Archive for June, 2009

Jun 30 2009

Rude Awakening

Published by under Uncategorized

I always have a hard time getting to sleep when I know I have to get up early the following day, yet I have an amazing ability to be able to sleep right when the alarm goes off (like most of my few talents, this is not a lucrative one). Somehow, once I’m yanked out of sleep by the tyrannical peeping of the clock, the pillows are in just the right position and the bed is a haven of comfort and bliss instead of the arena of insomnia it was just a few short hours earlier. Maybe I should try setting the alarm to go off at bed time.

This morning, however, I had an awakening ruder than the alarm clock. And to add insult to injury, it was before the alarm was set to do so, robbing me of precious minutes of beauty sleep (and a really good dream about shopping in Paris). A resounding crash, followed by lesser noises, abruptly cancelled the rest of my napping program. I pulled off my Marilyn Monroe sleep mask to find the room basking in the cold, pearly light which means early morning fog. Looking at the clock, I saw that I should have had ten minutes more of unconsciousness – not enough to attempt an encore.

Sighing, I got up to see what the noise was. The kitties were sitting innocently by the closet, looking like they belonged on a sappy greeting card in their fakely innocent cuteness. They had found their way into the closet, knocked the suitcase onto the clackety hardwood floor, and in doing so, crashed the closet door resoundingly against the window frame, topping it off with a few pairs of shoes cascading onto the floor from the shoe rack hung inside the door. I tripped over a lavender suede Manolo Blahnik mule as I shoved the suitcase back into the closet and slammed it shut, scattering kittens across the room.

As I went through the living room on my way to the coffeemaker, I noticed that the paper bag I use to collect newspapers and other recycling was unaccountably on the couch instead of in the kitchen. Not surprisingly, its contents made a little trail from the original location. As I collected them, the alarm went off.

2 responses so far

Jun 28 2009

Sun Struck Sunday

Published by under Cats,Henry,Life in Oaktown,Weather

The two brain cells I have left have melted. It’s been mind-numbingly hot yesterday and today, especially in the convection oven known as Chez Suzy. Here’s what I’ve done today:

– Crawl out of sweat-soaked bed. Drink cold coffee. Kind of gross, but better than the alternative of putting something hot into already overheated body.

– Notice that it’s only 10:00 am. Hours of increasing heat to come! Even the cats are too languid to eat much or do much of anything. Audrey walks away from her food completely, though June and Henry are their ever-greedy selves.

– Take cold shower. Begin to feel human. Sensation abruptly departs before towelling-off process is complete.

– Sit by fan in bedroom window and read through materials for tomorrow’s conference calls, making notes of questions to ask. Set alarm for an alarming hour.

– Eat some pineapple juice which I had frozen. Pour more in, put it back in freezer for later attempts at cooling Self from the inside out.

– Douse face, hands and poitrine with cold water. Drink a glass of water. Lie on couch reading The New Yorker and cursing the Evil Star. Consider that a black leather couch was really an extremely poor furnishing choice. Wonder how hot it is in, say, Alaska. Try closing eyes and envisioning glittering snow and sparkling ice bergs.

– Doesn’t work. Get up, repeat frozen juice/water/dousing routine. Pee for approximately the millionth time (all that water, and possibly frozen juice and cold coffee) today. Wish for central air conditioning and the means to run it, preferably at meat locker temperatures.

– Avoid the weather section of the newspaper, on line and otherwise. Ditto the thermostat in the hallway. I really don’t want to know how hot it is, on the grounds that if I see it’s 95 degrees, I will actually feel worse, though I’m not sure this is humanly possible.

– Once again resolve to get that heat-reflecting paint and paint roof with it, assuming 1) I ever have the money to buy paint and roller and whatever else I’ll need to buy to actually do it; 2) I can borrow a ladder from my aged and helpful neighbor W to get up there; 3) I don’t fall off or paint myself into a corner.

– After Routine repetition, take bag of frozen mixed vegetables (how did they get in there?) out of freezer. Flop on couch, apply bag to neck, head, and belly in turn. Consider inventing a freezer sleeping bag, like those eye masks you put in the freezer, only you could slip your entire heat-struck body into it until your core temperature lowers enough for bearability.

– This could be my million dollar idea! Too bad Billy Mays is no longer around to promote it.

– Look at clock. It’s after 5:00. It should start cooling down soon, right? Maybe if I take everything out, I can squeeze myself into the refrigerator in the meantime. The freezer would obviously be better, like all penthouses, though unlike most of them, it’s clearly too small.

– Time to pour some vodka into that pineapple juice.

4 responses so far

Jun 20 2009

Happy Friday!

Published by under Cats,Henry,Life in Oaktown,Weather

Friday was finally sunny after weeks of fog and clouds. Though we don’t get rain this time of year, I do find day after day of overcast skies depressing. I don’t know how people who live in notoriously cloudy and rainy locales like Seattle can stand it.

So the sun had definitely lifted my spirits as I made my way home from the bus stop. I picked up a bottle of wine at the liquor store and cracketeria, and admired the fairy-tale white blooms on the trees as I walked down the street (not for the first time, I wished I could rehabilitate my camera and share a picture of them with you – undoubtedly, the garden-savvy could tell me what they were). I was feeling all sunny and careless, as Christopher Robin would say.

When I got home, there were no (overdue) bills in the mail. Yay! I tossed my lovely silver handbag onto the couch, along with my few keys on their adorable Louis Vuitton keychain (one of the few remaining relics of more prosperous days), and looked for the kitties. Instead, I saw my teapot lying smashed on the kitchen floor. No wonder they were nowhere to be seen.

I took a closer look, thinking maybe I could repair it, but no. I picked up the pieces and went to throw them in the garbage bin outside. June took this opportunity to race outside while I was otherwise occupied.

I tossed the former teapot into the newly-emptied garbage bin and started to look for June. At times like this, it’s really hard to sound all nice when calling her. I saw her under the car, and tried to coax her out.

The process was complicated by Henry’s appearance when he heard my voice. He came running up, meowing his harsh, yet muted meow, and June took off. I chased her, and she ran into the yard next door. You know, the one with the TWO DOGS who bark all the livelong day.

She was immediately cornered by the dogs. I couldn’t get in because the gate is locked. I screamed her name and the son of the house appeared, looking quizzical. He soon saw how it was, and kindly captured the terrified June, who repaid him by scratching him horribly, and passed her to her terrified owner, who was horribly embarrassed. He was really nice about it, and to the dogs’ credit, they didn’t try to attack the intruder. They are apparently all bark and no bite.

I was so glad I’d bought a bottle of attitude adjuster on the way home. Little did I know how much I’d need it!

4 responses so far

Jun 16 2009

Ghosts in the Machines

Published by under Uncategorized

My new-ish (and so far unbroken) red microwave has a voice feature, presumably for those who are microwaving blind. You can turn the voice low, high, or off, and I keep it off, since I’m not a big fan of chatting with appliances or being told what to do by them, other than by Jill*, my GPS. When I was getting ready for work this morning, I heard the microwave announce “Voice low” then “Voice high”. And I was nowhere in the room. Puzzled, I turned it to “Voice off”.

A few days ago, I had a similar experience with the radio. It just came on, even though I was in the bedroom and it was in the kitchen. Suddenly, the house was full of Curtis Mayfield on KISS FM. Even stranger, when I tried to turn it off, it stubbornly refused, possibly wanting me to hear the end of Mr. Mayfield’s song about hell. I had to unplug it.

Ghosts? Short circuits? Who knows?

When I arrived at BART today, I inserted my ticket in the machine to add the extra $6.20 I needed for my round-trip to the city (I spent $38 filling up the car today. I’m not kidding. I will be BART-ing more often, I fear), and it spit it out with disdain. I tried again, but the machine again pushed it back at me, making a distressed (and distressing) binking sound.

I went to see the agent. He said it had been demagnetized (by my magnetic personality?), and gave me the forty cents that was still on the old ticket. Somehow it seemed like extra money, getting it in coins.

Finally at work, I had a meeting with a gentleman whose firm we recently hired to manage some money for one of our clients. His phone buzzed, and it was his wife sending him a text message to say she was going into labor with their first child (it’s a boy!). In Chicago. We cut the meeting short and he hastened to the airport. I hope he makes it on time. It does seem like a good omen, though, for the beginning of something new.

*You can choose different voices for the GPS, and “Jill” is the American woman one. They should really have voices that are more fun, like Cary Grant or Zsa Zsa Gabor, but perhaps it would take them too long to drawl, “Turn left in 300 feet, dahling.”

3 responses so far

Jun 15 2009

L’Ennui Suzy

Published by under Henry,Life in Oaktown,TV

Lately, I’ve been catching up on the most recent season of Damages. Yes, it ended in April, but I usually wait until a TV series ends, then download it, so I can watch two or three episodes at a time instead of having to wait a week for a new one. Not to mention avoiding commercials, particularly those for boy problems* and girl problems and various syndromes (why is everything a syndrome now?). Patience is not one of my few virtues, so pretty much the only things I watch live are sports and sometimes the news (though I think the news can be summed up nearly every day by saying the messed up parts of the world are still messed up, someone shot someone, and there’s a missing kid somewhere).

Anyway, everyone on “Damages” is spying on or secretly taping everyone else, and I couldn’t help thinking how insanely bored someone would get staking out my house.

“The car hasn’t moved in four days.”

“She’s coming out of the house…oh, she’s picking up the paper and feeding that stray cat.”

“Leaving the house…going to BART. Must be going to work. She never leaves the office except to go straight home.”

“Car heading in different direction from BART. Oh, it’s the Safeway and the library** again. (They’re right across the street from each other.)

“Can anyone’s life really be this boring? It must be a cover.”

*The number of Viagra ads during the last World Series made me wonder if it was a comment on the players, the viewers, or both.

**A guy was found dead outside my library branch a month ago, though I didn’t hear about it at the time.

4 responses so far

Jun 09 2009

Covet Up

Published by under Covet: A Series

Ah, a Bay Area summer day. Wrapped in thick, pastel fog as you are wrapped in a thick, pastel sweater. Around 3:00, the sun peeks through, realizes it’s looking at Oakhampton, shuts the curtains again and flees in horror to more salubrious (or glamorous) climes.

So even though it’s well after Memorial Day*, you don’t really feel like it’s time to break out those summer whites just yet. Unless it’s these summer whites:

(Above) Trust Valentino to come up with this wonderfully over the top white patent leather gem. About $1,500.

(Above) This Gucci Joy bag would certainly bring me some. Around $1,000.

(Above) There’s always Chanel. Closer to $3,000.

Or an evening bag that costs about the same as a modest house in many parts of the country. It’s up to you, my well-accessorized friend.

*Does anyone still keep to the rule of not wearing white before Memorial Day or after Labor Day? I suspect not, just as no-one seems to follow the old rule that one is supposed to congratulate the groom and wish the bride good luck, which kind of says it all to me.

2 responses so far

Jun 08 2009


Published by under Cats,Henry

Some things never change: June front & center, Audrey wandering off. They are two days old.

The cats’ vocabulary is slightly limited. Now this may be because they aren’t quite two years old yet, and who among us (except possibly Oscar Wilde) can boast that their vocabulary was at all impressive at such an early age? But there are definitely a few important words and phrases they understand.

The girls get fed around 9 am and 6 pm. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from the kittens’ first vet, Dr. Jill. Dr. Jill impressed upon me the importance of not feeding the kittens as soon as I got up, no matter how plaintive their tiny mews. Her point was that if you feed them as soon as you stumble out of bed, they’ll take your daily rising as a signal that the food will be instantly in their bowls, and they will go to great and annoying lengths to wake you up. Just ask my sister.

So even if you just spend fifteen minutes making coffee and reading your emails, it will be worth it. And it’s true – the girls just sleep or play or do whatever it is cats do when we’re asleep until I say it’s time for breakfast. I usually ask them the purely rhetorical question “Are you girls hungry? Do you want some breakfast?”, which prompts them to scamper into the kitchen and get underfoot as much as possible. Nothing seems to convince them that this delays the food delivery. Henry does the exact same thing. I guess it’s a cat thing and we wouldn’t understand.

They know that I will also be scooping out Henry’s cheap and therefore desirable food, so they keep an eye on me. They generally stick their heads into the tupperware-ish container of food (I have to store the cat food in separate plastic containers – the cupboard doors don’t close properly and if the food is in the bags, the cats will be, too. I learned this the hard way.), so I put a few pieces of Generic Chow on the floor to distract them and then put the container away before going outside to have Henry get in my way all the way to his dish.

The life of a cat maid is not an easy one.

While the girls’ vocabulary may be on the small side, they do seem to be able to tell time fairly well. Around, say, 5:20, they start hanging around the kitchen. June in particular will try and convince me that it’s dinner time. She also likes to sit right in front of me and stare at me unblinkingly with her great golden eyes, as if to say, “Have you forgotten something? Hmmm?” June is much more interested in food than Audrey, and always has been. When the litter was a day or two old, she was stepping all over the others to get milk (see photo above). Audrey never finishes her food, so I have to keep an eye out and put it back in the container; otherwise, June will eat it.

When I tell them it’s supper time, they race into the kitchen again.

At night, when I’m ready to bring the girls in from the porch and close and lock the back door, I tell Henry goodnight and then ask the girls if they’d like some treats, which brings them in right away. It may be bad parenting, but I used to have to go out there and chase them and try to keep one in while I chased the other, and it was a lot easier to just give them a couple of treats when they came in at night. So now they expect the question, and I’m pretty sure they know what the words “hungry”, “breakfast”, “supper” and “treats” means – even if their understanding is limited to “The Girl is finally going to feed us! Yay!”

Clever kitties.

7 responses so far

Jun 06 2009

Contrary Library

Published by under Uncategorized

You know, one of the librarians is always kind of weird with me. Not the nice old lady, not the groovy, aloof guy (there has to be a story behind his working there), but the girl with the facial piercings and that ‘tude.

It started off with her remarking on how many books I read. You’d think this would be a positive in the eyes of a librarian, but the way she said it suggested that there was something faintly felonious about it. Was I using up more than my fair share of resources? Do I have deplorable taste in literature? Am I risking her manicure by making her check out so many books at once?

I don’t know, and I haven’t ventured to ask.

When I went in today and returned my books, I handed her my card. Patrons can request books on line, and when they arrive at the local library, you get an email. So I knew I had a couple of books on hold, waiting for me.

She took the card and scanned it, then peered at the computer screen. “You have two holds,” she said. Then she looked at me and said, “I assume that’s why you’re here.”

No, honey, I’m here to admire your mutilations and crankiness.

“Uh, yes,” is all I actually said. She scanned the books and left them on the counter, then walked away.

Weird, right?

4 responses so far

Jun 05 2009


Published by under Uncategorized

On Saturday morning, Brother-In-Law was changing my car’s oil in the driveway. My sister and I heard him talking outside and wondered if he was talking to himself. Peeking out the window, we saw it was a Jehovah’s Witness or two (they seem to travel in pairs or packs, possibly for protective reasons). We were both amazed.

These folks went to an obscure town with a population of 400 people (even locals consider Albion to be isolated), then drove miles and miles down a country road, then down a narrow, rutted dirt road, then walked down an offshoot of the dirt road to find my sister’s house.

Those are some determined would-be converters, my friend.

I have to wonder what their success rate is, if any, in a place populated mostly by people seeking an off the grid, unconventional lifestyle. My guess is that other than atheists and agnostics, most people practice some kind of paganism or nature worship. Albion doesn’t even have a church (or a bar, for that matter – in Oakland, storefront churches and liquor stores seem to go hand in hand). So I can’t believe that any of its non-conformist residents are going to say, “That sounds good! Count me in!”

Two days after I got home, I was visited by my very own pair of JWs. Oddly, it was Monday morning, and you’d think most people would be at work instead of hanging around the living room watching Jerry Springer and waiting to be converted. Again, it wouldn’t seem to be fertile ground for conversion to the cause. I saw them coming down the street and closed the blinds, thankful for once that my doorbell doesn’t work. I did a pretty convincing imitation of not being home, if I say so myself (though the car was in the driveway).

What are the odds of being visited twice in two days, in places so far apart?

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.

One response so far

Jun 04 2009

Birthday Wishes

Published by under Special Occasions

Birthday Report Card

Foggy, overcast: C

Work day (ugh): D

A million and a half birthday emails, some unexpected, and one announcing a new kitten and an engagement (in the PS!): A+

Also Facebook love: A+

Actual birthday cards (bonus points: Hand-written letter received the day before my birthday, with drawings): A+

No money to actually do anything: F

Dow is up! A

Watched Blue Jays game with morning coffee : A

But they lost: F

Bottle of California “champagne” in refrigerator (to open with the Detroit/Pittsburgh game – guess Detroit isn’t going to win the Stanley Cup on my birthday this year): A

Blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup for breakfast: A

Average: B

On the birthday covet list:

The Birds Barbie (every girl should have a Barbie before she turns 50):

Chanel’s Facettes D’Or Limited Edition Gold Fiction Nail Colour:

Boxed Set of Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley Series:

A bottle (or two!) of the Widow:

A day with the fabulous K, including a stop at Dr. Nails and flowers on our toes.

Thanks everyone for all the birthday wishes. I know you love me – xo xo

4 responses so far

Jun 03 2009

Welcome Home

Published by under Cats,Henry

I made it home in good time, and was warmly welcomed by the girls. I’m always relieved when I get home and find no-one has broken in and nothing untoward has happened – leaving your house with all the blinds closed and no car in the driveway for a few days seems to be asking for trouble when you live in Oakland.

I may be slightly bitter about having the GPS stolen out of the car and the bicycle out of the back yard.

But I digress…

The girls milled around my feet and told me how much they missed me. When they started sniffing the bags I brought back, with their interesting smells of Other Cats, I went out to see how Henry was doing. He still had lots of food and water left, but was pretty snippy with me. He always gets mad at me when I go away, which leads me to believe he enjoys my scintillating conversation almost as much as his bargain basement food. But seriously – I do think he likes having the company and attention. He usually forgives me the next day.

Back in the house, it soon became apparent that the usual naughtiness continued apace while I was gone. One of the two water bowls had been overturned, creating a nice, slippery mini flood on the kitchen floor. The candle holder in the fireplace had similarly been knocked over, merrily scattering votives, even though the cats know they’re not allowed in there.

In the bedroom, my jewelry box had been tossed onto my desk, spilling jewelry all over it and creating hopeless tangles. The TV remote was hiding nervously under the couch. I could just picture them racing all over the house, frustrated that they couldn’t go outside. And maybe missing me. A little.

2 responses so far

Jun 02 2009

Eye of the Beholder

Published by under Jessica

Alas, my time with Jessica was short-lived. She had a t-ball game in Cloverdale on Saturday, so she had to be returned to her mother on Friday. Megan and I had a few errands to run, so we decided to take the kidlet along with us and return her last, the errands being in one direction and Erica’s store in the other.

Jessica and I waited in the car while Megan got money from the bank. A guy tried to sell us mangoes while we were waiting, but Megan’s allergic to them, so I had to pass. When she came back, she mentioned that she’d shown the teller her driver’s license for ID purposes, and noticed how good the picture was. She showed it to me, and I agreed, saying mine was pretty good, too. So we swapped and looked at them.

Jessica, marooned in the backseat in her baby booster seat, asked to look at them too. She examined both of them and then said, “Suzy, you looked a lot younger then,” handing it back to me. I looked at the picture (7 years old? More?) and wondered if that’s just the viewpoint of someone 40 years younger, or just the truth.

While my ego struggled to recover, we stopped in at Safeway. Megan and I got sandwiches, and asked Jessica what she wanted.

She wanted sushi. Eel sushi.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “Yes, yes!” she said, bouncing up and down. She also wanted a small envelope of cinnamon teddy grahams, because what tops off a meal of eel better?

I kind of wondered if she’d really eat it. She did, but it soon became apparent that sushi is not car friendly. We had to keep peeling a sticky rice morsel from the tray and passing it back to Jessica. The car immediately stank of sushi and everyone had sticky hands. It was pretty gross.

I’d like to share with you the pictures I took of Jessica, but my camera is being recalcitrant. It’s nearly 10 years old, and that’s about as old as I look by digital camera standards. I’m hoping it just needs a new battery.

I think I do, too.

2 responses so far

Jun 01 2009

Jessica Thumbs a Ride

Published by under Jessica,Weather

I’m back! I missed you, too. I’m sure you kept busy shopping for my birthday presents while I was away.

It was the grand tour of micro-climates on my way up north: fog completely hid the dreaming spires of San Francisco, but became patchy around Frank Lloyd Wright’s* Marin Civic Center. By the time I got to Petaluma, it was blazing blue sky, and in Boonville, it was downright hot.

Megan hadn’t told Jessica’s mom Erica that I was coming up. What with all the stopping, I arrived at her shop 10 minutes before closing time. Erica later told me that she saw a late-breaking customer looming and thought, “Ugh, not now – I want to close and go home.” I had no idea about that as I cheerfully came through the door.

Both Jessica and Erica just lit up like Christmas trees when they saw me. Jessica jumped into my arms and I realized how much she’d grown. When we finished hugging, she showed me her new teeth and what she was reading (Lemony Snicket!). Then I finally got to hug Erica and admire all the new things in the shop. Also eat ice cream for the first time in years as we caught up.

Jessica, as usual, was way ahead of me and knew I was on my way to Megan’s. She wasted no time in suggesting that she accompany me. Erica called Megan to ask if that would be OK, and of course it was. Erica was delighted: would she use her unexpected free time to play trivia at the Lodge, or go home and relax in her PJs?

I asked Jessica if she still needed a car seat. “Unfortunately, yes,” she sighed dramatically, clearly thinking such things were far too babyish for her. Apparently, you can be too thin: she’s well above the height for not having a booster seat, but is so light that the law still requires it.

Once we got going, I asked Jessica if she’d like me to roll down the windows. It was 85 degrees in the Valley, and I had forgotten the needle nose pliers I use to put on heat and A/C (lost the knob and can’t turn the thing).

“Yes!” she responded. “I love to feel the wind in my hair.”

That evening, Megan showed us pictures on her phone of Jessica at the Mendocino Fun Fair (it’s her favorite day of the year) a couple of years ago. Her face was painted with beautiful pink flowers. Of course, she had to take the phone and look at the pictures. “Oh, I was so adorable that day!” she exclaimed, after looking at them carefully.

Next: Why sushi is not a good choice for lunch in the car.

*The splendid Guggenheim is 50 this year!

3 responses so far