Michievous

Oh, those kitties!

The other evening, I saw Audrey trotting toward the open sliding glass doors with something in her mouth. I hastened to close the doors before she came inside with whatever it was – I have a firmly closed door policy on things like that – but she got in before I could stop her.

She had a snake in her mouth.

She tripped lightly up the stairs to the sleeping loft. I followed, and the snake was in a heap near my lovely floor lamp. I went to get the broom and dustpan to remove the unwelcome visitor, but by the time I came back, it was gone.

Audrey was sitting on the bed as if nothing had happened, having a bath with her snake breath. I looked cautiously around, but couldn’t find it.

This did not make for a peaceful evening, though I tried to lose myself in the complex Awake and not think about waking up with a snake on the bed. Or stepping on it when I got up, as I always do a few times a night.

Around 1:00 am, I got up and saw the snake in a pool of light by the front door (I have a little nightlight down there to light my way down the stairs and try and avoid further Calamity Suzy episodes while not making it too bright to sleep). I still had the broom and dustpan upstairs, just in case, so I advanced armed to meet the enemy.

Unfortunately, snakes are somewhat resistant to being collected into dustpans. Somehow I hadn’t known before that they can sort of slither sideways, which is what it did. I opened the door and swept it out into the darkness. Fortunately the cats were all napping and didn’t follow the reptilian terror into the outer darkness.

Let’s hope that Audrey doesn’t take up snake collecting in the way Roscoe collects lizards. And I’m glad that Clyde has yet to find a reptilian hobby.

The following morning, I thought I’d let the cats out at 6 and go back to sleep, leaving the glass doors open. I thought the cats could go in and out and leave the unpaid and underslept help to try and catch up on her much-needed beauty sleep.

This plan was foiled by Audrey, who came back in through the open living room door and came upstairs to claw at the closed balcony door. And also by Roscoe, who decided to stand on my head, waking me up from a dream with Dad in it, thus depriving me of a little visit with my favorite person in the world. When I heard Clyde messing around on the kitchen counter, I knew I was once again defeated and got up to give them breakfast.

Needless to say, they did not reappear again until dinner time.

Mostly Done

Well, the holes in my mouth and yard are filled in. For now.

Getting my Golden Jubilee crown was not as festive as it sounds. The dentist applied the anesthetic, and after it made my face feel rubbery and weird, tilted the chair way, way back until I was practically upside down. I pointed out that I felt like a bat sleeping in a cave, and he said it was good for my brain cells, which I agreed I could definitely use.

The down side of the head down is that the freezing spread through my face, encompassing my nose and the side of my eye, which was a little alienating. Still, it was a joy compared to the piercing, shrieking hell that is the drilling.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m glad this wasn’t happening to me in the year of my grandmother’s birth, or of mine, for that matter. Things dental have improved considerably during my reign. However, the fact remains that one’s senses are unpleasantly assaulted by the sound of drilling (not to mention the thought of it) and the smell of burning bone which is its unlovely accompaniment.

I realize that they can’t render us unconscious for such a trivial procedure, but couldn’t they at least have a DVD player and headphones so a girl could distract herself? Considering that these are standard equipment in many cars these days – God forbid that kids should have to actually talk to their family or look at the scenery – it seems an obvious amenity for a place where everyone wants to be distracted.

Somehow, I hadn’t realized that they were going to put in a temporary crown, while my real one is tailor made. So this was sort of a dress rehearsal and I have to go back in two weeks to get the real crown. Fortunately there will be no drilling the next time (I hope). I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, though. I know the Queen’s crown is very heavy, but I bet it doesn’t hurt as much as my mouth did the next day. I felt like I’d been punched in the mouth by Muhammad Ali.

Meanwhile, Mark and a couple of guys were working hard at the septic system. It turns out there were some roots in the way and various other tweaks and improvements to be made, but he’s basically done now, other than a couple of finishing touches and cleaning up. It also turns out that my toilet was Frankensteined together from various commodes in James’ epic decades-old collection, so that’s the reason behind its general torpor and underachieving. I’m not sure that will be corrected before Mark and his family take off on their East Coast adventure, but at least the septic system is working and my tooth is fixed.

More or less.

Unexpected Visitors

On Saturday, I was working* when Mark, my landlord and neighbor, stopped by with his wife, Citlali, who is Rose’s daughter. It’s always nice to see them, but especially when it’s an excuse to stop working.

They had some news for me: they have found three young guys** to rent out their house while they are in New Jersey for a year. The guys will also take care of their dog Luna, their cats, and their chickens, including the one who likes to come over and hang out here.

I’m glad Luna is staying. I feel a lot safer when she is around, and I’m convinced that she keeps the deer out of the garden and the mountain lions and their good time buddies away from my cats. And I can’t imagine that she would be happy living in suburban New Jersey, cooped up in the house and walking on a leash.

Mark wanted to show Citlali my garden. He mentioned that I have one part of it dedicated to Rose, which it is:

I am growing poppies and the calla lilies my friend Jim gave me there. Some of her art and pottery decorate the area, and there is a little “nest” she made with seashells as eggs.

Right next to it there are planters she made and designed, and a piece of her artwork:

They also loved the marigolds***:

And the succulents I planted in an old barbecue grill:

I guess living in the country makes planters like that rustic. And old car jacks and tire irons garden art:

Rose made the pots. The one on the right looks like a tree trunk.

Citlali was so pleased and kept saying how beautiful everything was. She also said that she is glad that someone who knew and loved Rose lives in her house. I think her spirit will always be here.

Later, I looked up from slaving over a hot computer and was astonished to see Jessica, followed by Erica and Megan. E & J were on their way to the beach and stopped by to surprise and delight us. We sat for a chat at the table and chairs I just got from the same woman who gave me the palm trees:

She is moving to Hawaii and sold the whole set to me for $60, along with a lounge chair:

It was nice to have some shade to sit in as we caught up. I couldn’t help thinking that it is so wonderful that we can see each other all the time now, even just a short drop in, because they are back home! I missed them so much.

*Writing up reports while sitting on the couch with HBO’s delightful series Girls on. I haven’t changed much since my teens, when I habitually did my homework with the TV or music on. It made it less boring. Still does.

**My brother knows two of them from the fire department, and thinks they are pretty responsible. And I think the third one is the guy who replaced the hard drive in my MacBook earlier this year, and he seemed pretty nice.

***Marigolds are used in Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations, and have been since Aztec times. Their fragrance and paths made of their petals are supposed to guide spirits home, and the flowers themselves symbolize both the sun and the brevity of life.

Unexpected Visitor

Megan’s emergency services are, as you probably know by now, not limited to the Emergency Room or the ambulance, though her big sister might well be the most frequent beneficiary of her expertise.

This morning, a hummingbird took a detour from the fuchsia on the back deck into my house. He then flew up to the big but un-openable window in the living room. There he buzzed frantically against the window, emitting little chirps of distress.

I went to get the broom, thinking I could gently guide him down to the open door, but as usual in my house, I was too short to reach him. I called Megan and went to get a stepladder. By the time I came back, Megan was in the living room, but the hummingbird wasn’t. I could still hear the buzzing, though, and we soon discovered that he was now in the skylight in the sleeping loft.

Megan got a t-shirt and gently covered the frantic little creature with it, cupping her hands around to keep him in the fabric. Then she took him out to the balcony, where he immediately skyrocketed out of sight beyond the redwoods, clearly unharmed.

It was only then that I realized I should have taken a picture, but I was so afraid that he would hurt himself or die of stress and exertion that it didn’t occur to me.

Thank goodness for brave and resourceful little sisters, who not only catch up with you, but pass you. And then reach out a helping hand.

One Step Forward…

I mailed my expense report to the US Attorney’s office today, but as I waited in line at the post office (there were two whole people in front of me), it occurred to me that the real cost is trying to catch up on almost a week’s worth of work. It’s really hard to get any actual work done when you are being audited or caught up in the slow and inexorable wheels of the justice system.

I got up early for a conference call, and have more scheduled at 6 and 6:30 am on Monday and Tuesday, but I am still behind. This is why it took me 10 days to send in the expense report.

And then there’s the real life things, like the septic system excavation and the car’s engine light.

Mark has been diligently digging up the system, which apparently needs an overhaul. He says he can do it in a few days, but it seems like a pretty big undertaking to me. Fortunately, while the improvement process is going on, I can still enjoy the indoor plumbing, and having the front yard temporarily hacked up doesn’t bother me all that much.

As for the car…my brother’s reader gadget didn’t work on my car, so I called a mechanic he recommended and explained that the “check engine” light was on. He said to bring it in this afternoon. My enthusiasm level for driving all the way to the Big Town on a non-jobette day was less than zero, but I was concerned enough to do it. I dropped MIss Scarlett off, and ran a few errands while they diagnosed what ailed her.

I stopped by to see Monica and give her my accumulated “Elle”. “Vogue”, and “Harpers Bazaar” and catch up on our news. By the time we finished chatting and I picked up a burrito for dinner, it was time to head back to the mechanic’s. I could hear the Skunk Train coming in to the station, so I slowed my steps, knowing that I would have to wait to cross to the wrong (or right) side of the tracks. It occurred to me that pausing to watch a vintage train cross Main Street on a beautiful summer afternoon was not the worst thing in the world.

Meanwhile, back at the mechanic’s, it turned out that Miss Scarlett’s crankshaft sensor had to be replaced. The $200 (including labor) price tag made me slightly cranky myself, but it has to be done. They ordered the part and I will drop the car off on Monday to be repaired. I’m glad that the light didn’t come on when I was driving 101 last week.

Next week will be a pricy one: $200 for the car and $300, the first installment on my crown, which is to be installed on Wednesday. Just my way of improving the local economy.

Moving Along


Excavation

It’s been a busy week at the jobette – fun things like stuffing 500 envelopes with 3 different pieces of paper, after folding all the paper. Then putting two labels on each envelope, sealing it, stamping it, and hauling the whole thing to the post office. I actually had to drive there, and it’s two blocks away.

Speaking of the jobette: we are moving next month! This was a surprise to me. We are moving three or four blocks away into a space which formerly housed a bookstore. We will be in the thick of the shopping district, so we should get more walk-in traffic, and are planning to sell t-shirts and local products as well as dispensing our indispensable tourism advice.

We are planning to move in there the week of August 20 and must be out of our current space by August 31. Not a lot of time. But it will be a great opportunity to get rid of things and streamline the operation.

In other moving news, Mark and his family are moving to New Jersey next month for a year. He is dismantling a factory (I think he said it was L’Oreal, but I could be wrong) and shipping it to Mexico. I could (or should) comment here on the loss of American jobs and our slow economy, but I’m more concerned about who is going to be my neighbor for a year and who is going to fix things when they break around here.

Such as my septic system. On Saturday, I called Mark because my toilet, always an underachiever and my rival in utter slothitude, went on strike. He came over and plungered it, which created a little fountain of what appeared to be poo in the bathroom sink. A poo fountain is never a good sign. Mark thinks there is an issue with the septic system, and he is, if anything, more anxious than I am to get it cleared up before he leaves, since he would have to pay someone else thousands of dollars to fix it in his absence. He was at my place before I left for the jobette today, so here’s hoping he’ll have some good news for me by the time I get home.

I can use the good news, because the “check engine” light came on in my car yesterday on my way home. My brother says it might be nothing. But maybe it is. He has a gadget which can read the engine and tell him what’s wrong. Hopefully it’s nothing serious, since I’m getting a $950 crown next week which I already can’t afford.

Welcome home!

Odds & Ends

Last night, I had so many weird dreams that I actually feel more tired now than when I went to bed. It was like running a mental marathon.

I was relieved to discover that I had not in fact had all my hair cut off, as I did in the last dream before I finally gave up and got up. Nor was there a flying child in my house. Or the dwarf in the blue sweater who told me “Don’t worry about death, or you might as well be dead,” which would have been great advice if it hadn’t been so creepy.

That one made me wonder about the crazy gene again. No wonder I never want my dreams to come true. I was glad to wake up and drink coffee in the sunshine with hummingbirds zipping around.

Reality can be good sometimes.

As I put last week behind me and get ready for the new one, I thought I’d share a few odds and ends with you that didn’t make it into my Motown adventure posts:

  • On the way to San Francisco, I saw a car with Hawaii plates (“The Aloha State”), and thought “How does that work?” It was the first one I’d ever seen. They must have shipped it over from the island, even though it looked like a pretty ordinary Toyota to my undiscriminating eye. Coincidentally, I had just picked up “Lost Kingdom: Hawaii’s Last Queen, the Sugar Kings, and America’s First Imperial Adventure” from the library.
  • When I checked out of the hotel in Detroit, the guy behind the desk saw my billing address and said, “I know where Hooterville is.” I laughed and said he couldn’t possibly, and he said that he was born and raised in the next county north of us, and spent a lot of time in the Hooterville area then. He reached across the desk and took my hand in both of his and said, “Friend!” He fell in love with a Detroiter and moved there for love twelve years ago.
  • On arriving at the Detroit airport for my long trip back home, the car service driver scanned my credit card with his iPhone. I signed it with my finger, typed in my email address, and the receipt was delivered to my email inbox before I entered the terminal. I don’t know who was more amazed: me, by this whole high-tech transaction, or the driver, by the fact that I had never done this before and didn’t even own a smartphone. I felt like the bumpkin I am.
  • On my way to Polker’s for a pre-departure breakfast, a young, blonde Marina type with a handbag dog on a leash and her cellphone (probably an iPhone, since she lives in Civilization and all) pressed to her ear, passed me, saying, “Well, the relationship won’t last. But the dog is forever.”

Home at Last


My garden says “hello”

Thursday would have been a beautiful day no matter what, but it was a sunny one, too, without the bone-crushing heat’n’humidy of an East Coast summer day*. I sang along to the Beach Boys’ new CD as I drove past the vineyards and redwoods in the California sunshine. I yelled “Woo hoo!” as I passed the Mendocino County line. I wanted to hug the whole County, even Willits.

Well, maybe not Willits.

I stopped off to get my mail, rejoicing in the familiar sight of the hardware store owner’s old black dog napping in front of the store, the swallows above the post office door peeping merrily away, and the peaceful cows across the road wandering through their huge, golden fields.

Hooterville had never looked so lovely.

Pulling up at my humble abode, it was immediately obvious that Rob had been at work while I was away. The hose was looped up far more neatly than I can ever manage, so he had watered my garden in my absence. He had also removed two cans of garbage and two of recycling and repaired the cupboard door which had mysteriously fallen off one day while I was at work.

Before I left, I asked Megan to borrow some twine so I could tie up the Little Rose That Could. Strangely enough, feeding and watering it have made it much happier and bigger, but its branches were kind of flopping around:

Instead of tying it up, Rob wove the branches through the balcony slats:

So I’ll have climbing roses on one end of the balcony and jasmine on the other.

The cats definitely missed me. They all came running to say hello and be petted, and then wandered off, reassured that all was back to normal.

Megan and Rob arrived with a bottle of Absolut Mandrin vodka and pomegranate-cranberry juice, which, with a squidge of fresh lime juice and some ice, made pretty good faux Cosmos. Sitting in the garden with the sun gilding the tops of the redwoods, it just felt like heaven. I was (and am) so glad to be home.

*It seems unfair to survive 6 or more months of cold, snowy winter only to be rewarded by intense heat, humidity, and bugs. How can it be so hot and so cold in the very same place? Enquiring minds want to know.

Nearly There

Coming to you from San Francisco!

I’m drinking bad in-room coffee, but not at my usual modest motel, where there was, in keeping with the theme of this trip, no room at the inn. So I’m at a more expensive, but noisier and less nice place nearby. I had the middle seat for the long flight from Chicago to SFO, flanked by two very tall but very nice men. We arrived at the International terminal, for some unknown reason, so I had to line up for a shuttle to get to the regular terminal and retrieve my car. I hadn’t eaten since 4 am Pacific time that day, so I called Victor’s and picked up dinner on my way back to the hotel. It’s a good thing they are still open at 11:00 pm.

I don’t even know where to begin to tell you all about yesterday, especially since I can’t tell you, or my boss/partner what happened in the courtroom, just my lawyer.

I walked to our lawyer’s office in the 86 degree heat yesterday morning to be prepared for the coming ordeal (it turns out hat nothing can really prepare you for it, however). On the way there, I noticed this vacant lot which has been turned into a public garden, including vegetables:

Downtown Detroit has many beautiful buildings, including the historic building where our lawyer’s office is located. On the 13th floor. Here’s the view from the conference room:

That’s Windsor across the Detroit River. I can’t tell you how tempting it was to hop across the river and take a train to visit my Ontario friends. So close, and yet so far!

At the appointed hour, we walked to the courthouse:

I had to leave my phone and iPod at the lawyer’s office, but still had to go through airport-type security at the courthouse. I waited about an hour and a half before I was called. Your lawyer is not permitted in the courtroom, so it’s just you, the prosecutor, and the jury. I walked into the courtroom with the US Attorney, stopped in front of the clerk, and took the oath you see on TV. Remarkably, there was no Bible to swear on (or even mentioned). Then I stepped up into the raised witness stand and spent the longest hour of my life answering non-stop questions into the microphone. I kept my eyes right on the US Attorney the whole time; I never even looked at the jury.

When I was finally excused, he gave me a lovely parting gift: another subpoena dated August 15. He explained that this is just in case they have more questions for me after they read all the documents our lawyers submitted to his office. Supposedly it is not likely that I will have to go, and I hope that is true. I was terribly shaken by the interrogation and now I know what to expect, I will be even more scared the next time. If there is a next time.

At least it’s over now: the courtroom, the delayed flights, the waiting around, the worrying. It’s a beautiful, sunny day in San Francisco, as as soon as I have breakfast and pack up the car, I’ll be on my way home, the most beautiful place in the world.

In Transit

As usual, karma ignored me. I got a seat in the very last row of the plane, giving me a front row set to the sights, smells, and sounds of the lavatoire. As an added bonus – as if one were needed – being in the last row means that the jerk in front of you can jack his chair back right into your lap, but you can’t return the favor to the fellow sufferer behind you, or even move your own chair to get away from the stunning view of his bald spot.

At least it made a change from the bathroom view.

Since the plane was smaller, it was much bumpier and more alarming than the bigger plane on the night flight from San Francisco. I was glad to arrive in hot and humid Detroit, though, after a day and a half of travelling.

Needless to say, the plane parked as far as possible from the ground transportation. I wonder how many airport miles I have walked over the past two days?

Fortunately, a friend had referred me to a fabulous car service that costs about the same as a plebeian taxi, and I was pretty much over plebeian transportation and the common man, woman, and especially child at this point. It was delightful to be relieved of my bags and ensconced in a town car with cool water provided. Not for the first time (or the last time on this particular day), I considered that whoever invented air conditioning is one of my personal heroes.

The driver was so nice and we chatted amiably as we headed downtown, even passing one of my favorite landmarks on the way:

It was the best part of the trip.

I was so happy to get to the hotel. It was surprisingly swellegant. I figured the US Attorney would stick in me in the cheapest thing possible, but instead, I got a lovely suite in a beautifully refurbished historic hotel, just two blocks from the courthouse of doom (where I’ll be spending today). Here’s the living room:

And here’s the bedroom:

Best of all, there was a tub in the bathroom!

I ventured out to find a much-needed (well, at this point, essential) bottle of wine. I learned that, among its other faults, like heat and humidity, Michigan does not seem to sell booze at corner stores or drugstores, the way California does. I ended up walking eight sweaty blocks to the nearest liquor emporium, where I was rewarded with a bottle of Skinny Girl Pina Colada, which I did not know existed. Just the thing for a tropical evening!

Back at the hotel, I drew a bath – though I struck out on bubble bath in my booze quest – poured a glass of pina colada, perched my MacBook on the bathroom counter, and watched “Gilmore Girls” in the tub. Do I know how to live, or what?

After that, I called Room Service – two of the most beautiful words in the English language – for my traditional while travelling club sandwich, and crawled into bed kindergarten early on either coast. Missing a night’s sleep and being tortured by airports and airplanes will do that to a girl. The bed was a cloud of heavenliness and I woke up before my wake-up call, ready to face today’s ordeal: Courthouse followed by yet more airporting. I hope there are no delays in either place and that I am back in California before the day is over.

Stay tuned….

En Route (Sort of)

Well, things did not go exactly as planned.

“Picking up forgotten items at lunch” turned into “half hour call with lawyers”, and forgotten items remained in oblivion.

Had a hasty falafel dinner with our friend Clayton in the lower reaches of the Haight, then went to the airport. I was astonished at the traffic trying to get in the airport at 10:30 at night. Presumably the media had been notified of my rare appearance.

Left the car in the first place I could find. Turned out to be as far away as humanly possible from my gate. Car was near Terminal 1; I was leaving from Terminal 3. By the time I hauled Self and bags through the unholy trinity, I was feeling Terminal myself.

Arriving at Terminal 3, I discovered that my flight was delayed by an hour. And yes, I did get the clueless about shoeless people in front of me, as predicted. Not that it matters when you have an extra hour to kill.

I was horribly disappointed to learn that all the bars were closed, yet the halls and seats were full. Why schedule flights when travelers are denied the much-needed solace of a drink? In fact, you couldn’t even get a bottle of water, since everything was closed. This became more annoying as the delay lengthened to two hours and more.

Once aboard, I valiantly gave up my aisle seat to a young guy who had been travelling all day with his girlfriend but hadn’t been seated together. I let them cuddle up while I took a middle seat. Are you listening, karma?

By this time, I already knew that I had missed the connecting flight to Detroit. Leaving the plane around 8 am, I was met by some helpful folks telling me that I was rebooked on a flight at 4:50 this afternoon. I am trying to change that, but the throngs of people in America’s busiest airport make an improvement seem unlikely. I have cancelled my meetings for today.

At this point, the court proceedings will be the fun part of the trip. At least I have a bottle of water.

Manic Monday

I know most of you spend most of your time wishing you were Me, but today you would much prefer to be You.

I promise.

Here’s my unenviable schedule for today:

  • 6 am: Get up. (Check! Up at 5:30 to discover that cats have broken one of my Elvis movie poster glasses. Bonus: water all over the place!)
  • Get ready. Pack up car. Try not to forget anything. Say goodbye to kitties, assuming they aren’t out playing in the sunshine, which they almost certainly will be.
  • Leave by 8:00 am for 45 minute drive to the jobette.
  • 12:00 pm: Purchase forgotten items at lunch.
  • 4:00 pm: leave work for 4 hour drive to San Francisco.
  • Dinner somewhere along the way. I have a $28 travel day meal allowance, so I guess this means Chez Panisse is out.
  • Park car somewhere at SFO. Drag Self and Stuff into terminal. Suffer usual indignities of having the temerity to travel. I am betting that I will be behind a couple of oldsters who have been living under a rock in one of the square states and has somehow managed never to have heard about the enforced shoe removal rule.
  • Festina lente, as our Latin forebears would have it, though they couldn’t possibly have imagined waiting for a midnight flight to a place you don’t want to go to in the first (or second, or third) place.
  • Hope the bar is still open.
  • Terrifying transport to O’Hare, the busiest airport in the entire US of A, arriving at the unsalubrious hour of 6:20 am.
  • Change planes, which will probably include changing terminals with my terminally sleep-deprived self.
  • Somehow manage to arrive in Detroit at 9:40 am. Couldn’t I have gotten to Europe in all that time? Or at least Hawaii?
  • Drop bags off at hotel, resist urge to leap into Lake Ontario, and head to a meeting at our as yet unseen (to me) office near the ballpark. Needless to say, it’s the All Star Break, so the proximity to the ballpark is completely useless. I am even more certain that the American League will win than I was about the airport oldsters.
  • Meet with our lawyers. I imagine this will take my mind right off the impending trip home and the crown that is awaiting me if I am (un)lucky enough to survive the trip. Bonus!

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Departure Lounge

There’s nothing like an unwanted trip looming on the horizon to make you appreciate your humble abode. Leaving all my doors open when I go to work! Driving to work beside the ocean! Having the adorable Digit (and my awesome co-workers) at work when I get there:

My beautiful, peaceful garden! My naughty kitties! It all seems like a paradise now.

As I set about packing today, I kept thinking about how much I would miss the kitties, the garden, and my hippie hovel. Not to mention the silence and the safety. I would venture to guess that Detroit is the utter antithesis of Hooterville.

The cats ignored the signs of my imminent departure and played outside under the big blue sky in the clean fresh air. It was about 70 degrees today, and I had all the doors open. Roscoe took advantage of this to import as many lizards as possible. He even went behind the pots and bowls in the kitchen cupboard, emerged with a lizard, played with it a while while I went to get the broom and dustpan to aid in lizard removal, and then vanished with it under the couch.

Under the couch appears to be the favored reptile repository around here. I figure by the time I get back from The D, they will have completely taken over, sitting on the couch reading and smoking a cigar and raiding the liquor cabinet*. They will look at me in disdain and wonder what on earth I’m doing in their house.

I took a much-needed break from stewing and fretting yesterday to have a Q with family and friends. Erica and Jessica were there with the Lovely Lucy:

as were Lichen and my siblings’ land partners, Dave and Jennifer. Megan had marinated a pork roast, which was slow cooked over the barbecue for hours. We made that into fajitas with grilled onions and peppers, as well as salad just picked from the garden and a cherry pie my brother made from scratch. As if that weren’t enough, we also had grilled fresh peaches, yet another delicious Erica innovation. You split a fresh peach, take out the pit, brush it with olive oil, dust it with salt, and put it on the barbecue for 5 to 7 minutes. Delicious!

Is it any wonder I’ll be homesick?

*Which is itself without a door, having detached itself from its hinges while I was at work last week. Mark and his family are in Florida at Disney Land (or Disney World), and when they get back, they are almost immediately moving to New Jersey for a year, so I’m not expecting it to be fixed any time soon. Oh, Rob….what are you up to in the next few days?

Coronation

On Monday night, I was engrossed in the second season of the complex and rainswept* Killing, when I noticed a hole in my tooth.

Uh-oh.

Apparently a filling had fallen from its original location. Even more disturbing, I must have swallowed it without realizing. I tried not to think about all the “lead is known to the State of California to cause cancer” signs I have seen, from wine bottles (really!) to lead-based artwork in museums. And what would happen if the tooth blew up on my while en route to my grilling in Detroit.

Of course, this has to happen with the Subpoena of Damocles hanging over my head, along with a national holiday. The jobette was closed for the rest of the week, and I was afraid the dentist would be, too. However, luck was with me, and the dentist who takes care of my siblings and took care of our mother just happened to have an appointment at 4:00 on Tuesday afternoon (aka Independence Day eve). They are closed the rest of the week, so I was lucky to get it.

I was scared about what he would say and what it would cost, not, as it turned out, without reason.

He frowned while looking at the damage, and I said, “Don’t give me that face!” He laughed and said he was concerned that the filling was cracked and there might be decay in the crack. Fortunately, there wasn’t. He removed another chunk of filling and then sealed it up with some clear stuff with antibiotics in it, which should hold me until July 25, when I will be crowned for the first time in my life.

The crown will cost $950.

I wish it was from Tiffany instead of the dental supply store, but adult life is full of such disappointments. At least it’s not a root canal, right?

When I brought Jonathan his Thursday dinner and told him the saga of my tooth, he asked me when I called the dentist’s office. “About ten, ” I said. He laughed and said that the dentist’s receptionist called him around 10 to say that an emergency came up and he couldn’t have the 4:00 appointment.

Small town.

*The show is set in Seattle, but filmed in Vancouver. I hope at least half of the rain is special effects. Otherwise, all Vancouverites would look (and feel) like mushrooms!

Homecoming

It’s a great day for cats. Today (or maybe yesterday or tomorrow or next week, since she’s in Australia) my gorgeous niece Cat turns 30, and my adorable cat Audrey turns 6. Cat asked me whether I thought turning 30 or being subpoenaed was worse, and I said turning 30, since it lasts longer. Audrey just asked to be let out.

In other happy news, Erica and Jessica are back! And better than ever!

They made their triumphal return last Monday, but had to spend several days removing the carpet from their house (Erica’s tenant apparently had an extremely incontinent dog) and painting the floors, tenting out in their own yard until they could start to decant their furniture and things’n’stuff from the giant 26 foot moving truck which Erica had valiantly packed and driven from distant Portlandia.

Because Erica is Super Girl, and missed us as much as we missed her, she made the hour’s drive from her place to Jonathan’s for a barbecue on Saturday evening. Even though it was foggy, and as the evening went on, it started fogging, which is what we call it when the fog gets so heavy that it’s almost raining.

Good thing that Jonathan (note the blondeosity of his hair) showed Jessica how to start a fire in the fire pit:

Every kid should have lessons in matches and fire from a real fireman:

It’s surprising how much warmth the concrete ring can both achieve and hold.

Jessica had wasted no time in learning how to drive the golf cart. I may not have mentioned that Jonathan acquired the golf cart from someone in a non-operational state, fixed it up with Rob’s help, and now uses it to haul equipment and wood and heavy things like that. And, you know, for fun. Everyone, including Star, loves to ride in it.

Jessica was no exception, and wanted to take me for a drive. Jonathan put her on his lap and let her steer:

She seems to be a natural driver. She did very well navigating the twists and turns and even remarked on how you have to look a few seconds ahead and how the longer curves can be easier to drive than the short ones, all of which is true. You can see the concentration:

Also the pierced ears she got for her birthday. Our little girl is growing up!

Brightening Up

Back in the golden days of our youth, my siblings and I were all golden-haired. But when puberty reared its ugly head, mine went from gleaming to drab, seemingly overnight. “We’ll take your blonde hair and swap it for decades of menstrual hell and pregnancy scares! Enjoy!”

This was about the time I began to realize that being a grown-up would not be the staying up late, eating pizza, and partying with your friends festival that I had envisioned.

Needless to say, my brother, the only boy, has retained his thick, almost platinum blonde hair into his 40s. He doesn’t really think about his hair, washes it with soap most of the time, and keeps it ruthlessly short year-round. Of course, he also has Dad’s blazing blue eyes and his own absurdly long eyelashes. Just another of Ma Nature’s wickedly unfunny jokes.

Once the plague of puberty had mousened me, I fought back by dyeing my hair, sometimes to its former glory and sometimes pink or purple, since it was the ’80s, one of the most embarrassing and unflattering decades ever, and things like that seemed like a good idea at the time. Like parachute pants and giant shoulder pads that would have made Joan Crawford balk. Or lift her eyebrows even further, if that’s possible.

When the recession hit and I found myself having to sell my jewelry to pay the bills (sob) and even buy socks, personal maintenance fell by the wayside, along with fashion magazine subscriptions. No more highlights, waxing, or mani-pedis. It was a dark and ugly time. Much like my grown-out hair.

But it’s always darkest before the dawn, so for this landmark birthday*, Megan bought me highlights for my hair! The artist in question is a charming lady who cuts Lichen’s hair (even the most accomplished stylist can’t cut their own hair). She has a little studio in the former pump house on her property. We had a great time chatting with her as she worked on my hair. She is from Germany, where hairdressers train for nearly four years as apprentices, spending part of their week at school and part of it at the salon, helping and observing and taking on greater responsibility as time goes by.

All I can say is all that training really pays off. My hair looks completely natural, but so much better and brighter. She also cut it, and when she was finished blow drying it, it had never looked so good. Bright and bouncy and fabulous. Unfortunately for you, I had no make-up on that day and was too vain to document my new and improved hair with my old and unimproved face, so you will just have to take my word for it for now. I will be interested to see how it looks after I do it myself tomorrow morning. If I were rich, I would definitely have a stylist on my staff.

In other happy news, Megan and Rob are celebrating their 21st anniversary today!

*Since I had the highlights installed on the next to last day of June, I really did have almost a birthday month!