the unsuspecting floor below. I have never enjoyed Mendocino’s most famous product. It just makes me paranoid. Give me a glass or three of wine any day or a cocktail at my favorite seaside bar. I’m old school like that.

Fortunately for Self and the public at large, I walked to the dentist’s office just a couple of blocks away. The lengthy appointment was as delightful as I expected. It seemed that they took about a thousand goopy and gag-inducing impressions (Why? Why? I was in no position to ask), and of course there was the fun of smelling burning bone as they sawed away at my root canaled tooth.

Theoretically, since the root or whatever had been removed, I wasn’t supposed to feel anything, but I did feel the post installation and whatever crap they were doing inside the tooth before closing it up for what is hopefully posterity. I have come to the sad conclusion that I can never be completely numbed and that going to the dentist is always going to be horrible, especially since the daytime Valium does not seem to help.

And because reality bites, and usually bites me in the wallet, I do owe the old dentist $740 and I will probably owe the new dentist about the same for the unpleasantness listed above. Once again I am mystified by how I can (or will somehow have to) come up with $1,400 in dental fees but not, say, to go to Hawaii. Would anyone like to buy a soul? Only slightly shopworn?

As they merrily sawed and gooped and drilled away at me, the dentist and his assistant compared the vacations they had just returned from in Cozumel and Oahu respectively. Not for the first time, I have the feeling I’m in the wrong line of work.

A YEAR AGO: The end of the mattress fiasco.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A day at the beach.

TEN YEARS AGO: A veritable mountain of boxes.

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