Sep 15 2023

Dinner

Published by under Country Life,Family

It had been way too long since our last family dinner. I”m not even sure when it was, but it was before Rio and Jonathan’s epic Alaska adventure back in June/July. They had a wonderful time, and it was fascinating to hear about it. They are already thinking abut going back. I’d love to see Alaska sometime.

Before dinner, I picked more raspberries and tomatoes to take home:

We had some of Dad’s favorite Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc in Megan’s garden:

It always reminds me of walking around Dad’s garden in Wimbledon before dinner with a glass of wine in our hands.

Dinner was mostly home-grown or made from ingredients already on hand. Jarrett brought the chicken on his last visit, and it was taking up room in the freezer, so Jonathan barbecued it to perfection:

The Mississippi caviar was made from things on hand, and it was delicious:

Dad would have been happy that we were using up food. He went through rationing for most of his early life, so we were trained from Day One to not let food go to waste. I think he would also be proud of Megan and Jonathan for living off the grid, and all the work they have put into the infrastructure and the garden on the property. I wish he could have seen it.

A YEAR AGO: Getting on with it after the death of The Queen.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Coming to you from the depths of Dental Hell, a place to be avoided at all costs.

TEN YEARS AGO: Wrapping things up after the loss of our beloved Schatzi.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A long-ago memory.

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Sep 07 2023

Pie

Published by under Cooking,Country Life

Since I was too late to get peaches from the family orchard this year, I did the next best thing and went to Gowan’s in beautiful Anderson Valley:

I chose some peaches and brought them to the cash register. The older gentleman behind the counter said, “Young lady, I’ve been waiting all day for you!” I asked if I was late, and he replied, “You’re right on time.” He carefully packed the peaches into a box for safe transport home along the curvaceous roads, and even carried it to the car for me:

I continued on my way to Boonville, where I acquired a delicious pizza from Offspring, a scented candle by Tita Flora at the Mercantile, and a loaf of sourdough at Paysanne. For once, it wasn’t hot in the Valley and even verged on cool, which was a nice surprise.

The next day, I made the pie:

I used a crust recipe with a little apple cider vinegar in it, and blind baked it for a few minutes to avoid the bottom crust getting soggy. It was a total success. Making my annual peach pie always makes me happy.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some updates.

TEN YEARS AGO: Back home after a trip to Reno.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A wonderful evening with the great Brian Wilson.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Looking for a job.

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Sep 02 2023

Garden

Published by under Cooking,Country Life,Garden

The seasons are changing from weeding and watering to canning and preserving at the family estate. I took the opportunity to go by and pick some produce before it was all put up and away. I was too late for peaches, but Megan loaded me up with summer squash, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, and oregano. We also picked some raspberries, the bushes buzzing with bees. They seem to like raspberries, too. I have to say, the raspberries my siblings grow bear little resemblance to the ones you buy. Their flavor is so complex and delicate, almost perfumed, yet intense. They also don’t last long, which is not a problem, since they are so delicious.

Millie has finally decided that I’m not the antichrist, though she does bark up a storm when I arrive. Unfortunately for me, the increased favor in her eyes was demonstrated by her following me to the garden and knocking over my drink, which I had unwisely placed on the ground near the raspberry bushes, and in licking any exposed skin, which I find less than delightful. Audrey does this, too, and I find both cats and dogs equally icky in this regard. However, it beats Millie acting like I’m going to beat her or have made a hobby of it in the past.

The garden is looking lovely these days:

The flowers are flourishing:

The apples are getting riper and closer to cider pressing time:

It was nice to bring home my haul of garden produce and make it into sauce:

It tasted like summer.

A YEAR AGO: Car problems are not fun.

TEN YEARS AGO: Happy birthday

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A BART safari.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The mystery of “business casual”.

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Aug 24 2023

Fun

Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

Does it ever happen to you that you wake up one day and you just have to have your hair cut? It was fine the day before, but that day, your hair is suddenly unacceptable. Well, that happened to me. I texted Angelika, and she was able to fit me in that week. Yay!

I left work early and headed to her little studio in the big woods. It was definitely time to get my hair cut, since I had last had it done in March.

This time, I just had it cut. I’ll save up to get the color done soon. In the meantime, Angelika told me about her trip to Germany to see her parents, and I met her friend Marion, who was visiting from Germany. They have been friends since they were three! There’s nothing like really good, long-term friends. And there’s nothing like a good haircut to cheer a girl up. I will spare you my terrible selfie attempts this time. You will just have to take my word for it that my hair looks great.

*******

I left work early one Friday, went home and changed out of my faux adult armor, and Megan came by to pick me up. We headed to the Valley, enjoying the gorgeous scenery along the way: the ocean, the redwoods, the deep green of the vines over the rolling hills as harvest time approaches. We got a fabulous pizza at Offspring:

and headed back to the family estate, where we toasted the weekend with kir royales:

In the background, you can just about glimpse some of the sweet peas we grow for Dad every year.

Megan had somehow managed to find real creme de cassis from France, and the drinks were fabulous. We really enjoyed hanging out in the garden, enjoying our drinks in the sunshine and catching up. I am lucky to have a sister who is also my best friend.

A YEAR AGO: My annual peach pie.

TEN YEARS AGO: A recap of what was going on in and around my house.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Back in the City after a prolonged camping trip at my sister’s house to help take care of our dying mom.

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Aug 18 2023

Missing

Published by under Family,Memories

Well, it’s another sad year.

Some years, when the Evil Eighteenth rolls around, I am thinking of the many happy memories with Dad, both as a child and as an adult. Some years, I feel angry because of his senseless death, and all the years we didn’t get to share with him, and all the good he could have continued to do for the world and the environment.

I was sad last year on the 18th, and I’m sad again this year. Maybe part of it is the terrible, untimely loss of my dear friend Melanie so recently. And yesterday I learned of the death of another friend who was too young, claimed by ALS after a long, hard battle. Add in Megan’s cancer and ongoing health battles, and it’s not too surprising that I’m feeling sad about Dad.

The sweet peas we grow for Dad every year are flourishing at the family estate:

They were his favorites. We had them at his memorial service, and our dear friend Lu carried some in her bouquet and in her hair when she married her beloved Rik a few years ago, so we felt like he was there celebrating with us. He is always with us, in our hearts.

We love you, Dad.

A YEAR AGO: Missing Dad.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A long and dreary week.

TEN YEARS AGO: Always with us.

TWENTY YEAR AGO: Thinking about Dad.

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Aug 10 2023

Miscellaneous

Published by under Country Life,Friends,Technology,Work

We have a summer intern at work. One of her tasks was helping me to catch up on the filing that fell by the wayside during the Plague Years. She is a lovely and clever girl, who is going to nursing school this fall, and she did a great job. But I was surprised to discover that I was kind of uncomfortable having a helper.

All this time, I thought my slothful self would love having servants to do all the boring and icky things in life, but apparently not. I was embarrassed and self-conscious instead of relieved and carefree. Maybe it’s just as well that I will remain maid-free for the rest of my natural-born life (and presumably after, especially if there is an afterlife, and if it is, as I suspect it to be, like Dead Like Me and require that I still work for a living. Or a deading).

One day, a colleague stopped by my office while the intern was there, and in conversation, it turned out that the colleague and Intern’s mom had gone to high school together. They are both 42. Intern asked if I had also gone to high school with them.

Me: No, I’m a lot older than they are.

Her: How much older?

Me: I’m 61.

The intern looked shocked. She stared at me for a minute with her mouth open and then asked me if I was sure. I said that no one admits to being 61 unless they are. She stared at me a little longer and then asked very earnestly, “What do you wash your face with?”

***********

I think we all know that kitties are luxury items. Also that they have absolutely no problem having help/servants, and that they appreciate the benefits of a nap. One day, my kitties woke up from a nap and somehow managed to send my laptop crashing from the bedside table to the wooden floor below.

I heard the crash from downstairs, and on going upstairs to investigate, I was disheartened to learn that the edge of my MacBook screen was cracked and that some of the plastic had crumbled off, exposing some disturbing gold-toned metal and making about half an inch of the screen useless, since it was occupied with blurry, multi-colored lines. Being Me, I didn’t deal with it until the day that the entire screen was suddenly unusable, being as black as my soul.

A friend took it to Santa Rosa for me, and left it there to be repaired. I was surprised that it was fixed the next day and already shipped. I was a bit discouraged to learn that it was shipped to Memphis (home of Elvis and the Ancient Greeks), and still expected to arrive in the depths of Hooterville the following day. I’m guessing that my laptop didn’t bother to visit Graceland or confer with Aristotle, because it really did arrive the very next day. I love it when things work. Especially if they’re not Me.

A YEAR AGO: A lovely visit to the Valley.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Megan and Rob got ready to move.

TEN YEARS AGO: We lost our Schatzi. We still miss her.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Life without health insurance. It’s as glamorous as you’d think.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Camping out at Megan’s house during Mom’s battle against breast cancer.

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Aug 02 2023

Stalking

Published by under Country Life,House

You’d think I would have learned my lesson about real estate stalking, but as noted before in these pages, I seem to be something of a slow learner. Nostalgia for the long-ago and now golden past led to the dismaying discoveries that my childhood home, Fox Hill:

Had been destroyed and replaced by a hideous monstrosity:

and that someone had worked a similar destructive magic on my grandmother’s house and carriage house (which we used to call “the barn”). The ruin at Nana and Hoho’s is mostly inside the house, other than the eyesore of an outside deck slapped onto the kitchen:

Why anyone would do that when they have a gorgeous wraparound porch is beyond me.

They totally destroyed the charm of the barn and the kitchen in my grandparents’ part of the house (they lived on the ground floor, and the upper two floors were apartments where their tenants Frieda and Maretta lived). The attic held family treasures, like my great-grandfather’s Civil War sword and sleigh bells (neighbors recognized each other by the sound of their sleigh bells in those days). In her grief after her parents’ death, just months apart, my mother sold nearly everything along with the house.

More recently, my formerly lovely Jazz Age apartment in Pacific Heights has been uglified and much of its charm removed. They turned my kitchen, with its vintage Wedgewood stove, handmade Italian tiles, and quarter-sawn white oak countertops, into a bedroom. They took out the connecting door to the living room, tore out the closet, and put the kitchen in a corner of the room. The walk in/walk through closet between the bedroom and the bathroom has been closed off, losing the door and its crystal doorknob.

And it’s now worth more than a million dollars, even though it has no parking and there are people above and below you. Not to mention the skyrocketing condo fees.

I came across an ad for my old place here in Hooterville on social media, and wish I hadn’t. Again, uglification and charm destruction are the themes. They took down all the shelves in the living room, removed the vintage gas stove and unaccountably put the refrigerator in the studio. They added a bunch of ugly railings to the beautiful driftwood banister leading to the sleeping loft, and tore out most of the garden, including the honeysuckle that used to grow outside the sliding glass doors in the living room and perfumed the whole house.

They replaced the back porch with an ugly one, and replaced the bathroom with something utterly generic. They even replaced the “front” door (it’s actually at the side of the house) with a cheap solid one instead of the one with glass panes which let in the light and the beauty outside. They are asking for $1,300 a month, plus utilities, a huge increase from when I lived there. It makes me sad just to look at it.

I guess the lesson here is don’t look back, and don’t look if you see your old house appear in your social media feeds. You won’t like what you see.

A YEAR AGO: I still love the bed I got a year ago.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The power kept going out, for whatever reason. And a lot of the Golden State was on fire.

TEN YEARS AGO: Spending some time with friends.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Some of the annoyances of city life.

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Jul 20 2023

Local

Published by under Country Life

Back in the pre-plague years, there used to be a farmers’ market in beautiful downtown Hooterville, on a scrubby bit of grass near the store. The plague stopped that, even though it was always outside, and at some point, someone fenced in the grassy former market area so it is unavailable to the general public. So another location had to be found.
Someone cleverly thought of the Grange, which hosts a monthly spaghetti dinner and pancake breakfast. It is located on my Ridge, just a few miles from my house, so I drove there one Sunday afternoon to check it out:

It was nice to chat with neighboring farmers, and I bought some beautiful lettuce that looked like a flower:

along with cucumber, raspberries, and some sunflower sprouts. I threw a couple of handfuls of sunflower sprouts in my watermelon salad for lunch the next day*.

It is a really pretty setting, with a peek of the ocean through the trees. It will be interesting to see if we get more participation there as time goes on. It’s definitely a nice thing to have so close to home.

*The dressing was 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, a clove of garlic, ¼ cup of soy sauce, 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, a pinch of cayenne, and a glug of oil. Other salad ingredients were crushed peanuts, fresh mint and cilantro, and fried onions. It was delicious.

A YEAR AGO: A lovely evening at the Symphony.

TEN YEARS AGO: My cats disapprove of their staff sleeping in.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The early days with Henry (who later turned out to be a girl and moved with me to the country).

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Some cat-related injuries.

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Jul 14 2023

Hot

Published by under Country Life,Weather

Looking back over the years, it appears that having a heatwave on or around the Fourth of July is a tradition. Yet I seem to forget this every year, and am shocked and appalled in equal measure when the Evil Death Star sends its roasting rays down upon my unsuspecting head. Just like I am always surprised by how early it gets dark in the afternoons along about Fall, and how I have to start putting the high beams on when I go to work in August. “Surely this didn’t happen last year?” I always think, and yet…it did. Sometimes I think I am the slowest of learners.

Despite this unpleasant tradition, I was surprised and dismayed when there was a heat advisory for the weekend before Independence Day. Not for the first time, I wondered why heatwaves always seem to happen on weekends, rather than during the week when I am a) at the ocean; and 2) in air conditioning for 9 or 10 hours a day.

I sadly closed up the house before it could get too hot outside, and closed what blinds there were. Sometimes I wish I had blackout curtains to go over the doors, like I did in the old house. I also wish I had screen doors like I did in the old house, allowing the cool air in while keeping the kitties in.

At least this house, unlike the old one, has insulation and is not shaped like an overturned rowboat, trapping the heat where I’m attempting to sleep. I think having the big redwoods around the house and the water tank on the third floor helps to keep things cool.

Weather forecasts said that Saturday was supposed to be the hottest day. It was 85, which is about 10 degrees higher than my highest level of heat tolerance. I foolishly believed the forecast, even though I know there is no job that has less accountability. Imagine my dismay to discover that it was 90 on Sunday, aka the night before the work week starts. At least it does cool down at night to around 50. I’m already dreaming of winter.

A YEAR AGO: Fleeing the usually wonderful Flynn Creek Circus. I didn’t dare to go this year.

TEN YEARS AGO: Clyde and Megan were both feeling better.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The joys of getting a mammogram. They are no more enjoyable twenty years later.

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Jul 06 2023

Sixteen

Published by under Cats


Birthday Girl

Some people turn sweet sixteen, but not the Imperious Empress Audrey. Is there such a thing as sour sixteen?

Audrey has definitely not mellowed with age or time. She is as grumpy as ever. She is an equal opportunity despiser, and spends a lot of her waking time atop Mount Crumpet, hating the Whos. Some of this is justified, because the boys both tend to take swipes at Audrey and try to evict her from the coveted spots next to me or on my lap. Sometimes I think they are jerks to her just because they can, especially Clyde, who has put up with Audrey’s grumpitude his entire life.

She is in full possession of her faculties, as far as I can tell. Her sight and hearing do not seem to be diminished. She is definitely getting that skinny old cat look, though, and her fur is not as elegant as it used to be. She does sleep a lot, but beauty sleep is essential, especially the more vintage a girl gets. Sometimes she ventures outside, but she doesn’t go far these days. She has definitely become less adventurous with time, and again, you could say the same thing about me.

Audrey has long outlived all six of her littermates and her mother Quince, who was a mere nine months old when Audrey was born, and who died a year ago, shortly before Audrey’s birthday. Quince is still much missed, especially by her guardian, my dear friend Pea.

I hope that Audrey still has some good years ahead of her and that we can share some sweet moments together, along with the sour.

A YEAR AGO: Audrey’s birthday, among other catty celebrations.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My DNA results did not reveal any answers to my family mysteries.

TEN YEARS AGO: Everyone was under the weather.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Waiting for the heat to pass and a miracle to arrive.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My very first baseball game loomed. Spoiler alert: I loved it!

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Jun 27 2023

Adventures

Published by under Family

Time is working its magic, and Megan is feeling better. Her voice continues to improve, and I dare to hope that she will be bossing everyone around in the ER again soon. She is planning to go camping with her ER buddies after the Fourth of July, and I’m glad she has something to look forward to. I’m hoping she will be able to swim and enjoy hanging out with her friends in the sunshine. It will be healing, inside and out.

Jonathan and Rio have been on a road trip adventure. They drove to Alaska via British Columbia and the Yukon, camping in their van and generally having an amazing time exploring the wilderness and not so wilderness. Here’s Jonathan in the Alaskan tundra:

This what Jonathan described as a “sheet rainbow”:

Their ferry to Juneau was unexpectedly taken in for repairs, so that gave them an extra week in Alaska. Jonathan was able to get his work shifts covered (Rio is retired), and they had more time for Alaska adventures. He and Megan should both be home from their journeys at about the same time.

As for our heroine, the furthest abroad I have ventured is to go to work. I’m a girl whose passport has been expired for 20 years and who will likely never need one again. It’s funny how Megan and Jonathan love adventure and risk and I am just the opposite. My heart’s desire is always in my own backyard:

A YEAR AGO: Drinks with friends and shopping in the family garden.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The heat was hot and the cats were like cartoons.

TEN YEARS AGO: It was hot’n’heinous.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Terrifying wildfires.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: I’m noticing a theme here.

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Jun 21 2023

Recovering

Published by under Family

Megan is slowly healing up from her surgery. The key word here, especially as far as Meg is concerned, is “slowly”. Definitely too slowly for her taste. I seem to recall that she was also disappointed in the healing speed when she had knee surgery, and was longing to get back to work.

The Friday after the surgery, I took the day off and headed over to Megan’s place. Usually, when we go places together, Meg is the driver, but she was forbidden to drive by her surgical team, so I was the chauffeur. This was the first time Megan had driven in my new-ish to me car, and she really liked it. We now have twin Mazdas, much closer in age than Megan and I are, though mine is a little fancier. It also has a rear window wiper, which Megan envies, and rightly so. I have wanted one of those for years. We both have sun roofs, which we love.

Megan basically sounded like her cat Harriet after she lost her voice. She could only whisper. I was torn between wanting to hear everything that happened and how she was feeling and not overextending her voice. Her voice is supposed to be much better within three weeks, and if there are still issues, there are things the doctors can do to help to make it better.

Just as I hadn’t realized that Megan would not have the use of her hands as she crutched about after her knee surgery, I failed to realize that swallowing would also be a problem for someone who had three hours of surgery in and around her throat. Finding something to eat that was easy to swallow was a real challenge. We settled on some soup (always a gamble if previously untasted: will it be good, or gross?) and some pudding and hoped for the best.

Despite the whispering and the recovering from being sliced open and sewed up again, we still had fun together. We always do.

A YEAR AGO: Jarrett and Kalli got engaged on the family property. The wedding was almost exactly a year later, at exactly the same place.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Minor local mysteries in law enforcement. OK, then.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The loss of my wonderful, unique, fearless, unforgettable stepmother, Margaret.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Taking care of Mom after a mini-stroke.

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Jun 15 2023

13

Published by under Calamity Suzy,Family

The 13th, though not a Friday, started out unlucky for our heroine, who stepped in cat poop in her bare feet on her way to the salle de bains. I suspect the 13 year old Clyde of thinking outside the box, having observed his merrily hopping outside the litter box while still in mid-poop, leaving a trail of calling cards behind him as heads off to the next adventure. I’m not sure if he’s too impatient to get on to the next thing or what. I also don’t understand why he comes in from the Outside, which, let’s face it, is a giant combined litter box and scratching post, and immediately goes to the litter box and scratches the carpet. Maybe he considers outdoor pooping to be as uncivilized as the help does.

It set the tone for the day, which turned out to be the kind where you drop your lip gloss and forget your lunch. At least my top wasn’t inside out, the way it was a couple of weeks ago when my co-worker (and healthcare provider) kindly pointed out that particular sartorial error. At least I had clothes on before I went to work.

Even though I was appropriately attired, I was unprepared for the call from the front desk telling me that the cops were at the front door. Also my boss.

For some reason, the police station was alerted that there was an alarm at the clinic, even though I had turned it off when I came in as usual. I later learned that a coworker had come in the delivery door about the same time I came in and that had confused the system. Or something. The police officer was really nice about it, and looked about 12 years old. It turned out he went to school with a colleague’s daughter, which upgraded him by about 10 years, but still perilously close to grandson age.

Given the inauspicious start to the day, I could be forgiven for worrying about Megan, who was headed for the operating room in San Francisco while I was chatting with Kindergarten Cop. But she came through the surgery like the star she is. She had the entire thyroid removed and I am hopeful she is cancer-free. Her incision is pretty big, and her vocal cords were stretched by the tumor, but the surgeon expects her to get her voice back.

Megan is home now, with Rob and the dogs, and just has the hard work of healing ahead of her. She has to sleep sitting up, like the Elephant Man (I remember how fun that was), and swallowing is painful, but she’s on the road to recovery. I hope it’s a short one.

A YEAR AGO: There’s no place like home.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My car and I were under the weather.

TEN YEARS AGO: File under miscellaneous.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Farewell to the Lovely Rita. I still miss her.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Airport (mis)adventures.

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Jun 07 2023

Wedding

Published by under Special Occasions

Faithful readers may remember how Jarrett and Kalli got engaged at the family estate last summer. They chose 6/3/23 as their wedding date, and it seemed like there was lots of time until the big day, but time flew by in a blur of preparation, and before we knew it, the big day was here.

Here’s the sign directing guests to the event:

The tent was set up outside Megan and Rob’s place for the reception and dancing:

The cake was spectacular:

The spot Jarrett and Kalli had chosen last year was ready to go:

It was a beautiful day, which was nice, since we’ve had a lot of May Gray and June Gloom this year. We assembled on wooden benches in front of the arch and watched the wedding party assemble:

You can see the flaming heart Jonathan and Rob made for the ceremony behind the arch:

Rio officiated over the ceremony and pronounced Jarrett and Kalli husband and wife:

Congratulations to the happy couple! I wish them a long and joyful life together.

A YEAR AGO: A tour of my old neighborhood.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Taking time off is not always a good idea.

TEN YEARS AGO: I was in the City enjoying some beautiful artwork.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Quite a trip. Here’s the missing photo:
.
I still miss my former in laws.

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May 28 2023

Garden

Published by under Country Life,Family,Garden

Megan and were planning to have a shared birthday celebration this year, but it was scheduled for a few days after Melanie’s death, so I was not feeling too festive and we cancelled the party. I did stop by the family estate that day to spend some time with my siblings. I told Jonathan I was sorry about Scout, and he told me he was sorry about Melanie. It’s still hard to believe they are gone, even though I know they are.

We took a look around the garden. It seems to me that things are not as far along as they usually are this time of year, but given that I’m always surprised by how early it starts getting dark in the fall, even though it happens every year, this could be a Suzy thing and not a seasonal thing. The apple trees were in blossom:

and the strawberries were berrying:

safely hidden from raccoons’ marauding paws and birds’ scavenging beaks under their netting.

The cherry tree was not so lucky. Its net cathedral was torn to shreds during the winter storms, and there was not enough time to rebuild it yet. So the birds will have cherries, if not strawberries.

In addition to the usual garden produce, flowers were being grown for Jarrett and Kalli’s upcoming wedding:

It seems there is always something happening in the garden.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A lovely Royal wedding.

TEN YEARS AGO: Finally got rid of the hot tub carcass in the back yard. Mostly.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: It is actually possible to be sick of shopping. You read it here first.

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May 20 2023

Gone

Published by under Friends


Melanie

A friend I have had since we were both in our teens was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer about a month ago. The cancer spread to her bones and lymph system, and she deteriorated rapidly, much more rapidly than the doctors expected. The first week after her diagnosis, she was thinking of a trip to Greece. The second week, it was a road trip with her beloved son, and the third week, she could hardly walk up the stairs.

Melanie is a planner, so immediately after receiving her diagnosis and the doctors’ opinions that she had about three months to live, she swung into action, contacting her wide network of friends and family, settling her financial and business affairs, meeting with hospice workers and doctors about how to exit this life with dignity, and deciding where her ashes should rest.

On the day she chose, she gathered together her ex husband (the father of her twins), her ex boyfriend, her twins, and her much-loved dog, Piper. She had a glass of wine and a last cigarette, made final phone calls to friends who could not be there, and then the doctors asked if she was ready. She said, “I’ve had a good life. I’m ready,” and as they played Stairway to Heaven (she loved Led Zeppelin), Melanie left us and went on to her next adventure. It was swift and peaceful.

Melanie handled this situation with so much grace and dignity. It is both inspiring and humbling. She lived her life with integrity, courage, curiosity, and an unstoppable sense of adventure. Everything she did, she did with her whole heart. I will carry my friend and her memory in my heart.

A YEAR AGO: Some miscellaneous news.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sudden and tragic deaths. Is May the new Official Month of Death?

TEN YEARS AGO: A delightful dinner with friends.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Packing procrastination.

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May 12 2023

Scout

Published by under Cats,Family


Scout

I’m sorry to tell you all that little Scout, Jonathan’s beloved mini-cat, vanished into the same woods she emerged from, in late 2012. Somehow, it makes sense that her departure should be as sudden and unexpected as her arrival, but it doesn’t make us any less sad at losing her.

She was a constant presence, despite her innate skittishness. She remained semi-feral, very difficult to pet outside of the one safe space in the entire universe: Jonathan’s bed. There you could enjoy petting her silky soft fur and hear her enormous purr. She slept right next to Jonathan every night he was home, and he misses her so much.

She would observe barbecues and parties from a distance, sometimes allowing a pet or two, but that was a rare gift. Not long before she left us, she had started to make very welcome cameo appearances at Megan’s house, even venturing inside despite the presence of Stella and Millie. Somehow, that makes it harder that she is gone for good. Maybe she was finally feeling safer after her 11 years with us, and she might have spent more time with us. We’ll never know.

Despite her diminutive size (she remained the size of a 8 or 9 month old kitten), she had a huge personality, and her loss is deeply felt.

A YEAR AGO: A new (to me) computer. Not without snags, of course. Suzy and technology do not mix. At least, not well. Or easily.

TEN YEARS AGO: How to make an orchard.

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May 04 2023

Kitten

Published by under Cats,Friends

My long-serving friend Richard K in San Francisco (not to be confused with my friend Richard S, who lives here in the boonies when he’s not out trotting the globe) recently acquired a kitten! So I get to enjoy her kitteny cuteness from a distance. Here is Richard and his new best friend:

Richard is a big hockey fan, both playing it and watching it, and he asked me for some hockey-related names for his new kitten. I came up with what I thought were two great ideas:

1. Lemieux (or Lemew – get it?), in honor of the great Canadian hockey player Mario Lemieux. Lemieux is also French for “the best”, which this kitten clearly is.

2. Rocket, for the legendary hockey player Maurice “Rocket” Richard. The kitten is known for rocketing around Richard’s apartment like Richard used to skate around the rink.

Bonus: both of these legends were born in Montreal, as was Richard.

Clever, non?

Richard seemed to find these ideas less brilliant than I did, since he settled on Harriet, which to me is not an obviously hockey-related name. But he says that the nickname for Harriet is Hattie and that’s close to hat trick, so there you have it. A kitten by any name is still as cute.

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day.

TEN YEARS AGO: The beautiful fine woodworking show.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Traveling to Florida.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Recovering from the groping incident.

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Apr 30 2023

Lovely

Published by under Country Life

Lately, the Valley seems to be beckoning me. Maybe it’s this beautiful time of year, when everything is still green from the winter (and this year, spring) rains, wildflowers are blooming everywhere, and the vineyards are leafing out in that translucent green that only happens in early spring. The fields are full of new babies, from calves to kids, and the air is bright with birdsong.

Megan and I enjoyed driving past the ocean, through the redwoods, and into the Valley, where we stopped in at the Madrones:

You could be forgiven for thinking that this was somewhere in the Mediterranean. It’s like another world there, with its sun-splashed courtyard and cool loggias.

We were greeted by the beautiful resident cat, Blanche:

who took time out from giving her fur a beauty bath to be petted and admired. She appeared to be used to the adulation of strangers.

At Wickson:

we ordered a pizza to go and then sat at a table in the lovely, walled patio:

with a glass of very local wine from Intent Vineyards while we waited for it. It was worth the wait:

Like Offspring, they have a wood-fired brick oven, and that seems to be secret weapon in making good pizza.

Because this is a small town – maybe too small – the chef at the restaurant is the husband of the board chair at the clinic where I work. I will have to give her my compliments to pass on to the chef.

A YEAR AGO: Observing the cats’ behavior.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Celebrating Jessica’s birthday in style.

TEN YEARS AGO: A lovely afternoon and evening in the Village.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: It can be surprisingly difficult to get to Florida.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Being groped on my way to work was pretty upsetting. Looking back, I’m really angry at that guy, and the therapist who hit on me, too.

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Apr 20 2023

22

Published by under Special Occasions

My blog turns 22 today!

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