Well, today did not go exactly as planned.

I left the house at the dark and starry hour of 6:30. By the time I got to the store, the sky was brightening, and even at that hour, the ocean was blue. The ocean was also feeling particularly frisky and beautiful today, and it was so hard not to stop and just watch it for a while, especially at Van Damme beach, which may well be my favorite view around here.

As I pulled into the parking lot at the pool, I suddenly couldn’t steer. The steering wheel was locked, and an ominous red battery sign was lit up on the dashboard. Uh oh.

Fortunately for me, I meet Megan on Wednesday mornings for aquafit, and she was already there waiting for me. I was so glad to see her! She managed to maneuver Miss Scarlett into a parked position across two spots. Then we noticed a strange smell, and smoke curling from the left side of the hood. Never a good sign.

Closer inspection showed that the belt had come off its moorings, and had melted slightly in its unmoored state. I grabbed the towel I keep in the back seat to mop the morning fog from the windows – this time, to extinguish the smoldering belt goo on the hood roof.

Megan called Jonathan and woke him up, and then called Rob and woke him up. We decided that the best thing was for me to go home with Megan, and Rob would take Megan’s car back in to town to fix my car. On our way home, Megan and I bought a replacement belt.

When we got there, Rob was drinking coffee and waking up. Undoubtedly he was once again considering the “for worse” part of his wedding vows twenty years ago and remembering several in law jokes that now had an alarming ring of truth.

Megan went to bed, Rob went to fix my car, and I went home to get some work done. Clyde decided to welcome me home by climbing up inside the painting again, this time bringing it down on my unsuspecting head. Surprisingly, no-one was damaged, though Clyde broke the wire holding the painting in place and now it’s leaning against the stairs. He wisely disappeared for several hours after that.

Rob just called and said that he replaced the belt and whatever went wrong was the simplest thing it could be under the circumstances. When Megan goes to work tonight, she’ll drop me off to get Miss Scarlett. Hopefully, we will get home in one piece.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I came home from the pool* on Saturday to discover that the generator fairy had paid me a visit.

Those of you who live in civilization may scoff at the generator fairy, but when the power goes out this winter – and it will – it will be a lot more useful than that $20** the tooth fairy leaves or candy*** from the Great Pumpkin. Assuming he shows up, that is.

Someone gave this generator to my brother because it wasn’t working right, and Jonathan spent a lot of time working on it until it did. Now it can power my whole house, and more besides. It’s a reassuring thought as we slide slowly into winter.

Coincidentally, he gave it to me the day after the official start of Fall, and the day before the first rain of the season (a third of an inch). It inspired me to check my power outage drinking water supply (OK) and look for the buckets (where are they?). Oh, and I should put up the rain gauge my neighbor gave me after that surprise snow exploderated mine.

Be prepared, right?

*I still owe you a post or two abut swimming.

**I got a quarter. The tooth fairy seems to be suffering from inflation, just like the rest of us.

***Not that the candy would have lasted from Halloween until winter. Not around here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Audrey’s busy being Audrey these days. Staying out all night and wandering back in when I get up at 6:30. Or not.

When she’s in, she’s either demanding canned food or insisting on sitting on my lap and licking me until she’s bored and leaves, or goes to sleep, whatever comes first.

I think her weight is just about right, though on the occasions when I pick her up (to her eternal annoyance), she still feels light as a feather. I think I’ve created a kind of monster by trying to feed her up over the summer. Now she expects the disgusting canned food twice a day, and makes a big fuss about getting it.

Audrey surveying her realm

Oddly, the boys don’t try to eat it, though they do inspect the dish after Audrey has finished and stalked off. They seem to think that there are different rules for Audrey (staying out later; sitting on the table) than for them (not) and they don’t seem to mind at all.

Clyde’s chin is healing up. Megan inspected it yesterday and said it looked pretty good, as such things go. I have to admit that I’m a little concerned it will get re-infected and require another trip to the vet, but hopefully it won’t. Apparently it will take a while to heal. It was likely caused by a cat bite, and I wonder if it was from playing with Roscoe or from fighting with a neighbor.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Matched set

Being the bad cat parent I am, I failed to keep Clyde in yesterday. It was sunny and warm and he was raring to go. It’s hard to keep one cat in while letting the other two out. And Clyde seemed to feel fine, even though his chin was pretty gross to look at. I will spare you the visual on that one.

Also being a bad cat parent, I failed to put the warm compresses on him. I admitted this lapse to Megan, who said he should be fine anyway. When I confessed to guilt about this (how can I compress him when I’m at the jobette all day?), she said, “You’re not a bad mother. Just a working one.”

Clyde slept on my pillow/head last night and the night before. He still does his patented smother snuggle, but he has expanded his repertoire to sleeping beside my head on the pillow and taking up almost all the room. When Roscoe sleeps with me, he prefers to cuddle up to my chest. He always seems more dignified and grown-up than his little brother.

So there you have it. So far, so good. I’ll keep my eye on Clyde and hopefully a return trip to Dr. Karen will not be necessary. Between fixing my cat and fixing my car, I’ve been doing my bit to improve the local economy lately.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The patient

On Saturday night, I was watching “The Hoodlum” (with Lawrence Tierney, on a brief hiatus from jail, and his real-life brother, Edward) with Clyde cuddled up to me. Clyde’s cuddling style is to stare at me, then jump on my lap, climb up my body, and collapse with his head on my shoulder, giving a big sigh before starting to purr.

Both he and Roscoe like to be rubbed under their chin. But this time, something was wrong. There was a huge bump. I felt the other side of his chin. Bump-free. Uh oh. However, it didn’t seem to hurt him and he was acting normally.

In the morning, Megan investigated and said it was an abscess. By then, Clyde had scratched at it and it was wet and much ickier-looking. Being the excellent sister she is, she also called Dr. Karen on the dot of 9:00 on Monday morning, when I was arriving at the jobette. She not only got him an appointment at 11:00, but also caught him and took him there.

I am proud to say that by all accounts, my brave little Clyde did not complain or fuss while having his chin shaved and getting an antibiotic shot. Dr. Karen was impressed with his courage and cuteness. Apparently both were remarked on often. My little guy weighs 8.7 pounds!

I am supposed to keep him in today as well as yesterday. When I came home yesterday, Clyde was sleeping on the bathmat and Audrey was sleeping nearby on a (white) towel she had pulled off the holder just for this purpose. Roscoe, of course, was nowhere to be seen.

The house was like an oven, since all the doors were closed except the sliding glass ones in the living room. Rob installed a found screen in that one last summer, so that was open. I had to put the fan on in the sleeping loft, which becomes unbearable if it’s over 60 degrees outside and the balcony door isn’t open. Naturally this is the warmest part of the year, and it was the warmest day we’ve had in a while.

Clyde was pretty sleepy all evening. Today he seems like his old self and I’m not sure if I can make him stay in all day on such a lovely, sunny day. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A beautiful day for a fair

First things first: happy birthday to Rob! He stopped by this morning and when I wished him happy birthday, he looked surprised. I hugged him and told him I was glad he was born. He took a couple of things to repair and vanished after he hugged me back.

We’ll have a birthday barbecue next weekend. This one was busy! As I write, Star is at her second Canine Good Citizenship class (she did great last week). And yesterday, Megan and I went swimming (more about that later) before we went to the county fair.

A quick review of my blog shows that I haven’t been since 2008, so it was about time. As you can see above, it was a beautiful day. Megan found a secret parking space, and off we went.

It was hard to decide what to do first, so we had some garlic fries while we walked around and scoped out the possibilities. We made a mental note of the sno cone truck for later:

They really are the most refreshing drink you can eat. Though, disappointingly, they did not have blue raspberry. Even though everyone knows that blue is the best flavor for anything frozen (other than margaritas).

Sno cone in hand, we went to admire the livestock and the kids who handle them. This little dappled cow with its freckled girl was my favorite:

Did you know? Cows are covered with a sort of pomade at these shows, which makes them look all shiny and pretty, but makes your hands instantly filthy and kind of gross. Worth it, though. Also, there were hand-washing stations everywhere.

I resisted the temptation to run my hands through these sheep’s curly fleece:

And I kind of had a crush on this handsome boy:

Ever wondered how to shear a sheep? Now’s your chance to learn how:

It was strange being in the building with all the fleece and hand-spun yarn and beautiful scarves and things without our Erica*. And not seeing any of her work entered for prizes (and winning them). But I got over it long enough to buy a hat, which turned out to have been made by a woman who lives about two miles away. She spun the wool herself, knitted it, adorned it with a unique abalone button, and voilĂ :

It was hard to believe I’d ever need that hat on a sunny day in the 80s, but I bet I will be glad I got it in a couple of months. And I got to meet a new neighbor!

Some apple (and cider) tasting later:

we were admiring quilts:

flower arrangements:

and some of the biggest pumpkins I’ve ever seen:

The day flew by. Suddenly, it was time to head home, full of fair food and happy memories. Until next year…

*We had a great chat today. They are definitely coming for Christmas. And Jessica loves her new school.

Friday, September 16, 2011

So I have kept up with aquafit, even though the year has clearly turned its face resolutely toward winter and it’s now dark when I leave the house at 6:30 am.

The splendid pool where aquafit takes place has been struggling to stay open, so they have slowly decreased the water temperature to about 79 degrees in the interests of saving money. It was 84 when I first started going, and I can tell you that you feel the loss of every one of those degrees early on a foggy morning. Although I would find 84 on the warm side in the air, in the water is another matter.

I love the teacher and the class, though. Many of the ladies are vintage and they are all delightful. In the locker room, we discuss the latest plays and art shows in San Francisco, as well as the (usually lamentable) performance of the Giants the night before. One of the ladies has a relative who works at the gym where the Giants’ beloved catcher, Buster Posey* is rehabbing from the terrible injury which has sidelined him for most of the year (and which I think was the beginning of the end for the team this year). She says that Buster is as charming in real life as he seems to be on TV, and is hoping that he’ll be back next year. Let’s hope so.

Megan has started meeting me at the Wednesday class, after her long night shift, and she told me that when I was in Napa, everybody missed me. It was nice to hear. Along with the exercise, I love the company of my sister and the Pool Ladies, there in their jewelry with smiles and an encouraging word early in the morning.

About halfway through, one of the ladies calls out our imaginary breakfast after our workout: a big burrito and a Margarita! Nachos and a beer! Her husband just gave her a yellow Porsche convertible to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. That’s the kind of girl she is.

*Surely one of the best names in sports.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The thing about having unplanted plants on your hands is that you have to plant them. Sooner is better than later. But since the soil around my house is hard and unforgiving, dirt had to be imported. Also, it occurred to me that I might want to bring the twin palms with me if I ever move. And since half wine casks were on sale for about $20 apiece, it seemed like a good idea to invest.

The long-suffering Rob took the money and ran – well, drove carefully – to the Big Town and came back with the back of his truck full of dirt and wine casks (which helped to hold down the tarp and keep my investment from flying away down the highway).

All I had to do was shovel the dirt and roll the wine casks around. He even drilled holes in the bottom for drainage.

After rolling one of the palms around on a dolly I borrowed from Mark (who is doing fine so far), I decided to put one near the daisy tree in the middle of the yard:

And one at the front of the house. It had occurred to me one day as I was driving home that there was no particular reason that I couldn’t grub up the huckleberry tree in the front of the house and replace it with a palm.

At the time, I didn’t realize that this involves borrowing a heavy iron pointed thing, like some kind of medieval weapon, and piercing the root ball of the bush repeatedly before yanking it out of the ground, which led to borrowing gravel from Mark. But it also led to Mark filling in the trench in front of my house from the great water project last year, thus avoiding a Calamity Suzy incident. You will be pleased to hear that I removed the berries from the bush before uprooting it (though this led to further berry picking, temporarily diverting me from the palm tree planting at hand).

So, yeah: the huckleberry bush was out, the dirt was smoothed over with gravel, and I was ready to place the palm:

I think it makes a nice entranceway to the house:

That’s Rob’s trusty truck, temporarily in the background.

I hope the twin palms are happy in their new home. As for the bamboo, I have placed it at the corner of the house, right outside the shower window:

I’m hoping it will grow a bit more and give me a tropical oasis feeling while I’m in the shower. At least I can see the palm from there. I have to say, it’s quite exciting, being the proud owner of not one, but two palm trees.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Megan was getting ready for work when she discovered that she couldn’t find her handbag.

In all fairness, it must be said that she is a little careless of it at times. Mostly it lives on the backseat floor of her car, just as her keys live in the ignition, except when she’s at work. How else would you know where they are? And when it’s sunny, she often leaves the car doors open so the car doesn’t get too hot inside.

We knew she had her bag when we were buying the last-minute items for our brother’s belated birthday barbecue, but we couldn’t remember seeing it after that. She and Rob scoured their house-ette and the car while I called the store.

No luck. Megan was late for work, so she had to leave after borrowing some money for lunch – when you work a 12 hour shift, you have to eat twice while at work, so planning is necessary, especially in a place where everything is closed overnight.

After she left, Rob was watering the garden when he stumbled over something.

It was Megan’s wallet.

Then he came across the little pouch with her hairbrush, etc., in it. Eventually he found the bag and the rest of its contents, including a now-empty treat bag. We had taken Star to Big River and used the treats in a training session, and Megan had left them in her bag when we got back to the car.

We know it wasn’t Star, because she was in the house. Remembering the sunny day and the open car doors, Megan realized that Schatzi had taken the bag from the car and brought it into the garden to eat the treats. Whenever you give her a treat, she always takes it back there to enjoy it.

So there you have it. You can teach an old dog new tricks. She can sneak out of your brother’s house at the dead of night and go home, or jump out of an upstairs window without hurting herself, or help herself to your handbag in the back of a car.

It takes a Schatzi!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The dilemma

Ah, the joys of the listserv…

I joined the local listserv back when Erica was looking for a place in or near Hooterville, and Jessica was attending the local school. Now, of course, they are basking in the joys of high speed internet and home-delivered food in Portland, but I got attached to the listserv and stayed on it. How else would I know about bears being spotted a couple of miles away, or about the lost sheep blocking a road? And then there are the yard sales and inter-village bickering.

On Saturday, there was an announcement about free plants. They are my favorite kind. I was the lucky first caller, and even luckier, the plant donor lives about three miles away. She also has a cute little red truck, and offered to drive the orphaned flora here if we could get them into the truck.

Fortunately, Megan is the kind of sister who isn’t surprised when I call her up and ask her if she’d like to help me wrestle some palm trees into a total stranger’s truck. Between us, we managed it, and then unloaded them, as you see.

That was the easy part. Now I have to decide what to do with them.

Monday, September 5, 2011

And in the “never a dull moment” department…

My brother woke me up at 1:00 am on Saturday night. Oddly, when the phone rings late at night, I still instinctively think “Mom”. Once I wake up a little more, I think “Rob”. In this case, it was Jonathan, who got a fire call for our address, making sure I was OK. I was, and so were Rob and Megan.

It was Mark, our neighbor and landlord. He had suffered an epileptic seizure and was unconscious. By the time Jonathan called me, Megan was already at the scene and EMS was on its way. Not for the first time, I was impressed by how quick and how good our little volunteer fire department and our little hospital’s EMS staff is.

They took Mark to the hospital, and he was home in time to celebrate his younger daughter’s birthday yesterday. He has a lot of tests ahead of him, and can’t drive for six months. Apparently it is unusual for someone over 40 to start having seizures, and lately he’s had migraines and very strong memories of his childhood – he feels like he is reliving certain moments. Apparently this is also not a good sign.

He seemed fine when I spoke with him yesterday, so I hope the doctors soon figure out what is wrong and can fix it quickly.

Last night, we belatedly celebrated Jonathan’s birthday with a barbecue in the chilly fog. His friend Carrie was visiting from the city, with her daughter Miranda, and Lichen was there, too. He cut my hair while there was still enough light. Yay! We had a wide variety of sausages, grilled zucchini, pesto salad made from basil Jonathan grew and pie made from huckleberries Carrie and Miranda picked around the property. It was nice to sit by the fire as darkness fell, laughing and reminiscing.