Archive for February, 2010

Feb 28 2010


Published by under Dogs

Saturday afternoon Harlow

Yesterday, the chilly morning turned to sun as Megan and I headed to town for the Adoption Day.

When we arrived at the Feed & Pet, Monica was already set up with a palapas-looking umbrella shading her table, which of course had a scented candle burning and a vase of orchids beside information packages on pit bulls. Because that’s how she rolls.

We had Harlow’s brother Trace with us that day, sporting his orange “ADOPT ME” vest. He was full of puppy energy, so I was walking him around the parking lot when I saw a family approaching. I introduced Trace, and I saw a look pass between the mother and her teenage son. We learned later that Trace Adkins is the son’s favorite singer. Kismet! They were clearly charmed by Trace, and we walked back toward Monica’s table as I told them everything I knew about Trace.

His foster mother, Carol, demonstrated Trace’s exceptional training (sit, stay, lie down, etc.) for the delighted family. They filled out the paperwork right then and there. I was so happy to take off the vest and hand the leash to Trace’s new family. They already have a 12 year old dog they rescued off the street many years ago (so emaciated you could see all his ribs), and Trace is his new brother. Trace settled happily into the waiting bed in the back of their car and drove off to his new life while we waved good-bye.

One thing Monica insists on is doing a home visit to make sure everything is OK in real life and not just on paper. We agreed to go over later that afternoon, giving Megan and me time to run errands (library, Safeway, bank, gas station – you know the drill). We met up with Monica and went to visit Trace’s new home.

They live on seven beautifully landscaped acres, with the two acres around the house being fenced to keep dogs in and unwanted animals out. The house itself is huge and lovely, and Trace and Max, his big brother, have free run of it along with their own luxurious beds. During the visit, Max and Trace played together happily, Max’s eyes bright with joy, and then collapsed onto the bed for a nap. No worries there.

Driving home in the setting sun, we agreed that it had been a great day.

3 responses so far

Feb 27 2010


Published by under Country Life,Weather

Yesterday, I woke up to a dark, stormy day.

As I watched the trees toss their heads through the skylight in my bedroom, I thought, “It’s just a matter of time until the power goes out.” I heard trees falling and things being blown over as I worked, but the power stayed on. I also heard a truck going down the driveway.

Peeking out the window, I saw the Amerigas truck driving slowly down the rutted dirt road. It stopped at Mark’s, where Luna announced his presence (“Hello, this is Luna, your doorman!”). He was afraid to get out of the cab, so I got an umbrella and ran down there in the pouring rain, shooing Luna away. I had to tell him about ten times that Luna wouldn’t bite him before he believed me. She’s all bark and no bite. I asked him to fill up my tank, throwing caution to the winds with the insouciance of a girl who had finally paid off her most recent $400 propane bill. I was down to about 20% and that’s as low as the gas limbo is supposed to go.

Feeling smug, I went inside to do the dishes. The water wouldn’t heat up, meaning the flash heater was out. I called Mark, and he came over to have a look. It was worse than I thought, though, because he had to take the bottom of the housing off to see what was going on in there. Apparently the wind and rain had both blown out and soaked the pilot light, so it took awhile to persuade it to work. This is why having your flash heater outside is a less than stellar idea.

While he was working outside, I went back to work inside. For about five minutes. Until the power went out.

I looked out at the clearing skies and wondered what was up with that, since the storm appeared to have blown over. Rob came by to get the generator going so I could continue my degenerate lifestyle, and he said there were other, bigger outages, so PG&E may have shut ours off temporarily to fix the others. It wasn’t out long, and all was back to what passes for normal by the time I went to bed.

2 responses so far

Feb 25 2010


Published by under Cats,Country Life

My sister’s car was parked in my driveway this morning, and I’m sure it wasn’t there last night.

She was so stressed and sleep-deprived yesterday that Rob took her to work last night and Jonathan picked her up this morning, bright and early at 6 am, once again making him the best brother ever. So the car’s presence here was even stranger.

Later I found it was because Lu thought she might drop off a load of wood at Megan’s so Rob moved the car to make way for the potential transaction.

And I thought it was because being seen in my driveway had such cachet.

Less mysterious, but still delightful, was the dozen Betty eggs she left on my table. Betty’s hens are laying again now that spring is closer.

In other mysteries, whenever I go to town and pick up an armload of books from the library, as I did yesterday, I almost invariably find more have arrived by the time I get home or check my library holds the next day. How do they do it?

And why do the cats claw the hell out of the wood on either side of the door when they have a woods full of trees all around them? It isn’t just Audrey clawing frantically to go in or out, either, since that is done by clawing the glass in the door for extra squeak. June claws the house, too, and Megan’s cats do the same thing at their house. Why? Why?

The ways of cats are inscrutable. I love it when I let them in one door and they walk straight to another door and ask to be let out of that one. Just because they can, I guess.

3 responses so far

Feb 24 2010


Published by under Dogs,Special Occasions

What’s better than a yard sale? A yard sale which raises money for needy dogs, that’s what!

On Sunday, Meg and I went to help Monica, her partner in pit bulls, at her annual “purge party”. Monica has a store in town which sells flooring, carpeting and so on, but somehow also has fabulous items of cuteness, from candles to magnets to wallets and make-up. It smells like magic in there. Monica has great taste and always looks effortlessly stylish, which every girl knows is the hardest look to pull off. I totally Covet a lamp in her store, which is covered with vintage buttons. Every year, she organizes local merchants, among others, who bring things to sell and donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue. Together we raised almost a thousand dollars!

I held a board with pictures of different dogs on it and a sign saying “Can you guess the pit bull?” I’m sorry to say that I failed to identify the correct dog, but I was in good company – I’d say around 30% of the people got it right. The lucky few who did got a cookie, and everyone got a lesson in pit bull 101 from my dedicated sis.

I have to say I really enjoyed seeing her in action. Her passion just shines and affects everyone she talks to. She was able to correct a lot of misconceptions people have about pit bulls (the locking jaw, the pugnacious temperament, etc.) and even explained to one overalled hick that no, flicking a dog’s nose with a lit lighter is not a good way to stop a fight. Honestly, sometimes I despair of people. Today I was driving behind someone whose dog was hanging out of the back window to the point that both of his front legs were out. I beeped and gestured, but in vain. When I passed the car, I saw that the driver had another dog on her lap.


Meanwhile back at the yard sale, two of Harlow’s siblings were looking for homes. No takers yet, but we did give away some flyers about the puppies and Meg put some up at work. There is also an adoption day this Saturday at the Feed & Pet, so I might go with Megan and help out. You can see that her enthusiasm affects even the most slothful.

It wasn’t all work and no play, though. I did get a see-through corded phone ($4!), so I’m ready for the next power outage in style.

2 responses so far

Feb 23 2010

Signs of Spring

Published by under Country Life,Weather

You know, when we left Cloverdale after the Citrus Fair, I noticed clouds of clover in the fields. Who knew? In addition to daffodils by the side of the road. In my garden, they grow right by phallic cactus and art:


I wonder if Rose planted them.

Right outside the glass doors in the living room is a vine I thought was dead, but is an awakening honeysuckle.

Huckleberries are the eccentrics of the neighborhood. They are blooming now, but they won’t fruit until July. What’s up with that? And yet we’re still picking them – barely – at Thanksgiving. Go figure.


Between the age of my camera, my lack of skills, and the falling pine needles, you’ll have to take my word on this one. The manzanita flowers look like lilies of the valley. They were the favorite flowers of my mother and her mother.

I have no idea what this is. It’s planted in a big wine vat. And it’s been blooming like crazy:


“Now I see that my world has only begun” — Gene Clark

2 responses so far

Feb 21 2010


Published by under Cooking,Country Life,Henry

We had a power outage yesterday evening.

Megan was at my house, and we were making dinner from the Book of Dad*. I went to grudgingly throw my green bin contents into the woods (I still think it’s gross and will attract an undesirable animal element, but apparently it makes me a better person and I can use all the help I can get), and when I came back in, the house was dark.


“The power’s out.”


I put on the battery powered lamps and Megan called Jonathan, who came over right away. He was slightly delayed by a freaky guy who walked right up to his gate and was ranting about nothing and everything. The guy wandered away, and when he described the guy to Megan, she knew who it was right away. Most of the local crazies end up in the ER at one time or another.

The oven, of course, was still merrily cooking away, being gas, but Henry’s bed, which was in the washer, was not.

Jonathan set up the generator, plugged things in, and soon we had heat and light. Then, like most super heroes, he was on his way.

The power came on before we went to bed that night. There was even enough time to finish washing Henry Etta’s bed and get her settled into it.

*Braised honey-mustard chicken, to be precise. Also broccoli and almond pilaf. It was great. Dad food is the best food.

2 responses so far

Feb 20 2010

The Cat Report

Published by under Cats,Family,Henry

Perfectly innocent

So are the cats of our lives…

On Thursday night, I made yet another unnecessarily elaborate dinner at my sister’s house. My sis happens to have a much better equipped cuisine than I do, even though she – if you can believe this – has even less counter space. In fact, my very act of choosing to cook at her place led to a flurry of cleaning off the old wooden table in her kitchen to give me a little more operating room.

After the long-awaited dinner*, Harriet showed up with a mouse in her mouth. I opened the front door but she ran upstairs. Later, we discovered that Harriet had left the (dead) mouse under the coffee table Dad made out of an ancient door. Meg’s first step, unsteadily, was taken from that table, which she held onto before letting go and walking into her life. She never looked back.

Fearing for Jinx and my brother in almost equal measure, I went over to his place last night and called the cat with no real hope of success. I left an open can of very good quality cat food on an outside table for him, and called him for almost an hour with no results. As I walked around the bushes and the shipping container and the shed and the trailer with my flashlight, I thought, “Well, there’s a million places he could be.” I didn’t even raise Twilley, who was undoubtedly thrilled to be released from his unaccustomed prison.

I called my brother and told him of my lame efforts, and he was really touched. I told him how surprised I was to be so upset by the loss of a cat I never knew, and offered the hope of a Hav-A-Hart trap baited with something really good. The truth is, my brother does so much for me, and I can do so little for him. This was all I could do, other than locking the gate when I left, which he appreciated.

That’s another story, and it’s not a nice one, having to do with the kind of people who will knock down your gate and steal your redwoods for profit.

When I got home, I horrified June and Audrey by sweeping them into my arms and hugging them, making them wiggle frantically to escape my maniacal clutches. I was just so glad they were safe. All night my thoughts kept turning to Jinx, out there in the deep country darkness.

Henry Etta distracted me from these morbid thoughts (and the finale of “Monk”, which was excellent) by jumping onto my lap. I petted her messy fur and was glad she was safe forever from the perils of the Oakland streets. When the heater went on, she dumped me in its favor as usual, but she left a not so lovely parting gift. Unwisely putting my hand on the couch cover, I discovered an even bigger gift there. I took off the couch cover, changed into my pajamas, and threw the whole mess into the washer.

Then I got a paper towel, dampened it with warm water, and wiped Miss Henry’s butt with it. After I threw out the paper towel, it occurred to me how remarkable it was that she actually allowed me yank up her tail and undignify her like that without resorting to hissing or clawing.

I am now keeping a tea towel on my lap at all times in self-defense.

Note to Self: better throw that cat bed into the wash, too.

*It was manicotti, stuffed with turkey sausage and fresh spinach, etc. I deviated freely from the recipe. It turned out well, but stuffing the manicotti is a skill I didn’t pick up when I lived in Italy for a few months. If only I’d thought to ask!

2 responses so far

Feb 19 2010


Published by under Cats

Dear Readers,

At the best of times, the inside of my head looks like a particularly untidy attic. And since I seem to be coming down with a cold or similar (it’s hard to tell when you have allergies; they’re like an unending cold), it’s not the best of times for my two little brain cells.

My brother woke me up from weird dreams this morning (the kind which convince you that you are, in fact, secretly psychotic) to ask me what to do about his cats. Twilley is annoyed at being kept inside and may also be annoyed by the invasion of his petite domain by the new cat.

The new cat is still hiding in the shower, which, apart from hygiene concerns, is concerning.

I think new cats can hide for much longer than 48 hours, but does anyone have any experience with this?

Also, should we let Twilley out? I’m afraid he’ll be all annoyed and take off, but he does know where he lives now and where his food is, so hopefully his little tabby nose isn’t too much out of joint to come back home.

My brother was on his way to work for a 12 hour shift, so I said to leave them both in and I’d check on them later, so that’s what we did for today.

Do let me know your suggestions/thoughts/ideas as soon as you can, either in the comments or by emailing me at sjpeakall AT gmail DOT com.

Thanks from the kitties and the people who love them,

Update, Friday, 7 pm: Well, they managed to get out while my brother was at work. ~sigh~ I just went over with a can of food and called them, but needless to say, no response. Left the open can of food on an outside table and hope Jinx will find it. Hope he isn’t too scared to reappear. I’m so sad and I never even met this cat!

3 responses so far

Feb 17 2010


Published by under Cats,Jessica

As you know, I’m getting pretty tired of being the cat doorman. Well, Audrey’s doorman, especially several times in the middle of the night. As a family, we tend to sleep poorly, so being woken up multiple times by the Audrometer in addition has led to chronic sleepiness for me. Last night, I decided to leave the balcony door slightly ajar, so Audrey could come or go as she liked. I expected to find the door blasted open in the middle of the night, but no. And it was great to get a real night’s sleep, such as it was. I imagine parents feel the same way when their baby finally sleeps through the night.

In other cat news, my brother has adopted a young black and white male named Jinx. He used to have two adorable tuxedo brothers named Thing One and Thing Two, but they disappeared (in order, actually). After One disappeared, he adopted Twilley, a handsome tabby who agrees with Audrey about the importance of hunting at all times. Twilley and Two spent a lot of time together until Two also vanished. Twilley has been very lonely, especially when Jonathan works overnight, so getting a companion seemed like a good idea.

Jinx was quiet all the way from the animal shelter to Jonathan’s place. Released from his box, he went crazy, racing back and forth in the (very) limited confines of the trailer, leaping up on the counters, spraying pots and pans everywhere. I just called to check on him and he is now hiding in the shower while my brother attempts to restore order to his domain. Twilley is bemused. Keeping them inside for the prescribed two weeks is going to be…interesting.

By the way: I forgot to mention that I finally remembered to bring Jessica her nicely wrapped Christmas present (either really late or really early – you decide) on Sunday. She was so impressed with the wrapping that she was reluctant to open it, probably a first for both of us. As soon as she took off the snowflake pin, she put it on her coat (and later, when it warmed up at the fair and she took her coat off, she put it on her t-shirt). I’m glad I was momentarily mature enough to give it to her instead of keeping it. The light-up snowman pen was a big hit, too. She used it to write down all our cell phone numbers and put them in her pocket in case we got separated at the fair. This was her idea. What else would you expect from a six year old who reads at an advanced sixth grade level?

*If I had been old enough to have my own place in the 1970s, I would have had an “etc” sign on the wall, just like Rhoda. I loved her apartment on the first couple of seasons of “Rhoda”. The terrace alone! I also loved MTM’s little studio apartment. I love mentally redecorating both of them when I watch those shows, too.

2 responses so far

Feb 16 2010

Gone to the Dogs

Published by under Dogs,Schatzi

Harlow, “my” puppy

My work ethic (such as it is) has really gone to the dogs lately. Yesterday, I bailed off work to go with Megan to meet Lu at Big River to walk the dogs, and today I delayed doing the work I should have done yesterday to walk Schatzi on the logging road in the unaccustomed sunshine. Before I left, I put my laundry outside in the sun to attempt to dry it, so I did accomplish something.

Now that I’m back, I’m blogging instead of working, so I guess I’m going to the blogs, too.

I guess I can’t list “amazing ability to procrastinate” under “special skills” on my resume. Imagine if I really did list my special skills? The ability to complain about anything, any time; unerringly select the most expensive item in the “New Yorker” estate jewelry ads; tell if someone is really a guy or a girl (that’s a skill acquired from many years of living in San Francisco); select just the right wine for any occasion. Really, is there a job on earth where a girl would get hired for these skills?

As work avoidance goes, yesterday’s walk was great. We were all reveling in the surprising sunshine. We met up in the Big River parking lot. I hadn’t seen Harlow, the artist formerly known as my puppy, since Halloween, and although she is still small (she was the runt of the litter), she has grown a lot. As you can see from the picture, she is still red and has retained her beautiful golden eyes, along with her worried wrinkles, which are cute on dogs. As befits “my” puppy, she is a handful! I decided to let Megan the disciplinarian deal with Harlow, while I took my old friend Schatzi and Lu took her huge, well-behaved Rottweiler Marco.

Lu’s ankle is still recovering, so we stayed on the flat road, and because there were lots of other dogs and people (it was one of those sorta holidays, where the banks and post office are closed, but you still have to work), the dogs were leashed. But a good time was had by all.

On our way home, there were no fewer than five cars making the turn to Hooterville in front of us, making six cars total. This may be unprecedented. At the store, we picked up a couple of their fabulous croissant sandwiches. Megan had hers in the car, but I made the mistake of taking mine home and microwaving it too long. It turned into mush, with the strange, intense heat of microwaved food. So my treat became unsatisfactory and weird. Oh, well.

Today, I couldn’t find Schatzi anywhere. I whisper-called her in the house and managed to wake up my poor sister, who had probably been in bed for all of three hours by then. It turned out that Schatzi was sleeping with her, so she sent the sleepy dog downstairs. She woke up when she saw the leash, though. Meg was a good sport about having her beauty sleep so rudely interrupted, though I suspect that if it had been for any other reason, she wouldn’t have been quite so forgiving.

I let Schatzi off the leash today, and she scampered around happily. Luna showed up, but when she started to bother Schatzi, I told her to beat it and she knocked it off for once, so it was a good walk for all concerned. When we got home, I surprised Schatzi with a pot of water in which I’d poached a chicken breast. The perfect after walk hydration in her opinion.

I left the doors open both yesterday and today, and I have to say, it’s nice to have a break from my real job as Cat Doorman.

I’d better get back to my other job. Finally.

2 responses so far

Feb 15 2010


Orange trees at the fair. Note the blue sky!

Yesterday was a girls’ day out. At the 118th annual Citrus Fair!

Megan and I went to meet Lu in beautiful downtown Hooterville. While waiting for Lu, someone called out from her car, “Hey, Megan! I was never so glad to see you in my life as I was at that call!” It was the official paramedic from the call where Megan and Lu unofficially helped a week earlier.

We were getting a little cold waiting for Lu and reading the signs posted on the store’s bulletin board (do I really need a free, 14 year old ostrich who “like room to run”?), so we went in and chatted with the cashier. She regaled us with stories of shoplifters past, including a drunk guy who used to hide wine in his pants, deny it, and then get busted when the bottles fell out of the pants legs onto the floor.

Lu pulled up as we mused on how stupid you’d have to be to steal at the only store in town, and the only store for several miles, and we piled in.

In Boonville, we stopped off to pick up Jessica, who was anxiously awaiting our arrival. Erica was, too, because she had 200 pastries to make that day, and making 200 pastries is a lot easier when you don’t have to brat-bash, as my father would say. I traded her a “New Yorker” with an article on Neil Gaiman for her only child, and we both thought we got a pretty good deal.

Big news: Jessica is no longer subject to the indignity of the car seat! And she is tall enough to ride that ride.

Arriving at the fair, Jessica and I were thrilled by the sight of the Citrus Fair Queen in her red cape and sparkly tiara. We waved, and the Queen waved back very regally for a high school student. Jessica said that she thought she could be a Citrus Fair Queen one of these days, and I bet she could.

Even more exciting than the Queen sighting for Miss Jess were the rides, the more dizzying, the better.


All the grownups were either too scared (Me) or nauseous (everyone else) to accompany the kidlet on the rides. After all, I am the same girl who was horrified by the Ferris wheel at the Florida State Fair a few years ago. Though we did make sure that she was tall enough (she actually exceeded the height requirements) and that there were sufficient safety mechanisms in place. Then we just watched her be delighted. That girl is fearless.


She also caught a couple of toy fish, winning prizes, and wound up the ride experience with a relatively tame carousel ride (I tried not to think about that scene from “Strangers on a Train”, especially since they were playing the same song).


After that, it was time for a BBQ lunch with garlic fries while being serenaded by a mariachi band. Sitting at the picnic table in the sun, I said that I was actually afraid of getting a sunburn. Megan had a sunblock stick in her bag, and we all put some on. It was wonderful to bask in the sun and blue skies, which never did make it to Hooterville that day.

After lunch, we visited the pygmy goats, including twin babies:


We also petted the world’s softest rabbit. He felt like suede.

Megan and I went to a talk on beekeeping from a gentleman who has been a beekeeper for more than 60 years (his father was a life-long beekeeper, and so is his daughter, who gives classes we’re hoping to attend this spring). Among the many things we learned was that in the 1950s, the US exported 60% of its honey. Now it imports 60%. Also that most beekeepers are now 65 or older, so that just strengthened our commitment to truly learning this difficult art.

There was just enough time to watch Scotty and Trink juggle knives – and fire – on unicycles:


all while making the audience laugh.

It was a great day.

When we left Erica and Jessica, Jessica called after us: “Goodbye, enourage!”

4 responses so far

Feb 14 2010


Published by under Cats,Dogs,Henry,Schatzi

I do too fit!

Last night, Megan and I had a girls’ night in. Schatzi came, too, sporting a cute new collar* which unfortunately doesn’t really show up in this picture. Also it kind of gives her demon eyes, but it was so funny I had to post it anyway. After a couple of glasses of wine, Megan observed that it really was a girls’ night, since all three cats and the dog in attendance are girls. Coincidentally, Megan’s cats, Ramona (the Pest) and Harriet (the Spy) are sisters, but our brother has only ever had boy cats.

As we binged on “Sex and the City” and junk food, it soon became apparent that Henry Etta likes Schatzi.

Yes, this is the same cat who was so spooked by hearing dogs bark in a movie that she fled the room just a couple of months ago. Now, if Schatzi is curled up next to Megan and not me (dogs are always welcome on my couch), Henry will sit on her lap to be closer to Schatzi. She has sat close enough to touch the dog. If Schatzi is sitting or lying on the floor, Henry approaches her and sniffs her carefully. Schatzi is always polite to cats, so she takes this attention in stride, but I still think it’s funny that my stray cat has a crush on a pit bull.

When Henry went for a snack break, Schatzi seized the opportunity to try on Henry’s bed for size. Being a dainty-sized dog, she sort of fit, and clearly found it as comfortable as Henry Etta does. Though she gracefully gave it up when its owner returned. No wonder Henry has a crush on her!

*Just in time for Fashion Week**. It’s a soft yellow, and patterned with little flowers which might be daisies or might be sunflowers. Either way, it brings out her brindle coloring very nicely.
**Rest in peace, Alexander McQueen. So sad.

4 responses so far

Feb 13 2010


Published by under Country Life

For some reason, there are always pine needles in the shower. I have no idea how they get there.

The floor of the shower is painted, so it’s a little slippery. I’m pretty sure that the resolution ending Calamity Suzy episode of all time is going to happen in there, sooner or later. To try and avert the inevitable, the last time I was in the city, I picked up some clear pebble Tub Treadz* and a matching bath mat. I thought the pebbly look was good for the country. And everything in this house is slightly (or extremely) irregular.

I was slightly stymied, as so often happens, by the instructions. “Apply to a clean, dry surface”, it says in a breezy manner, as if that were something easily attained. It’s almost impossible to attain either for me. The shower never drains completely, and there’s always renegade dirt and pine needles in there. I’m not sure how to achieve the requisite cleanliness and dryness, so the Tub Treadz are still cutely in their package for now, and possibly forever.

I have been using the bath mat, but I overlooked the fact that plastic doesn’t absorb either water or the aforementioned detritus of Nature the way fabric bath mats did. Although it’s a little cold and squishy to step onto, it doesn’t show the dirt or add yet another color to the tiny room.

The inside of the doors is red, while the outsides are blue. The floor is lime green. Electric lime green. And it extends into what should be the foyer, which has a blue door. One of these days, I’d like to put black and white tiles down and paint the blue door white. In the meantime, I try to avert my eyes. Though the lime green is somewhat toned down by the mud that is inevitably tracked into the house.

The bathroom itself is unheated, and the walls appear to be made of particle board or plywood mostly, as is the lime green floor. So it’s really not all that far, literally or figuratively, from the outdoor shower, which is on the porch right outside the bathroom. Especially when you factor in the wildlife that likes to congregate in there: spiders and bugs, and I once found a huge black slug in the non-draining shower and a tiny scorpion in the equally tiny sink.

It’s nice and warm when you’re actually in the shower – assuming that the flash heater doesn’t get blown out – and you can enjoy the view of the garden and the non-functioning hot tub as you shampoo. You might even see a passing PG&E meter reader or a deer. When you get out, though, it’s pretty chilly, despite the room being fogged up. But that’s easily solved by opening both doors: the one to the back porch and the one to the foyer.

*They reminded me of the rubber daisies we use to have in the bathtub when I was a kid.

3 responses so far

Feb 10 2010


Published by under Country Life

My former neighbor

I recently learned that Gene Clark of the Byrds used to live right here in Hooterville.

Not only right here, but about two miles from where I live. I have to admit to a certain amount of posthumous stalking, driving down his road to look for his house, immortalized on a record cover. Said house was sold to him by none other than the husband of Betty of the famous Betty eggs. He’s something like a sixth generation Hootervillite, and these are extremely rare. I think he’s the only one.

He’s pulled over to say hello to Megan and me when we’ve been walking the Schatz, regaling us with tales of hunting for wild mushrooms (don’t pick the ones with the gills underneath) and elk (no luck this year), and one of these days, I’m going to ask him about Gene Clark.

For some reason, maybe because Gene, at the height of his considerable fame, turned his back on Hollywood to come to this obscure corner of the world – the same corner that has become my refuge – he’s been haunting me. I always look down his road when I pass, and I think how the road almost certainly looks the same that it did forty years ago, when he lived here.

He would have reached the same place on the road to the store where the ocean is first glimpsed through the trees in its many moods and different beauties. He would have driven across the wooden bridge across the river (built during WWII and now the only surviving wooden bridge on Highway 1) on his way to the Little River Inn for his habitual drinks.

When I pass the beautiful Little River Cemetery, of my earlier posts, I wish he was there instead of Missouri (he died young, at the age of 46).

And his songs have been in my head, my soundtrack as I drive the same roads he did: Eight Miles High, No Other, I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better (covered successfully and almost identically by Tom Petty on the hit CD Full Moon Fever). His haunting voice, the artistic inspiration which I can clearly see and hear came from this rugged, beautiful landscape.

One response so far

Feb 09 2010


Published by under Cats,Country Life,Henry

Every morning, I make coffee and then clean up the cat barf. It’s quite the glamorous life.

Maybe part of the reason Henry Etta is so tiny is that she pukes so much. Is bulimia popular among neurotic cats of a certain age?

Feeding the cats has changed quite a bit since we moved. June is still generally the most interested, and often reminds me when feeding time is as close as an hour away, but just as often lies there languidly when I put food in the dishes. June and Audrey used to only eat out of their own dishes, but now it’s a kind of free-for-all. Audrey spends so much time outside now that I rarely see her eat in the house, though I’m sure she does.

Henry has taken up the slack and is almost always the first one there, though she just nibbles a little and then retires to her cushion. Although I’m glad that she’s finally enjoying the cushy bed I bought her almost three years ago, the down side is that she doesn’t sit on my lap as much. However, she does have an uncanny ability to sit with me right before the phone rings or I have to get up for some other reason, and then I feel guilty about moving her fragile little body to deal with whatever I have to deal with.

The Sea Flex and metacam have worked wonders, and Henry Etta can run and jump better than before. But no matter what I do, her fur is always scruffy, her whiskers bent, and she is still less than five pounds.

Audrey the Adventuress has been worrying months off my rapidly diminishing life. As you know, my original plan was to keep the cats in after dinner, but my original plan failed. Plan B was to have everyone in before I went to bed, and that’s been partially successful. June is almost always in at bed time, and busy getting her 18 hours of beauty sleep (which I’m convinced is the secret to her loveliness), and Henry Etta rarely bothers with Nature, but Audrey is usually out and about, even when it’s raining, cold, and completely unappealing to Self.

Those of you who have cats in your lives will know that calling them is futile. Not that it stops me. But I hate going to bed without all the cats safely in the house. A few nights ago, Audrey went out at 8 pm and didn’t come home until 4 am, which I greeted with any parent’s enthusiasm. I was up every hour that night, calling her, and I left all the outside lights on, thinking that it would deter predators, though maybe it would just make it easier for them to see a little brown tabby at night.

The thing is, if I let her out during the night for an hour or so, I just go back to bed. So even for a neurosis, it’s completely irrational. But Megan has had one cat vanish into the woods, and Jonathan has had three over the fifteen years he’s lived here, so the odds may not be all that much in Audrey’s favor.

Still, I think my brother is probably right, and if I could sit Audrey down and explain all the risks to her, she’d still pick the uncertainty of outdoors over the certainty of indoors. And she wouldn’t have become her total Adventurous Audrey self if she’d been kept inside. I guess everything really is a trade-off.

One response so far

Feb 08 2010


Published by under Cats,Cooking,Country Life,Family

Yesterday, Megan met up with Lu in Mendocino. I was planning to make dinner* at Meg’s house that evening, and she called me from town to see if there were any last-minute ingredients I needed.

She called me from Lu’s phone, though, because her own had decided to jump suicidally into a public toilet.

Lu, in the next stall, heard Meg’s vocal despair and asked what was wrong. When she heard what it was, she said, “You’re on your own, kid.”

You really are in a situation like that.

Meg retrieved it, dried it off, and treated it with hand sanitizer that she always carries with her, just for occasions like this. Lu reminded her to remove the battery.

I’m sorry to say I laughed when my sister called me and told me about her potty phone.

On the bright side, they were able to assist at a car accident until the ambulance came. Nothing gladdens the heart of an off-duty EMT more. And they demoted my brother to traffic duty at the scene, which made it even more fun. When he arrived for dinner, bearing home-made cinnamon rolls, the first thing he said was, “Hey, you bogarted my call!”

I made chicken with cornmeal dumplings, and we had wine and talked. It was great having Lu there. Her schedule makes it really hard to get together, but now she’s convalescing from her ankle injury, we get to see her more often. She had just had a “cold laser” treatment, which magically removed the swelling and made it much easier for her to walk. Amazing.

As I walked home with my bag – when I go to my sister’s house, I pack an extra sweater, and a flashlight, along with any ingredients needed, borrowed books, Tupperware, etc.** – my flashlight spotlit June, who walked me home under the stars.

*We usually decide what to make by comparing the contents of our refrigerators, freezers and pantries and going from there. The dish with the least ingredients to buy and/or the easiest to make is the winner. Though sometimes we try new things. It’s always more fun together.

**My dream is to have one of those Radio Flyer red wagons to carry things in. But they’re surprisingly expensive. And anyway they’d probably flip over on the puddled, rutted dirt driveway. But a girl can dream, especially at night.

4 responses so far

Feb 07 2010


Published by under Country Life,Weather

High surf, Mendocino

I heard a strange sound.

At first, I thought it was one of the kitties scrabbling around in the pots and pans, but it wasn’t. I went over to investigate, and discovered that my roof/ceiling (it’s hard to tell when your walls curve up to a central beam and it’s kind of like living in a giant, overturned rowboat) was leaking.

It was leaking right onto the paper shade of the hanging lamp in the kitchen. You know, the one that goes on and off at will, making me think there’s a power outage coming.

I thought it was a good idea to leave it off for the time being, as I put out a pot to catch the leak. Before I could stand up, another drop of water hit me in the head. Maybe leaks are like mice, and there’s never just one. In the end, I put out three pots and hoped for the best.

Megan came by and asked me if I were blowing her off.


“Well, I’ve called you twice today and you haven’t answered the phone, so I figured you were blowing me off.”

In the interests of cheapness, I don’t have caller ID, so it’s a surprise every time I answer the phone (though to be fair, it’s mostly one of my siblings instead of secret admirers). I also don’t have call waiting. Partly because of the frugality thing, and partly because no-one ever hangs up on the other person to talk to me, so I’m kind of against it. So even if I wanted to blow someone off, I’d be hampered by not knowing who it was in the first place.

We checked the phone, and there was a dial tone. We called it, using my little purple cell phone, and it didn’t ring. Hmm. We notified Rob, and he came over to look into it. After a couple of minutes, he peered inside the glass doors and asked me if I knew the phone box was open.

Well, I didn’t even know where the phone box was (or, to be completely honest, that there was one), so I guess someone else opened it or maybe the wind blew it open. Anyway, the wires got wet, and when they are too wet, your phone won’t ring, though you can dial out. Almost an ideal phone situation, really.

But Rob did something, and the second call worked. So if you call me, I won’t blow you off.

5 responses so far

Feb 06 2010


Published by under Calamity Suzy,Weather

Well, the rain has made the leap from faithful companion to stalker. It’s a fine line, but after about a month of rain and gloom, I think it’s safe to say the line has been well and truly crossed. And it’s making me cross.

Megan and I were thinking of going to town to run some errands, but looking at the pouring rain made us change our minds. At least for now. It did, however, inspire me to do the laundry and polish some silver.

I guess you know what it takes to make me domestic.

Given the endless rain and my miserliness at using up the expensive propane supply, I invested in a clothes rack to dry my clothes in the living room. This does not lend a note of elegance to one’s decor, and I’ll have to see how effective it is. In Oakland I could hang the clothes out on the porch and they’d dry in a day or two, but here it’s too rainy and damp. And much colder. So I’m hoping that the clothes rack will work out.

It’s not without its hazards, however. While carrying the clothes from the laundry room/pantry, I tripped and fell flat on my hands and knees, scattering clean clothes everywhere. I also scattered the boxes piled up by the laundry room door, where I had carefully placed them to keep them away from the open flame of the dryer.

As I got up, I thought that I haven’t been doing so well with this resolution thing. Maybe I need to scale it back to something like “no major mishaps” or “Only one minor accident a month”.

4 responses so far

Feb 04 2010


Published by under Cats

Clearly, June knows how to spend a dark, rainy day. Even if her blanket of choice does clash a little with her orange fur.

Here you can see her multi-colored pads, to match her multi-colored fur. One of life’s enduring mysteries is how June can keep her white fur snowy white when our house is surrounded by mud. And I can’t keep the mud out of the house or the car. What’s her secret?

5 responses so far

Feb 03 2010


Published by under Bullshit

On the last day of the year, I deposited the last paycheck of the year insouciantly.

Three days later, I gave my landlord the rent check. ‘Cause when I get paid, all I really do is put it other places. Rent. Amerigas. AT&T. The liquor bill. You know. It was nice almost knowing you, money!

My landlord returned from the bank (a forty minute drive each way) with a returned check. His bank wouldn’t cash it.

Embarrassed and mystified, I called my bank while he waited. After the requisite amount of pressing this button and that and being transferred hither and yon, I finally talked to an actual person (they do still exist, apparently) who told me that when my bank first presented the check to my boss’ bank, they wouldn’t confirm or deny that the funds were there. To protect their customers’ privacy, they said. So my bank slammed a ten day hold on it.

I explained all this to my landlord, who could not have been nicer about the whole thing. I’m not sure whether this lessened or added to the humiliation, especially in light of the fact that I broke the floor within ten days of moving in here, a scant three months ago. Dream tenant, that’s me.

I called the bank again, pointing out that I’ve had an account there for twenty years and that they could call the issuing bank and confirm that the money was there. They wouldn’t do it. Once it’s on hold, that’s it until the ten days are up.

I asked them what would happen if my boss canceled the check and put cash in my account. Well, in that case, I’d be charged a $35 returned check fee, and they might close my account completely for putting a bad check in. So much for valuing my loyalty and all that crap.

The next day, I got an email from them saying that the check was on hold. You don’t say! Really? I noted that this was several days after the whole mess started, so clearly they only sent me the email to cover their bankly butts after I started asking questions.

I think I need a new category for this kind of thing. Absurdities? Bureaucracy? Suggestions welcome.

Update: I had just answered Amber’s comment on the difficulty of changing her address at the bank when there was a knock at my door. It was my landlord with a letter from the bank. The letter was confirming my address change – and sent to my old/incorrect address. I have already called them three times to change the address, and received an email on January 22 confirming the address change. I think I’m going to go with Alison’s suggestion and file this one under “bullshit”.

9 responses so far

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