Archive for July, 2011

Jul 31 2011

Finally Final

Well, Erica and Jessica are settled in their new (to them), century-old house, merrily ordering delivery dinners. Jessica has already made friends with the kids on her block. It makes me happy to know she’s going to grow up like Ramona the Pest, in a happy neighborhood with lots of kids and adventures to be had on her very own Klickitat Street.

Besides the farewell barbecue for the Dynamic Duo, it’s been hard for us to fit in seeing the new Harry Potter movie, even though we’ve been looking forward to it since Part I ended. Typically, we fit it in between errands on Friday. Rob tagged along, though in the way of many men when confronted with extended periods of shopping, he tended to bail on us when we were actually in the store.

We went to Safeway before the movie, loading up Miss Scarlett’s trunk while Star patiently waited in the backseat. She also had to wait in the car during the movie, but I think that dogs would rather wait in the parking lot than at home, since being in the car means a) being with the people; and 2) the possibility of fun. Also, Star hasn’t read the books.

Our timing was perfect, though: we arrived in the theater just as the last trailer ended, and the opening credits started just as we took our seats. I noticed that there were only two other people in the theater besides the three of us, and that was almost certainly a unique experience among viewers of this movie.

I enjoyed the movie very much, despite the darkness noted by critics. The one thing I really didn’t like was the epilogue, which I also disliked in the book. I think the three friends should have been left at the end of their victorious battle, on the brink of adulthood with all the rest of lives before them, rather than having their dull domesticity spelled out for us.

But that’s just me.

After the movie, we emerged blinking into the sunshine to take Star for a walk in a nearby field. Then we finished our errands, came home, and unloaded the car. Back to reality. It was nice to have that little break from the real world. That’s the magic of movies – and books.

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Jul 27 2011

Goodbye and Good Luck

Published by under Family,Friends,Jessica

On Saturday, we had a farewell barbecue for Erica and Jessica. I’ll have you know that saying goodbye to us was important enough to delay their departure. Despite living in the middle of nowhere – or on the edge of it – it was the only day that week that all three of us could get together. We are surprisingly busy despite living in obscurity*.

Or so we thought. Though we had the proceedings at our brother’s place, he ended up getting stuck at work and still hadn’t appeared by the time E & J drove off into the darkness. He only missed them by a few minutes and was really sorry, but it couldn’t be helped. Being a grown-up: not all it’s cracked up to be.**

Lu and L were there, though, and Lu brought her dogs, Marco and Harlow, who played with their friend Star. I was afraid it would be hard for L to see all the dogs bouncing around happily when dear Padawan is gone, but he was his usual sweet-spirited self. He is even talking about getting another dog, which is good.

I was sad to say goodbye. Even though they are now gracing Portland with their fabulousness, it doesn’t quite seem real to me. I held Jessica on my lap a lot that evening, talking as always, but also resting my cheek on her bright hair or holding her hand and thinking of how I wouldn’t see her grow up and how she won’t be part of my everyday life any more. It was hard not to cry as I hugged them goodbye.

But they’ve promised to come back for Christmas, and we’ve talked about Jessica coming for a couple of weeks next summer. Megan is already saying that it’s really only a ten hour drive, not twelve, and we could make it in one day…

*Another of life’s mysteries is how we all work all the time, but never have any money.

**Jessica observed that I’m “not a real grown-up. You’re more like…an old kid.”

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Jul 24 2011

Enchanted Evening

Published by under Special Occasions

The stage is set

A huge white tent is a familiar sight on the headlands of the Village in the summer. It’s the home of the annual Music Festival, now in its 25th year. It has a stunning setting by the ocean:

As you can see above, it’s surprisingly nice inside. I guess they have it down pat after a quarter century. And it makes for an intimate venue.

I was there to see the Great Lady of Soul, Bettye Lavette, one of the best-kept secrets from the golden age of Motown. Although she’s been singing for almost 50 years, and had her first hit record at the age of 16, somehow fame managed to elude her. But recently, it’s begun to catch up.

Miss Lavette performed at the We Are One inaugural concert for President Obama, at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009, and has been nominated for two Grammy Awards. She joked “I ain’t won nothing yet. But they had to say my name before the said the winner’s name.”

She appeared on stage in skin tight black pants, a sleeveless black top showcasing her enviable arms and cleavage, and set it all off with her sky-high sparkly stilettos. Hard to believe she’s 65 years old. Especially when you hear her sing.

She held us all spellbound with the passion and fire of her voice, which reminded me of Janis Joplin’s – that same intensity and fervor and strength. I think my favorite moment of the show was when she sat cross-legged on the stage (“I’m having a senior moment”) and sang Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow”. You can see her perform it here.


I was kind of stunned with glory as I made my way back to the car. The following morning, I was stunned by the untimely death of Amy Winehouse. Surely there could be no greater contrast than these two women: one who never gave up despite the lack of fame and fortune, and is one of music’s great survivors, and the other, who achieved great success very young, yet was destroyed by it.

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Jul 22 2011

Hello & Goodbye

Published by under Friends,Jessica

Camera Face*

I was lucky enough to spend a little time with Jessica this week – while I was at the jobette.

That’s one of the many nice things about working there. Everyone is pretty relaxed, and they often bring their kids to work as part of the after school/activities chauffeuring so familiar to every parent. So it was no problem for Jessica to hang out with me while Erica had a date with her dentist.

Jessica looked like a little princess and was carrying her current book, “A Little Princess”. We talked about that for a while, and I told her how I’d just read “The Wilder Life”, about a woman who went in search of the locations in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books. Jessica said “You’re just too fabulous to be a prairie girl”, which made me laugh. I had to agree that I wouldn’t be very good at the hog slaughtering, wagon training aspects of Laura’s life.

And then there’s the complaining.

Jessica was very excited about her upcoming move. Sadly for the fabulous factor of Hooterville and environs, Erica and Jessica are decamping to Portland, Oregon, where Jessica will attend one of the best schools in town, a mere three blocks from their house. Also there’s a Trader Joe’s about a mile away, a Lush store, and Jessica recommends the walnut prawns at Powell’s Seafood restaurant.

They are planning to leave next week, but Jessica says they still have a lot of packing and throwing out to do. “It’s stressful,” she said. Then she whispered behind her hand, “And my mama is not the best stress handler!” I’m not, either.

The time flew by, and suddenly Erica was there to pick Jessica up. We’ll see them tomorrow at their ~sob~ farewell dinner at my brother’s place. I wish Portland wasn’t a twelve hour drive away!

*Jessica said her mother doesn’t like her to do the “camera face” too much. When I asked her what it was, she demonstrated and then collapsed into giggles.

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Jul 18 2011

Updates: The Home Department

Published by under Country Life

Something about July seems to inspire me to paint.

Last year’s paint-a-palooza included the side of the house, as well as the bathroom doors, the front door and window, and my desk area. Not to mention the hall floor, which Rob changed from electric lime green to bearable grey.

This year, Mark replaced the rotten board on the side of the house, so it was time to paint. I’d been meaning to paint over the weird red and green parts ever since I moved in, anyway.

The kitties thoroughly enjoyed the painting – at least, the drop cloth part:

Roscoe in particular liked to nap up there. I think he was sorry when the cloth went away. Audrey was happy in the plastic one on the back porch:

It looks pretty good now that it’s all done:

The house has come a long way from when I first moved in almost two years ago:



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Jul 15 2011

Updates: The Cat Department

Published by under Cats

Well, Miss Audrey doesn’t seem to have put on much, if any, weight. I’ve been feeding her fancy wet food on the sly, and also setting aside chicken to give her. Maybe she just gets thinner in the summer, like my brother’s Wonderdog Jed used to. Maybe she’s just one of those enviable creatures who can eat whatever she wants and yet stay slim and fabulous, like the Gilmore Girls.

I recently learned that in addition to the extra food at home, Audrey wanders over to Mark’s place, strolls in through the cat flap, and helps herself to his cats’ food. He described her as “the little stripy one”. Here you see her taking a break from all that eating:

You can see her slimosity a little better in this picture.

While Audrey’s been busy eating, Roscoe has turned into The Intrepid Explorer. Whenever I go to Megan’s, he accompanies me there and back, like a body guard. Megan says that her cats like the boys, which makes me feel all proud of their adorableness.

Jungle Roscoe

Last night looked like a nearly full moon, and Roscoe didn’t come in until 4:30 in the morning. I think it’s going to get harder and harder to get him in at night. I just leave the outside lights on and hope for the best.

All three of them spend a lot more time outside now that the rain has finally stopped. When the boys come home, their shiny black coats are covered with dust and pollen. When you pet them, they look like Pig-Pen in the Peanuts cartoon, with puffs of dirt flying up.

Clyde is still his cuddly, treat-lovin’, mama’s boy self. He’s generally the only one who comes when I try to call them in at night, galloping in from the woods and meowing pathetically for treats. Roscoe and Audrey magnificently ignore the bribery of treats.

Garden Clyde

Clyde still meows for food when there is still food in the dishes. He’s like those guys who channel-surf. They don’t care what’s on, they want to know what else is on. Clyde doesn’t care about the food in his dish, only the food that isn’t (yet).

He also still specializes in the smother snuggle, which is a little harder to take now that he’s a full-grown cat instead of a fuzzy little kitten. He gets kind of heavy draped across my head. But I still manage to fall asleep, listening to him purr with his fur up my nose.

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Jul 14 2011

Updates: The Health Department

Published by under Family,Friends

Rob is recovering well from his scary surgery. The hole cut into his throat so they could rummage around in his spine has completely healed, though he still has to wear the giant collar at all times and is not allowed to drive or do much of anything, which is driving him crazy. He has done little things, like mending the case of my grandparents’ fish set (the velvet piece holding up the serving pieces had come unglued), but you can tell he’s dying to actually do something.

I’m not sure how much he will actually be able to/allowed to do after he gets the all-clear from the surgeon sometime in September, though. I guess we’ll see. As I write I’m waiting for him to come over so I can drive him and Star to my brother’s place for a walk.

Speaking of walking…A has finally been released from rehab! She was staying there during the week and allowed home on weekends. When she finally came home for good, her husband C had filled the house with flowers and they had a huge party.

A still has no feeling in her feet and her ankles don’t really work. She says that if anyone pushed her chest, she’d fall right over. She is walking with the help of canes, but has plans to attend a family reunion later this month and the wedding of a friend in Albania in September.

She started back to work part-time this week, for the first time this YEAR. She has been in the hospital or rehab center for more than six months. Incredible.

Fortunately, there is a government-funded program that allows disabled people to take a free taxi to work and back. There’s no way A could take public transit in London in the shape she’s in. Apart from the balance/walking issues, she tires very easily. I think her body is recovering from its long ordeal and it will take a while before she feels like her former self again.

Although it didn’t happen to me – just like Rob’s surgery – both events affected me deeply. I still feel grateful every day that I can walk and breathe.

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Jul 08 2011


Published by under San Francisco

From the country roads of Hooterville to the streets of San Francisco…

When we were in San Francisco for Rob’s surgery, we stayed in an area I didn’t know very well. When I lived there, I lived in Pacific Heights and worked in the Financial District. I walked to work through Russian Hill, Nob Hill, and a dash of Chinatown. In my free time, I didn’t venture much further.

It was interesting to be in a different part of the City, though also a little odd not to know where things were (or where I was). This area ranged from the Lower Haight to the Castro via Duboce Park. Conveniently, the N Judah light rail was just a couple of blocks from our friend’s place:

and it went right to the hospital with very few stops.

The Haight part of the neighborhood was characterized by tattooed hipsters, second-hand record stores, and beautifully maintained Victorians. Duboce Park was full of kids with their nannies, and the tree-lined streets leading to Market Street featured strollers chained to doorsteps in the way one usually sees bikes:

The tree-lined streets also had some mini parks, with benches and plants, where a girl could rest her hospital-worn feet. At one such parkette, I shared a bench with an abandoned briefcase:

Such was my weariness that I didn’t even think about opening it, remarkable in a girl who avidly sight-sees in lighted apartment windows and eavesdrops on public transit.

While walking down the briefcase street, I came across a piece of notebook paper with a sort of prose poem written on it. It looked to me like a teenager’s writing, and if so, there may be a poet to be on the streets of San Francisco:

“Waking up at this house is being blinded in the eyes by a stern sun’s gaze. Illuminating your resentment, a hangover and the twisted smile to these ways. Being smashed with the gross beauty of commerce like waking up to a slice of heavily frosted cake, at breakfast, wrenching your stomach in tandem with hangover, but oh so delicious in a sort of manufactured splendor. It’s seeing beauty you love, dampened.”

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Jul 06 2011

Look Around

Published by under Country Life

I volunteered to deliver some jobette-related materials around Hooterville a couple of weeks ago. I meant to do it on the way home, but the desire to get the hell out of the car won out over convenience, so I went home instead. So a day or two (OK, about a week) later, I finally ventured out in the fog on a non-work day.

One of the first stops was a charming inn, which used to be a stage coach stop:

In the living room, which has a lovely view of the ocean, as well as a charming garden with hummingbirds buzzing around, you can still see the bullet holes in the wooden ceiling from the Wild West Days. Is that cool, or what?

The owner’s mother passed away in February (my brother responded to that final 911 call), so I spoke with her son, who now owns the inn. He told me that he and his wife had welcomed their first child, a son, just two day before – and two days before their 22nd anniversary. His mother lived long enough to know that the baby was coming, and because of her illness, she forgot, so every day, she heard the joyful news as if for the first time.

As I left through this rustic gate:

I thought what a wonderful place it will be for the new baby to grow up in. Maybe he will be yet another generation of innkeepers in the same historic place.

My next stop was a restaurant, which turned out be closed, but that didn’t stop me from admiring its setting:

Or its lily pond:

All in all, not a bad extra-curricular (or extra-jobette) morning.

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Jul 02 2011


Published by under Cats

Birthday Girl

No less an authority than the Duchess of Windsor said that a woman can’t be too rich or too thin (or, apparently, have too much jewelry – her remarkable collection was auctioned off for a record-setting $54 million in 1987), but perhaps a cat can be.

Though Audrey has always been as slim as her namesake, the lovely Miss Hepburn, lately she’s been looking, despite what the Duchess said, a little too thin. I wondered if it was just having more exercise since the weather’s nicer, or perhaps if she had worms from eating mice and other outdoor delicacies. I bought some très expensive de-worming pills and served one crushed up with some chicken.

But Audrey’s bird-like eating habits (besides actual birds) meant that she only ate some of it. That, or she was on to me. She ate a bit more later, but I ended up tossing the remainder. Megan said next time she’d administer the pill herself. So I wasn’t sure if Audrey had actually eaten the whole dose.

I also started giving her canned food a couple of times a day, but of course she would only eat a spoonful at a time, and sometimes not even that. Oddly, the boys didn’t try to horn in on it while she was eating, though they’d eat the leftovers, if any. Come to think of it, they never sleep on her throne and she doesn’t sleep on their bed, either.

Eventually, I decided it was time for Dr. Karen to give her a once-over. She wasn’t horrified by Audrey’s thinness, though she did say that she is a tiny thing. She administered a rabies shot and FVRCP, and decided to keep her for a few hours to see if she’d poop. Needless to say, this was the first time that she didn’t express her opinion on driving in the usual way.

At first, everyone at the vet’s said how cute she was and what a little doll, but that was before they trapped her in a cage. Audrey growled and swiped at anyone, human, canine, or feline, who passed by. She also stubbornly refused to poop, so I reluctantly left her overnight. By the next afternoon, nothing had happened, so Dr. Karen administered a worming pill and I picked up an indignant, howling Miss Audrey.

She howled all the way home, and just as we reached Hooterville, she finally pooped in her carrier. A call to Dr. Karen revealed that samples are only good for 12 hours after they’re produced, not much help when the vet’s office closed in fifteen minutes.

I released Audrey in the garden, thinking she’d take off into the woods and not be seen again for hours. Instead, she went straight into the house, where the boys sniffed her thoroughly, ate a little, and then went upstairs to bed. She was pretty sleepy for a couple of days, but then she was back to her usual self. She still seems a little on the svelte side to me, though.

Today Miss Audrey is four years old. We’ll all celebrate with canned food (kitties) and cocktails (the help) later on today. I’m already wearing “For Audrey” polish on my toes for the occasion.

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