Archive for May, 2011

May 30 2011


Published by under Dogs,Family,Special Occasions

Because nothing is too good for you, Faithful Reader, I have spared you the grumpy mood I’ve been in over the past few days. The unseasonably rainy weather did absolutely nothing to improve said mood.

Today it’s merely grey and depressing. For some reason, when you get a long weekend, it feels like you get an extra Sunday instead of an extra Saturday. I really should be getting ready for the week ahead instead of blogging about what a crabby little crab cake I am, but one of my few talents is the ability to complain about anything, any time, anywhere.

There was a break in the rain yesterday, replaced by cold winds which sent the windmill spinning and the clothes I hung outside to dry into various parts of the yard.

We decided to have Megan’s birthday barbecue anyway, huddled in our winter coats by the fire. We had sausages with fire roasted peppers, salad, and a cherry pie made from scratch by our brother. He even has an elegant stainless steel cherry pitter. Imagine.

Of all her presents, I think Megan’s favorite was a “city” or “traffic” leash, handmade by a local artisan. It’s about three feet long, and just the right length to get Star from the house to the car and back.

Speaking of cars: as soon as I pulled up at my brother’s yesterday, he came running over to see what on earth was wrong with my car. It did sound quite a lot like the Waltons’ truck, which was forever needing parts from Charlottesville. It turns out my car also needs a part from Charlottesville: a water pump. Apparently I was five or ten minutes away from the defective water pump destroying my engine. So I left the car there and hitched a ride home with Megan and Rob.

Of course, today is a holiday, so I won’t be able to get the part until sometime tomorrow. Jonathan works from Monday through Wednesday afternoon with no break, so hopefully Rob can install it or they can work on it together on Wednesday afternoon.

In the meantime, Megan goes to work tonight as usual (there are no holidays in the ER). She’ll drop the car off here at 7 am, I’ll drive it back where it just came from about an hour later, and return it to Megan in time for her to do the same in the evening. Poor little car. It’s a good thing we learned how to share all those years ago.

4 responses so far

May 25 2011

The Rainmaker

Published by under Family

Dad and Megan

Well, this is getting to be a bad habit.

I woke up to rain on my sister’s birthday for the second year in a row. As I made coffee and the cats ran around outside, getting wet, spiky fur, I considered the fact that Megan once went to visit Dad in London on her birthday and it turned out to be the rainiest May and June in centuries.

Her ability to have rainy birthdays is only surpassed by her ability to get a taxi in any city at any time. London, Paris, Florence, New York – it doesn’t matter. I envied that talent when I was in the city last week. I was unable to get a cab on Market Street, which is basically San Francisco’s Main Street. I seem to have the opposite talent.

Megan took the day off. She should be arriving home any minute, so she’ll sleep through most of the rainy day. I’m planning to surprise her with birthday burritos and a bottle of wine when I get home from work this evening. Hopefully we can have a birthday barbecue this weekend.

2 responses so far

May 22 2011

Home, And What I Found There

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Family

Audrey peeking out from the side of the house

I think all the kitties were happy to see me, though I also think they are equally happy when I’m gone and they can scamper in and out of the house, playing and napping at will. Come to think of it, I’d like that.

When I adopted the boys, the shelter workers told me that they were very happy and affectionate kittens. I thought they were just saying that, but it has turned out to be true. They took turns sitting on my lap that evening and both slept with me (Audrey, of course, slept regally on her throne). And I’m glad that they all get along, whether I’m away or not. Audrey still isn’t their biggest fan, but there’s hardly any growling or swiping these days.

Here are the boys eating dinner after I got home:

I could see that Rob had been at work during my absence. He found these cupboards somewhere and installed them:

No easy task with the curved wall and heater, etc. to deal with.

After he put the cupboards up, he decided that it was too dark to see into the cupboards, which he also decided was unacceptable. The cowboy lamp, though fabulous, does not shed a lot of light.

He got a fixture at the thrift store for $2.50 and wired it into the same switch as the cowboy lamp. Let there be light:

Outside, I discovered that a little rose which I thought was dead was in bloom:

All in all, a nice welcome home.

2 responses so far

May 21 2011


Published by under San Francisco,Special Occasions

On my last day in the city, I decided to stop in at the de Young museum to see the Balenciaga exhibit, after picking up cat food, a cinnamon doughnut from Bob’s, and pizza from Victor’s. All the necessities. Oh, and getting gas. At $4.39 a gallon (as opposed to the relatively low, low price of $4.13 in the Big Town).

One thing I really noticed on this trip was the San Francisco types you never see in Hooterville or environs. The groovy Asian teenagers, with their hip hair, trendy clothes and accessories, generally seen in packs. The wealthy, nipped and tucked mothers with the giant shades, tiny cell phones, and huge, expensive strollers occupied by squalling trophy babies. The Financial District guys, with their shiny, clacky shoes and optional suspenders (on weekends, they all wear the same long, khaki shorts with a polo shirt and baseball hats with no team logo on them).

And then there’s the rarest breed of all: the San Francisco Matron.

These grande society dames never venture from their Nob Hill penthouses without a flawless coiffure and a purse matching their glamorous shoes. They are slim and elegant to the core. They are real Ladies, and they are fabulous.

Many of them were in attendance at the equally fabulous Balenciaga exhibit, and as an inveterate and shameless eavesdropper, walking around with my $2 yard sale purse, I enjoyed the following gems:

Of the dress (far left) with the beautiful, “petal” front in black silk:

“After you wore it, you’d have to press it, wouldn’t you? How on earth would one press it?”

Of the sculptural rose pink gown wore by the gorgeous Ava Gardner (the back of the dress has a surprise bow, vertical rather than horizontal):

“Of course, she could wear anything, couldn’t she?”

I imagine her magnolia beauty would have been breathtaking in this dress.

Of the (in)famous “caterpillar” dress, designed when the master was in his 70s – if anything, he became more daring with age:

“This was his statement piece. He made beautiful things, but this…this was his statement to the world.”


I loved these two. The velvet one on the right was worn by the delightful and sophisticated Kitty Carlisle Hart, the wife of Moss Hart. The one on the left was worn by the perennially fashionable Claudia de Osborne, who wished to be buried in a gown by her dear friend, whose clothes she wore for more than twenty years. Those are ermine tails on the back of the black velvet dress.

Here you can see his playing with texture, color, and wrapping:

And here you see his magnificent “Crown of Thorns” embroidered gown worn by the Best Dressed Hall of Famer (and subject of unflattering photos by Diane Arbus), Julia Henry:

It was time well spent. Not surprising, since the exhibit was curated by none other than Vogue’s very own Hamish Bowles*. I felt like Frederick the Mouse, storing up all that beauty.

As I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, I tossed a kiss to the city over my shoulder and set my eyes resolutely north.

I’ll be back.

*One of my very favorite Hamish Bowles articles was the one where he went to outdoor survival school. Do read it of you have the time – it’s hilarious.

2 responses so far

May 20 2011

Hello & Goodbye

Published by under San Francisco

View from my motel window

I thought I’d be blissfully blogging away while in the city, but I ended up doing a lot more work than I thought, and we all know work = no fun, and no fun = no blogging. Even the jobette has affected the number of my posts. Sometimes I ponder the fact that there is more to blog about when spending most of my time in Hooterville than in the Big Town.

Also, the interwebs at the modest motel have been capricious at best. Reception inside the room is spotty, so a few times a day I’d go and sit outside, where there was actual reception, to work and catch up on emails. The problem with this ploy is that you are in the way of the long-suffering cleaning staff and their giant carts. Also that people assume you are available for conversation, which means I know more about my temporary neighbors than I care to (i.e., the guy whose wife ejected him after 30 years of marriage and is now living here until he can find his own place) and have given directions to German and French tourists. I might as well be at the jobette, as far as that goes.

As I write, it’s foggy both outside and in. I actually threw on clothes and staggered two blocks to Notes from Underground to get some much-needed coffee. I am now drinking it and considering what to do with the rest of my day, besides Extreme Takeout.

I still haven’t been to the art museums, though I did find time to stock up on some dog supplies for my sis. Surprisingly, two kongs cost about the same as a fifteen pound bag of fancy Taste of the Wild dog food, which got heavier each block as I lugged it back to the motel. I might go back there and get some kitty food, though, since all pet food is significantly cheaper than it is in Hooterville.

I also fit in some power shopping, as my neighbor J puts it. It was nice to walk down the familiar downtown streets in the sunlight. Whenever I’m here, I feel lucky that I know the city so well and that it’s only a few hours’ drive from Hooterville, so it’s kind of in my backyard, unlike the German and French tourists.

It’s been great to be here, but I’m ready to go home and see the kitties, who have apparently not missed me in the slightest. Megan went by each morning when she came home from work, and all they wanted was to go out. The weather has been nice, so she left the door open all day until Rob went over at night to feed them and shut them safely in the house. I imagine Audrey has not been enjoying that.

2 responses so far

May 16 2011

Busy as…

Published by under Country Life,Friends

Our bees

Last week was busy, but between the job, the jobette, and a couple of writing gigs, I still managed to have some fun.

Megan and I attended a meeting of local beekeepers at the library one evening. The group meets once a month, though this was my first time, and they had a guest speaker, the well-known beekeeper Serge Labesque. It was a pleasure to listen to him and learn, as well as ask questions. It was two hours well spent.

From what Serge said, I’m guessing that we should divide our hive soon, or the bees will do it themselves. There’s been a lot of activity in the hive and there are definitely a lot more bees than there were last winter. I’m glad they made it through the winter and that we chose not to treat them for mites, especially after learning from Serge that the bees groom each other to get rid of them.

On Friday, Megan and I met Monica at the Wharf for drinks* and dinner. Here’s my delicious pomegranate margarita:

And the view from the table:

Between Monica growing up here and Megan being on the ambulance for so long and now working at the hospital, a lot of people they knew came in and there was a fair bit of table-hopping and catching up as the sun began to dip low over the ocean.

As we drove down the Ridge, the trees were suffused in a rosy glow, and I realized that living here has made me see the beauty in spider webs, plants making their tentative way through the earth, and other humble, every day miracles.

This week looks to be busy, too, with deadlines looming as well as a trip to the city. I’m leaving after work tomorrow and staying until Friday. So the next time you hear from me should be from the dreaming spires of San Francisco instead of the sleepy woods of Hooterville.

*Whenever we go on a girls’ night out (and when we went to see the SATC movie sequel), I always wear my mother’s bracelets, so she can be there, too.

5 responses so far

May 14 2011


Published by under Country Life

No, not that kind (though how ’bout those Sharks?) – the yard sale kind.

I headed off down the Ridge on this grey morning to check out a local yard sale. I have been filled with envy ever since one of the guys at the jobette told me that he got a table, umbrella, and four chairs for $25 at a yard sale a couple of weeks ago. He was walking his dog and just happened on the sale, and they let him buy it, even though they weren’t officially open yet. That kind of thing never happens to me, but I haven’t given up hope that one day I’ll find something equally great.

I saw on the listserv (which is full of useful information, such as bear sightings, as well as intra-village bickering under the guise of “discussions”) that there was an “estate sale” just a few miles down the road. With visions of patio sets dancing in my head, I set off.

It was a long-ish walk after parking the car, and there were a surprising number of houses down this road. I finally arrived at the gate, which was a little passive-aggressive, I thought:

You have the festive balloons, but there are the scary “Beware of Dog” signs, and the gate was barely cracked open. I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place until I ventured through it, bewaring of dog as I went. The admonishments continued once I was inside the house:

Everyone seemed to be obeying this one, including Self.

I didn’t find a patio set, but I did find a lovely red handbag to add to the Suzy collection for a mere $2:

Also a delightful wall lamp:

which two people tried to buy after I had already paid for it. Score! Of course, it has to be wired into the wall, but I have Rob the secret weapon on my side. I’m sure he’ll be delighted to hear that I have a new project for him.

Or maybe not.

On the trek back to the car, I noticed a fire hydrant in the middle of the woods:

That’s a new one on me.


Rob already put the lamp up for me. And it looks more fabulous than I ever imagined:

3 responses so far

May 12 2011


Published by under Country Life

Burn, baby, burn

Well, I’m afraid that I have officially gone to (hay)seed.

First, I lost my ability to talk on a cellphone in traffic or deal with the sights and sounds of homeless people (how did I ever take all that sadness in stride, all those years I lived in the city?). Last night, I was woken by crashing and thudding noises. I lay in bed and listened for a while, and eventually decided that it was the kittens chasing a mouse. Instead of being horrified by a rodent hunt in my house, I just turned over, thought, “At least it’s not a bear in the garbage”, and went back to sleep.

When I got up, the boys were still on mouse patrol. Before I finished my coffee, they had caught the poor little beast and were running around with it. I just shooed them outside. The only squeaking was the mouse’s. Can you believe it?

Later, Mark came by and took away some things and stuff which were hanging around outside my house, including old hunks of wood and the former buffet from Rose’s funeral fiesta. Removing the wood revealed slugs, termites, a couple of scorpions, and a baby snake, none of which made me squeal in horror. Even the spiders in the house have ceased to dismay me, though their webs have not. I’ve come a long way, baby!

I found this table a few weeks ago. After sanding and varathaning, it looks pretty good. The outside living space is slowly coming together:

I’m multi-tasking today by burning miscellaneous junk (see above), a very country pursuit, while listening to the Giants game and doing some research for a couple of stories I’m writing. We’re running out of burn days, so it seemed like a good time to do it.

But don’t worry. I still have my Vogue subscription and do my modest best to keep Sephora happy and healthy. I’m also planning to go to the city next week and see the Balenciaga exhibit, so I haven’t completely lost my glamor-loving side. Can I be country chic instead of city fabulous?

6 responses so far

May 08 2011

How to Relax

Published by under Cats

Clyde style

Roscoe style

Audrey style

3 responses so far

May 07 2011


Published by under Dogs,Family,Friends

Meet Jasper! I met Jasper and his steadfast guardian Rebecca last weekend. Megan and Monica have added community outreach to their regular rescue activities. Rebecca needed some help getting Jasper neutered. He has a heart murmur, so anesthetizing him for the surgery is complicated and expensive, and Rebecca can’t afford it on her own. In fact, Rebecca was unable to find a landlord in this county who would rent to her, because Jasper is a pit bull, so she actually lived in her car with him. She even approached a homeless shelter, but they wouldn’t let Jasper in the shelter and they wouldn’t allow her to park the car out front with him in it. This kind of discrimination continues to shock me, no matter how often I hear it.

I am so impressed with her love and dedication to her dog. I bet most people would have taken Jasper to the homeless pet shelter without a second thought. But not Rebecca.

She turned to Daisy Davis for help, and Megan and Monica located a vet willing to work with them on cost. It turns out that Jasper also has an allergic rash on his belly, so they also bought antibiotics for him. He can’t have the surgery until the rash clears up. But all’s well that ends well: Rebecca found a place that would accept both her and Jasper in a neighboring county, and Jasper should be able to have his surgery in the next couple of weeks.

Monica runs her own business – she has done so successfully for many years – is married, and has several dogs, in addition to founding and running Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue. Megan, as you know, works her long night shifts, celebrates her 20th wedding anniversary this summer, has her two dogs and two cats to take care of, and she and Rob both work on the property whenever they can. Yet these two women find the time not only to rescue and love dogs in need, but to reach out to our little community and help where they can. I am so proud of these two, and am so lucky to know them.

They are an inspiration.

2 responses so far

May 06 2011


Published by under Country Life

Well, it appears that spring has sprung. The rhododendrons are in bloom, the birds are singing, the cats are scarce, and there’s pollen all over my car*.

The tulips have all blossomed. Only two of them were the frilly purple ones advertised on the package. There were a couple of yellow ones:

A sort of peony looking one:

And some spiky and frilly ones:

It’s kind of amazing to think that just a couple of months ago, they looked like this:

And a month or so before that, they looked like this:

Next year, I’ll plant them earlier and hope they’ll bloom earlier. Something is always flowering here, but there’s something special about something you plant yourself.

*The last time I was in the city, I noticed how country my car looks. Muddy wheels, paint scratched from the bushes on the narrow driveway, muddy paw prints all over the hood, and puff dust on the dashboard. Not to mention the pine needles on the floor and in the windshield wipers.

One response so far

May 05 2011

Star’s Birthday

Published by under Dogs,Special Occasions

Birthday kiss

Happy Cinco de Mayo, y’all! We should be sitting in my garden drinking margaritas in the gorgeous sunshine, admiring my tulips. If only life were really like that.

I’ve blogged about Cinco de Mayo before, but this year we have something extra to celebrate. It’s Star’s birthday! She’s three today.

As you may remember, Megan and I drove all the way to Colusa and back last April to rescue Star. Her owner had jumped off a cliff in front of her horrified child and Star, who went after her to try and save her. Star survived; the owner didn’t. Star had a pretty rough time until we went and got her, and only recently we discovered that what she went through was much, much worse than previously thought.

But all’s well that ends well. Star is still technically Megan’s foster dog, but after a year together, I think it’s safe to say that Star is part of the family. And speaking of safe: this birthday marks the first year of Star’s life where no human has laid a hand on her except in affection. And that’s something to celebrate.

One response so far

May 04 2011


Published by under Country Life

As I mentioned, it was a nice walk to the eye doctor’s office. Here’s what I saw along the way:

Small town sign. It reminded me of a hand-written note I once saw on the door of a shop in Bar Harbor: “Open when I’m ready. Closed when I’ve had enough.”

The only remaining vestige of the “Fort” part of Fort Bragg. The town was named after one of the Confederacy’s most inept generals, Braxton Bragg, just like the North Carolina Fort Bragg. My Fort Bragg was founded in 1857, so it predates the Civil War, but it certainly makes me wonder why on earth two towns on opposite ends of the country were named for a man best known for his bad temper and incompetence. Go figure.

The fort was created to “contain unrest between the native Indians and newly arrived settlers to the area”, according to a brochure I got at the jobette. The “native Indians” were sent to a reservation inland, and the fort was disbanded in 1864, near the end of the Civil War. This one remaining building used to be the commissary. Now it’s our local congressman’s office.

Tattered glory near the old fort building:

Spring blossoms:

Someone’s ready to go home:

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May 02 2011

Seeing Is Believing

Published by under Country Life

Guess what? I have contact lenses!

When I graduated to bifocals, I stopped wearing contact lenses. I figured, why wear contacts when you have to have reading glasses anyway? And reading glasses tend to be glamor-impairing, not to mention destroying a girl’s carefully preserved illusion of youth*.

But technology has improved in the meantime, and there are now bifocal contact lenses. I was pleased to learn that my eyesight has not degenerated over the years and my glasses are still just fine. Also, I seem to have adjusted as easily to the bifocal contact lenses as I did to the bifocal glasses. On the other hand, I forgot the case and solution at the doctor’s office, so I couldn’t wear them to work the next day and had to store them in water in shot glasses. It takes a Suzy.

The eye doctor’s charming office is a short walk from the jobette, so I strolled there after work. In the waiting room, I struck up a conversation with a couple who remarked on my Andy Warhol handbag. It turned out that they are art collectors who also happen to do the official photography for the Flynn Creek Circus, and they were at the very same show I was. Small world – or at least small town.

The husband was there getting his 101 year old father’s glasses fixed. Dad apparently falls asleep with them on and then rolls over on them, so this visit was one in a series. Son says that his father was going out to play Bingo with friends that evening, still travels, and is sharp as a tack. Inspiring.

*I was flattered that the eye doctor thought I was about 35 and was visibly shocked at my real age.

3 responses so far

May 01 2011

Circus, Circus

Megan and I were lucky enough to have tickets to see the Flynn Creek Circus last week. It was just what we needed to cheer ourselves up after the Sad Day. Lest you think us heartless, I hasten to add that we bought the tickets long before we had any idea of what would happen the day before the show. And maybe we are heartless, because we were both looking forward to laughter and fun. I guess that’s pretty much what life is.

Before the show, we met up with our friends Lu and Rik at Piaci’s, for wine (neighboring county Sonoma unoaked 2009 Chardonnay from Pellegrini) and pizza (Rosa) and catching up. Lu and Rik are both EMS workers, and Megan works those night shifts in the ER, and I have a job and a half, so we don’t get to see each other as much as we’d like.

Arriving at Cotton Auditorium* (which used to be a school)…:

…we saw our brother’s battered old Subaru pulling up at the curb. We were surprised and happy to see him, but he was just dropping someone off at the show before heading home. Still, it was good to see him, and we all hugged each other extra hard.

Fortunately, Lu and Rik had managed to grab four seats together, since there was a great turnout. I tried to take pictures, but with no flash, no particular skill, and a cheap-ish camera, not to mention the speed at which the acrobats moved, the results were blurry and deeply disappointing to yours truly. Here are the least blurry ones:

David Jones and Blaze Birge, the Daring Jones Duo who founded the Flynn Creek Circus and are its heart and soul, doing a funny, yet scary knife-throwing act.

Miss Holly, doing a daring and delightful aerial act.

The show was a celebration of strength and beauty and discipline and joy. I highly recommend that you check out the YouTube video of the Daring Jones Duo performing their astonishing and graceful double trapeze act which closes out the show.

*Later, I learned that it was a New Deal project, completed in 1939. I’m really enjoying learning more about my adopted town(s).

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