Well, I wrote a post a few days ago, and then I got paranoid and deleted it, and then I had second thoughts and thought I’d restore it, but it seems that when WordPress deletes something, it stays deleted.

Told you decision-making was not one of my strong suits.

Last Friday, my boss/partner called me to say that I have been subpoenaed to appear in front of the Grand Jury in Detroit in a couple of weeks. This is even scarier than that audit we went through a few years ago.

Also, it’s going to take forever to get there and I haven’t flown in so long that I can just feel my flying phobia in full bloom again. And then there’s the whole court thing.

Right now, I’m planning to work at the jobette on the Monday, drive to San Francisco after work, and take the red eye, arriving in Detroit early on Tuesday morning. I’m supposed to meet with our lawyers that day to be prepared for the Grand Jury on Wednesday. Then I’ll fly to San Francisco on Wednesday night, stay overnight, and drive home the next day.

That’s a lot of hassles and 6,000 miles just to tell people that I don’t know anything, because I don’t. I got paranoid and took the earlier post down because I was afraid that the Powers That Be might somehow find it and read it, even though I hadn’t said anything that could get me in trouble.

I think.

I told my good friend A about the whole thing, and she said to think of it as exciting and glamorous, and being part of a courtroom drama. Another friend said I should feel really special, since there aren’t many Grand Juries convened and your chances of being called to testify in front of one is about one in a million. It will be an experience, he said, but I think it’s one I’d rather not experience.

The Grand Tour

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that this is actually my job. Well, jobette. And that they pay me to do this!

A few days ago, I left work around 11:00 am to go on a tour of artists’ studios. This is a new local business, and the tour operator wanted to take around some people as a sort of test drive. There were 8 of us: me, two gallery owners, my counterpart at the Chamber of Commerce, and the rest worked at hotels.

We were driven around in a comfortable, climate controlled van, equipped with water bottles and a flat screen TV, which showed movies of the artists we were going to visit. It was one of those postcard days when even I can hardly blame the tourists for driving so slowly, and it was great to be able to actually look at the scenery instead of the long and winding road.

We visited Paul Reiber, who does wonderful things with wood. Here is his studio:

He made these mirrors. The round heron one was made for his mother, and he got it back when she passed away. The circle of life…

He also made these charming toys:

And this breathtaking headboard, showing various stages in an iris’ life:

We had a lovely tray of appetizers to accompany our wine tasting at the Wine Shop:

We had a tasting flight of five wines, four from the County and one was what Mark, the sole proprietor, calls a “ringer” from another county, in this case, Sonoma. They were all delicious. Mark says, “The first law of wine is drink what you like.”

Next, we visited Richard Yaski’s studio. He does amazing things with metal:

This is a memorial to his late wife:

It reminded me of what Christopher Wren’s tombstone in St. Paul’s Cathedral says: “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you.” I imagine this beautiful, hushed place was dear to her when she lived there. It is a very moving piece.

This house on Richard’s property is made out of an old school bus:

He drove it here when he moved from Los Angeles more than 40 years ago, and he lived in it for many years. Now it’s rented out. Here’s another view of the house (note the tail lights beside the front door):

Next was Julie Higgins’ house. By this time, I felt like I was on an episode of “Cribs: Hooterville”. This is Julie’s home and studio:

Here is some of her work, displayed in her living room:

It was a wonderful experience to be able to meet the artists and be welcomed into their homes and/or workplaces. This area is famous for having more artists per capita than anywhere else in the country, so it’s really special to be able to talk to the artists about their work, their inspirations*, and techniques, in the very place that the artwork is created.

*One thing that struck me was that all the artists are inspired by the local ravens, which seem to be very powerful symbols. They are supposed to be able to divine the future as well as being keepers of secrets. Some say they are bringers of light. Whatever they are, they are inspiring and mysterious.

Birth of a Garden

I’ve been promising you some pictures of the garden party palace over on the family property, and here they are at last!

The whole thing started back in March. Or maybe February. Making a garden here in the pygmy is not as easy as it is in most places. First of all, you have to get your friend to bring his heavy machinery over. Then, he hacks up the huckleberry bushes, manzanita, and other various scrubby bushes:

You get to remove the root balls and debris by hand, though. Hours of fun!

After that, your friend comes back and tills through the soil and smooths it out:

Then you spend a zillion dollars on real dirt, which you can (and do) have delivered. Then you make it into raised beds.

Now, the pygmy soil is a dustbowl in the summer and a mud pit in the winter. To help keep the garden from blowing away, you buy lots of hay and purple vetch seeds, which you strew liberally on the spread out hay and hope for the best. The idea is that the vetch’n’hay combo will anchor the soil.

It worked like a charm:

Next, you plant fruit trees (apple and peach) for future shade (and cider making) and almost everything else you can think of: potatoes, lettuce, broccoli, spinach, arugula, strawberries, tomatoes, beans…

Of course, all these plants need water. Good thing you have a big water tank:

and that well (the white cap on the left; the cement square is where the pump house was built later) you dug a couple of years ago. And have another machinery-wielding friend who can dig trenches for water pipes:

While he’s at it, you realize that you might as well lay electricity in as well as water, since there’s plenty of room in the trenches. So you do. Then you fill in the trenches.

I forgot to mention that you also need Friend One to dig post holes in the hard soil, and you have to buy posts and deer fencing and then install all the posts with cement which you have mixed and poured yourself. Little details like that.

And you need a couple of gates, one big enough for machinery and one for you to go in and out. Might as well make them pretty while you’re at it.

Rob and Jonathan made the framework for the gate (which they painted blue) and built the planter boxes and lattice (on which our father’s favorite flower, sweet peas, will grow) entirely by hand:

Same goes for this redwood lattice gate:

Just add a fire pit (a repurposed well ring):

a couple of hay bales, barbecues, and you’re ready to party! The enclosure, at 6,400 square feet, is even big enough for camping when you’re finished partying:

We’ve been picking salad from the garden for the past couple of months, and strawberries are beginning to ripen. It’s kind of like magic to just go over there, pick food, and eat it.

We also bought an additional hive for the bees:

Last year, they swarmed before we were ready, so some of the bees moved on to greener pastures somewhere. But enough were left to keep going, and they were thriving enough to need more room this year.

Megan and Jonathan moved some queen cells to the new hive, so some bees stayed in the old one and some moved to the new. There seems to be a little confusion around the entrance of the new hive, but on the whole, they seem to be doing well:

Sometimes when I’m over there, I look around at the garden, the bees, the windmill, the well, the solar panels, and even the tree where little Henry Etta sleeps peacefully and am amazed by how far the property has come with the hard work of my brothers and sister, through imagination and dedication and love.

Problem Solved

One of my many defects as a grown-up is my inability to make a decision. My usual method is to procrastinate until one course or another becomes inevitable, and then go with it as though it were my idea all along.

Sometimes a girl’s sloth gets unfairly rewarded in this manner.

Remember my concerns about road tripping to distant Portland to visit Erica and Jessica? The problem has been solved, without my having to do anything.

Erica and Jessica are moving back to California!

They should be back some time this month, and I can’t wait to see them. Unlike Self, Erica actually made an actual decision, and I think she was right.

Essentially, she was up against many of the same problems I had when living in Oaktown (aka the Bad Old Days): expensive rent (especially for the living space it paid for); huge water and electricity bills; the impossibility of finding a part-time job to defray these expenses.

She also mentioned that Jessica had concerns about the lack of other adults in her life, hardly surprising in a girl who was already thinking three years ago (at the age of six) about what would happen to her if anything happened to her mother. Here there is no shortage of grown-ups (faux and otherwise) to step in and help out when needed. Or just for fun.

I’m looking forward to having those two back in my life. More Jessica stories to come! Stay tuned!

The Party’s Over

Well, for this year, anyway.

On Saturday, we had my family birthday celebration. It was at my house for a change – Jonathan’s place has become the summer party pad, mostly due to the fabulous 80 foot by 80 foot garden, equipped with two barbecues, a fire pit, and hay bales to sit on. Now it even has electricity and running water!

But I felt like having the party at my house, where my kitties and Schatzi could meander in and out (and I could keep an eye on the Stanley Cup playoffs). The menu was simple: barbecued chicken breasts with grill bread* and salad from the garden. Rose’s daughter Catrin stopped by for a little while, and so did Mark. It’s good to have an outdoor living room.

Megan had already given me a gift of highlights, which we are still trying to schedule with the stylist who cuts Lichen’s hair (he’s too busy landscaping this time of year to girlscape), so I was surprised when she handed me a long, wrapped box.

Inside were these wonderful light up branches, which remind me of pussywillows:

They really look fabulous, don’t they?

We stayed outside under the stars (and by the twinkly light of the branches), sipping wine and talking, remembering our increasingly distant childhoods and feeling lucky to be part of each other’s lives.

I could not have asked for a happier birthday, or for better friends and family.

*It’s sort of like naan, or pizza dough, cooked quickly on the BBQ grill over the coals and served with olive oil mixed with Megan’s secret blend of herbs and spices. It’s magically delicious.


File under “D” for “Digit”

Well, Wednesday was a little unexpected.

I thought I’d have a relatively quiet day, since most of our staff would be at a meeting out of town. Turned out, I was the one at the meeting out of town.

The CEO called me and said that no-one else could attend the meeting. He asked if I could go to the meeting and take notes. I barely had enough time to print out extra documents on our creaking, ancient printer, get gas, and head out of town to Willits.

Willits is best-known (if known at all) as the home of Seabiscuit. You can visit the stables and ranch where he lived out his retirement, if you aren’t rushing to a meeting. Willits is also the home of the oldest continuous rodeo and Fourth of July celebration in the state.

I was more interested in finding the hotel where the meeting was to be held. I was told it was between the McDonald’s and the Taco Bell, and it was. Ironically, I hadn’t had any time to eat that day, and they actually looked pretty good to me as I drove past into the hotel parking lot.

I barely had time to race up three flights of stairs with the conference call phone, my co-worker’s laptop, my handbag, and a bunch of documents. It didn’t help that was over 80 degrees there. I made it with seconds to spare. Then I had to figure out how to set up the phone and the computer, pass out the materials, and take notes.


The meeting went on for four, count ’em, hours. When it was finally over, I packed everything back into the ovenesque car and headed home with the radio blasting along with the air conditioning.

Those of you who live in cities and have real commutes will laugh when you learn that it’s 32 miles from Willits to Charlottesville (and a further 25 to Hooterville). Ha! You say. What’s 32 miles? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s the longest 32 miles of your life, is what it is. Up hill and down hill, getting high enough to be snow-dusted in winter and as curvaceous as Jayne Mansfield on steroids, the road is frequently signposted at 25 or 15 miles per hour. You feel like you’ve been driving forever, and it’s only been 10 miles.

The part of the highway (two lane road) I was driving on is actually the last part of the California Trail, blazed by emigrants in 1850, the other end being the interchange to Truckee and the Donner Pass (where you may remember my furniture being marooned a few years ago). It has been a paved highway for more than 100 years. It took me an hour to get to Charlottesville, and it had never looked so beautiful. I took a detour to drop off the computer and phone at the office and pet Digit, and then pick up a much-needed burrito (I was starving and there was no way I was cooking when I got home) and while I was waiting for it to be made, stopped in at the library, which stays open late on Wednesdays, to exchange the week’s books.

It was a long day, but I certainly got a lot done. And it was…interesting.

Party On

It’s been quite the birthday week so far, and it’s not over yet.

On Tuesday, I returned to the jobette a year older, but no wiser (definitely sneezier, though). On my desk was a beautiful card, filled with even lovelier sentiments* from everyone I work with, and a bright pink straw tote bag (I guess my handbag addiction is obvious to the most casual observer). Inside the bag was:

  • Two tickets to the beautiful Botanical Gardens, 47 acres of plants and flowers that front the wild Pacific Ocean. They are famous for their rhododendrons and roses, and also have great bird watching. And yes, it’s 50 years old!
  • Two tickets for a round-trip journey on the famous Skunk Train, probably the premier attraction in the Big Town. The steam trains, dating from the early 1920s, follow the same tracks laid down in the 1880s, through pristine redwoods, past rivers and flowery meadows. It’s like a time machine!
  • A voucher for dinner at the lovely, historic Little River Inn, whose dining room overlooks the ocean. The original house dates from 1853, and the current innkeepers are the fifth family generation to welcome guests, including Myrna Loy, Joan Fontaine, and James Dean.

There was also a bottle of organic local wine, befitting America’s greenest wine region.

I was totally overwhelmed and very touched. As I said to my colleagues, any one of these things would have been enough!

Then they took me out to lunch at the Wharf, the scene of Girls’ Night Out. On that day, it looked like a postcard, with fishing boats sailing in and out of the harbor.

I may well be the most spoiled girl in the County. Other than Audrey, that is.

*For example, from the CEO: “Happy, happy birthday! It is SO GREAT to have you as part of the team! I hope this year is the best yet!”. From Erin: “You’re the best – I couldn’t do it without you!” No wonder I nearly cried.

Half Century

Rainy birthday to me!

I woke up to rain pattering on the skylight. I could hardly believe my ears. At first, I thought it was dreaming, but no. At least I won’t have to water the garden today.

Megan and Rob did a better job of getting the cats in at night when I was away than I have since I got home. The first night, Roscoe stayed out all night – I finally got him to come in at 5 am, when he came trotting home from the direction of Megan’s place. Last night, it was Audrey who stayed out until 3 am. Between waking up all night to call the missing cat of the day and having a horrible cold, I’m feeling that half century today.

I took the day off, as I always do, so the kitties and I curled up and watched Doris Day movies together. Megan and Rob stopped by, and Rob not only gave me a beautiful scarf/shawl that had belonged to his late Mother:

but he also installed my new “rainfall” shower head. I figure, if I have to have a shower, it should be as good as possible. He also is planning to fix the window in the shower to eliminate the draft – it doesn’t really close and the draft can be a little too drafty, especially in the winter.

Between the cards and presents and phone calls and Facebook love, I am feeling pretty spoiled right about now. And I haven’t even opened the champagne yet.


Grant Street, the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown

Well, I’m back home in my humble Hooterville abode, and it’s my birthday eve already. I haven’t even told you about my trip to the City yet. So little time, so much slacking! But then, Slothfulness is one of my special skills.

After my meetings on Thursday, I made my way to Chinatown to pick up something for dinner on my way back to the modest motel. I decided to stop by Great Eastern on Jackson Street, figuring that if it was good enough for the President, it would be good enough for me. I was right, and it was delicious, worth the wait and the madding crowds. I had forgotten how crowded Chinatown is and how its denizens have a very different definition of personal space. It’s been a while since so many strangers have smushed my boobs and butt.

On my way to the bus stop with my to go order, I couldn’t help but notice a very reasonably priced handbag that was practically begging to be added to the Suzy Collection. How could I refuse?

Triumphantly clasping my Prez-approved food and Suzy-approved handbag, I hopped on the bus up Union Street, making sure to sit on the side where I could enjoy the view of the Bay, which was looking its best in the spring sunshine.

Friday saw me back at my old stomping grounds in the Financial District. Meetings were about a block from where I used to work on California Street. Crossing the street, I found it kind of incredible that I used to walk up and down that hill nearly every working day for more than a decade:

I left in what I thought was plenty of time to get to Berkeley and have dinner before seeing the Beach Boys at the Greek Theater. However, the traffic was indescribable:

Eight lanes, all waiting!

Eventually made it to Berkeley and had my hand henna painted:

There was still an hour and a half before the show started, so I thought I’d park the car and look for somewhere to eat dinner. Unfortunately, half of the 8,500 people attending the show had the same idea, so finding parking pretty difficult, and pretty expensive when I did find it.

By then, the gates were open, and the line of thousands was inching forward slower than the traffic on the approach to the Bay Bridge. In their infinite wisdom, the powers that be who run the Greek Theater did not see fit to have separate lines for those with tickets and those without, so it was a long wait to get in.

When I finally did, I was happy to see that my seat was much closer than I’d thought (about ten rows back) and on the same side of the stage as Brian Wilson and my two long-standing crushes from his band, Scotty Bennett and Darian Sahanaja.

The theater itself is beautiful and historic, and there’s nothing like seeing live music in an outdoor setting. And there is nothing like seeing the Beach Boys perform on their 50th anniversary tour just days before your 50th birthday. I felt like they were singing just for me:

During the show, images were projected on the screen behind the band, including footage of the Beach Boys in their youth. As Brian was singing the poignant “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”, he got so absorbed in watching the pictures of his late brothers that he forgot to sing, and Mike Love stepped in to cover for him. I saw Brian realize what happened, give Mike the OK sign, and Mike wink back at him. There is a real bond when you are not only cousins, but band mates going back half a century.

Another moving moment was when the band “backed up”, as Mike put it, footage of the late Carl Wilson singing “God Only Knows”, playing along as Carl sang in that angelic voice of his, and then to Dennis Wilson singing “Forever” shortly before he drowned in the Pacific. Wild spirited and sexy, Dennis packed more into his brief 39 years than most of us do in 80.

The show was nearly three hours long, but it just sped by. It was a wonderful experience and a memory I will always treasure. I feel so lucky to have been there on that beautiful spring evening.