This morning, I discovered that there are worse ways of being woken up than the alarm clock, the phone, or the eternally barking neighborhood dogs. June bit my toe! Really hard! And despite being swathed under blankets, it was both painful and surprising.

Really. Biting the toe that feeds you.

I hasten to add that this was not an attempt to wake me up to make breakfast. The kittens’ first vet gave me an excellent piece of advice, almost exactly a year ago, which was never to feed them when I first get up. So I always make coffee and read my email before giving them breakfast. They know they won’t get fed right away, so they let me sleep in on the days that clocks, phones, and dogs don’t wake me up.

So it wasn’t a “wake up and feed me” call.

I honestly think June has some kind of eating disorder or syndrome, like those people who eat soap. She has chewed the fabric covering the metal side supports right off my desk chair. She chews the ~shudder~ metal door stops built into the walls by the closets. Lately, she has taken to chewing CD cases, which, being plastic, shatter in a horrifying manner. I’m convinced that she’ll accidentally eat the shards and disaster will ensue. Granted, I pretty much always think disaster is around the corner, but still.

In an attempt to stave off potential catastrophe, I bought her some small dog sized chew things. She just batted them around. I gave her a demonstration (I’ll pause here while you finish laughing at the mental image), and even dipped them in chicken broth, but she just licked the broth off and then batted them into oblivion*, the place where cat toys and socks vanish, never to be seen again.

*That just reminded me of a book I loved as a child, “Attic of the Wind”, where a little girl visits the title place, where all lost things eventually end up.


It’s been in the 80s over the past few days, which both the kittens and I find a little on the toasty side. My sister thinks it’s the “last hurrah” before winter sets in, but the forecast says otherwise for now. To be fair, winter is harsher where she and my brother live (colder, with the occasional hard frost, lots more rain, frequent power outages and road closures) than in the Bay Area, so her dread is reasonable. Especially since she heats her house with a wood stove. I can tell you from personal experience how hard it is to keep the home fires burning.

The kittens and I decided to see if there were any breezes to be had on the back porch yesterday evening. Henry noticed our arrival, and strolled over and started clawing at the mat at the foot of the stairs that lead to the screen door of the porch. He has done this before, and it drives June and Audrey bananas. I think he knows it does, and likes pointing out that he gets to roam around wherever he likes, while they’re trapped inside.

He decided to take it a step further and actually walked up the stairs to the screen door. Hissing ensued, and there was a blur of claws and curses until I managed to move the girls from the door. I’m very fond of Henry, but who knows if he has rabies or worse? Also, I could just see the combined strength of the three cats tearing a hole in the door, with wholesale mayhem following.

Fortunately, disaster was averted. Henry sat aggravatingly on the lawn, having a post-fight bath, while the girls watched enviously. Good thing they can’t say what they’re thinking – sometimes.

Political Pumpkin

The kittens wanted a pumpkin this year (last year, they were too young), so I duly got them a nice organic one, kitten-sized. Once I got it home, I couldn’t decide what to carve into it. At first, I thought I’d carve a couple of cats into it. I even did a drawing:

Which is cute, but I couldn’t figure out how to transfer the drawing to the pumpkin, which was beginning to seem smaller by the minute. If there’s a way to be technologically challenged, I’ll find it (right, Doc?).

When I was walking home from ambling some errands, it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe I could carve OBAMA into the pumpkin. In a stylized way, of course.

I’d give it an A for effort but maybe a C overall, since you can’t read the whole word at once due to the pumpkin’s small size. It was much harder to get all the glop out of the middle than I remembered. Not to mention stickier. Maybe my parents did it? My hands are still kind of pumpkin smelling, which is kind of gross. I keep meaning to ask B next door if there will be trick or treaters. I don’t want to be Mean Old Lady Suzy before it’s absolutely necessary.

Seen & Heard

Seen today: a chicken, or possibly a rooster, sitting in a palm tree.

Heard last night: a couple arguing as they walked down the sidewalk. Then an audible slap and a woman’s tears. I hesitated, then went out to see if she was all right. I found her sitting on my neighbor’s front lawn, weeping. I asked her if there was anything I could do to help, and she got up and ran off, sobbing and waving her hands in the air. I don’t know what else I could have done, but I’m haunted anyway.


There are few things the kittens enjoy more than a good box. Every time there’s an empty one, or one with things in it but the flaps open, they’re there.

Nearly a year after moving, the house is pretty much box-free. The kittens loved sitting up high on the box towers, which may explain why they never lifted a paw to help me unpack. (I think I’d make a very good cat.) The box pictured above is the only one left, and it’s smallish and perched on top of one of the CD shelves. It’s Audrey’s favorite spot, and if I haven’t seen her for a while, that’s usually where she is.

I have a theory that the devotion to boxes is because I was in the throes of packing almost as soon as I got the kittens, so boxes are one of their early childhood memories.

That, or they just like boxes.

Phoning It In

I had jury duty on Wednesday. It was so much easier than it was in San Francisco. Here I just called on Tuesday night, was informed that they wouldn’t require my presence at 8:30 am (who doesn’t love to hear that?), but I should call between 11 and noon.

So I did, and they still didn’t want me for the 1:30 session, and thank you, that concluded my service for a year. Though relieved, I perversely immediately felt slightly insulted. They should have wanted me and given me a chance to attempt to reject them or appear to be undesirable.

Oddly, San Francisco requires five days of jury service, whereas Alameda County only asks one day or one trial. Given the crime rate in Oakland alone, I find that surprising.

Goodbye to all that

Here I am in traffic on the 405 on Wednesday afternoon. There’s no driving like SoCal driving: everyone’s either cutting across five lanes without signaling at 85 mph or you’re sitting there like it’s a parking lot. Imagine my relief when I finally dropped the silver Impala off at Hertz.

After going through security and noticing that they had neglected to remove or question my half-finished bottle of Evian (the valets pressed a bottle on me every time I arrived or departed – all part of the service, like having the air conditioning on when they presented the car and the radio tuned to the baseball playoffs), I collapsed in the Red Carpet Room to await boarding. Digging through my silver handbag, I couldn’t find my cell phone. I know I had it in the car. Called Hertz, and they disclaimed all knowledge.

For someone who dislikes having a cell phone as much as I do, it was surprising how suddenly naked and helpless I felt without it, even more than I did going shoeless through the metal detectors. As soon as I got home, I called our IT person, and she got me a new one the next day. The new one is definitely improved, being both pretty and purple:

Question to all WordPress users: do you know how to do pop-up windows with pictures? Or do you have to embed them? The tech tard wants to know.

The kittens were glad to see me, milling around my feet and explaining how much they had missed me. Henry, on the other hand, was annoyed. He refused to even get off the bed in his cozy bachelor pad under the porch, and had hardly eaten any of the food I left. He wouldn’t even look at me, and refused to say a word.

The next day, he got his revenge by leaving a dead mouse beside his bowl, which sent me screaming into the house while he smiled smugly. That’ll learn ya.


My cheapness won out over my laziness last night. This may be as unprecedented as the turmoil in the global markets.

After perusing the room service menu and discovering that the cheapest bottle of wine was $46 a bottle (or $12 a glass), I ventured out of the fancy hotel (I may have forgotten how to open and close my own car door by now) in search of food and wine.

I picked up a pizza at the always-reliable Il Fornaio, and stopped at a liquor store on my way back to the hotel. I saw a bottle of Cloudy Bay, which I had often enjoyed with my father. On bringing it up to the cash, I learned that it was $32.

My father liked me even more than I thought.

I hastily returned the bottle to the cooler, and faced a situation unique in my traveling experience. I couldn’t find anything, uh, reasonable enough to buy. Usually I’m desperately looking for an acceptable bottle at corner stores when I’m on the road, but this is, after all, Pasadena, land of the tasteful mansion and manicured lawn. I finally settled on a bottle of Husch for a mere $13.

I have a feeling I’m not in Oakland anymore.

Pasadena Pastime

Well, here I am, enjoying Frette linens and Bulgari bath goodies. It’s called working.

I’m attending a conference at a historic hotel, the Langham, in Pasadena. Built in 1907 and formerly the Ritz-Carlton, it sits grandly beneath the San Gabriel Mountains.

It also has the best room service coffee I’ve ever had. It almost made up for whatever East Coast Idiot called me at 6:30 this morning, disturbing my much-needed beauty rest.

Getting here was, of course, an adventure. I got up early, even without the aid of an unwanted and unsolicited phone call. Called for a cab an hour before I needed it. It didn’t show up. Called again 10 minutes after it was due to arrive. I was told it was on its way. Several increasingly irate phone calls later, the cab finally showed up.

It was 9:10 and the plane left at 9:47.

I chucked bags and Self unceremoniously into the back seat of the cab, while the driver hung out in the street with the door open, blaming the cab company for his being late. I suggested that we GO, since I was almost certainly going to miss my flight. Visions of $150 change fees on a $200 ticket danced in my head as he finally turned on his GPS and started entering in the address.

Yes, I had drawn possibly the only cab driver who didn’t know how to get to the airport. Having only recently been there myself, I started directing him. And corrected him when he turned the wrong way (twice). And ran into the terminal, panted through Security (my obvious panic apparently not making me look one bit suspicious) and to the gate. A kindly lady asked, “Are you Susan?” as I wordlessly thrust my boarding pass at her. She smiled and told me not to worry, she was just going to page me and they wouldn’t leave without me.

I hustled onto the plane, which was approximately the size of my car, and as I sat down, the door slammed behind me. I was the cynosure of all eyes as I attempted to hide behind the latest issue of “Us” magazine.

Forty-five minutes later, I was at LAX, which was disappointingly free of celebrities. There went my hopes of being on TMZ. As I took the shuttle to the rental car place, it occurred to me that I spent longer waiting for the cab than flying to LA and picking up a brand new silver Impala (which is currently napping in valet parking. I love valet parking, even though they just took the car 50 feet away and there is endless tipping involved. It’s worth it just to have cute, smiling boys open the car door for you and close it after you as if it’s the most delightful thing in the world).

From what little I’ve seen of Pasadena, it is beautiful and full of houses that vary from enormous to mansion sized, in a tropical setting. It’s supposed to be 95 degrees today. Just right for lunch beside the turquoise pool.

Then back to work.

Autumn Showers

The good news: Kathleen’s flight was early; she had practically half a plane to herself; she’s making me an unbearably exquisite scarf of delicate red yarn which looks like lace; she was fine with the vise grip shower thing.

The bad news: the landlords did get in touch with their favored plumber, and he set three dates with me before actually showing up, ensuring that I missed dinner with Kathleen on Friday night and drinks afterwards. Not to mention having to cancel various and sundry meetings to accommodate his schedule.

The good news: Plumber Robert was charming when he finally showed up. The kittens loved him, and he has a much more successful Henry situation than I do: he has two brothers and a Henry who he eventually got to live in the house with the existing brothers. I know June would HATE it if Henry moved in, though I think Audrey would remain her unperturbed self.

When Plumber Robert came in, he immediately approved my posters for Vertigo, Rick Nelson, and Warhol’s Triple Elvis. In passing the coffee table, where I have the Vanity Fair with Marilyn on the cover, he picked up my phone and moved it , saying, “You can’t cover her face*. It’s not right.”

The bad news: There may be a leak behind the walls, which Robert is going to report to the landlords.

The good news: Shower is essentially fixed.

Depending on how you look at it: It rained for the first time in say, six months last night. It started around 11:00, when I was in bed, peacefully reading about John Stuart Mill in the New Yorker and wondering what he would have said about the election, when I heard Henry.
The bad news:

I got an umbrella and put on my sneakers and went out to investigate. He was under the porch with his cuddly bed, food and water. I talked to him a little and then went back in. He wouldn’t stop meowing. Went back out and gave him a couple of treats (the girls got some, too, of course). Still meowing. Opened the screen door to the back porch so he could come up and sleep on the little couch there if he wanted to. I called him to see if he’d come up. He kept meowing, but didn’t appear. He meowed for nearly two hours! I felt so terrible. Really hard to sleep last night. He seemed fine this morning.

*Which reminded me, inevitably, of Webster: “Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle. She died young”.