Archive for October, 2011

Oct 30 2011


Published by under Cats,Country Life

In contrast to the snow back East, we’ve been experiencing a string of sunny days and starry nights. It may well have been like this all month. Rob borrowed my thermometer for some project, so I can’t tell you exact temperatures, but it’s been somewhere in the 60s during the day. Warm enough to have the doors open after the chill of night/early morning (basically indistinguishable at this time of year) has worn off, anyway.

Nights are chilly, always the case when they are starry – and you should see all the stars around here! Everything in life is apparently a trade-off. It’s about 50 degrees in the house when I get up in the morning, so it’s somewhere in the 40s outside.

The kitties are much easier to get in at night now. Even Audrey usually shows up by 9:30. The boys are sleeping with me more – Clyde on my head, Roscoe curled up against my chest.

We’ve been lucky to have such a beautiful fall, especially after such a great summer. Yesterday, I went to hang out my bathing suit and towel on the balcony after swimming class, and thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of my bare feet on the sun-warmed wood. I thought, “I’d better enjoy every sunny day we get this time of the year.” The winter rains will start soon enough.

2 responses so far

Oct 24 2011

A Horse, Of Course

Published by under Country Life

Meet Turbo!

One evening, I was just putting on the outside lights for the kitties when I heard a noise.

Peeking out my front door, I saw…a horse.

Of course.

A beautiful red horse with a white blaze on his face. In the gloom, I finally saw Mark, holding the horse on a tether. He smiled and said, “I wanted you to meet Turbo!” Turbo is two years old, and has a leg injury so he can’t be ridden, at least for now. Turbo’s previous owner gave him to Mark, I guess rather than deal with the injury.

I petted him and he made soft horse noises, smelling sweetly of hay as he took a piece of carrot from my palm (always hold your hand flat when feeding a horse). I think I’m going to like my newest neighbor.

5 responses so far

Oct 22 2011

Second Year

Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Family,Schatzi

Today marks the second anniversary of my moving to Hooterville.

What better way to celebrate the occasion than a walk with my sister and Schatzi on the headlands of the Village?

Come on, let’s go!

Here’s the Village. If it weren’t for the cars, it could be the 1800s:

Here you can see the remains of a dock. Because of the rocky shoreline, loggers and visitors had to basically zipline from the ship to the shore, standing on a tiny wooden platform. I’ve seen pictures of Victorian ladies doing it with an air of surprising insouciance.

Schatzi wasn’t quite as interested in the view as I was:

I tried to capture how her brindle looked like the fall grasses in the sunlight. Also her beautiful smile:

I feel so lucky to live somewhere so beautiful:

And to share my life with such wonderful family, friends, dogs, and cats.

5 responses so far

Oct 18 2011

The Plague

Published by under Cats,Country Life

Beauty Sleep(s)

Really, is there anything cozier-looking than a sleeping cat?

Even if they are responsible for The Plague.

Last month, I noticed that Audrey was scratching a lot. I also noticed that my legs, never my best feature, looked as if I were experiencing a third round of chicken pox*, itchiness and all.

I spent about a million dollars on Advantage – hey, it made a change from spending money on the car – and applied it to the cats. Their reactions to the cure were the same as their reactions to the cause. Audrey: scratching and furious. Roscoe and Clyde: whatever, dude.

Then I took the bed apart, washed everything that could be washed, and hung it out in the clean sunshine to try while I sprayed the bed, featherbed, and carpets with some stuff that is supposed to kill fleas and keep them that way for 140 days.

Toxicity all around!

Problem solved, I thought. But, as usual, I was wrong. Besides being death-defying, these fleas seemed to be some kind of mutants, equipped with Super Itch**. Even after I scratched the bites until they bled, they still itched. They still itched when scabbed over. I had bruises from the scratching. Audrey was super scabby under her soft fur. The boys: nothing.

One evening, I actually saw a flea on the bed. I crushed it, and ordered more disAdvantage on line. Exactly a month after the first application, I gooed everyone again, hoping for the best. So far, so good. Let’s hope that the fleas are gone for the rest of the year. Pretty soon I’ll need to spend my flea allowance on propane.

*I got it when I was nine and again when I was 15. I got out of mid-terms the second time. Woohoo!

**One of life’s enduring mysteries is why anything that drinks our blood leaves an itch behind. They’d be welcome to the blood if they were itchless. Definitely a design flaw.

3 responses so far

Oct 14 2011

Covet: Elizabeth Taylor’s Jewelry Exhibition

Published by under Covet: A Series

I’d rather be…at Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry exhibit in LA. Instead of facing a day of conference calls, note-taking, and writing up the calls.

Why is there always time for things you have to do, and not enough for things you want to do? Same goes for money. Enough for rent and bills. Not enough to go and see Elizabeth’s Taylor jewelry in LA this week.

As you all know, I was a fan of Elizabeth Taylor’s. I loved her beauty, her passion, her talent, and her courage and dedication to fighting AIDS long before celebrities wanted anything to do with the cause.

But most of all, I loved her jewelry. I was lucky enough to gawk at her ruby and diamond set a couple of years ago in San Francisco. It seemed only right that such beautiful gems belonged to such a beautiful gem.

But now La Taylor is gone and we are seriously running out of true movie stars. And her jewelry is to be auctioned in December, so the collection will be broken up forever and never be seen again by the glamour-deprived public.

I find it annoying that I can afford to fix my car, but not to go to LA and see the collection before it’s gone forever. I’m blaming Miss Scarlett for this little spate of bitterness.

At least my dear friend A was able to go and see the jewelry in London. She even sent me the catalogue from the exhibition. A herself has a love affair with jewelry, so perhaps she deserved to go more than I do. Her mother celebrated A’s narrow escape from death this year by giving her daughter the diamond from her engagement ring* set into a pendant. And A celebrated by having her grandmother’s rubies set into earrings by the same jeweler who created Kate Middleton’s memorable wedding earrings.

Elizabeth Taylor would have approved.

*The diamond has a sad story behind it. It was her 1 carat engagement ring upgrade after they’d been married for several years. They bought the ring in Asia and declared it to Canadian customs, who held it a very long time, trying to value it. It was finally delivered to her a week after A’s father died in a car accident.

4 responses so far

Oct 11 2011

The Bench Seat

Published by under Country Life,Family

Stand back – this car thing seems to be catching.

About two days after Miss Scarlett’s belt melt, Megan’s car started making sounds that more like the Waltons’ truck than ever, along with other, even more ominous sounds. There are about a quarter of a million miles on that car, and those have been rainy/dusty/dirt roads/barely paved roads/potholed and serpentine miles. These things are very ageing for a car.

Basically, it’s the Keith Richards* of cars.

Unlike Keith, though, the car has been benched for the moment. Or possibly forever. The main problem is that we lack the money to get another used car (no-one in my family has ever bought a new car. Or even thought about it).

Astonishingly, in these dire economic times, used cars are surprisingly expensive. At least, used cars with less than 150,000 miles on them which have not starred in fiery accidents. Anyway, they are pretty much out of our price range, unless we get a loan from a friend which we won’t be able to pay back in the immediate future, thus jeopardizing said friendship.

So it looks like two choices: buy a beater which may last a year or two, when we’ll be back in this position again (not, you’ll all agree, a pleasant place to be); or fix the many things wrong with the original car for about the same cost. In both cases, we’ll be hoping that there will be no expensive and Walton-esque encores.

What, you are asking yourself, about Rob’s trusty truck?

Well, Rob’s truck is only somewhat trusty. It’s more than 30 years old, or 250 in car years. When it’s damp – yes, on the Coast, land of fog and dew – the brakes stick and act up. The windshield wipers don’t work and are not fixable by the boys (or they would be fixed). Then there are minor annoyances, like the fact that you have to open the door by putting the window down and opening it from the outside. But don’t put the window down too far or it will stick there. Fortunately for you, it won’t be raining.

Unfortunately for us, though, there has been early season rain, so Megan and I have been sharing Miss Scarlett. We work the same days, but she works night and I work days. So I get home at 5:00 pm and take the car to Megan’s. She gets home sometime between 7:00 and 8:00 am and brings the car to me.

The nice thing about this is that we can catch up with each other and the car is already warm and the windows unfogged by the time I set off, a definite bonus. Yesterday it was foggy and rainy, a horrible combo which made me wonder why rear window wipers are not on every car.

So I guess we’ll see what happens. Hopefully something will come up.

*Sometimes I worry that I’ll wake up one day and my dissolute youth will have caught up with me and I really will look like Keith Richards.

5 responses so far

Oct 07 2011

Not So Swimmingly

Published by under Country Life,Family

So, yeah: swimming.

There was a free swim clinic last month at the same pool where aquafit takes places in the cold, early morning hours. Megan and I went, thinking to improve our swimming skills. We learned as children, and swam every summer, in the chilly Atlantic and the (relatively) warm waters of Maine lakes. I figured it would be easy to get up to speed. For Megan: yes. For me: no.

I’m good at finding things I’m not good at.

Everything was going fine until we had to put our faces in the water. Suddenly, I felt like a steerage passenger on the Titanic. My body was horrified, and both of my brain cells immediately agreed, even though there was a lifeguard right there and I could have stood up and breathed at any time.

Logic is not my forte. Call me the anti-Spock.

I kept trying, even though breathing in the water through my nose and mouth gave me instant post-nasal drip without all the bother of having a cold. The more I did it, the more I hated it.

Megan, the former scuba diver, was happily splashing around like a fish and bemoaning her lack of technique. See what a contrast we are? When she was a little kid and told me, “I’ll catch up with you, you’ll see”, she failed to add “And I’ll pass right by you and leave you in the dust”. Or the pool water.

At the end of the class, they told us that we could take 6 more lessons for the reasonable price of $36. Megan immediately signed up, while I flipped through Glamour and enjoyed breathing the air.

The next day, she took Star to her first Canine Good Citizen class. One of the things they address at the class is fearfulness, which dogs express by growling and barking, and Suzys express by crying (at least inside) and/or running away in horror. The teacher said that petting dogs when they express their fearfulness is rewarding the fear and the behavior, and just encourages them to keep at it.

I realized that not going to swim class with Megan was rewarding my fear. So I signed up, too.

I’m still struggling with the breathing. My brother, who swims 45 minutes without stopping four days a week, tells me that he doesn’t put his face in the water, and if he does, it really affects his endurance. Another friend who is a good swimmer told me the same thing. So it’s not just Me.

Also it’s hard to remember all the instructions (keep your chin down, feet floppy, thumbs should hit the water first) while struggling with the panicky, oxygen-deprived feeling of the breathing. Megan says I’m doing better, but I’m not so sure. I wish I had more time to practice. But I’m glad that I’m trying to face my fears. It’s a lot easier to do with my sister at my side. Like everything else.

5 responses so far

Oct 01 2011

The Cost of Driving

Published by under Country Life,Family

The saga of the car has been long and spendiferous over the past month.

First, I took it to Mike the mechanic, who made the transmission run better. Miss Scarlett, like me, needs a little time to get going in the morning, but she’s always up to speed by the time I reach the next driveway down the Ridge, and I can live with that.

However, there was a sort of shuddering going on when I braked downhill, a not uncommon occurrence on the curvaceous roads around here. So I brought it to another place to check the alignment (Mike doesn’t have the car lifting thing or the specialized tools to do this kind of thing).

They told me that I needed to have two things fixed before I could have the alignment done. I checked with the boys, and they also couldn’t fix it for me, having a Mike-esque lack of expensive and specialized tools. So the fixing, along with the alignment, cost about $300.

I still noticed the shuddering, so I brought it back in again. It appears that there had been some miscommunication and the mechanic hadn’t understood what I meant, possibly because I don’t speak Car. He investigated, and this time, it turned out that I needed the rear brakes replaced and something done to the rotors. Cost: $400.

Since brakes are important and the boys can’t measure and sand down rotors, or whatever it is that had to be done, I said OK. Goodbye, paycheck. It was nice almost knowing you. And that was before I replaced the two front tires, which were 7 years old (150 in tire years). Cost: about $200.

A few days later, I heard a high-pitched squeeing noise in the car, even over the Ramones. I stopped in at the mechanic’s and asked him to listen to it. He said he thought it was a leak in a vacuum hose and not critical, so I left a rambling message for my brother, asking if he could fix it on Thursday.

The infamous belt incident happened on Wednesday. The consensus of opinion between the boys and Megan is that any mechanic should have known what that noise was. I certainly will if I ever hear it again, which I hope I never do.

On the other hand, it only cost about $70 in parts for Rob to fix it. Working on my second thousand dollars of the month, baby! At this rate, I’m going to need a “Car” category for this blog.

3 responses so far