Archive for March, 2010

Mar 31 2010

Starring San Francisco

Published by under Cats,Henry,Movies,Weather

Spot the kitty!

It’s almost noon, and my battered thermometer claims it’s barely 40 degrees outside. Some of the hailfall is still clinging to icy existence beside the house, and the house is filled with that eerie white snow light.

Megan stopped by yesterday on her way to work and brought my orchid inside so it will survive the cold snap. It’s now taking up valuable real estate beside the stairs, where I brush past it every time I sidle through the 18 inches of space between the refrigerator and the stairs.

The cold, dark weather this week has inspired me to watch a few films noirs from my favorite decade. Last night’s double feature featured my own true love, the City by the Bay. Henry Etta came up on the couch with me, where she relaxed with her head on a pillow, covered by one of my sweaters (see above) as the rain and hail stormed outside.

First up was “Impact” (1949). Though lacking in my favorite credit (“Gowns By”), it made up for it with “Furs By” and “Jewels By” and an apartment in the illustrious Brocklebank Building, where Kim Novak’s character lived in “Vertigo” and the late, great Herb Caen lived in real life. You can rent a little place there for $9,700 a month if you’d like to join that celebrated company.

Brian Donlevy plays a millionaire industrialist going out of town on a business trip. His lovely wife, played by the seductive Helen Walker, convinces him to bring along a “cousin” of hers, who is, in fact, her lover. The lover attempts to bump off Donlevy, but only succeeds in bumping off himself and a gorgeous cream colored roadster in a spectacular crash.

Dazed and confused, Donlevy ends up in a small Idaho town, where he finds a job and a room with the world’s most attractive and least likely garage owner, played by Ella Raines. But when he discovers that his wife has been arrested for his own “murder”, he returns to San Francisco to set the record straight.

Oddly, Helen Walker, whose character engineered a murderous car crash, endured a career-ending car crash in real life. She picked up some GIs who were hitchhiking, and crashed the car. One soldier died and the other two were severely injured, as was Helen, who was tried for murder. She was acquitted, but her career never recovered, and she died of cancer at the age of 47. Her life was more tragic than any movie she ever starred in.

The second feature was the somewhat misleadingly titled “Woman on the Run” (1950), starring the glamorous Ann Sheridan and a cast of unknowns (at least to me). Ann’s husband is out late one night walking their dog when he accidentally witnesses a murder. When the cops arrive and want to put him in protective custody, he thinks they suspect him and “takes a powder”. The police question his wife, and learn that their marriage is on the rocks. The wife learns that her husband has a secret heart condition, and tries to find him before the cops or the real killer do.

The movie ends with a breathtaking and frightening night time roller coaster ride, predating Hitchcock’s carousel horror in “Strangers on a Train” by a year. It was filmed at Playland at the Beach, an amusement park which perched on the dunes of Ocean Beach for nearly a century before being dismantled and replaced by, God help us, soulless condominium boxes. It was great to see it in all its tacky glory, with the terrifying sounds of Laffing Sal (who can still be seen and heard at the Musée Mécanique, now at Pier 45) providing the perfect backdrop to such a scary scene.

And it was wonderful to see that beautiful city in all its glory. Some things haven’t changed at all in 60 years, and others have changed completely. But one thing never changes: the beauty of San Francisco.

3 responses so far

Mar 30 2010

Hail to Thee

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Henry,Weather

Hail in the garden, 7 am

It was wild and stormy last night. It rained so hard that it woke me up a few times. I lay there listening to the storm rage, wondering why James never cut down the trees which are just a few feet from the house. If one of them gets knocked over by the wind…

Amazingly, the power stayed on and the cats stayed in.

This morning, I was awakened by hail crashing heavily against the roof and skylight. Risking life and limb (well, limb, anyway), I dashed out to take photos for you, dear readers, before the rain melted the evidence. Here you can see the hail on my porch steps and beside the roof/wall:


When Rob dropped by with some mail, I was glad to hear that Megan had escaped the hailstorm on her morning commute. I was also entertained by the three census forms he brought. They all have the same street address, but are differentiated by additional descriptions:

12345 Blank Road
A Frame Cabin (me)

12345 Blank Road
Two Story Cabin (Megan & Rob)

12345 Blank Road
Unknown Unit-A (Jonathan’s former residence, now unoccupied)

I’d love to know how they described Mark’s place and the front house. Apparently the front house has new occupants. I have never met them, but I have waved at them while driving by and noticed that they have done a great job cleaning up the long-neglected garden.

And in other news, I have an appointment with Dr. Karen on Friday afternoon, so my medical advocate (aka my sister Megan) can join me. When I called and gave the receptionist my name, she asked brightly “Is this for Henry Etta?” Celebucat!
Update: Turns out that this morning’s storm was just a preview for the real storm, at 3:00 this afternoon:


The air smelled strongly of pine resin – I guess from the hail battering the trees.


The light in the house immediately took on that strange, white light that it does when it snows.


The temperature dropped to 40 in just a few minutes.

Hard to believe it was 80 degrees here a week ago!

5 responses so far

Mar 29 2010

Cat Chat

Published by under Cats,Henry,Weather

View from the porch today

The forecast this week is for cold and rain, and I have learned the chilly way that temperatures in Hooterville are approximately ten degrees lower than they are in the balmy Bay Area. Henry Etta and I have stayed close to the heater today, she retreating to the depths of her faux sheepskin bed and me in two sweaters.

Her eyes seem less gloppy today, though she is leaving little land mines all over the house, necessitating footwear and cautious foot placement at all times. She mostly stays in bed, except if I crinkle a plastic bag in the kitchen. This happens more often than you’d think, especially since I wash and re-use my Ziploc bags until they no longer zip or loc. She runs into the kitchen and meows loudly for food. She sounds like I slammed the car door on her tail. Oddly, since moving inside, she has become louder and more demanding of food, even though it is available at all times.

On the other hand, the bulimia seems to have stopped.

Megan is stopping in at the vet’s office on her way to work today to get a kitty valium for Henry Etta and to make an appointment. The idea is to give The H some Vitamin V to settle her down enough that Dr. Karen can examine her and take blood without having to sedate her again. We need to make sure that the metacam isn’t affecting her kidneys and liver. And I’d like to get an idea what her lethargy and other symptoms are all about. Hopefully we can get in sometime this rainy week.

I’ll keep you posted.

June and Audrey are getting used to the new cat door upstairs. I had to shove them through it a couple of times before they grasped the concept (even though they’ve had one between the main house and the studio for several months now). It’s great not having to leave the door ajar all night, especially now that the cold and rain are making yet another farewell appearance.

I had a vain hope that they might use the cat flap exclusively, making me obsolete as a doorman, even while knowing it was on the unrealistic side. But I’m slated to go to San Francisco next week, and while I know Megan and Rob will take good care of them while I’m gone, it will be nice to know that the cats can come in and out at will while I’m away. Maybe it will even train them to use the cat flap instead of the doorman. A girl can dream.

4 responses so far

Mar 28 2010


Published by under Jessica,Special Occasions

Jessica takes afternoon tea

On Friday night, I put Megan’s laundry in the dryer and folded the clothes when they were ready, putting the basket in my living room. I figured it was the least I could do for my busy sister. She reclaimed her laundry early in the morning while I was still sleeping, removing a dead mole from the doorstep on her way.

I guess that makes us even.

Erica and Jessica came by and picked me up on Saturday afternoon. Jessica was dressed as Alice in Wonderland, which was only appropriate, since we were attending the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the historic Mendocino Hotel. I was surprised and pleased to find Megan waiting for us – I thought she was still teaching her class.

Meg and Erica headed off to the yarn store to buy knitting needles, while Jessica and I repaired to the Garden Room. There we selected tea cups from a selection of vintage cups, filled them with chamomile tea, and then filled a plate with heart-shaped cookies reading “Eat Me”, chocolate-covered strawberries, and cupcakes.

Jessica had her face painted (a little heart on her cheek) and we entered a raffle for a free ticket to the local production of “Alice In Wonderland” at the same theater where we saw the magic show. By the time the Storyteller started reading us the chapter with the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, I began to wonder where Megan and Erica were.

“It’s taking your Mama a long time to buy knitting needles,” I observed to Jessica.

“She’s probably distracted by gorgeous yarn, and now she’s debating whether to buy it or not,” she answered.

A few minutes later, Megan and Erica turned up. Erica was holding a bag containing not only knitting needles, but, yes, two skeins of gorgeous yarn. I told Erica about her daughter’s comment, and she said “Does my kid know me, or what?”

In the meantime, the Queen of Everything was drawing the winning ticket. Jessica won! She jumped up and down, saying “I’ve never won a raffle before!”

This drew the attention of a girl of about Jessica’s age.

“Remember me?”

“Are you Lily?”


The two girls hugged each other while simultaneously jumping up and down. They caught up for a few minutes, and then Jessica returned to us, saying happily, “It’s so nice to catch up with old friends.”

3 responses so far

Mar 27 2010

Dew Drop Inn

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Family

New cat door!

Rob turned up while I was still sipping my coffee and regaining consciousness. If you ever visit, just walk right in. Don’t bother to knock. The door doesn’t have a lock, anyway, so come on in. Everyone else does.

Of course, if I’ve gone to town (aka the Three Hour Tour), it could be a long wait. Good thing for you there are books, movies, and magazines galore. And cats to let in and out, even though they now have their very own cat door in the door leading to the balcony.

That’s why Rob stopped by, to install the cat door. While I woke up slowly, he installed the door upstairs. It’s very relaxing to watch other people work, I find.

Afterwards, I asked him to put up tiebacks for the curtains in the living room, and he:

  • Pointed out that they were made in China, something of which he does not approve for many reasons;
  • Pointed out that they have a serious design flaw when it comes to installing them – it’s nearly impossible to get the screwdriver at the appropriate, weird angle (though he did manage it in the end);
  • Made fun of the entire tiebacks concept. After all, he is a boy.

They look great, by the way.

When the chores were finished, we watched the news together for a while, and then he went on his way. I made a mental note to buy him some beer to say thanks and was glad yet again to have Rob in my life, even unexpectedly and first thing in the morning.

4 responses so far

Mar 26 2010


Published by under Family

Megan and her ambulance

My sister Megan is nine years and nine days younger than I am. We always joke that makes us some kind of twins.

Nine years can be a big age difference, especially when one of you is, say, sixteen and the other is seven. Once I was getting ready for a date, and Megan watched me get ready. As I finished putting on make-up, she sighed, “Oh, Suzy, you’re so pretty. But you’re prettier when you’re all colored in.”

Aren’t we all?

As a little kid, she always wanted to tag along, and as older kids, my brother and I never wanted her to. “I’ll catch up one of these days, ” she said. “You’ll see.”

Catch up she did.

She got married six months after I did, and unlike me, she is still married. She became a Montessori teacher, and then an Emergency Medical Technician. She cared for Dad in his final illness and broke the news of his death to everyone, including me. She had Mom living in her house for the last few years of her life, and, yes, was the one to tell me of Mom’s death, too.

All this before the age of 35.

Somehow, the baby of the family has become its matriarch. She is the glue holding the ragged remains of our family together.

She lived with me for her last few years of high school, when Dad retired back to his native England and Mom wasn’t able to take care of Megan. I moved cities and found a place big enough for both of us. I went to her parent-teacher interviews, waited up for her when she went out on dates (all colored in), and enjoyed having her friends visit and sleep over. I wanted to give her a safe and happy place to live, and I think I succeeded.

I’d like to think that I had something to do with helping her become the amazing person she is. Whenever I’m asked in job interviews what my best achievement is, I always think “Megan.”

As I write, she’s out meeting Monica to rescue a pit bull in trouble (details withheld at my request). When she gets home from that, she’s having company for dinner, and tomorrow is teaching a five hour CPR class before joining Jessica, Erica, and me at the Mad Hatter Tea Party in Mendocino. She worked 48 hours this week, in the form of 12 hour shifts, three of them night shifts. After her last night shift, she drove home at 6 am, got up in the afternoon, and drove back for a two hour staff meeting* at 6:30 pm. This was last night, and today she’s already up and out, fighting the good fight. Because that’s the kind of girl she is. That’s my Megan.

*Where her attire of bee boots, Red Rooster Records (a now defunct record store whose logo was a motorcycle riding rooster with the slogan “In Your Ear”) sweatshirt and hair in braids got a ridiculous amount of attention, including one guy who wanted to take her picture for Facebook. I think they’re just jealous of the bee boots. Also that they have never seen her morning ensemble of scrubs, bathrobe, bee boots and sunglasses.

3 responses so far

Mar 25 2010

Henry Etta Update

Published by under Cats,Henry

Like girl, like cat: Henry Etta also fell off the sleeping loft, and also landed on her side. I was surprised that she didn’t shatter into a million pieces, since she’s practically made of glass, but she was unharmed and unperturbed.

Unlike Self, the reason for her unorthodox descent from the penthouse was not lack of coordination and Calamity tendencies. It was The Beautiful June Bug.

June is the boss around here, and she’s never been a big Henry fan. When she was trapped on the porch in Oakland and Henry had free stagger of the back yard, she used to glare at her and plot. Now I often have to stop June from being mean to Henry, though surprisingly, neither she nor Audrey has ever tried to take over Henry’s cushy bed, in its primo spot by the only heater.

Earlier on the same day that Henry plummeted from the loft, I had stopped June from sneaking up and pouncing on Henry Etta in the garden. Henry was basking in the sun and had no idea what June was up to. I poked June with a stray tiki torch until she ran off to find other trouble to get into, but I guess she just bided her time. She found Henry unattended and made her move.

This was several days ago, and although Henry Etta didn’t show any negative effects from the fall, I get the feeling she isn’t feeling that great lately. Her walk is limpier and she’s had trouble jumping onto the porch and couch. Also, she just seems kind of blah, although she’s still eating well and loving her Sea Flex. Last night she merrily ate the fish I saved her from my own dinner. But she’s been having litter box issues, and this morning I had to go and get her from the studio to bring her to the heater, a first.

In doing so, I discovered that her tail and derriere were in need of attention, so I did that with a warm, wet cloth, but really, I think she needs a bath. Also, I discovered that my genius idea of wrapping her up in one of my sweaters last night wasn’t so genius after all, and prompted an impromptu load of wash, with an unprecedented use of warm water.

I wonder if it’s just old age – she could be 15 or 20, who knows – or a phase, or if something’s wrong. If only cats’ vocabularies weren’t so limited.

4 responses so far

Mar 24 2010

I Got the Power

Published by under Country Life

Drinking coffee from my tiny demitasse cup and saucer makes me feel so elegant. Even when I’m wearing one of my oddly assorted morning ensembles*, like flowered pajamas, polka dotted socks, and two unmatching sweaters. You’d never think I had a subscription to “Vogue”.

The other morning, I put a thimble of coffee in the microwave, pressed the button, and turned away to do something else while the coffee was (re)heating. I had barely taken two steps when it turned off. Even though it was a bright and sunny day, my first thought was that the power had gone out. But it hadn’t.

Now, some people will tell you that it’s because reheating yesterday’s coffee is just wrong and this is the universe’s way of telling me to knock it off. But I think it’s due to the eccentric wiring in my hippie hovel. Don’t forget that my lights turn on by turning the switch down so it reads “no”. When I was at my sister’s last weekend, I kept hitting the light switch downward. It took me a while to figure out that I needed to flip it up.

I’m the entertainment wherever I go.

I left a message for Mark, and he appeared later in the day. He won second place in his age class at the Whale Run, and his daughters won second and sixth place in theirs. I was so excited for them I almost forgot that the refrigerator, microwave, front porch, hallway, and bathroom were powerless.

Mark showed me how to fix the breaker switches, which are located outside (like the flash heater and the phone box) by turning them all the way back and then forward. Let there be light!

A couple of days later, he needed a jump start and I was glad to help. It’s only fair to power up a guy’s car after he powers up your house. I think the universe would approve of that, at least.

*As usual, my sister trumps me with this, too. She has been known to appear at my house wearing scrubs, a bathrobe, and bee boots, clutching a cup of coffee and wearing sunglasses.

3 responses so far

Mar 23 2010

Phoning It In

Published by under Country Life

I got a new cell phone a few days ago. Before the gadget-minded among you get all excited, I hasten to add that it’s supposed to get better reception here in Hooterville, and that’s the only reason for getting it.

Cell phones being the complicated and annoying things they are, the new one has to be programmed and somehow the old info has to be transferred to the new one, and if you do it in the wrong order or just plain wrong, it won’t work. Not only that, our tech person told me that if it isn’t done correctly, we could be charged the whole price for the thing instead of the discounted price.

Despite the fact that she emailed me detailed instructions on how to do this, I was betting on my Calamity Suzy skills and general techtardness to screw it up.

Fortunately, there happens to be a Verizon store in town now, and Megan happened to be stopping by there anyway on her way to work. Supposedly they offer a 25% discount to hospital workers, so she wanted to talk to them about that.

I packed up all the stuff that came with the new phone, plus the old phone and the instructions, thrilled that I’d be spared a trip to town and having to deal with the phone. Yay!

My sister called me a few hours later to tell me that the only cell tower around here had been vandalized, so no programming was possible, at least until it’s fixed (though, in the mysterious way of cell phones, they still work).

I couldn’t stop laughing.

Also, the Verizon employee had never heard of the discount, so he’s supposed to look into that. All in all, not a lot achieved on that particular trip.

2 responses so far

Mar 22 2010

Suzy Peakall’s Day Off

Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Schatzi

My “office” on Friday

It was 80 degrees and sunny on Friday. How could I be expected to deal with work on a day like that?

Actually, I did, in the form of taking cell phone calls by the beach with a friendly Rottweiler winding his leash around my wrist as I tried to act professional. It was hard to hear the market chatter over the crashing surf.

With work dealt with momentarily, Megan, Lu and I walked along the path by the beach with our small (Harlow), medium (Schatzi) and large (Marco) dogs in the bright sunlight. Despite application of SPF 70 sun block before I left the house, I acquired the first sunburn of the year. After about an hour, Lu gave me her baseball hat, saying I was “pink”. So was the hat, bearing the logo of her home state team, the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In Arizona, Lu grew up with temperatures that reached 120 degrees in the summer. But Marco and I feel the heat, and he flopped down in a stream on the beach, where he charmingly bit at the water as he chillaxed.

Chilling is a foreign notion to the pit bulls, who chased each other all over the dunes. Honestly, you’d never know that Harlow was the baby and Schatzi the old lady. The Schatz can outrun almost any dog around, and you’d never know she was 10 years old. People are as amazed by her persistent youthfulness as they are by Dick Clark’s.

As the dogs played, we watched horseback riders on the beach:


There were beautiful colors on the dunes:

And a warning:


Even though the seals were tiny white blobs basking on a distant rock.

The perfect ending to a perfect day was a barbecue at Megan’s, and dinner al fresco in the storm-tossed garden as the sun set.

6 responses so far

Mar 21 2010

Running Out of Gas

Published by under Country Life

Parking lot at the local store

I try to avoid buying gas at the local store, since it’s considerably more expensive than the gas in town (especially if you buy it at the Speedex, near the Feed & Pet, instead of at, say, the Chevron in the middle of town) and I am now the most frugal (cheap) hedonist known to girlkind.

But sometimes a girl like I forgets to buy gas, her pretty little head being otherwise occupied with far more important things, like taking Jessica to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party next Saturday, what to make for dinner, and whether someone will give me that set of Mad Men Barbies for my birthday.

Sometimes I don’t notice this deficiency until the little red light comes on. Once I didn’t notice this until I was at the point on 128 where there’s no gas until Cloverdale, and I ended up coasting down the hills and around corners and praying uphill. There are few atheists when the little red light is on in the car. For the record, I did make it to Cloverdale that time, but I apparently learned nothing, since here I was, with the light on again. In my case, the light is on, but no-one’s home, it seems.

At least this time I only had to go the five and a quarter miles to the store, and after the Cloverdale adventure, I was pretty sure I’d make it.

The gas pumps at the store are the old fashioned kind that don’t take credit cards. You put the gas in your car and then go in and tell them how much it was while catching up on local gossip, such as the clerk’s horse making a surprise appearance in her living room. It’s a longer process than it is in town, but it’s more fun, too.

Here’s one of the gas pumps:

Note explanatory handwritten signs. In case you weren’t sure.

3 responses so far

Mar 17 2010


Published by under Country Life,Family,Memories,Weather

Somehow the heat got turned off last night, and it was 46 fun-filled degrees in the house when I got up at a semi-respectable 7:30 this morning. I varied my usual routine (turn off outside lights, turn on computer, turn up heat, start coffee) by turning on the heat first. Then I looked out the sliding glass doors and saw that the outside temperature was around 38.

Told you it’s like living in a tent. My thimbleful of coffee was cold before I could finish drinking it.

It’s been sunny all week, and clear, starry nights tend to be cold ones with no cloud cover to tuck us in at night and keep us warm. But temperatures have been 60 or more by early afternoon. It still surprises me that temperatures can change so much in one day.

This particular day is my father’s birthday. He would have been 79 today.

To the rest of the world, it’s a day to drink and dye things green, the weirder the better, but for me, it’s a day of sadness and memories. I feel out of step with everyone else.

At my old job, one of my co-workers had her first baby. We all dutifully trooped to the hospital to visit them, and as I held that day-old baby, I felt as if I were watching my colleagues across a divide. All of them still had their parents, and half of them were older than I was. I was the only one who had lost a parent and knew that particular pain. I both envied them for not knowing what it was like, and pitied them, knowing that one day they would, even that newborn baby.

Today the sun is shining and Dad isn’t here to see it. I can’t call him to wish him happy birthday or look forward to an email telling me what he made for his birthday dinner. Nine years after his untimely death, it can still hurt as much as when I first heard the news and my life was divided into “Before” and “After”.

In these After days, I should try and focus on the many happy memories: Dad carrying me on his shoulders; calling the birds in the woods so they answered him; coming home after work in his white lab coat when I was a kid; reading me stories, even when I was grown-up; hugging me across the barrier at Heathrow; walking his beloved dog Jesse on Wimbledon Common; singing tunelessly as he cooked. I know I’m lucky to have had a father who was also my best friend. But sometimes the loss is hard to bear.

Happy birthday, old bear. I will always love you.

5 responses so far

Mar 16 2010

Getting Warmer

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Henry

I got up at 7 this morning after dreaming I had an apartment right next door to San Quentin. It was 40 degrees this morning, so all around, it was an improvement.

Henry Etta, however, did not seem to find it all that warm. She was nestled so far back in her cozy bed that I could hardly see her. She poked her nose out when I turned the heat on, though, and now she’s basking.

It’s sunny again and supposed to be above 60 again, so maybe spring really is here, a few days ahead of schedule.

Despite the warming trend, the bathroom remains its chilly, uninviting self. I still have to psych myself to face taking a shower, and once I’m in it, I have to psych myself up again to face the cold (and now foggy) room. Only the thought of the pricy propane burning away merrily stops me from postponing the inevitable indefinitely.

I came across a small electric heater the other day and decided to put it to good use in the icy salle de bains. You will be relieved to hear that I placed it carefully on the bureau-esque thing (several shelves but no doors, and the teeny sink is embedded in it) several feet away from the shower. Even if it did fall down, which is highly unlikely, it would only fall on the lime green plywood floor.

Still trying to keep those new year’s resolutions.

Initial experiments have proved successful. I put the heater on, shut both bathroom doors, and let it preheat* for about 10 minutes. By then, the bathroom is warm enough to undress without fear, and same goes for exiting the shower. I was excited to actually be warm after getting dressed, instead of shivering.

Of course, I figured it out now that spring is here, but that’s the Suzy way.

*How can you “preheat” an oven? You turn it on and it heats. That’s it. It’s not heating before it’s heating.

5 responses so far

Mar 15 2010


Published by under Cats,Henry,Weather

Blurry picture of Henry taken through the sliding glass doors this afternoon

Day Four of getting up at 6 (or earlier). I think this officially qualifies as a bad habit now.

And speaking of bad: the bad habit of Daylight Savings Time means it’s dark and even more depressing at that benighted hour.

As I made coffee, I considered the expression “the early bird gets the worm”. What incentive is that to get up early? “The early girl gets the tiara” would be much more motivating for Self.

It was 34 chilly degrees as I drank my thimbleful of strong dark coffee, while simultaneously checking my emails and petting scruffy old Henry. I wonder if they make sweaters for cats, and if so, would Henry Etta wear one? I’m a little worried that her extreme thinness makes her as uninsulated as the house and I know she really feels the cold.

As I write, it’s around 1 pm, and it’s a sunny 61 degrees now. Henry actually ventured out of the house yesterday (when I put out the recycling, she followed me and then wandered off) and today (I opened the front door to get some air and she went out, seeking a sunny spot – I later saw her basking by the disused hot tub). I think she’s beginning to realize that if she goes outside, she can still come back in. I think that was her concern before, though I could be wrong. I wish she could talk and tell me her story and what she’s thinking.

I think she’ll enjoy the summer!

3 responses so far

Mar 14 2010


Published by under Family

Well, I still got up at 6 this morning (now the new 7). This is turning into a bad habit.

I went to bed around midnight and woke up at 5 with my heart pounding after a nightmare. I dreamed that I heard a big truck coming down the narrow, rutted dirt driveway. I looked down from my balcony door and it was Rob, driving a bunch of old wood and my brother’s ancient, enormous pick-up truck on a flatbed. I ran downstairs and by the time I got there, the wood had somehow fallen off the truck and pinned Rob to the ground (even though, you know, he had been driving the truck).

My brother and sister warned me away from touching him, and the ambulance appeared like magic. Megan said that they do that for family and friends.

As we waited at the hospital, there was a strong earthquake and everything went black.

I woke up.

I lay there for a while, trying to sort out what was real and what wasn’t. I felt like going over there to see if Rob was OK, though undoubtedly my concern would not have been appreciated at that hour. I got up and checked the official page for earthquakes, and the most recent was in SoCal sometime yesterday. it sure felt real in the dream, though.

It was hard to get back to sleep after that, so even getting up at 6 is something of a personal triumph.

As I lay in bed, I thought about how dear Rob has become to me since I moved up here. He and my sister have been married for 19 years this summer, and he has been our brother’s best friend since they were nine years old, so I’ve known him most of my life. But spending more time with him has made me appreciate him more.

It’s not just that he fixes things for me, or that I come home sometimes to find that he’s taken my trash to the dump or is putting up curtains for me. It’s his kindness and gentleness and loving nature that somehow survived his parents’ complete lack of affection. It’s his courage and refusal to feel sorry for himself, despite his many health problems and constant pain. It’s his intelligence and ready wit and sense of humor.

It’s Rob. My other little brother.

3 responses so far

Mar 13 2010


Audrey inspects the bee boots

I got up at 5:30 this morning. For no particular reason. I can’t even blame the cats, even juvenile delinquent Audrey. As I write, they’re both still outside in the 34 degree pre-dawn chill. Just think: tomorrow it will be this cold and dark at 7 am instead of 6! Nice job, government!

I keep telling myself I can go back to bed later, but I know I won’t. I told myself that yesterday, and it never happened. It amazes me that I actually got to work at 6 am, in time for the markets opening in New York, for almost ten years. It seems slightly insane to me now, and also like something that happened to somebody else.

Yesterday, Meg, Schatzi and I braved the storms to go to town and shop, the best form of cardio known to girl. We started at the Feed & Pet, where I personally selected the wild fowl flavor of Taste of the Wild for Miss Schatzi, since she had wild bison and venison the last time. There were baby chicks in incubators, peeping away and just adorable: yellow ones, brown ones, striped ones. They’re a sign of spring, too.

We dashed across the rainy street to the saddlery, so Meg could get laces for her (non-riding) boots, and I wished I had my camera with me, because there was a poster for an NRA fundraiser later this month posted in the window.

Next stop was the Safeway, where Megan ran into the usual number of friends and acquaintances (I think she and Lu between them know half the county – this also happened at the magic show), slowing down the shopping experience, but also making it more enjoyable, as if we were at a local market instead of an enormous chain store.

After that, we went to Harvest Market, where we got another turkey breast for dinner, the last one having been so popular, and assorted other things. Like a shower curtain patterned with goldfish and a plush terra-cotta colored rug for Megan’s bathroom. Instant update for $40! Take that, “Design on a Dime”! She also bought a pair of bright yellow rain boots patterned with bees. Bee boots!

We were amazed that the cute boots came in grown-up sizes. We asked the saleslady for the right size, and she said she was pregnant, indicating a little bulge, but that her associate would be back from lunch in five minutes and he would be happy to dig around in the warehouse to find the boots. While we waited, she told us that she was eight months pregnant and had only gained eight pounds. Also that it was a boy named Liam and that she was never doing it again, pregnancy being a hideous experience. Not beautiful and mystical at all.

The assistant came back and with boots triumphantly in hand and congratulations to the mom to be, we headed out. Poor Schatz was bored out of her mind by now but it was too rainy to walk her.

By the time we got home and decanted all the groceries from the car, it was practically time to start dinner, which was the turkey breast roasted on top of tiny red potatoes, red pearl onions, carrots, and parsnips tossed with very good olive oil and sea salt. Meg snipped some herbs and we put those under the turkey’s skin and put it all in the oven to roast. One dish dinner!

As dinner cooked, Meg put on her new boots and we all went out for a stroll around the storm-tossed garden, drinks in hand. Megan pointed out various plants she is going to put on my deck when the weather gets warmer. We inspected the buds on the lilac tree and the apple trees, carefully stepping over the phone line, which came down several storms ago and now snakes blackly through the garden.

It reminded me of how I used to walk through Dad’s garden with him, glass of wine in hand, when dinner was started and we had a few minutes. His birthday is coming up next week, so he’s been on our minds more than usual lately.

4 responses so far

Mar 12 2010

This Is Your Wake-Up Call

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Henry,Weather

Lookin’ out my front door

Rain pounding on the curved roof/wall woke me up at 6:00 this morning. Since we haven’t yet been subjected to the absurdity of daylight savings time, it’s light-ish out. Light enough for me to turn off the mountain lion deterring outside lights, anyway.

Returning to bed, Audrey was curled up neatly on her side (she tends to sleep in a ball, whereas June tends to stretch out and cover as much real estate as she can) and June was placed exactly where my feet should go, pinning down the covers. Henry of course was in her bed by the heater, dreaming of sunshine.

I figured it was safe to shut the balcony door and go back to bed for a little while.

Just as I was drifting off to sleep, I heard the distinctive sound of the Audrometer, clawing madly at the recently closed balcony door. “Audrey, cut it out!” I yelled from under the covers. “What’s that you say? Ignore you completely and keep doing what I was already doing?” I tried to ignore her frantic clawing and clacking. After a while, I heard her quick, graceful steps on the stairs and then, you guessed it, more clawing and pounding at that door.

Giving in to the inevitable, I put my sleep mask and ear plugs away in a little brass box by my bed (so June won’t play with them into oblivion and/or eat the ear plugs). As I put on another sweater, I gazed at June, sleeping happily through the whole thing, then grumped my way downstairs.

I let Audrey out into the pouring rain, and as I write, she’s still out in it somewhere, even though it’s raining hard enough to bounce back up again. It’s dark enough to have the light on, which reminds me: why do TV shows and movies always have lights on, even when it’s broad daylight?

Visions of power outages dancing in my head, I warmed up coffee in my tiny, as-yet unbroken cup and turned the heat up from the night’s 52 to the day’s 62. This is the best part of Henry’s day, other than getting her Sea Flex treats. She melts out of her bed with happiness as the warm air toasts her tiny body. Bliss!

4 responses so far

Mar 10 2010


Published by under Country Life,Weather

As I hauled on my winter coat and scarf yesterday afternoon, I thought “I might as well be living back East.”

Actually, I would have been doing better if I had been living back East. I was talking to my colleague in New York and he told me that it was about 60 degrees there, whereas it was a paltry 45 here. In the afternoon.

Making my way through the short cut to Megan’s house, I noticed how much storm damage there was: trees uprooted or fallen, bushes battered to their knees. Threading my way through the detritus made it a little less of a short cut*. Arriving at my sister’s, I just left my coat on. She had surprises for me: another $400 Amerigas bill** (the gift that keeps on giving!), some ribollita soup from Sunday night dinner, and a hat made for me by Lu. Just in time for winter’s comeback appearance!

I have to say it amazes me that one can take what is essentially a string and make it into a hat or sweater.

It rained like crazy last night, and I feel lucky that it wasn’t snow, since it’s 32F (0C for the Fahrenheit challenged) this morning. I piled on two quits and three blankets besides wearing my customary sweater to bed. I discovered that my Lu hat tends to come off in the course of a restless night’s sleep, but adds just the right note to my morning ensemble of pajamas, socks, and two sweaters. I’m writing to you with a quilt on my lap and all of us girls are huddled by the heater.

On the bright side, it is sunny out. Rob and I have a date today. He and my brother spent some time on Sunday trying to figure out why my car’s indicators have gone on strike. They seem to have narrowed it down, and if it’s not what they think it is, I’ll order a $100 part and hopefully that will fix it. It’s practically illegal to actually use your indicators in California, but I’d like to get it fixed before I go to the city next month.

Update: Rob came by and did some things and stuff, and now it all magically works again, including the hazard lights, which never did before. Come to think of it, I should have hazard lights on my person at all times. Just in case.

*I was reminded of our friend Paul, who specializes in taking “short cuts” that actually add an hour or more to driving time. He is always surprised when this happens, though no-one else is.

**Surely propane is the only utility where you have to pay a huge sum of money and then use it up, instead of paying as you go. All in all, not a good system.

8 responses so far

Mar 08 2010


Published by under Special Occasions

It’s Magic

I actually went out on Saturday night! Can you believe it? It may well be the first time I have ventured out past sundown since I moved to Hooterville. Alert the media!

I am the anti-vampire. Guess I won’t be starring in any super-popular teen movies any time soon. How very disappointing.

The occasion called for dressing up, if you count Converse skull high tops, Urban Decay’s culty Midnight Cowboy eyeshadow, and a citrine choker, which I do. I was considerably outdressed by two vintage ladies, one of whom wore a splendid ash-grey wrap coat, clasped with a fabulous brooch and paired with matching suede heels, and her equally well-dressed friend, who would turn out to be one of the stars of the show.

Megan, Rob and I met up with Lu and Rick at Eagles Hall in Fort Bragg to attend a night of magic and music.

We hardly had time to settle into our folding chairs before the musicians appeared: drums, cello, violin, bass, saxophone, and conductor/pianist. Robert Goleman, the star of the show, appeared at center stage resplendent in a tuxedo, and began singing “It’s Magic”. He had no microphone, and his rich, warm voice filled the room to the rafters.

Robert is a multi-talented gentleman who runs one of the best nurseries in the West as well as being an actor, singer, magician, and total charmer. This show focused on his amazing talents for magic and singing. Besides putting his lovely assistant into a box and folding it up before piercing it with swords, he also sang the entire aria from the “Barber of Seville”. I hope you enjoy the photo of him above, since my taking it caused a public outcry. Well, one obnoxious woman gave me hell for forgetting to turn off the flash, but she got embarrassed on stage later, so maybe there really is karma. Ha!

My favorite trick was when he called for a happily married lady to join him on stage. This request was greeted by “Good luck!” or similar from a wag in the audience (possibly Obnoxious Woman’s spouse) and answered by the elegant lady I mentioned earlier. The magician took her ring and put it in a scarf. He asked her to hold the ring with one hand and a ring box in the other. He pulled on the scarf, and we all heard the distinctive sound of metal hitting wood. The magician was embarrassed and the lady visibly upset.

While the musicians sought the lost ring, the magician brought out a gum ball machine full of prizes in little plastic balls and gave the lady a quarter. She opened the prize and it was a plastic ring with a gorilla on it. She didn’t consider it an adequate replacement, even though it glowed in the dark and was adjustable. She tried again, and got a fortune saying something like “Magic is a girl’s best friend”, a sentiment with which she clearly didn’t agree.

The magician got a quarter from the audience, telling the donor that he wouldn’t get it back, and the lady tried again. This time, it was her ring in the little plastic bubble!

How did he do it?

It was a wonderful show, all the more so for being a small venue – we were four rows back – so the magic seemed truly magical.

Afterwards, we were standing outside talking about how amazing it was when the two ladies passed by us. I heard the brooch lady ask the ring lady if it was all planned beforehand. “No!” she exclaimed. “I was as surprised as you were!”

2 responses so far

Mar 06 2010


Published by under Movies

It was a dark and dreary day yesterday, the perfect weather for a film noir, especially one from my favorite decade, the 1940s. I love the luscious lines of cars back then, the elegant clothes and hairstyles, the ability to wear furs and diamonds with impunity – pretty much everything except, you know, that tiresome war thing.

Last night’s feature was 1949’s “East Side, West Side”, starring a fabulous cast: Barbara Stanwyck, James Mason, Ava Gardner, Van Heflin, and Cyd Charisse. Not to mention Williams Conrad and Frawley in minor roles, ditto Nancy Davis, not yet Reagan. It’s set in New York’s Upper East Side, which is filmed lovingly in beautiful black and white. It even has a scene where models wander around a dress salon, showing off the latest styles. I wish they still did that. The salon had uniformed maids asking the patrons whether they’d like a cigarette or a drink. Just try smoking at a couturier’s now when they’re showing the new line and see how fast you get ejected.

Stanwyck plays the long-suffering socialite wife whose husband is having an affair with Ava Gardner. Art imitating life, since Stanwyck’s real-life husband at the time, Robert Taylor, also had an affair with Ava Gardner. When you see her sashay out of a phone booth in this movie, you really can’t blame either of them. I imagine Barbara really enjoyed that scene where she slaps Ava.

Mason plays Stanwyck’s tortured husband, torn between lust for Ava and love for his wife. While he’s struggling with that, acclaimed journalist Van Heflin is falling for the nobly suffering Barbara. They both fight their feelings through platonic parties and late-night omelette sessions, while Cyd Charisse pines for Heflin, who she’s had a crush on since childhood. Triangles within triangles.

Barbara has to decide whether to stay or go, and turns to her mother, played by Gale Sondergaard, for advice. Sondergaard refers to herself as an “old woman of 55”, which is slightly alarming to hear when you’re 47. Of course, playing someone’s mother when you’re only eight years older than your on-screen child can do that to a girl. Just ask Jessie Royce Landis, who played Cary Grant’s mother in “North by Northwest” when she was, you guessed it, eight years older than he was.

I’m beginning to be concerned that I’m nine years older than Megan. Does that mean I look like her grandmother?

5 responses so far

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