Archive for December, 2011

Dec 31 2011

2011: The Year in Review

This year was about change: getting the jobette; swimming lessons; having to make peace with driving a lot more. Change is good, right?

One deleterious effect of working more is reading less. I read 118 books in 2011, vs. 140 in 2010. The favorites of the year were Sue Grafton’s “V Is for Vengeance” and Candice Millard’s tour de force, “Destiny of the Republic”.

We are also getting a lot less rain this season. Last year, we totalled about 60 inches (or 153 centimeters), and already had half of that by December 31, 2010. This year, we’ve gotten about 11 inches (28 centimeters) so far. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here by saying there’s probably a drought in my future. Number of power outages: 3. So far this season: 1, and an early one at that.

It was a great summer, though: lots of sun, little fog, no heat waves.

As far as last year’s resolutions went: not bad. I did a lot of work on the garden, though there are more things I’d like to do, given time and money, always in short supply. I still worry about the cats, and probably always will, to some extent. The loss of the beautiful and beloved June was traumatic, and, as Jessica pointed out to me, I’m a worrier. Maybe I should just embrace my inner (outer?) worrier.

This year’s resolutions are to reinstate Thursday dinners for my overworked sister – they fell by the wayside with the increased busy-ness of my schedule – and to spend more time with my brother when there’s no project to be done or special occasion to be celebrated. I always have a great time with him, but I don’t see him often enough.

And, you know, keep working on the garden and trying to minimize Calamity Suzy episodes.

Let me know what your resolutions are. And thanks for reading yet another year!


How to plant tulips. Logging road walk. A check-up for the kittens. A walk with Schatzi. The beginning of A’s life-threatening illness. Another vet visit. A walk through the Village. A surprise visit from Jessica! Falling off a log really is easy. Dealing with two broken fingers: not so much. They still look freaky and witch-like. A brief trip to San Francisco. A is improving.


Back in touch with the outside world. A finally gets out of Intensive Care. And I get the jobette! The boys make a windmill. Week One at the jobette. A’s slow recovery continues. Beautiful new garden chairs. A rare and magical snow day!


A quick tour of the jobette. A graduates from Intensive Care to the HIghly Dependent Unit. Tragedy strikes our sister city in Japan. Doin’ it Rob style. Signs of spring. My beloved father’s 80th birthday. It’s not snow this time, it’s hail! The painting saga. Flooding. The week in pictures. Spring arrives in the garden.


The painting problem is solved – at least, for now. Power outages. Little salon in the big woods. A is finally in a regular hospital ward, while Clyde is a little limpy. A nice little burn to go with my broken fingers. Jessica’s birthday! My blog’s 10th birthday! First BBQ of the year. A sad and loving farewell.


The fabulous circus. New contact lenses. A walk through town. Star’s birthday. My tulips in bloom. Countrified. Fabulous garage sale finds. Girls’ night out. A short visit to San Francisco. The magnificent Balenciaga exhibit. Back home. Megan’s birthday. Car troubles – and a birthday celebration.


Car trouble and bad weather. Truly rural. Bi-coastal. Rainy birthday to me. Happy first birthday to the boys! Rob is scheduled for more surgery. An evening with Erica and Jessica. Rose’s chicken curry. Unveiling the clock of ages. Rob’s surgery is rescheduled. The operation. Back home. Houdini lives!


Audrey turns four. Found poetry. Both Rob and A are on the road to recovery. Kitty updates. Home improvements. Jessica visits the jobette. Musical contrasts. Erica and Jessica move to Portland (~sob~). The last Harry Potter movie ever.


Propane prettifying. Encore de car. A change of address. Garden updates. The tenth anniversary of my father’s untimely and completely unnecessary death. I love you and miss you, Old Bear. More car fixing (or not). The bliss of Brian. Star meets quail.


Mark’s seizure. He has epilepsy and is taking meds for it. So far, so good. Thank goodness. Free palms. The Houdini dog expands her repertoire. Planting the palms. The joys of aquafit. The delights of the County Fair. Clyde takes it on the chin. A visit from the generator fairy. A total meltdown.


The car is finally fixed. I hope. Swimming clinic doesn’t go quite as swimmingly as I’d hoped. Car-share begins (and is still going on). The plague descends. My second anniversary of moving to Hooterville. The arrival of Turbo, Mark’s horse.


Pool problems. Feeding the family. Meetings in San Francisco. Too tired to shop. A delightful day. Back home. The lowdown on high beams. Star and Megan are both stars. Thanksgiving Eve. A happy Thanksgiving. An early season blackout.


Sunny days and sparkling nights. A look around the garden. An amazing experience. Girls’ Night In. A sudden loss. Up with the tree! An adventurous evening. And a tree adventure. Christmas cheer. A magical evening. The wit and wisdom of Jessica.

That’s it for 2011. Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

3 responses so far

Dec 29 2011

Jessica Says

Published by under Family,Friends,Jessica

Of course, what you really want to hear about is Jessica.

As soon as she got out of the car, she ran to me and I picked her up and whirled her around, to both of our delights. As I mentioned earlier, she is so much taller now – about chin height, instead of heart height. When I asked her how she got prettier every day*, she said, “I have no idea!”

Erica and Jessica gave me my presents before Jessica dived into hers in the way that only kids can. Can I just say? These girls know me so well. Jessica gave me a scarf she had woven herself on her fingers (!), and to go with it, there was a compact with eyeshadow, blush, and lip gloss which looks like a little Sephora bag. So I’ll always have some Sephora, wherever I am. Also – the sold out everywhere Miss Piggy inspired OPI nail polish, Divine Swine!

It turns out that Jessica is a Candy Land shark. Now, Megan said that Jessica is too old for Candy Land, but I was pretty sure she wasn’t. Jarrett and I played three games with her before dinner, and Jessica won them all. She also got Princess Frostine in every single game, which surely defies the odds, especially since Jarrett shuffled the cards.

Here you see her wearing my red suede shoes (and also my huge wedding earrings, which are clip ons). The shoes are Italian, but I bought them in Russia 20 years ago. Hooray for glasnost! Jessica was also delighted by my Manolo Blahniks and exhibited a surprising ability to walk around in high heels and platforms. Who knew?

Of course, there was time for a tour of my jewelry box. I was wearing Jessica’s favorite diamond necklace, along with a diamond bracelet and diamond ring, but she wanted to explore the rest of the Suzy Collection. She was very interested in where things came from, and once again I realized how many things my father had brought me from exotic lands like China and India.

Jessica was taken with a necklace Dad brought me from India. She told me about Indian kings and myths as she tried on the necklace, which I wear often. It’s made of ruby beads of different shades, along with ornate silver beads. Jessica said, “Everyone who touched this necklace left some of their soul in it.” When she and Erica left, I gave it to her on indefinite loan. I like knowing that my Dad’s gift to his girl is now being worn by another beloved girl.

While we were looking at the jewelry, Jessica said, “All you need to be beautiful is be yourself – and add a little bling.” She paused and looked at me and added, “But you’re perfect just the way you are.”

Later she confided, “Your parents make great kids. I’m so glad you’re my adopted family.”

I have to say, having a rental kid makes your entire Christmas.

*Yesterday Jonathan and I talked about how we should stop telling her how beautiful and smart she is, in case she gets spoiled and/or full of herself, but it’s really hard. As Megan said, “If you could guarantee I’d get a kid like Jess, I’d seriously consider it.” Me, too.

3 responses so far

Dec 28 2011


The day after Christmas, I was surprised to be the first one up. I had expected the eight year old to be hopping and popping in the way that eight year olds do. Sometimes I think we’re born with all the energy we’re going to have and just use it up as we go along, dying when we finally run out of the supply. Certainly I was less bouncy at 48 than I was at 8. At least at 8 am.

Coming quietly down the stairs from the sleeping loft, I could see Paul asleep on the air mattress and Erica and Jessica looking like angels on the bed of nails, also known as the sofabed. When I apologized for the bed of nails-ness, Jessica said, “It’s like sleeping on air! And air is so comfortable!”

I was just pouring a second cup of coffee when I saw Jarrett walking by the sliding glass doors with a mountain of laundry. I went to meet him in the laundry room/pantry/cat dining room and we chatted for a while as he started the first of five loads of laundry. Somewhere between the third and fourth loads, I wondered how and when I had become Mom. At least I did it without stretchmarks and exorbitant college tuition.

By the time I returned to the living room, a second pot of coffee was being made and Erica was dispensing toast. Jessica was definitely the most lively at that point, the grown-ups, the house, and the garden looking a lot like that Katy Perry song “Last Friday Night”.

Caffeinated and toasted, Erica and Jessica started to pack up and get ready for the 12 hour road trip ahead of them. I tried to hide their gorgeous dog Lucy to no avail:

They adopted her from the pound many years ago, but she turns out to be some fancy breed called Munsterhound. She may well be the most beautiful and softest dog I have ever seen. All I can say is if there were a whole breed of Lucys, they would all be made into fur coats. Erica had the same thought.

It was hard not to cry as the car packed with fabulous girls made its way down the driveway, but Megan and I are hoping to drive up to Portland this summer.

Jarrett headed home in the early afternoon with a car full of clean clothes, but Paul stayed for a day or two, definitely helping that after Christmas let-down. He might also come back next week, so there’s still something to look forward to.

One response so far

Dec 27 2011

Christmas Wrap Up


Maybe I always say this, but it was the best Christmas ever!

I spent the morning making cheese biscuits:

And salad dressing, in the majolica jug to the right of Grammie’s silver:

Later, the cheese biscuits were in the Wedgwood biscuit barrel and the salad in the Wedgwood bowl with matching serving tongs. It was so nice to use them! Also on the table are my American grandmother’s, Nana’s, wine glasses. So both sides of the family were represented.

And setting out the Christmas crackers:

The morning clouds gave way to sun, so Megan and I brought the yellow Adirondack chairs and the wooden outside table out of winter storage. It occurred to me that we could use the metal stove I burn paper in as a warmation device, so we hauled that over to the chairs and collected some wood. This worked out great, and really helped with the seating issues, since some people sat outside by the fire and some hung out inside.

Paul was the first to arrive, followed by Erica and Jessica. Jessica has gotten so tall! She is now up to my chin. She gave us presents she had made herself. Megan’s came with a really sweet note:

[Dear Megan, I miss you a lot! My mom and I are basically living in Beezus and Ramona land! I love you lots and lots! See you at Christmas! Love, Jessica K.]

By the time Jarrett arrived, it was time for presents and stockings. Jessica’s present from Santa was discovered on my front porch. Here you see her opening it:

It was a digital microscope. Apparently you can hook it up to your computer.

Jonathan made the glaze for the ham from maple syrup, bourbon, apple cider, and a secret blend of spices. The ham was glazed and smoked over apple wood we cut that morning. It was magically delicious. With it, we had garlic mashed potatoes, cheese biscuits, and a salad. The salad had endive, frisee, and other bitter greens, along with roasted Bosc pears and fresh pomegranate seeds, along with a dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and honey. It was a real hit, and the perfect balance for the richness of the other dishes.

Lichen appeared in time for dinner, bearing little bottles of tonic and a flask of Bombay Sapphire gin to mix it with. Jonathan’s friend Michaela brought cookies and a bottle of wine, which vanished almost immediately.

After dinner and before the pies (one cherry and one lemon), Jonathan read out loud to us, as is tradition. Jessica said she wanted to do the reading this year, so Jonathan proposed he read one page and Jessica read the next. But once he started reading and doing all the voices like Dad used to, she forgot all about it and listened raptly:

Surrounded by my family and friends, I realized that Dad is still with us as I listened to his son read aloud the way he used to. And I felt so lucky and so happy.

It really was the best Christmas ever.

3 responses so far

Dec 25 2011

Christmas Cheer

Published by under Family,Special Occasions

Merry Christmas, everyone!

It’s the first cloudy day in a month, or longer. All the better to have Christmas lights on, my pretty.

Once I finish caffeinating, I’ll tidy up the house and start on the final dinner prep. Jonathan is dealing with the ham; Megan’s making the cherry pie, so all I have to do is make salad, my world famous cheese biscuits, and mashed potatoes. I think I can handle it.

At some point today, Paul and Jarrett will arrive from the south and the north respectively. Erica and Jessica will be here sometime this afternoon, and Lichen will come for dinner. Still not sure if my brother will be bringing a guest. But I kind of love it that all these people are drawn to my home and feel comfortable enough to be flexible in their plans. And I love having my house full of people I love.

Last night, I brought the pot of parsnip vichyssoise over to my sister’s house with some whole wheat dinner rolls. Jonathan joined us, and we enjoyed dinner together and then watched “A Christmas Story” and reminisced about our own past Christmases. It was so nice to be all together in that little house in the big woods where we’ve spent so many Christmases over the years, knowing that there are more to come.

I wish you all a joyful holiday. May you be surrounded with loved ones and happiness!

3 responses so far

Dec 24 2011


Guarding the tree

You are all familiar with the limitations of my kitchenette. So you probably won’t be surprised that last night I went to bed thinking, “OK. If I start the pie crust while the parsnips are roasting, then I can prep the pears and…”

You probably won’t be surprised that I woke up around 4:00 and lay there thinking about it in the cold and dark, sneezing away (having allergies to things like dust and pollen and trees makes living in the country a little trying at times). I decided to get up and deal with it instead of fretting about it.

The cats watched with benign curiosity from their post beside the heater. I put the oven on, then peeled and cut up all the veggies to be roasted (parsnips, potatoes, leeks, onions, garlic) for tonight’s soup, our traditional parsnip vichyssoise. By the time they were ready to go, the oven was warm. Then I peeled and cut up pears and tossed them in olive oil, ready to be roasted for tomorrow night’s salad.

It was time to start on the lemon pie. It soon became obvious that I had overestimated my lemon requirements, so I’ll have to start thinking of ways to use them up. Hopefully I won’t be up before dawn making lemon curd or something like that.

After five or so hours of cooking, I was more or less done when the phone rang. It was Paul, saying that he was unexpectedly in San Francisco and wondered if he could come up for Christmas. So it will be full houses for Megan and me: Paul and Jarrett, Erica and Jessica. But it will be festive!

3 responses so far

Dec 21 2011


Clyde in a tree

At first, the kitties ignored the tree. Seriously. They came in from their outdoor play, sniffed at it, and repaired to their usual evening spots: the couch by the heater (Clyde); the bed in front of the heater (Roscoe); nested into the pillows on the bed (Audrey).

But as time went by, they got more interested. Most mornings, I’d wake up to find an ornament or two rolling around on the floor. Maybe it’s because yesterday I added a star, some clear snowflake ornaments, and a string of white lights:

Here’s a close-up of the snowflake ornaments:

The star and snowflakes were half price at Rite Aid, probably because they figured most people weren’t still decorating their trees a few days before Christmas. But they reckoned without my amazing procrastination talents.

This morning, while waiting for it to get light enough outside to let the boys out, Clyde decided to get in some indoor tree climbing practice. I think it’s a credit to Rob that the tree stand could stand this.

2 responses so far

Dec 20 2011

Adventurous Evening

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Family

The dynamic duo

Once again it’s 44/6 degrees in my little tar-paper shack. The boys and I are huddling by the heater while Audrey prances around outside in her fur coat and my thimble of coffee gets cold almost as soon as I pour it.

The coffee maker is in the bathroom this morning. Why, you ask? Well, last night was a little more of an adventure than I would have liked.

When I put up the blue icicle lights on the back deck, I installed a doohickey that screwed in where the lightbulb used to be, and plugged the lights into it. It worked, but it meant there was no light at night in the backyard, other than the icicle lights. So I put a lamp out there and plugged it in the outlet beside the sliding glass doors.

Now, this outlet had been repaired by Mark this summer when it alarmingly sparked, though there’s still a burned looking area peeking out. Last night, it sparked again and stopped working. Something must have shorted out, because the outlet in the kitchen for the coffee maker also stopped working, which is why I relocated it to the bathroom.

Of course, the back yard was plunged into darkness, which plunged me into horror, since all three cats were outside. In fact, I was already somewhat horrified, because for the first time in his life, Clyde hadn’t come home for dinner. I hadn’t seen him for three or four hours, and I am a Worrier.

Granted, it had been a beautiful sunny day and it wasn’t cold then, but after the June Bug Trauma I am not rational when it comes to my cats.

I got an extension cord, plugged it into a working outlet, then moved one of the lamps by the couch outside, where it remains. I went out and called Clyde, walking down the driveway and part of the haul road, but it soon became obvious even to the most paranoid that finding a black cat in the country darkness is the real Mission Impossible.

Clyde ignored me, but Audrey and Roscoe appeared. Unfortunately, they also brought a mouse to guest star, and started chasing the poor thing all over the house. I shooed them outside and went back to calling for Clyde.

Still nothing. I checked on John’s flight and saw that he had arrived early to SFO, though the flight itself was a late one. It seems he missed the Customs cutoff at the Ottawa airport by minutes, along with several other passengers, and had to take a later flight. He was most upset by the fact that he would be too late to get his three cats from the boarding place. He also said that he had a lot of late nights with the family and was exhausted.

I went back out again and there was Clyde. My heart leaped to see his little white bow tie in the darkness. Everyone else came running, mouseless, when they heard the distinctive crackle of the treat bag. Everyone was in, everyone was safe, including John. Whew.

I called Mark to tell him about the outlet. He’s heading to Santa Rosa today, but will come by and fix it on Wednesday, hopefully for good this time. After we talked about the outlet, he asked me if I had found Clyde – he had heard me yelling from his house! Maybe I should just embrace my inner (or outer) Worrier and just accept that’s who I am.

4 responses so far

Dec 18 2011

Nearly Ready

The belated tree

So I finally decided to put up the vintage 1950s Christmas tree. I was helped in this decision by Rob coming up with a stand for the tree. I should have taken a picture of it for you before I installed the tree and covered the stand up with a towel, but you’ll just have to take my word for its ingenuity.

As usual, it was made out of found parts. It has a wide base to keep the tree steady and withstand kitty attacks, while having an opening narrow enough to hold the svelte tree.

As you can see, the tree is kind of minimally decorated. There are lights on the banister and outside the sliding doors where the tree is, so it seemed a little too Vegas to light up the tree. Then someone told me that if cats eat tinsel or icicles, it can kill them, so that was out. Rob said he might make me an origami star for the top, and Megan and I might string popcorn and/or cranberries for it. Or not. We’ll see. In the meantime, the halls are about as decked as they’re going to get.

Tonight my brother is coming over for dinner with a friend who is visiting from Syracuse. Syracuse, the city of my birth but otherwise undistinguished, has been rearing its sooty head lately. It turns out that our friend Clayton, who kindly put us up during Rob’s surgery this summer, also hails from that eastern town, and at our Christmas lunch on Friday, I learned that our CEO went to college there. Small world, no?

2 responses so far

Dec 16 2011


Published by under Family,Friends

Rob’s truck was still waiting by the side of the road yesterday. I couldn’t help thinking that if this had happened in Oakhampton, there’d be nothing left but a graffitied, possibly burning hulk after 24 hours. Megan told me that while she was waiting for Rob to rescue her on Wednesday, about a dozen people stopped to ask if she needed help, including an off-duty firefighter and a bicyclist. Again, not the Oaktown experience. Anyway, the truck is back home where it belongs, ready for the next adventure.

As for John, I’m not sure where he is, though I hope it’s his brother’s place in Ottawa. I followed his flights online, as he asked me to (the idea being that if anything happens to him, I will go and collect his cats), and was dismayed to see that his flight to Philadelphia was nearly an hour and a half late, leaving him 15 minutes to catch the connecting flight to Ottawa. He only had carry on, but I’m not sure I’d take that bet.

I’ll let you know when I hear from him. John’s father Ed’s memorial service is tomorrow at 1:00 in the afternoon. Oddly, tomorrow is also the day John and I met, way back in the 1980s, and also the day his brother Mike married his wife Charmaine, even more years ago than that. Mike and Charmaine have been at Marj’s side ever since Ed died. I know I will be thinking of all of them tomorrow, and I hope you will, too.

As for me, I’m making a special guest appearance at the jobette today. We are having a holiday lunch, followed by a holiday party in the early evening for our Boards and other well-wishers, so I wanted to help set up, host, and clean up. It’s going to be a long day.

4 responses so far

Dec 14 2011

The Snag

Published by under Uncategorized

The house was a chilly 44 degrees this morning (that’s about 6 measly degrees for the non-Fahenheit among us, if my math is right. And that’s a big if) and barely 32/0 degrees outside.

I put on the heater before I even fed the cats or put on the coffee. I was just sipping my first little thimble of much-needed caffeine when the phone rang. It was 6:45 in the am, and it was my sister.

She was calling from the side of the road on a lonely stretch of Highway One in the chilly, pre-dawn darkness. It was lucky that she was in one of the few areas that actually gets cell phone service.

The truck’s tire had basically exploded, leaving her stranded. As you know, her car has been non-operational since September, so Rob needed to borrow my car to go and get the spare truck tire from Jonathan’s place (I don’t know why it was there) and then go and get Megan, who had 4 hours of sleep before her 12 hour shift and had 8 ambulance patients over that time period, one of whom didn’t make it. It had been a long night for her.

He dropped Megan off at home and picked me up, leaving me at the jobette while he went to have a rim applied to the spare tire. Apparently he had a hell of a time trying to make this happen, and ended up having to order something which should arrive tomorrow. In the meantime, he’s locked up the truck, put a note on the windshield, and is hoping that it won’t get towed away before he can get the tire fixed. There’s always something!

6 responses so far

Dec 12 2011

Shooting Star

Published by under Family,Friends

Some people believe that things like eclipses are omens. Maybe they are.

When I was being awed by the lunar eclipse and the shooting star on Saturday, my friend and former father-in-law, Ed, died suddenly. He was walking with his beloved wife to the car to do some shopping, laughing and talking, when he suddenly dropped dead. John says he doesn’t think his father knew what hit him.

I am profoundly saddened by his loss, more than I would have expected, considering I haven’t seen him for several years. Ed and Marj, his wife, were never anything but loving to me. To this day, I could call Marj and tell her I needed a place to stay or bail money and she’d pick me up with a hug and a smile.

A few years after John and I separated, Ed wrote this to me:

“Susan, you don’t ever have to worry about Marj and I not caring for you, you will always have a place in our hearts. Things happen to people and that is just a fact of life, you pick up the pieces and carry on and sooner or later you will find yourself looking forward to getting up in the morning with a smile on your face and peace in your heart. It takes time to have all these things heal, but it will happen, believe me.

Keep in touch and take care of yourself and write anytime you need a friend. Marj sends her love and so do I.”

It takes a pretty generous guy to love his youngest son’s ex-wife. But he was always a remarkably kind, loving, and humorous man. They don’t make ’em like Ed any more. He was a gentle man and a gentleman. I am thankful for his friendship and love, and I will always miss him and keep him in my heart.

4 responses so far

Dec 11 2011

Girls’ Night In – Festive Edition

Our friend Lichen doesn’t do Christmas. This is hardly surprising considering that he was brought up on a Mormon commune by parents who tried to “beat the gay out of him.” Also not surprisingly, they didn’t succeed.

But what is surprising is that Lichen had never seen “Sex & the City”, and Megan and I decided it was high time we remedied this shocking oversight.

Megan was the hostess with the mostes’, picking up two packets of blueberry pomegranate martini mix and making Dad’s famous honey-mustard chicken, rice and roasted asparagus with lemon caper sauce for dinner. My contribution was vodka for the martinis and pitchers to freeze them in. And my sparkling presence, of course.

Somewhat embarrassingly, I ran into Mark on my way back home, carrying a giant family-size (and bright blue) bottle of vodka at 2:00 in the afternoon. We mixed up the martinis the day before and let them freeze overnight into grown-up slushies.

The mix came with blueberry flavored sugar to go on the rims of the glasses. It kind of made the martinis more SweeTart-like, but we have a boatload of it left over. I’ll have to ask Erica for bright ideas on how to use it up. Sweetening huckleberry pie? Weird sugar cookies? Who knows?

Lichen cut our hair before we started imbibing the martinis, so we looked fabulous for Carrie and friends. Lichen liked the show and found it funny, but was also repelled by the late 90’s conspicuous consumption and shallowness. It reminded him of why he stopped being hairdresser to the stars in Beverly Hills.

It was a great evening, and I set off for home around 11:00, flashlight in hand. Before I had gone halfway down Megan’s driveway, I realized that I didn’t need it. The moon was flooding the path with silvery, magical light. I was charmed by walking home on moonbeams, though I had no idea of the amazing experience in store for me in just a few hours. It was enough to just be in the moment, after spending a wonderful evening with people I love.

One response so far

Dec 10 2011


Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

This morning, Audrey woke me up about ten minutes before six. I went downstairs to let her out, put on the outside lights, and ventured out into the chilly, pre-dawn darkness.

One of the few good things about my old nemesis is that it makes it possible to see about 1000 times more stars than you can in the city. Sometimes there are so many stars that they are a huge hazy galaxy instead of individually set sparkling diamonds.

This morning, however, the sky was studded with about a million and a half stars, the perfect setting for the eclipsing moon, which I could see through the black trees.

The moon was a rich, luminous orange as it reached the total eclipse. As I gazed in wonder, a shooting star streaked over it, leaving me gasping in amazement. A little white trail briefly lingered, and then vanished into my heart and memory forever.

I stood there stunned for a little while, hardly able to believe what I had just seen. Hours later, I am still deeply moved. Something happened to me on this early winter morning, as night turned to day. But I don’t have the words to express it. I just have the feeling. And the memory of something incredibly special.

7 responses so far

Dec 09 2011

Christmas Musings

Published by under Country Life

Where did the week go? Suddenly, it’s Friday, with nothing blogged. All work and no play makes Suzy a non-blogger.

I haven’t even started my Christmas cards yet, probably because I lost my address book back in June and am still in denial, meaning that I have addresses on Post-Its and in my email, but that’s about it. So I’d have to round them up, write them in an address book, and then write them on a card and send it. I ask you, does that sound like the Suzy you know and love?

Maybe I’ll skip it this year and see if the world comes to an end.

On the other hand, I put up all the lights and have been acquiring things for stockings. There’s an impressive array of boxes and bags and things and stuff in the studio/cold storage. I’m considering putting up my fabulous vintage Christmas tree this year, though there are a couple of problems with that:

1. I still don’t have a holder for its broomstick-slender trunk (I think it may actually be a broomstick); and

b. There are three cats in the house.

But I love the idea of having a fake tree in a place surrounded by real trees. Also, it’s pretty and sparkly.

On Wednesday, I came home from work in the semi-darkness and noticed that a light was on inside the house. I wondered if I’d left it on all day (eep!), but it turned out that Rob had come over to turn on the heat and a couple of lights to make the house more welcoming for me. Isn’t that nice? OK, he was doing some laundry, too, but still.

We hung out a while, and he asked me if I had any projects for him to do. He is planning to fill in the hole in the concrete under the laundry room door, and also make a custom hole for the giant extension cord which will hook up my house to the generator Jonathan gave me (which I still don’t know how to use) so it will be a little less drafty in the cold storage area of the house.

I’m pretty sure I can convince him to make me a Christmas tree stand.

One response so far

Dec 03 2011

Garden Updates

Published by under Country Life

Yesterday when I was hauling the hose around, it occurred to me that it might be fun to compare how the garden is doing now that summer is over and things should be going to sleep for the winter.

I wish I could put these pictures side by side. The comparisons really surprised me. Come on and take a look!

Remember the little rose that could? The one I thought was dead until it put out a single blossom:

I dug it up, re-potted it, and now look:

The red bush is a little less red than it was:

But it’s way bigger, and has lots of little white flowers:

The fuchsia still has buds:

And the petunia, which usually hangs above the back porch with the fuchsia, got benched because it was in the way of the Christmas lights. It’s still blooming away and seems pretty happy in the company of the euphorbia and a couple of orchids:

The passion flower vine has somewhat incredibly gone from this:

to this:

Not to be outdone, the neighboring purple honeysuckle has gone from this (in August):

To this, in early December:

I notice that the geraniums have grown like crazy. As has the potato vine. Then:


The garbage-concealing pink jasmine still has a long way to go, but when you see how it was a few months ago:

and how it is now, you can see the progress:

There you have it. As a novice gardener, I am beginning to guess that every gardener wants to do more and more. Here’s my wish/to-do list:

  • Get Rob to give me the vintage truck flap with “Ford” on it, place it in the garden (I know just where, near the passion flower vine), and have lavender flanking it on both sides, one of them planted in a pot Rose made which looks like a tree trunk;
  • – Plant orange nasturtiums to cascade over the window with the purple honeysuckle. I’m leaning toward Climbing Spitfire;
  • – Finally get rid of the horrible eyesore that is the non-functioning hot tub, though Audrey may not approve of this plan, since it’s basically her outdoor couch:

  • – Sow that clover/ground cover stuff that my neighbor J has been telling me about;
  • – Plant little shrubs by the house to conceal the unattractive space between house and ground; and
  • – Add a little path between shrubs and clover to walk from the front of the house to the back.

Obviously some of these won’t happen any time soon, and some may never happen. But a girl can dream. And I do think this place has come a long way in the two years I’ve lived here so far.

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Dec 02 2011

Clear Skies

Published by under Country Life

Just another postcard day

This is how the Village looked yesterday. It still looks like this today. In fact, it’s looked like this for so long that I actually had to water the garden today, and I even left the sliding glass doors open most of the day.

A peek at the weather reveals no rain through next Friday. Despite the unseasonable weather, I put up the Christmas lights today and hung my wreath.

The balcony:

Here’s the banister:

And the wreath on the front door:

Maybe it looks a little weird, having the hanging plants and the wreath.

This year, I added blue and clear “icicle” lights to the back porch:

Amazingly, I teetered on the ladder, applying the tiny cup hooks to hold the lights without actually falling down. Or breaking anything. Yay, me.

Other than that, it was a pretty busy day, doing my regular job, making a new recipe (curried chicken meatballs with rice pilaf, anyone?), and interviewing the owner of Dogs at Camp for an article I’m writing for the Dogs In Canada website. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering which Me I am when I call someone on the phone.

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