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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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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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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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April 8th, 2019 by suzy in Cats No Comments

Little Dodge is adjusting well to his new life at Stately Suzy Manor, hopefully a step up from the mean streets of town. It didn’t take him long to stop hiding, or to appreciate two high quality meals a day. He has also learned to love treats almost as much as Clyde does. At first, he didn’t seem to know what they were or what all the fuss was about, but he figured it out quickly and now is right next to Clyde when it’s time for the going to work or the welcome home treats. He has also picked up Clyde’s habit of getting underfoot to the point that I fear a feline-induced Calamity Suzy episode.

Dodge has kept his adorable of quirk of jumping up while he rubs against your legs. I love that. He also looks searchingly into my face when I get home, and carefully sniffs my hands as if trying to figure out where I’ve been. He is very curious and has an endearing way of moving his head around as he observes and tries to figure things out, something like those bobbleheads you see in teh back windows of cars.

He was briefly mystified by the cat door to the studio. I showed him a couple of times how it worked, and he was a bit suspicious about what or who was on the other side, as befits someone who lived by his wits for an indefinite length of time. Eventually, he decided it was acceptable, but before he goes through it, he always taps the flap a couple of times, always with his left paw, before committing to go through it. Can cats be left-pawed?

He is also the most playful of the cats. He loves toys, and if there isn’t one, he makes one, happily playing with a piece of paper, a sock, or a rolled up shopping bag. Unfortunately, his playthings have a habit of vanishing. Monica gave him this beautiful embroidered toy, which I found a delightful object:

but it has been played with into oblivion. Same goes for a couple of little catnip mice. I got him these and am hoping the brought color will help me locate them:

When he’s not playing, he is often napping with his adopted big brother Clyde:

or contemplating what trouble they can get into together:

I think having Dodge around has been really good for Clyde. I think he was lonely after losing his brother Roscoe, and I didn’t realize it. He definitely likes having Dodge to play and cuddle with. Audrey despises them both and still growls at them, even though she has lived with Clyde all his life. Audrey will always be Audrey.

A YEAR AGO: More like April storms than April showers.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A lovely evening at the theater. I see that five years later I have still not removed the tinting from Wednesday’s windows. Also the engine light is still on. Inertia, my friends.

TEN YEARS AGO: How I’d like to be remembered.

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I found myself at an unexpected funeral one sunny day. One of my fellow library Board members died suddenly just a few days earlier, and I received an email one afternoon asking that I attend her service the following day. I later learned that she was Jewish and that they do not believe in embalming, so funerals happen a little more quickly than I am used to.

Fortunately, my boss let me take time off, though wrapping up details at work made me late for the service. That, and the fact that I thought it was at the cemetery overlooking the ocean when it was actually the one in town. Its entrance is not well marked or marked at all, as far as I could tell. When I arrived, I could see things were already in process. I parked Wednesday under a tall tree and made my way toward the group as quickly as I could.

The rabbi was speaking about Jennifer, and it was funny and delightful. I think she would have approved. Others spoke, and there were tears and laughter both. I couldn’t understand the Hebrew prayers, but they sounded beautiful and I could feel the centuries-old tradition as I did at that long-ago bar mitzvah. A lone raven wheeled slowly overhead, the sun glistening on his dark feathers as he surfed the air currents. I felt the sun warming my back and smelled freshly cut grass as I tried not to stare at the simple, pale wooden box poised over the grave.

I don’t think I have been to an actual burial since my grandparents’, 42 years ago. It was a little shocking. The rabbi said that it is considered a final gift to the deceased if you help to fill in his or her grave, since they cannot cover themselves. So I got in line with the other mourners and when the time came, I took the shovel and as gently as possible put the dirt in her grave, where it made that terrible, hollow sound as it hit the coffin. That’s a sound you never forget. Some people used their hands instead of the shovel, perhspa feelinga little closer or more personal that way.

At the end, the rabbi asked us to stand in two lines along the path leading to the grave, and as the family passed by, they clasped our hands and we each said, “May you be comforted.” It was really beautiful. I was glad I could be there.

A YEAR AGO: Silly Suzy! Could it be spring fever? Or only having two brain cells?

FIVE YEARS AGO: The naughtiness of Clyde. I am pleased to say that he seems to have reformed.

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March 30th, 2019 by suzy in Friends No Comments

Faithful readers may recall that Erica and Jessica left not just the county, but the country right after Thanksgiving, something for which I was not thankful. They left most of their belongings in storage in the county seat, so after a few months of camping in their rented accommodations abroad, they made a flying trip back to pick up their stuff and drive it back to their new home.

And I do mean flying. They flew in one evening, met us for dinner the next, and took off the very next day. I felt lucky that they found time to have dinner with Megan, some other friends, and me before they vanished.

Both Erica and Jessica are very happy in their new milieu, though they were a bit taken aback by the snow and cold, also the weight of loonies and toonies and how quickly they accumulate. When I lived in Canada, my coping mechanism was to decant them into a bowl and cash them in for dinner or a present when there was about $100.

Jessica’s friends, who are all home-schooled just as she was, pumped her relentlessly for information about going a real school and hanging out in malls and what that’s like. I think Jessica had fun explaining it all and talking about her new life. I have to admit I took a stealth photo of her rather than embarrassing her by asking in front of her friends. As you can see, she was rapt in conversation:

We had dinner at the fake Libby’s. The real Libby’s closed a couple of years ago, taking its fabulous al pastor with it. I was happy for Libby that she could take a well-deserved retirement, but not happy to live an al pastor-free life for the foreseeable future. The people at the fake Libby’s bought the real Libby’s recipes. It was good, but it lacked the depth and magic. Erica sneakily paid the bill before Megan and I could pay for Erica and Jessica’s dinners.

It was wonderful to see them, but so hard to say goodbye. It feels so final now. No more Halloweens, Thanksgivings, or Junapalooza. No more Jessica reading “Red Ranger Came Calling” with Jonathan at Christmas. Jessica turns 16 in a couple of weeks (“Every April 15”) and we’ll miss that and all her growing up.

A YEAR AGO: A look around.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A high school play production of the beloved classic film “The Breakfast Club”.

TEN YEARS AGO: Thinking of moving from Oaktown. Which I did, eventually. And I have never looked back.

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March 24th, 2019 by suzy in Friends 1 Comment

There’s nothing like a trip to the salon to cheer a girl up, even when it’s rainy and gloomy.

But nothing could be less gloomy than Angelika’s little salon in the big woods:

where it was warm, cozy, and light, with lavender scenting the air and towels warming on the heater. We spent a few hours together while she highlighted my hair. It was long overdue – consulting her bible, Angelika found that I had highlights done almost exactly a year ago to the day. So this must be the time of year that I feel like I need a little brightening up.

It was great to relax and talk. I am lucky to have a stylist who is also a good friend, and one who makes me feel happy inside and out.

A few days later, I met my friend Richard at Heritage House. Its claim to fame is being the location of the movie Same Time Next Year, starting Alan Alda at the time when he was a huge star in MASH*. It is a pretty place:

With beautiful views:

This time of year, you can sit outside and enjoy the view:

I was less than happy to discover that the happy hour wine cost was $12 a glass. I got one anyway, and when Richard joined me, he wisely ordered a gin and tonic for a much more modest $6. At our usual haunt, wine is $5 a glass during happy hour and they provide free nibbles as well. I have a feeling we will be returning to our regularly scheduled venue after this.

It was good to catch up with Richard. We used to work together at the jobette, and he basically travels for a living, being their sales director. He had just come back from a trip to Copenhagen, which he loved. He said that the average person there is doing well economically, not struggling to pay their basic living expenses like they are here. Healthcare and education, even university, is free. They get a minimum of 5 weeks paid vacation a year, fathers get 4 months paid paternity leave and mothers 9 months maternity leave. It sounds like a very civilized place.

Richard drove off in his Tesla and went one way while Wednesday and I went the other, home to my kitties, who are always happy to see me.

*I had a crush on him then. I still enjoy re-watching the show and I still find him crushworthy.

A YEAR AGO: Nearing the end of the mattress saga.

FIVE YEARS AGO: We lost a local hero. Ricky, you are still remembered and loved.

TEN YEARS AGO: Street – well, BART – style.

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Dad’s birthday dawned sunny and beautiful. He probably would have approved that I spent the morning doing some cooking for the week: my friend Alice’s recipe for dak dori tang (spicy braised chicken) and Ottolenghi’s recipe for mejadra. It was Suzy’s international kitchen!

Megan and Rob hosted the party this year. I arrived to find that the appetizers were ready:

set by a photo we call “American Dad”:

It shows Dad in Cloverdale, wearing Jonathan’s straw hat and holding a slushy from the no longer extant Foster Freeze. He’s standing next to Jonathan’s old car, Grandma. Among Grandma’s eccentricities was the need to operate the windshield wipers by hand, using a string. I love that photo.

The appetizer was baguette with melted cheese and peppers my siblings grew and roasted over mesquite. It was delicious.

We headed to the greenhouse to snip some salad for dinner:

I got some extra to take home. The latest resident of the greenhouse is a Meyer lemon tree, which is something of an experiment. We are hoping it will work, since it would be great to have our own lemons.

Walking back to Megan’s place through the garden, I really felt like the seasons had changed from winter to spring. The plum tree agreed:

I know we are still slated to get more rain, but I think winter has lost its grip on us for now.

Back at Megan’s place, we toasted Dad with the cider we made last fall: “The old man wasn’t so bad!” Megan made spaghetti carbonara to go with the salad, and dessert was two sorbets: one made of wild blackberries and the other from raspberries my siblings grew. They were intense and delicious. After dinner, we watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, this time catching the Master’s cameo and enjoying the film very much.

I think Dad would have approved of his party.

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Dad’s birthday.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A boy and his dog.

TEN YEARS AGO: Remembering a vintage birthday.

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March 16th, 2019 by suzy in Bullshit 1 Comment

The time changed in the night, Edward said
and now it is different instead
Is it early or late?
Should I hurry or wait?
Perhaps I should go back to bed
— Edward Gorey

The dreaded spring time change hit me with a vengeance this year. Surveying my calendar, I realized that the day after Black Monday included a 12 hour work day and a dental appointment. Why not pack all the bad stuff into one day?

The appointment was with a new dentist. My former dentist retired rather suddenly, sending me a $740 bill as a farewell gift. It was not itemized, and since I hadn’t been there since September or October, I was mystified as well as horrified. I called and asked for an itemization, which I received, and for my records to be sent to the new dentist, which they were not. They only sent my most recent x-rays.

The giant bill included some things that were rejected by the insurance company, and my boss is going to try to get them to see reason. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, I went to meet the new dentist, filled with fear that he’d find something (or somethings) wrong and worried about the tooth that was so expensively and wretchedly root canaled in the fall. Former Dentist had put a temporary filling on it which is supposed to last a year. New Dentist said he normally does a permanent cap within six weeks of a root canal. Fortunately, everything looks OK in there and I am scheduled to have the permanent cap done in early April. Unfortunately, it is scheduled to take an hour and a half, just like the root canal, so I’m pre=worrying, despite a prescription for Valium to soften the blow. I should get another one to go with the bill.

I also had a library meeting on Friday, so it was a long and busy week for a girl who lost an hour of beauty sleep the night before it all started. I was under the impression that Californians had voted to stop the madness of daylight saving time in the last election, but apparently we only voted that someone could introduce the necessary legislation that could then be ratified by Congress or whoever runs these things, which really would stop it. I don’t know which one they would decide on as the permanent time, but I just wish they’d pick one and go with it.

A YEAR AGO: The beginning of the mattress débâcle. That lesson is learned. Still love the comforter set.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Oh, that Clyde! So naughty, and yet so cute!

TEN YEARS AGO: Some valuable lessons learned from film noir. Don’t pick up a crazed killer. Or let one give you a ride.

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March 11th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,The Arts 1 Comment

Megan and I took advantage of a break in the weather for a trip to the Village. Our first stop was to see if our favorite wood-fired, brick oven pizzas were available in the winter. The scent greeting us as we made our way there suggested that they were:

They are indeed open year-round, which was good to know. The garden was still beautiful, even in the depths of winter, as was the pizza:

With dinner squared away before noon, we headed for the Kelley House to see a special exhibit on vintage fashion. Did you know that wedding gowns were not always white? This one dates from 1860s:

We were entranced by the beautiful gowns on display:

Here are some details:

There’s even an M for Megan:

It’s hard to imagine my tomboy sister in one of these getups, but you’d have to be a pretty tough women to survive living here in the Victorian era. Don’t forget there was no Golden Gate Bridge or paved roads, so to get here from San Francisco involved taking a ferry across the Bay and then stagecoach or carriage. Or you could do the whole thing by water and have to take a Victorian style zipline to the rocky Mendocino shore:

In fact, Megan noticed that there was a framed, matted version of a similar photo for sale for a mere $40. She was unable to resist, and I think it was a very good purchase. You can still see the remains of the zipline on the headlands to this day.

Children wore exquisite little gowns as well:

I think this elegant black velvet cocktail dress from the 1940s could be worn now:

Some fashion is timeless. Fortunately, corsets and crinoline are not!

We were fascinated by a film in which a modern-day girl got dressed in 1860s and 1880s style, all by herself. To be fair, she already had foundation garments on, but it still didn’t take as long as we thought it would, even with buttoning boots and petticoats and lacing her own corset. She even showed us how a lady relieved herself in the days when skirts and undergarments weighed several pounds. The secret is the open pantaloons and facing the wall, the opposite of the way modern women do. The Victorian way allowed bustles and crinolines to billow out of the way of the business at hand.

It was fun to take a look at the past, but I’m glad that I live in the present!

A YEAR AGO: It was still winter-y, but the ballet was fabulous.

FIVE YEARS AGO: This and that, things and stuff.

TEN YEARS AGO: From being robbed at the DMV to seeing priceless jewels. Just another day in Oaktown.

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March 3rd, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Travel,Weather 1 Comment

It was dark and stormy last week. We got about 10 inches of rain in a week, 6 of it over the course of two or three days. I later learned that this unenjoyable weather is called an “atmospheric river”. I think this is the California version of the polar vortex that afflicts the east coast in the winter. Also that the Groundhog had no idea what he was talking about.

The ocean was brown from the churned up rivers emptying into it, the road to Civilization was under 14 feet of water, and there was widespread flooding in the inland parts of the county. Even the schools were closed. It seemed like a good time to spend the night in town and check out an inn that recently opened overlooking the harbor.

I was disheartened to receive an LED lantern upon check in, since this meant that they either had no generator or only had one to power their office, as I experienced a few years ago when I stayed in town on a stormy night, only to be kept awake by a generator blasting all night that did not do anything for me. I could have had that experience at home for free, since it was back in the days when Mark was still here and started up his generator the second the power went out, possibly before calling PG&E to notify them of the outage.

Even though it was raining sideways, I dared to hope that the power wouldn’t go out. The room was quite lovely:

overlooking the busy harbor, where I could watch the boats go in and out and hear the characteristic sounds of sea lions and fog horns, which always remind me of San Francisco.

There was a sitting area overlooking the little balcony and harbor, complete with a gas fireplace:

And a giant tub with the same view:

It was thoughtfully provided with a hand shower, the thickest towels I have ever seen, and a comfortable, warm robe with a towel lining.

The inn has a restaurant on site, and I thought it would be a good idea to have dinner there and just walk back to my room. It turned out that this was not the best idea I ever had, and not (just) because I walked there and back in the driving rain and was soaked (though that didn’t help, either).

The restaurant is very pretty, and I later learned that a friend of mine had collaborated with the architect to create the restaurant and bar area. My table overlooked the river, and I could see there was outside seating for when the atmospheric river wasn’t soaking everything in sight. It would be a nice view.

Despite the fact that there were maybe four other people in the restaurant, it took 20 minutes before the pretty hostess took pity on me and asked if I’d like to order a drink. I ordered some wine, which arrived quickly, and then I waited some more. Finally the server arrived and asked if I was ready to order. I asked her what the specials were, which may be a first in restaurant history. I placed the order and had yet another long wait.

When it eventually arrived, the sole Meunière looked very nice:

But there was no sign of the crab it allegedly contained, not to mention the Meyer lemon reduction. It was bland, disappointing, and very expensive. A friend later pointed out that hotel food is often this way, and I will keep that in mind going forward.

On the (literally) brighter side, the power stayed on, and I was able to enjoy some wine by the fire, watching the harbor lights and listening to music. In the morning, I headed to the ever-awesome Eggheads for eggs Benedict, starring the world’s best Champagne Hollandaise sauce. Since it was a winter Wednesday, there was no line and a booth was available. The server was just a delight, and though much younger than the server at the hotel restaurant, she could have taught her a thing or two about good service. And the food was as wonderful as always. On the whole, it was a nice break.

A YEAR AGO: A look at Rob’s amazing artwork.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Angelika worked her magic. I am due to see her this coming weekend, too!

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February 28th, 2019 by suzy in Calamity Suzy,House 1 Comment

The doc really did fix me up as promised. The Cough has gone on to find someone else to torture and I am no longer exhausted. It took longer than I expected to regain my normal voice, and I sounded like Peppermint Patty for a while. Laughter led to coughing during those Peppermint Patty days, but my natural frivolity was impossible to restrain as usual.

Once I stopped my sickness cycle of work-bed-work, I realized that the house needed some attention. One thing about cats is they never do housework. They create it, but leave the Staff to take care of it. So when the Staff is unavailable, housework does not get done. They quite rightly flee at the sight of the vacuum cleaner. Clyde also abandons ship at the sound of glass cleaner being sprayed. No manual (or paw) labor for him!

Cleaning up led to more cleaning up. When putting away dishes, I noticed that the shelves needed cleaning. So I ended up hauling everything out and washing the shelves. Looking at all the things and stuff that had been stored there, I decided that the rarely used things should be relegated to the studio, and that the stuff that was no longer useful or being used should be thrown out or rehomed.

I also got rid of all the Tupperware which didn’t have lids, which was remarkably satisfying. It also led to some online shopping for esoteric items not readily available in the environs of Hooterville, such as a pot lid organizer (instead of having a jumble of them and never being able to find the right one) and another organizer for frying pans of varying shapes and sizes.

So the simple “let’s put the dishes away” became an hours-long extravaganza. Eventually, the cats’ – or at least the boys’ – curiosity won out over their disdain for housework, as Clyde showed Dodge how to supervise projects. As you know, he is an excellent project supervisor with a flawless track record, so Dodge is learning from the best. Audrey just looked at us all with disdain from her throne, as befits the empress she is.

A YEAR AGO: Taking a civilized little break in town.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Storms and power outages. What else is new?

TEN YEARS AGO: A little film noir festival at home.

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February 17th, 2019 by suzy in Calamity Suzy 1 Comment

It’s a week later, and I’m still sick. It’s still raining, and the power has been out repeatedly, both at home and at work. I feel like I’m in an endless loop, like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day”. Every day I go to work and get through the day in a daze, then go home and go to bed. My voice is an unfamiliar croak. Sometimes I eat dinner and sometimes I don’t. Food is still spectacularly unappealing to me.

Earlier this week, I was taking minutes in the doctors’ meeting, and my cough was there, too. After the meeting, one of the docs took me aside and said, “Come and see me and I’ll fix you up.” I made an appointment for the afternoon, but half an hour after the meeting ended, one of the medical assistants came to tell me that the doc had a no show and sent her to find me. Clearly she was on a mission!

The doc listened to my lungs, with their familiar ripping lace sound, and said I have bronchitis. She then gave me a breathing treatment, which I have never had before. It’s kind of like a little hand-held vaporizer that you breathe in. It also looked a bit like something out of a mad scientist’s laboratory in an old horror movie, with its pale, visible vapor bubbling out and wreathing away mysteriously.

After that, she prescribed me a 5 pack of antibiotics, an inhaler, and some codeine cough syrup to wrestle the Cough from Hell into submission at night so our heroine could get some much-needed sleep. We are beyond beauty sleep at this point, my friends.

The inhaler was also a new experience for me, and I’m still not convinced I’m using it correctly, but hopefully it’s helping. I’m supposed to use it for another week after I feel better, if this ever happens, to make sure my lungs are operating properly again. I’m still drinking hippie tea, too, so my bases are covered.

Of course, this is a long weekend. You know how extra time off always leads to some kind of Calamity Suzy episode! My goal is to feel less crappy when I return to work on Tuesday. Can she do it? Stay tuned…

A YEAR AGO: A visit to the past, my favorite place.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Showers bringing flowers.

TEN YEARS AGO: Flowering plums and Meyer lemons.

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February 10th, 2019 by suzy in Calamity Suzy,Weather 1 Comment

I’m sorry to report that our heroine has been under the weather. And snowy weather at that. Yes, snow. On the jasmine:

On the huckleberry bushes:

It’s everywhere! It’s beautiful. Audrey likes it. I think it reminds her of her Canadian roots.

As you know, I am a snow fan and am not blaming the literal weather for the figurative weather I’m under. For the past week, I have been subject to an apparently endless compulsive and convulsive cough, which makes both my throat and my stomach ache. Both of my brain cells have gone on strike, and it sounds like ripping rotting lace when I breathe. Add in endless nausea, chills, and burning up and you have quite the cocktail of misery.

I took three days off from work, even though our sick days and vacation days are all the same thing. At the end of the three days, I didn’t feel any better, but I was tired of bleeding precious time off, so I returned to work, where everything seemed like a horrible dream and a million details had piled up on my desk.

Remembering Eddie Murphy’s instruction in “Raw” that Tussin can fix anything, I got some on my way to work. I wanted a totalitarian regime that would suppress any cough or even ideas of coughs.

My Tussin hopes turned out to be as unrealistic as my painkiller hopes. The Tussin was unequal to the admittedly Herculean task of repressing The Cough from Hell, much as the broken rib pain chortled merrily at the very idea of the painkiller loosing its agonizing grip.

My co-worker convinced me to get seen by one of my other co-workers. I said that she would tell me that it was a virus, there was nothing they could do, and please pay your co-pay on your way back to your desk. This is exactly what happened. Personally, I am convinced that they tell you it’s a virus when they don’t know what the hell it is.

I gave up on the Tussin days ago and am drinking a tea made of Meyer lemon slices, turmeric root, fresh ginger, and a spoonful of local honey, which I realize makes me sound like a gigantic hippie. Maybe I am. There’s a lot of evidence against me, including the fact that I live in Mendocino County, pretty much the official home of the hippie, my family has an organic garden and orchard, and I live in a hippie hovel, so…guilty as charged?

A YEAR AGO: The smallest of small town days.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Growing up Archi! Still Jarrett’s BFF.

TEN YEARS AGO: A civilized train ride. Is there any other kind?

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February 3rd, 2019 by suzy in Family,Memories 1 Comment

Wartime Dad on His Way to School

A friend noted recently that they had never seen such a family for cleaning our plates as ours. Thinking about the observation, I realized that this was true, and also that our behavior has its roots in WWII.

Our father grew up during WWII, being bombed and having food rationed, and the effects never left him. I believe that it also started him on the path to becoming a research scientist. His childhood home was heated by coal, and by the age of 9, he was experimenting with the coal dust at the bottom of the bin, seeing how much he could mix with other substances and still get some heat from the adulterated briquettes he made.

Rationing went on for about 10 years after the war ended and Dad stopped sleeping in a bomb shelter under the watchful eye of his hero, Winston Churchill, whose photo Dad had cut out of the paper. The photo was still there when I visited my grandparents in 1977, the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. My grandmother used to tell the story of having to live with powdered eggs for years and finally getting a ration of fresh eggs, one per person. On the way back from getting the precious eggs, bombing began and my grandmother hid under a bus with her children and her eggs. She prayed for the safety of the eggs.

I am pleased to report that everyone, including the eggs, survived. But so did the effects of rationing, and they live on in this new (though not necessarily improved) century and from generation to generation. Like Dad, I am incapable of wasting food or leaving a light on in a room when I leave it. I sleep in darkness like he did after years of black outs and turn the heat off at night.

When I cook, I sometimes think of how I come from a long line of good cooks and how I still do things the same way my father and Victorian grandmothers did. I learned to cook from them and I still miss cooking with my father. I loved that we both knew each other’s kitchens so well and that we never got in each other’s way. Of course, having a glass of wine (or two) at hand inspires the cook, as Dad used to say. It’s nice to think that in some ways, they live on in me.

A YEAR AGO: Surprises at the post office.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Being a dog aunt is fun!

TEN YEARS AGO: Rob’s hospital stay ended well (though not as soon as he would have liked).

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January 27th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,The Arts 2 Comments

The lights stayed on the rest of the week, the sun is out, and the event hell is behind me for another few months*, so things are brighter, both literally and figuratively.

Megan and I headed to the South Coast for another of our cultural outings. The first stop, as it often is, was Anchor Bay Thai, where we are now so well-known that the lovely young server puts takeout menus on the bar for us on sight, and writes our names on the bills before we give her our credit cards. We were unable to resist the special fresh spring rolls of the day, made with coconut shrimp and fresh pineapple. So good!

We arrived at the theater in Point Arena in time to get balcony seats and enjoy the wonders of “La Sylphide”. It is one of the oldest ballets still being performed, and according to Katerina, the one that introduced dancing en pointe and started the celebrity of ballerinas, way back in 1836.

I am surprised it’s not better known today. It is beautiful to watch, with a wonderful, romantic story and a tragic ending. It is set in Scotland, where James (played by Semyon Chudin, who so memorably played the Mouse King a few years ago) naps by the fire in his mansion. He is awakened by a kiss from a sylph, who enchants him by fluttering and seeming to float as she dances around the room. As James reaches for her, she flies up the chimney and vanishes.

Unfortunately for James, it is not only his wedding day, but his groomsmen think he’s crazy when he describes his close encounter with this fantastic being. Eventually, James pursues the sylph into the enchanted forest where she and her sister sylphs dance an exquisite dance. He manages to capture the sylph and kiss her passionately, but this causes her wings to fall off and the beautiful creature dies in his arms.

I think it’s one of my favorites of all the ballets we have seen over the past few years. I’m looking forward to the next one, “La Bayadère”, in March.

*Though the actual event is next January, tickets go on sale and the madness starts in October. So the break from the horror is nowhere near as long as this girl would like.

A YEAR AGO: We were at the ballet then, too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Hanging out with Megan’s dog Stella.

TEN YEARS AGO: Fighting the ghosts of the past and the tears of the present.

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January 22nd, 2019 by suzy in Bullshit,Country Life,Weather 1 Comment

Here it comes!

I am glad to say that the power came back on Friday night, after three powerless days. It was nice to have light, not see my breath in the living room, and be able to flush the toilet. I was planning to go home and watch an old movie with a couple of adult beverages to celebrate the long-awaited return of civilization to my humble abode, but I ended up going to bed after one drink and not even messaging a distant friend as I had intended. Have I lost the will to drink?

I’m sorry to report that the power went out yet again on Saturday night, plunging me once more into darkness and despair. I called my friends at PG&E to report it and was saddened to hear that their recording still related to the outage which ended on Saturday. So I couldn’t report the new one. I hung up, hoping that one of my neighbors would eventually be able to report it. It appeared that someone did, since it came back on about six hours later.

For some reason, I have been finding all these outages hard to take. Maybe my nerves are overtaxed with the horror of the annual fundraiser. I am in the throes of it right now, along with my regularly scheduled job and all the irregularities that go along with that. I keep telling myself, it’s all over on Saturday and I can make it if I take it day by day.

We are back to sunny days and I hope the power outage chances are minimal, at least for now.

Update: Well, that didn’t last long. Power out AGAIN Monday morning at 8 am. Third one in a week. On a sunny, clear, windless day.

Another Update: Power is back on. We’ll see how long it lasts this time. Is it really even worth setting all the clocks?

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January 18th, 2019 by suzy in Family,Weather 2 Comments

Well, the New Year didn’t waste much time in getting down to business and racking up the power outages.

I took a day off, which as you all know inevitably leads to disaster. When will I learn? I had a package to mail to England, and with the day off, I could actually get to the post office, which is closed when I go to work, closed when I get home, and closed for lunch. Notice a theme here? So getting to the post office during their extensive work hours is quite a challenge.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived there to find the power was out. Somehow I thought post offices would have generators, but at least in Hooterville, they don’t. I was able to pick up a Customs form, so it wasn’t a total loss, but I think I’ve been trying to mail that package for about two weeks.

Arriving home, I called my friends at PG&E, and received the disheartening news that they had no idea when the power would be back on. I am now on Day Three of the power outage, and I’m here to tell you that power outage days are like dog years. It seems like forever since I had light or heat or could flush the toilet. This makes me very sad.

I am also sorry to say that the kid living next door was blasting his generator all night, making it impossible for me to sleep. When I left for work at 6 am, it was still going. I was so sleep-deprived that I felt drunk. My hands were shaking and my eyes felt like they had been sandpapered.

My kindly sister offered to let me sleep at her place last night. She and Jonathan are off the grid, so they laugh at power outages. I brought all my faux adult armor with me, and settled in bed with a book and Megan’s 18 year old cat, the Beautiful Harriet:

after Meg went to work. I fell asleep by 9:00 pm and didn’t wake up until 2:15 am, which was great. I went back to sleep until a little before 5, when I normally wake up. As you all know, a good night’s sleep makes a huge difference, and I feel ready to face the day, though not to face yet another dark, cold evening.

A YEAR AGO: Feeling better at last.

FIVE YERAS AGO: Interesting to see a patient’s eye view of the clinic now that I work there. Little did I imagine that would happen!

TEN YEARS AGO: Those were the days!

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January 10th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,Family 1 Comment

I have definitely been spending too much time working and not enough time with the kitties or with you, for that matter.

The kitties have rewarded my excess workage by stepping up the naughtiness factor. Really it’s the boys being boys. When I (finally) get home, they greet me with enthusiasm and set to work getting underfoot as the Staff distributes treats and food. Dodge has learned from the best, and his getting in the way skills are almost as good as Clyde’s.

Audrey, of course, disdains this type of behavior and those who are doing the (mis)behaving. She now gets room service treats on her throne, as befits an Empress. Unfortunately for her, a Canadian brought up with the respect due the monarchy, she is forced to share quarters with rabble-rousing California revolutionaries who seem to feel that the French had the right idea back in the 1700s.

During the time I had off over the holidays, I noticed that the boys have developed a disturbing tendency to gang up on Audrey, chasing her all over the house. Maybe I’m putting a negative connotation on their antics and they are just playing with her. To be fair, Dodge and Clyde play by chasing each other and roughhousing in a way that looks like fighting. But Audrey hates it and is pretty vocal about it. Also she has been scarce, hiding under the bed or on her throne atop the armoire, rarely sitting on my lap as she used to. I guess some people might think it’s karma for her terrorizing any dog who ventured into her realm as well as Clyde. Personally, I don’t know what to think, but I rarely do.

The boys were on their best behavior when Megan came by to spend an evening with me recently, showing their cute and cuddly side instead of their Bastille storming one. Dodge did his charming quirk of jumping while rubbing against Megan’s leg and displaying his power purr. I never get tired of that and find it incredibly cute. I hope he never stops doing it.

Megan and I had wine and watched girl movies, pausing frequently for chatting and laughter. We did our laundry at the same time, because that’s the kind of glamor girls we are.

A YEAR AGO: When is a bucket of sand not a bucket of sand?

FIVE YEARS AGO: A seasonal malady.

TEN YEARS AGO: A surprisingly warm day.

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January 5th, 2019 by suzy in Family,The Arts 1 Comment

The Nutcracker was the last ballet of the old year. I thought it would be the same one we saw a couple of years ago, but it was a different production, with choreography from 1966 and the 92 year old choreographer himself in the audience at the beautiful and historic Bolshoi Theater.

It was very different from the earlier production. This one had a glittery deep blue curtain with the guests going to the party (and leaving it, against the same backdrop), which we liked. We also liked the 18th century inspired costumes. But we were less taken with the principal dancers, especially Marie, who seemed to cry a lot, and had no chemistry with the Prince. The godfather who gifted Marie with the nutcracker seemed to be some kind of evil magician and also seemed to conjure up the Mouse King and his army, which seemed a little odd. Some of the dances were longer and others were shorter. All in all, it was fun and interesting, but on the whole, Megan and I both preferred the early production.

We were also glad that there was only one intermission, so it was still light out as we headed home with a car full of Thai food. We went to Megan’s place, where we were joined by Jonathan and Rob. It was the first time I had hung out there since they first moved in. Everything is put away and it looks lovely. While they have to be on the frugal side with electricity until they buy new batteries to store the solar power, it was warm enough to just wear a t-shirt in the house, which was an enjoyable novelty for someone who usually wears at least one sweater in her house and sometimes more. Sometimes even a hat*. To be fair, Megan and Rob’s old house used to be colder than mine is, so they really appreciate the warmth and insulation of their new home.

We enjoyed our fabulous Thai food with some local wine and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt”, filmed in nearby Santa Rosa. Hitchcock chose the location because Santa Rosa was the quintessential small town, hard to believe 75 years later when it’s nothing but concrete and malls. The house where most of the action took place is still there, as is the train station, but the lovely library is no more, and the Til Two bar is gone, too. We agreed that we’d love to have the sign and/or the doors from that place:

We all enjoyed the movie and we all managed to miss the cameo, which I later learned was here about 15 minutes in.

It was a happy evening.

*Yesterday morning, I woke up to discover that the dish soap was frozen. To be fair, there was only a couple of inches in a glass bottle, but still. That’s cold.

A YEAR AGO: Sickly New Year to me!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Home again from San Francisco.

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