Suzy Says
Radio Nowhere
Gas
October 15th, 2019 by suzy in Bullshit,Country Life No Comments

Spraying the garbage cans with ammonia and water seems to have deterred Mr. (or Ms.) Bear, at least so far. Either I am no longer on the regular buffet route, or he or she has started hibernating, if in fact they do hibernate here. I have no idea if they do or what causes it if so, since we don’t get snow* and don’t even get a dramatic enough temperature change to change the leaves in most cases. Maybe it is daylight (or lack of it), though. I have had a few days where it’s been dark when I went to work and dark when I went home. Winter’s here!

I am pleased to report that I managed to avoid being “de-energized”, as our frenemies at PG&E call it. The lights stayed on at work and at home, and the threat of being powerless made me revisit my power outage capabilities at home, making sure I have water and lanterns. I was concerned that I would not be able to use my stove, since it uses electricity to ignite, but a friend told me that I could use a match. He suggested a long one, I will try it out before it becomes a total necessity. At least, that’s my intention. Hopefully the threat of not being able to have coffee or cook will motivate me to actually do it.

It also made me fill up my car sooner than my designated day of Friday, even though the gas tank was close to half full. It was soon overflowing. I usually set the pump to fill and then go and put my wallet away in the car, and this time, when I turned around, gas was spurting out of the side of my car at an alarming rate. I hastily yanked out the spout and replaced it, trying to avoid dousing myself and walking in the spilled gas any more than was strictly necessary.

I went and told the gas station cashier and she put a red “out of order” sleeve on the spout and said she’d clean up the spilled gas. I washed off the side of the car and the bottoms of my shoes with the windshield wiper squeegee thoughtfully provided, but I was sure my car smelled like gas and wondered if I had gotten it on my clothes, too. I’m pretty sure some of the $41 I spent on gas was for spillage, not Wednesday.

After work, I went to pick up many barbecued pork dinners at the high school. It was a fundraiser for the school’s agriculture program, and young men don’t cook dinner for me as often as I’d like. I picked up dinner for myself, my sister, and my boss and her husband, retracing my steps to deliver the dinners to the ER to await my sister’s arrival and to my boss to take home if/when she ever left work that evening. On the way home, I wondered if my car smelled more like barbecue or gasoline.

*What, never? No, never! What, Never? Hardly ever!

A YEAR AGO: Pearls and cocktails. What could be Suzier than that?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Sick and tired.

TEN YEARS AGO: Polished.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Eeek! A mouse!

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I’m still not exactly sure how I became the President of the library board. It’s strange for an impostor like me to run meetings and sign official documents, even though I sign all the checks at work. When Megan was living with me* while she was in high school, I went to all her parent-teacher interviews as her “parent”, and every time I went, I half expected them to tell me that I had to go back to high school since I wasn’t a real grown-up**.

There are more events than I expected when I joined the library board, and it can be hard to fit them into my long and busy work days, but as President, I feel I have to go. Recently, a thank you dinner for library volunteers was held at the beautiful Guest House Museum in the heart of the Big Town. I love it that this lovely home, built in 1892, is still the tallest building in town:

I was less than delighted to learn that I was expected to make a speech at the volunteer thank you dinner. Other than speaking at my father’s funeral nearly 20 years ago, I don’t remember having to speak in public. I could happily have gone another twenty years to forever without doing so. Here’s what I said:

It’s been an eventful year for the Friends of the Fort Bragg Library. We have started to make some real progress in dismantling the Whipple Street house, a meaningful step toward the future of expanding our library. Thank you to Daniel Z— for providing invaluable technical advice and support as we move forward with this project.

We lost three beloved Board members over the course of this year: Carol L—, Jennifer W—, and Jane V—, all long-serving and dedicated Friends who are dearly missed and will never be forgotten. If you seek their memorial, look around you. We are fortunate to have some new Board members who bring fresh ideas and expertise with them, and who have already made some very valuable contributions to the Board.

Thanks to Sandra F—’s wonderful “Thousand Dollar Club” idea and advocacy, funds continue to roll in towards making the dream of a bigger and better library come true. Fundraising events have been very successful this year, thanks to our dedicated volunteers, some new and some of many years’ standing. Thank you to all of you who contribute your time, your ideas, your perspiration, and your inspiration to helping your local library and community. We couldn’t do it without you. Here’s to you!

It went pretty well, though, judging by the applause. I don’t think public speaking is going to become a favorite hobby or anything. But I am proud of the work we are doing at the library and how much it means to our little community.

*I never really thought about how weird this situation was until a couple of years ago. Looking back, I can’t believe that a 23 year old was expected to parent a 14 year old. It all worked out in the end, though.

**Someone recently pointed out to me that actual grown ups do not refer to themselves or others of their ilk as “grown ups”. They use the term “adult”. Apparently, my use of the term “grown up” is just one of the many signs that I am not one.

A YEAR AGO: Some things were better. And some weren’t.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A trip to the south coast. And an unexpected cow.

TEN YEARS AGO: An impending job interview. Bonus: Baby Jessica!! Oh, the cuteosity!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Eeek! A mouse!

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Bearly
October 3rd, 2019 by suzy in Country Life No Comments

My siblings have had a trying summer with wildlife invaders in the garden. First, there was a fox who ate all the strawberries – and there are a LOT of strawberries, so he was an overachiever in this area – and who successfully eluded the Hav-A-Hart trap for some time before eventually being caught. He expressed his disapproval of this entrapment by hissing and snarling in the trap. Rob found a nice new neighborhood for him, several miles away, with both food and water nearby.

However, as so often happens with wildlife, whether they are in your house or outside it, there was Not Just One. My siblings soon became experts at trapping and relocating foxes, as a total of four went into the Fox Relocation Program with their assistance.

As if that weren’t enough, a bear somehow got in. I don’t know if you have ever had a bear in your garden, but they tend to be messy and destructive. When I lived at the old house, my then neighbor across the Ridge had a bear sit in her apple tree and eat all the fruit while merrily breaking the branches of her century old tree. Once they know there’s food somewhere, they tend to make more repeat appearances than Barbra Streisand on a farewell tour.

It was decided that the fence enclosing the garden should be electrified, like the fence around the beehives. But the beehive fence is much more modest than the garden fence, which encircles an entire acre. Not for the first time, my siblings must have wondered why they made the garden so damn big. I know the thought has crossed my lazy mind. It seems to me like they are either watering and weeding or canning and preserving on an epic scale. I guess they just think bigger than I do.

Electrifying the fence was further complicated by the fact that all the brush and bushes anywhere near the fence had to be removed to minimize fire risk. So the boys were pretty busy for a while, removing vegetation and bear proofing the fence. When it is turned on at night, it ticks and apparently you get a quite shocking shock if you are silly enough to touch it. You will not be surprised to hear that the bear has been pretty scarce ever since.

He may have moved over to my house, though this is probably unlikely since I now live about 11 miles away (though still in Hooterville) instead of a quarter mile away. Yet a bear has definitely been visiting Chez Suzy.

I first became aware of his visits when I discovered that one of the garbage cans was knocked over and had deep and alarming claw and bite marks around the rim of the can and the lid. Also there was garbage everywhere. On later visits, he seemed to drag the entire bag into the meadow/orchard area next to the house to go through it at his leisure. There wasn’t really any food in it. Vegetable and fruit trimmings go into the compost pit, and I am pretty sure they are removed by the foxes and ravens. Also the bear seems to be ignoring my apple trees as far as I can see.

Apparently, you are supposed to keep your garbage cans in your shed or garage. Unfortunately, I have neither – I don’t even have a shed to store motor oil and things of that nature. I realize that while putting up with the endless barking at my old house was annoying, it also kept the wildlife at bay. I never had bear problems there.

I have to admit that I am rather nervous getting to the car in the morning, especially since it’s now totally dark when I leave in the mornings, and although I have the porch light on and use my phone’s flashlight to get to the car, I am always worried that there is a monster in the darkness. One of my coworkers told me that bears can open doors, so I have actually started locking them, even though I can’t imagine a bear actually strolling into my living room. Or can I?

Consulting with those better versed in the ways of wildlife than I am, I learned that bears have a very sensitive sense of smell, and spraying the garbage cans and even the bags with ammonia or Windex should deter them. I have tried that, and so far, Mr. Bear has not been back to visit. Yet. Stay tuned.

A YEAR AGO: The beginning of the end. Though I didn’t know it at the time.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The actual end.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Feeling the sloth. And the cold.

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Tire-d
September 29th, 2019 by suzy in Car No Comments

Or unhappy Wednesday, as the case may be…

One day as I was driving home from work, I noticed that Wednesday was making an alarming creaking sound. I got more alarmed the creakier it got. I called my brother and he said to drive her on over that weekend for him to take a look (or listen). He thought it might be the bushings (whatever they are), and suggested that I take Wednesday to the place I buy tires to get a front end and brake inspection. He also thought I needed new tires, and while I might be able to get away with only getting two new ones, it was probably better to get all four.

Unfortunately for me and my ever-tenuous resources, my tires were considered “marginal” by the tire experts. My brother was correct about the bushings (whatever they are), since they were “torn and broken”. Besides having no idea what they are, I have no idea how I tore and broke them, which sounds pretty violent and also memorable. Oh, and I had 10% left on my rear brakes. At least I still had 85% on the front ones, which do most of the work.

I was presented with a truly alarming estimate for the work needed to correct all these mysterious problems, as well as all four tires. I gave it to my brother, hoping he and Rob could do the work. I had a hard time reaching him, and in the meantime was driving around on my marginal tires with my 10% rear brakes, which was almost as alarming as the estimate for fixing them. Eventually my brother and I caught up with each other, and basically he said he would not have time to do the work in the foreseeable future.

So I went back to the tire place and signed over my paycheck to them in return for all this, as well as an alignment and maybe some other stuff. The last time I bought tires was in April of 2017, and considering the state of the rough country roads I drive on and the fact that I drive about 250 miles a week just to work and back, it’s probably about as much as I could expect to get from the tires. I am careful about checking the tire pressure and getting them rotated in the hopes of making them last as long as possible. At least I can be confident that I can stop the car, which, as my brother says, is the most important thing a car can do. And I have new tires before the rain starts up again.

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I felt Erica’s and Jessica’s absence keenly at the Fair, and I couldn’t bring myself to go into the Fiber building, which did not contain any of Erica’s miraculous confections. However, I had no such misgivings about the quilts, which were quite wonderful this year. There were a couple of charming wildlife themed quilts:

But this one may have been my favorite:

You can’t really tell from the photo, but it was sparked here and there with rhinestones, giving it an unexpected glitter. Here’s a close up:

You know how I love the sparkle.

I was charmed by this embroidered Winnie the Pooh blanket, which also had a lovely little trail of bees:

And the blue line on this adorable Dr. Seuss pillow is the top of a pocket, built right in to hold a favorite book:

I don’t know what this was, but Rob would love it:

There were some beautiful floral displays. This won best in show, and I would love to have it at my house:

I was charmed by this display with the cute little pigs:

And I loved the path showing the names of the little towns in our big county:

Such a clever idea! As were these displays:

I am not creative in that way, but I sure appreciate the creativity in others.

The sun was setting as we left the Fair, the hills aglow with pink and gold and a light breeze cooling the air as we walked back to the car. It was another wonderful Fair. I love feeling like I’m in “Charlotte’s Web”.

A YEAR AGO: A wonderful day at the Fair.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My bathroom renovation was nearly done. Rob did an amazing job. I hope whoever lives there now appreciates it as much as I did. In a way, I miss my old house, despite all its quirks.

TEN YEARS AGO: Walking dear Schatzi at Big River. I sure miss that sweet girl.

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Fair, Part 1
September 20th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Special Occasions No Comments

I took so many photos at the Fair this year that it will take two posts to share them all with you.

As always, it was a beautiful day. This year, we arrived around 5:00 on Saturday evening. It was still warm, and I was still glad to have my official Fair hat, but there was also a light breeze. We started out with a Surf’s Up, a delicious frozen mixture of pineapple, coconut, and watermelon, appropriately accessorized with a paper umbrella:

It was like a vacation in a glass! Appropriately armed, we strolled through the sunshine to inspect the exhibits. The biggest pumpkins were not the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but they were definitely sizable:

We stopped and tasted apples:

After all, it is the County Fair and Apple Show. There were so many delicious varieties, and Megan took notes for a couple of potential additions to the family cider apple orchard.

These were entertaining additions to the vegetable displays:

This was my favorite bunny:

Besides being totally adorable, he was very playful, sitting up on his hind legs, rolling his ball around, and generally being cute as a button. Or a bunny.

I was very taken with these watercolors, one of downtown Philo:

And one of the winding road to the Gowan’s farm stand, which has been an Anderson Valley landmark for generations:

The artist is a dear friend of Erica’s who I have met a couple of times, so I have reached out to tell her a) how much I love her work; and 2) that I’m interested in buying one or maybe both of them. It’s been a while since I bought art, and these two really speak to me. It will be nice to have local art in my house, too.

A YEAR AGO: The horror!

FIVE YEARS AGO: It was actually raining!

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting ready to move.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Candy! It’s what’s for breakfast!

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Heater
September 14th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,House No Comments

One of the things I have been getting used to in the new house is that it has a hot water heater instead of a flash heater, which the old house had. With a flash heater, you get on demand hot water and, as the name suggests, pretty much right away. With the water tank, I find I have to run the water for quite a while before it warms up. One Saturday, it never got above tepid.

I went outside and looked in the little storage shed attached to the house, where the water tank lives. Its pilot light was out. I was able to successfully relight it, which made me all proud of myself until it went out again. I followed the instructions, not wanting to bother Danielle yet again.

Eventually I had to, though, and she came over to investigate. The hot water heater was only five years old, but she thought it needed to be replaced. She put a call in to the guy who deals with such things and went to work. I started making alternative plans to take a shower and wash the dishes.

Being Danielle, she came home with a new water tank and had somehow persuaded Water Tank Guy to come over even though he had worked seven days in a row and undoubtedly his enthusiasm for this weekend project was why they invented negative numbers. He agreed that the tank needed to be replaced, so he set about draining the old one and putting the new one in place.

She said that she put in a hot water tank instead of a flash heater because then there was hot (or at least warm) water for a while when the power went out. Apparently flash heaters need power, which I never knew because I never had water when the power went out, since it meant that the well pump didn’t work. Here I will have water at least for a while when the power goes out, since there is the big water storage tank on the third floor of the house.

It occurred to me that so far Danielle has not made a lot of money from renting the house to me. Also that I might be some kind of appliance jinx. First the heater needed a new thermo coupler, involving an expensive visit from the Gas Guy. Then my stove was replaced, since Danielle decided it was cheaper to just buy a new one rather than have the old one fixed (the broiler and one burner didn’t work. This is the kind of thing that I would have just lived with at the old place). Then the outlets and closet light in the bedroom weren’t working, necessitating a visit from Electrician. Now this. She also mentioned that she was going to have to buy a new refrigerator for her own house. Hopefully my refrigerator will continue to keep things cold while the water heater continues to (eventually) produce hot water. I don’t think this is the time to mention that I can’t change the dryer controls and instead have to run it two or three times on the cycle it’s stuck on.

ONE YEAR AGO: The beginning of Dental Hell. I do not recommend visiting it.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some miscellaneous updates.

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting ready to get the hell out of Oakhampton. Note to Self: What is with your landlords turning up wth no notice, wherever you live?

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Culinary
September 10th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life No Comments


A Beautiful Day on the Coast

Sunday was another beautiful day. It seemed like a good day for a trip to the South Coast, especially since the inimitable Franny of Franny’s Cup & Saucer was guest chef-ing at the Garcia Guild breakfast in Manchester. It was a New Orleans breakfast, with white cheddar grits, sautéed greens with andouille sausage, scrambled eggs, nectarine, blackberry and mint fruit salad, biscuits with preserves, custard donuts, and orange juice.

Sounds good, right? However, the reality, as so often happens, did not live up to the expectations. Though I arrived a little more than an hour after the breakfast started, I soon learned that they were out of: coffee, orange juice, fruit salad, donuts, and preserves, with no plans to replace them. Each person at this allegedly all you can eat breakfast was limited to one single two inch square biscuit, which was of course the best part of the breakfast.

I knew that I was unlikely to change my long-held opinion that grits were gross, and this in fact did meet expectations. I couldn’t taste any cheese in the two bites I took of it, which only confirmed my dim view on grits. I left most of the breakfast behind in disgust along with my $10 (the entry fee was not reduced despite the fact that about half of the advertised items were not available). Never doing that again. Lesson learned! Stick to the Hooterville Grange.

My cloud of disappointment vanished immediately when I noticed that Franny’s was uncharacteristically open on a Sunday. I went in and got an almond croissant, sea salt caramel pecan brownie, and a slice of plum and frangipane tart. These were all fabulous.

I continued down the coast:

going from sun to fog and back again. Arriving at Anchor Bay Thai, I saw that they had painted a new mural on the back wall:

Really striking, and I love peacocks. With my to go order safely stowed, I headed to Gualala, where I looked around the bookstore and admired the ocean:

before heading back home in my delicacy-laden car. That evening, I watched the very enjoyable “Sudden Fear” with the one and only Joan Crawford chewing up the scenery and the sultry Gloria Grahame slinking through it as they battle over the affections of the charismatic Jack Palance. Bonus fun was seeing San Francisco in 1952 and mentally comparing the past and present. You can have a peek at the locations then and now here if you’re curious.

A YEAR AGO: Clyde and Dodge were getting closer. Now none of the cats goes outside if I can help it. Whatever scared Clyde that day has reduced or eliminated his interest in the Wide World, which is just fine with me.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful evening at the theater with Megan and Lu. We are overdue for a girls’ night out!

TEN YEARS AGO: Remembering my grandparents’ long and happy marriages.

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Books
September 6th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Library No Comments

It wasn’t all sloth on this long weekend, however. I found time to help set up the library book sale, along with countless other volunteers, young and old alike. My high level task was to haul handcarts of books through the alley behind the library to the Veterans’ Hall across the street.

We had a pretty good system going. One of the volunteers pushed boxes of books down a chute to a loading area, where another volunteer stacked the boxes onto the handcarts so they could be dragged across the street, up the ramps, and into the Hall.

There other volunteers decanted the books onto tables set up by genre, arguably a less appealing task than the book haulage itself. Having said that, though, each load seemed to get heavier, and I began to feel about 90 years ago. At last, we got to the “special price” books, the last to go. These only had to moved around the corner into the room where the Board meetings are.

It looked great when everything was set up:

And I am pleased to report that the library made close to $9,000 from the book sale. How’s that for teamwork?

A YEAR AGO: Dodge gets the thumbs up from the vet.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My computer was brand new. And somewhat shinier.

TEN YEARS AGO: Still love those Chanel rain boots. And I rarely use an umbrella now that I live in the country. Mostly it’s just a hat. And non Chanel boots.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Art on the streets of San Francisco.

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Off
August 31st, 2019 by suzy in Country Life No Comments

I gave myself the gift of an extra long weekend by taking the Friday and Tuesday off around Labor Day. Five glorious days of not getting up in the dark and driving to work in the glare of oncoming traffic (I’m already tired of it, and it’s barely September) or putting on faux adult armor. Yess!

I slept in until after daybreak on Friday, aided in my slothitude by the cats, who are always up for a day of underachieving. Dodge slept against my legs – he always has to be touching me when he sleeps – Clyde was cuddled up to me, and Audrey was glaring from my pillows, hating the Whos from the top of Mount Crumpet.

I realized that I would be able to attend the Farmers’ Market in the Village, which is only open for a couple of hours and only on Fridays in the summer. I took an unnecessarily long shower, enjoying the rain shower showerhead and the lack of hurry. I did not apply makeup or hair products or blow dry my hair, and left the house with my hair wet, heedless of who I might meet in my unadorned state (spoiler alert: I actually did not meet anyone I knew. Bonus!).

It was a beautiful day, bright with sunshine but not hot, even at my house, and with a nice little breeze. Arriving at the Village, I found a parking spot just steps from the market:

One thing about my siblings having such an epic garden is that they basically already grow everything you can buy in a local farmers’ market. But it was nice to wander in the sunshine, taste olive oil, and other people’s fruit and vegetables. I did buy some sausage and plum jam with cardamom from Petit Teton, located in beautiful Anderson Valley:

as well as some lemongrass cocktail mix for later.

Conveniently for me, the two hours the market was open coincided neatly with the three hours the wood-fired brick oven pizza place is open:

There were some interesting choices:

but this time, I had to try the spicy salami. It was fantastic:

Megan and I are plotting a girl night starring that pizza, some wine, and silly movies if/when our schedules ever allow.

Back home, I made some delightful cocktails with the lemongrass cocktail mix and some sparkling pink wine:

Here’s to an extra-long weekend!

A YEAR AGO: Welcome home, little Dodge! What did we ever do without you?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shopping for doorknobs.

TEN YEARS AGO: I sold my incredible diamond ring. I regret this now. I imagine the people who bought the house I was renting then high and sold it low regret that now, too, especially since it’s now worth $200,000 more than they sold it for.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Yup. I still feel the exact same way about the Olympics and politics.

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Cooking
August 27th, 2019 by suzy in Cats,Cooking No Comments

Sometimes when I actually get around to cooking on the weekends, I begin to feel that I may have been overly ambitious in formulating my culinary plans.

Sitting in bed with a cup of coffee and the kitties in various relaxing attitudes, getting up, getting dressed, and starting to cook doesn’t seem all that appealing. Cats are very demotivating.

Most of the time, they just stay in bed while I start cooking and tidying up. Cats quite rightly despise housework and avoid at all costs, wisely leaving it the help.

This weekend, I had the delusion that I could make my own Montreal bagels, despite not having a wood-fired oven and being about 3,000 miles away from Montreal. As I started to assemble the ingredients – one of the drawbacks of my house is that the food is stored in a separate area from the kitchenette – it occurred to me that I could use up some leftover mint and some cucumber by making spa water:

I often have mint left over, and this turned out to be a delicious and refreshing way to use the leftovers.

With spa water at hand and kitties snoring upstairs, I started the bagel construction process. It is lengthy and, to be honest with you, something of a hassle. I used this recipe from the New York Times, and the irony was not lost on me, since Montreal bagels are a very different style from the bready New York ones. They are mostly hole, resembling a bracelet, and are chewy and slightly sweet from being boiled in honey water, just one part of the lengthy process.

My oven is an overachiever – faithful readers may recall how I inadvertently quick roasted a turkey one Thanksgiving – so I overcooked the bagels a bit. Still, not bad for a first attempt:

The oven was quite busy that day, cooking apple crumble to use up the four or five aging apples in the fruit bowl and my Dad’s honey-mustard chicken. Maybe my underachieving is really overachieving!

A YEAR AGO: Dodge joined the family! I am pleased to report that he is now 100% plush and 100% happy.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Hanging out on the couch.

TEN YEARS AGO: Hating the heat. I always have, and I always will.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A little on the sleepy side.

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Drinks
August 22nd, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Family,Friends No Comments

After a week like that, it was time for an adult beverage or two. Or maybe more!

Our friend Monica joined Megan and me at our favorite seaside bar, where we were greeted by the amazing bartender. She had some fresh apricots on hand, so she invented a sort of apricot kamikaze, muddling fresh apricots with lime juice, vodka, and peach schnapps, and shaking it with ice. It tasted as good as it looked:

Having the drinks in hand softened the blow when she told us that she is moving inland. She will still be bartending here on the coast, but only on Wednesday nights, so we will have to adjust our schedules accordingly. I am really going to miss her. I think she makes that bar and is an integral part of how fun it is to go there.

As usual, it was very busy with a diverse crowd of people. Some clearly visitors, some dressed up for a special occasion dinner, some clearly locals. Everyone from the oldest to the youngest was having a good time.

After the apricot libations, we moved on to the classic cerise noire, where brandy soaked cherries meet black cherry vodka and sparkling wine:

What’s not to love?

The sun slipped toward the ocean as we chatted and caught up. Monica recently won an award for her store window designs, and also has adopted a new dog called Sugar, so there was happy news to toast along with our annual toast to Dad on the eve of the day we lost him, eighteen years ago. Sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday, and sometimes it seems like a million years ago. One thing that never changes is how much I love him and miss him.

ONE YEAR AGO: Much to celebrate on the Evil Eighteenth. And Dad would have enjoyed all of it.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Fate might truly be inescapable.

TEN YEARS AGO: Considering moving to the country. One of the best decisions I ever made. I still love my old house, flaws and all. Isn’t that what love is all about?

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Brought to you by the letter O.

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Dark
August 16th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Library,Memories,Work No Comments

The Naked Ladies are flaunting their pink, leafless blooms by the side of the road, and you know what that means: high beams have made their unwelcome return to my morning commute. I need a flashlight to get to the car, and I am extra vigilant looking for the wildlife hanging out or meandering on the Ridge in the early morning darkness.

This morning, I wondered what that mysterious light through the trees was. It turned out to be the nearly full moon once I emerged from the redwoods. The moon kept me beaming company all the way down the Ridge and yet was also hanging over the pastel ocean once I arrived there.

It reminded me of when I was a young girl and my mother’s father, the inimitable (and much missed) HoHo, had me convinced that he put the moon up every night, using a long ladder. Once the moon landing happened, I asked him what he did about the astronauts, those men on the moon. He explained that he used a catapult for that. Remembering this half a century later still made me smile as I drove down the beautifully empty highway. Is there anything lovelier than a two lane highway beside the ocean with no other cars in sight on a clear summer morning?

Work has been a crazy thing lately. Or crazier than usual. I worked 35 hours in three days this week, as the Feds examined the operations at the clinic where I work. Weeks of planning, data gathering, and fretting were involved, and there was of course a last minute scramble for documentation, and you know how I love that. In the end, we got 88 out of 93, and have a certain amount of time to fix the 5 things we did not pass. The graders themselves said it was “excellent”, but somehow I just feel let down and not all celebratory like my boss and my coworkers. Maybe because the fix involves having yet another board meeting this month, which means yet another twelve hour day for me.

I have to admit that I’m a bit worn down. I feel like I have been running a marathon. First the move in June, then the dreaded annual staff day and 25th anniversary party in one week in July, then the Feds in August, and now the annual audit is looming in September. I also have to find time to help set up the library’s annual book sale, since I am now the board president, and have been knee deep in dealing with contracts for the library expansion, a thing I know nothing about. Not that this has ever stopped me.

In other library news, yet another board member has passed away, making a total of three this year. To be fair, she was 94, but it’s still a sad loss. She was much loved by the community and still very active on the board. So I am attending her funeral next week and hoping that I will not find myself shoveling dirt onto a coffin again.

I keep thinking, “Once this is over, I can relax”, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

A YEAR AGO: Yup, the darkness was coming back in. And the new normal does seem to be the norm, since I am sleeping with fans again and can’t remember the last time I didn’t. I miss having the screen door open in the bedroom at the old house. If I have the windows open here, Dodge pushes the screens out.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Under construction!

TEN YEARS AGO: The sudden, unheralded appearance of my landlords. Yet another good reason to move.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Summering in the Hamptons, darling!

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Movie
August 10th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Movies No Comments

It’s been a long time since I went to the movies. I wanted to see Rocketman, but unless it’s a Harry Potter movie or a blockbuster action movie, movies are only at the local theater for a week, and it’s often hard to fit it into my schedule, what with meetings at work and the library and other obligations. So I missed that one, but I was determined to see the new Tarantino movie.

I planned carefully and was able to escape work in time to attend the 4:30 showing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, along with maybe a dozen other people. Because this town is so small, I knew at least one of them, and had in fact recently given her a ride home when she locked her keys in her car at the gas station so she could pick up her spare set of keys, and then drove her back to the gas station. I waited to make sure that her car started and she drove off before I headed back to work that day.

I enjoyed the movie very much. It looked beautiful, wonderful shots of vintage Los Angeles (inside and out) and car porn galore. I loved the relationship between Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio. I also enjoyed how they made fun of themselves and did not take themselves seriously despite their remarkable beauty.

Speaking of beauty, Margot Robbie did not look like Sharon Tate, and indeed when you see footage of a film with the actual Sharon Tate within this movie, you are amazed by how exquisite (and funny) she was. To be fair, she was one of the most beautiful women who ever lived, so it’s a pretty high bar for any actress.

I liked Tarantino’s willingness to subvert expectations, though many have objected to this. And yes, there is gore and violence, because it is, after all, a Tarantino movie. My one objection is the depiction of Pitt’s pit bull as a deadly attack dog. I am the proud aunt of two pit bulls and know that theirs is a loving breed, the polar opposite of how they are depicted in the media, including this movie, and it concerns me that it may give uneducated viewers the belief that these are dangerous dogs. Having said that, I’m glad that the dog survived, since most dogs in movies do not, no matter what their breed is. All in all, I enjoyed it very much and I hope you do, too.

A YEAR AGO: Working on Megan and Rob’s move.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob the handyman strikes again.

TEN YEARS AGO: The horrors of summer. Some things never change…

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Neighborly
August 5th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Friends No Comments

I had a fun Sunday without ever leaving Hooterville. I drove down my current Ridge a few miles to the Grange, where there is a pancake breakfast once a month. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful setting:

Inside, it was packed with neighbors, some known to me (Doug from the good old days at the Gro – he does not miss the store – and the lady who does wildlife rescue) and others unknown (pretty much everyone else). I noticed that all ages were well represented at the long tables in the hall, though the servers and cooks were definitely what the French call “of a certain age”. I have to wonder if succeeding generations will be as interested in community service as this generation is, and if this kind of community event will eventually become a thing of the past.

I pulled up a chair and was served with a Dixie cup (They still make Dixie cups! Who knew?) of orange juice and gave my order to the genial, aproned waitress. I could have had coffee, but as you all know, I only have my one cup a day and always before I leave the house. I am mystified by people who can get themselves together and dressed and actually drive to their workplace without benefit of caffeine.

I had fluffy pancakes with homemade berry syrup:

And they were delicious! I could also have had ham and eggs with it, and all of it was all you can eat. For $8! The proceeds go to help the local volunteer fire department, which was another plus in a series of pluses. It was like stepping back in time there, and I really enjoyed that feeling. It may have been my first visit to the Grange, but it won’t be the last.

Back at home, I was watching the Blue Jays game when I got a text from Dave and Jennifer, inviting me to a BBQ that evening. Even though it was a school night, I was happy to say yes and head over to the family estate.

This time, I kept going, all the way down to Dave and Jennifer’s place at the very end, making sure to close the gate behind me so the horses and ponies could not escape. It had been a while since I was there, and there were improvements to see, such as solar panels and an outdoor shower. Now that Dave has retired from his job working for the City of San Francisco, they are going to start building their house. They are also planning to sell their house in Grass Valley, so they have a lot on their plates.

We all had a lot on our plates: Dave barbecued marinated pork and salmon he and Jennifer had just caught, and served it up with salad, garlic bread, grilled vegetables, and wild rice. All this was topped off with tarts my brother made from raspberries he had picked that day. Joining us for dinner were our good friend Lu, Megan, Rob, Jonathan, Rio, and Dave and Jennifer’s former neighbors from Grass Valley, Stephanie and Peter. Stephanie and Peter originally hailed from Manchester, but have lived in many places. Peter was in television engineering and holds several patents, while Stephanie was a nurse, mostly in the ER, giving her lots in common with Lu and Megan. We had such a good time talking that I got to bed much later than I intended, but it was a day full of happiness.

A YEAR AGO: Megan and Rob moved onto the property. It was never the same without them, and eventually I moved too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A day full of surprises.

TEN YEARS AGO: No matter who the kitties are, they are always naughty. Audrey’s fondness for chicken has no diminished over the past decade. I found her nibbling on a cooked chicken breast cooling on the counter this week.

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Ridge
July 31st, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,Moving No Comments


Morning on the Ridge

I’m getting to know my new road and my new commute. You have probably figured out that I am enraptured by my new house, so it’s probably not all that surprising that I am totally charmed by my new ridge as well. To my eyes, it is prettier than the old one and seems a little more upscale, if such things are possible in the depths of the country. I love the archways of trees:

as well as the stately redwoods.

The road starts (or ends, depending on how you look at it), at the ocean, with a spectacular view:

And a warning:

I have to admit I have not driven the entire length of the road, so when it actually ends or disappears remains a mystery.

I can’t drive this ridge as fast as I drove the old one, partly because I don’t know it as well – I have driven the old one, I realize, for about 25 years despite only living here for 10 – and partly because of things like this one lane redwood bridge:

I’m always afraid I’m going to meet someone on it and have to back up. I’m not great at backing up at the best of times, and backing up onto a narrow road running along a ridge with an elevation of close to 700 feet above sea level is not a fun prospect. It reminds me of when my brother and sister lived on boats at Pier 39 and I asked them if they had ever fallen in the water. Their opinion was, “There’s them that have and them that will.” I’m afraid this is also the case here.

The new Ridge seems both higher and narrower than the old one. There are country hazards:

And I live past the “pavement ends” sign:

I’ll tell you a secret: the pavement doesn’t really end. Or at least I haven’t found where it does. Yet.

A YEAR AGO: The whole county was on fire.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Catching up on this and that.

TEN YEARS AGO: I sold my beautiful diamond ring out of economic necessity. Really regret that now.

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House
July 26th, 2019 by suzy in Country Life,House,Moving No Comments

I am pleased to announce that The Mess has been vanquished and The Unpacking is (mostly) complete!

Here’s the living room:

I do have distant plans for this room. I would like to get a bigger area rug. Also my good friend Alice thinks I should get a pink velvet sofa and chair, since cats (allegedly) don’t claw velvet and pink is my signature color. It would also go nicely with my beaded elephant pillow and the vintage, hand-made suzani Alice gave me:

Here’s the kitchen. You can see that the painting does balance out the wall with the grandfather clock:

Here’s another angle:

I mentioned to Danielle that I couldn’t seem to get the broiler or the front right burner of the stove to work. She investigated and decided that it would cost $400 to get someone in to fix the stove, so she bought a new one and had it delivered the next day.

This is not how Mark thought. He would have jimmied something with a piece of wire and string and told me he’d fix it later. That later would never come, yet I would expect it to and be surprised when it didn’t.

While Danielle was looking at the stove, I also told her that the light in the bedroom closet didn’t work and she is getting an electrician to look at it next week. I could get used to this.

Here’s how the bedroom looks, complete with Clyde:

And the bathroom:

Here’s the back of the house, with the Chinese stools and porcelain flowers from the old house. The stairs lead down to the fenced in garden, where foxes, ravens, and hummingbirds like to play:

I can still hardly believe that I actually live here.

A YEAR AGO: The joys of the always amazing Flynn Creek Circus.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Making faux (but delicious) pho.

TEN YEARS AGO: Of BBQs and hay bales.

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Hello
July 21st, 2019 by suzy in Family,Work No Comments


Here’s to me!

Well, hello there!

I have not, as you may have suspected, fallen off the edge of the earth, which is perilously nearby. But I was swept away by a work tsunami, which we all know is the worst kind. We had two events in one week, so in addition to those days, there were two days of preparations. People never think about how things get set up for these shindigs, or how they get cleaned up afterwards, either. Suffice it to say that I do not have Jeannie-like powers and have to do it all the Darren-approved Samantha way. Also that I worked 13 hours of overtime in one week.

I was scheduled to attend a fundraiser in the distant county seat on Saturday after this long and crazy week. Though for a very worthy cause, I found myself unequal to the three hour round trip drive and donated money instead of my beleaguered presence. I felt guilty but also relieved as I mixed up a batch of Cosmos and watched A Crooked Somebody surrounded by sleepy cats.

I had recovered enough by Sunday morning to head over to Rio’s house:

for breakfast with the visiting Jarrett and Kalli. Jonathan made huckleberry pancakes, served with huckleberry sauce and real maple syrup:

.

They were as delicious as they looked.

Kalli and Jarrett had big news to share: they are planning to get married on the family estate in the spring of 2021! We are very excited about that and looking forward to the big day. I am so happy for them!

A YEAR AGO: Farewell to my wonderful former mother-in-law. I was so lucky to have had her and Ed in my life. I will always miss them.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Kalli’s birthday party at the family property/wedding venue to be!

TEN YEARS AGO: A lovely stroll around Little River Cemetery.

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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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