Thankfully

I woke up yesterday to sunshine and Roscoe cuddled up against me. It was the rare and delightful teddy bear cuddle, too, where he has his back to my chest and my arm is around him. For a while, I just lay there enjoying the purring and the fact that it was light enough to let the cats out right away. One of the many things I dislike about getting up early to go to the pool and/or work is having to keep the cats in until it’s light enough that the neighborhood thugs have retired to their lairs.

Speaking of cats, we got another update from Digit’s family:

I just wanted to give you an update regarding Digit. She is doing great. As I mentioned previously, we have two other cats, one outdoor (our long-hair grey polydactyl) and one indoor. She is very good friends now with both. She waits at the door first thing in the morning to go out and greet our long-hair grey cat. He waits for her outside the door, greets her with rubs and nose touches, then leads her off for a short adventure (he seems to really like showing her his territory). During the rest of the day, she often sleeps inside with our other cat (both of them in the big pad you gave us, which she very much likes again). All three cats really seem to like one another. So, all is well here and she is very much now a part of our clan. Thank you, Jane

Seems we really chose the perfect family for our sweet girl.

While I was making coffee, Megan stopped by on her way home from work. I really enjoy these little visits. These days, we rarely see each other, especially on weeks like this one where she worked four 12 hour night shifts in a row. I was worried about some things going on in my jobs, and she listened to my problems and helped me solve them. I realized how lucky I am to have a sister like her. She even came over last weekend and brought my laundry in and folded it neatly on the bed, and also took away my garbage and recycling. Best. Sister. Ever.

Later in the day, I sat out on the balcony:

with a drink and my latest library* book, admiring the last rose of summer:

and the golden light in the trees:

with my bare feet (toes adorned with the sparkly polish Erica gave me last Christmas) on the worn, sun-warmed wood, and thought how lucky I am to have such a wonderful, loving family and live in such a beautiful place. Whatever happens, we will always have each other.

*The library is now open 6 days a week. Huzzah!

Days of Future Passed


Long ago and far away

I have been keeping in better touch with my former neighbor Patrisha since she lost her beloved dog Hamish, so I have recently learned more news about my old neighborhood.

As you may remember, I used to live in the woodworking shop of a Victorian coffin factory. My front door opened onto the building’s courtyard, and to get to my place, you passed through a slightly creepy brick passageway like the carriages of old. Living in an old factory had its advantages. The brick walls were thick, muffling the city sounds while keeping in heat in the winter and coolness in the summer.

In the picture below, you can just about see the passageway leading to my place on the far left:

The former factory was home to a thriving and eccentric community of artists, filmmakers, photographers, architects, woodworkers (though not coffin makers), and, well, eccentrics. It is also enviably located within walking distance of the Lake and in sighting distance of the CN Tower, not to mention its proximity to the delights of Queen Street and King Street West.

Shortly before I moved back to California, a building of fake lofts began construction at the corner of the street, to the horror of the coffin factory dwellers and those in the Victorian rowhouses beside it. How ridiculous is it to build a building of pseudo lofts across the street from a building of authentic ones – thus ruining the very artistic atmosphere and look they were trying to imitate? I had a feeling even then that the coffin factory’s days as an artist community were numbered, and they are.

The owner of the building is planning to build two huge, hideous towers where the (very modest) parking lot for the building is and in the secret garden overlooking the train tracks where the lovely Rita and I used to play:

Then the whole building will be made into condos, so adios to all the artists who currently live there. Apparently many have already moved. Patrisha is so sad at the changes to – I almost wrote “destruction of” – the street that she is seriously considering moving back to her native Scotland.

Ever since the recession, or economic downturn, or whatever you want to call it, especially in an election year, I have often thought that I should have stayed in the coffin factory, surrounded by friends and neighbors, within a pleasant train ride of Kelly and Joy and a streetcar ride from Mike and his lovely family, where I would have medical coverage and access to delivery food of any ethnicity you can think of. True, there are the sweltering summers and the freezulating winters and the whole ridiculous liquor store business, but still…it’s sometimes hard not to feel that leaving might have been a big mistake. Sometimes I think of how my life might have been different or better if I had stayed. Coulda, woulda, shoulda – can anyone ever resist playing that game?

But hearing this news, I realize that if I had stayed, I would be homeless in a very expensive place – not notably cheaper than San Francisco, as far as I can tell – and that would be very scary indeed. At least as it is, I can always camp on my siblings’ property and they will always be here to help me out whenever I need it. Maybe I’m not such a bad decision maker after all.

…While the Sun Shines


Star (left) and Schatzi (right)

On Friday, Megan and I went to the Farmers’ Market in the Village.

I have to admit that the Farmers’ Market has become somewhat less exciting for us since Megan and Jonathan created their amazing garden. Pretty much everything they have at the Farmers’ Market, we already have, though there are some exceptions, like the fabulous Herbes de Provence mustard and delightful sprouts (we got lentil this time). Megan also picked up some organic pork roast, because our good friend Paul is coming to visit soon. Her plan is to slow cook it over the barbecue at the garden party palace while he’s here.

I took the opportunity to ask the makers of Seasoning Sand (as seen in the September Oprah Magazine) and Sea Smoke how to use the Sea Smoke. We sell this, along with other local products, at the new and improved jobette*, and people always ask me how to use it. I had no idea! Apparently the correct answer is to use it on everything. According to the makers, it’s good on everything from vanilla ice cream to Chinese food and sliced apples. He says you just need a pinch and that he takes some every time he goes out to dinner, in case he needs to improve his order.

So now I know.

After the Farmers’ Market, we took Schatzi to the vet for a check up. You may remember that she is a vintage 13 years old, and also that her old bones look like Swiss cheese inside. However, Megan’s careful drug, food, and supplement program has resulted not only in Schatzi smiling as she prances past my house every day, but in her kidney and liver numbers actually improving. I just hoped that her numbers wouldn’t be worse – I never considered that they might get better.

So that was a welcome surprise, especially when Dr. Karen told us that Schatzi has developed a heart murmur. Apparently, this is not as alarming as it sounds, and it’s a mild one. We should be concerned if we hear her coughing, so we’ll have to keep an eye (or ear) out for that.

It was a lovely, sunny day – even lovelier with the good Schatzi news – so we picked up a bottle of wine** and toasted Schatzi as we sat in my garden in the early autumn sunshine. I figured we should enjoy the garden while we can – the winter rains can’t be far away now.

I guess my version is “drink wine while the sun shines” instead of “make hay.”

*I was surprisingly upset to discover today that someone stole one of the bookmarks, decorated with a little glass vial of sand, beach glass, and shells, that we sell at the jobette. I’m still sad about it, hours later.

**The jobette CEO just gave me a bottle of wine and one of extra virgin olive oil from his trip to Italy, with a lovely card thanking me for my hard work. How nice is that?

Fairly Wonderful

Megan worked four long night shifts last week, so she woke up on Friday afternoon, my one day off that week. We realized that the County Fair started that day, and since I work on the weekends, Friday was our only chance to go. We decided to go in the late afternoon, so Megan could get caffeinated and ready for the hour long drive.

Due to the magic of microclimates, it was cold and foggy on the coast, but warm and sunny when we arrived at the Fair. We met up with Erica first – Jessica was on the rides with one of her many friends – and she looked great. I can’t believe how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other. I need to take some time out for fun.

Erica said that Jessica was enjoying school so far, and likes her teacher, which is good. One not so good thing was the furor that Jessica’s reappearance caused among the male population of her school. Apparently there was much nudging and yelling of “Jessica’s back!” by the boys, some who weren’t even in her class. After all, she’s only nine. But I’m sure Jessica has enough common sense to take it all in her (very long) stride.

As usual, she’s gotten taller since I saw her last. Here she is with two other kids: a goat named Edward, and Edward’s owner:

We checked out the livestock – goats, sheep, cows, rabbits, and an exotic chicken:

And an even more exotic rooster:

before it was time for Erica and Jessica to go home – they had been there since noon!

As they left, the lights were coming on:

I had never been to the Fair in the evening before, so it was fun to see the sparkle. Also the biggest pumpkin – a whopping 500 pounds:

And the garden entries – this was my favorite:

It’s hard to choose a favorite among the quilts. They were all so beautiful. I’ll narrow it down to two, the Bug Quilt:

And the Alphabet Quilt:

As Megan and I walked back to the car, I remarked to her that when she told me as a child that she would catch up to me one day (I’m 9 years older, though not wiser), I bet she never imagined that she’d be the one taking me to the Fair, which made her laugh.

It’s funny because it’s true!

Animalistic

I woke up to a 54 degree house this morning. I’m beginning to take the birds seriously.

First the migrating cranes have indicated that we will have an early winter – and unlike human weather forecasters, the cranes have never been wrong yet – and then there have been alarming reports of robins sighted locally.

Now, those of you who live in other places probably think of robins as a happy sign of spring, but here in northern California, they are a depressing sign of winter. These pretty (and possibly not too smart – why don’t they keep going until they hit Mexico? Or at least the OC?) avians spend their winters in Hooterville like more fashionable people spend them…well, in more fashionable places. The fact that they are already turning up is another sign that winter is coming sooner rather than later.

*****

On Friday, I had my one day off of the week. I spent the time not wearing makeup or brushing my hair or talking to the general public, either by phone or in person. There was reading and movie watching, and that was about it.

I think the kitties – at least the boys, anyway – have missed me, because they hung out with me most of the day, instead of playing in what’s left of the summer/fall weather. Clyde sat on me and purred in his patented manner (always my left shoulder), and this morning, I woke up to find him sleeping on my head and Roscoe sleeping at my feet. As I write, Clyde is perched on me, purring and getting in the way as much as felinely possible.

However, when I finally got home yesterday evening, the boys were nowhere to be seen. They almost always come in around 6:00 to have their dinner, but not yesterday. I went out and called them to no avail. I was making my own dinner when I heard Clyde’s distinctive voice behind me. I picked him up, and instead of smelling like the woods, he smelled like rust and mildew, so who knows what he was up to.

I went out and called Roscoe, who finally appeared from the haul road, making his distinctive sound, which is oddly small and plaintive, unlike his rumbling purr (and giant personality).

Audrey, on the other hand, did not show up until 1:30 am.

I wonder if the cats all thought, “Well, if you aren’t going to be home, we won’t be, either! See how you like it!”

I definitely didn’t.

*****

Over the past week or so, two of my dearest friends have lost two of their dearest friends.

Kelly’s Jazz, the most elegant and dignified dog I have ever met, left us on September 4 at the age of fifteen – a long life, but as we all know, it’s never long enough. Jazz was loved her entire life, from her first breath to her last, and how many of us, animal or human, can say that? Here she is in adorable puppyhood:

Patrisha, who gave me the priceless gift of June and Audrey (and who still has their mother, Quince), lost her handsome gentleman Hamish yesterday, also at the age of fifteen. I can’t imagine Patrisha’s vine-covered front fence without Hamish peeking through the bars, or her cycling down the street without him in her flower-decked basket. Of Hamish, Patrisha says, “Strong will & bold Scottish spirit to the last.”

Farewell, dear friends. You are missed. And loved.

Retailing

It’s kind of surprising that I have gotten to this advanced age without having worked retail before. Or waitressed, for that matter. Nearly everyone I know has done either or both of these during their misspent youth.

Looking back, I’m not completely sure how I escaped it, though I’m happy for those long ago diners’ sake that they were spared having Calamity Suzy spill coffee on them.

For the last few years of high school, I worked at a hostel which was in a former jail dating back to Victorian times. When I wasn’t checking people in and out, or making breakfast for dozens of people in the ancient kitchen, I gave tours of the jail, including Death Row and the gallows, the favorite part of the tour for school children of all ages.

In retrospect, it’s a bit odd that whoever was in charge let a teenage girl close up at night (11 pm, if I remember correctly) and open up in the morning, but nothing untoward ever happened, unless you count the couple who fled their Death Row accommodations right before closing time due to a ghost sighting.

So far, the best part of doing retail is meeting the visitors and hearing their stories. I think my favorite so far is a couple visiting from Albuquerque*, though they have a very special attachment to this area.

The husband is originally from Maine, and was in the airforce. During the Vietnam War Police Action**, he was posted at the Point Cabrillo Lighthouse, where there was a radar station. This was news to me, since all traces of it have vanished. While posted here, he stayed at a motel north of town. The motel owner’s family lived on site, and their children worked at the motel. One daughter was cleaning the airforce man’s room when he turned up unexpectedly. She said, “I can honestly say – we met in a motel room!”

Forty-three years later, they were back to check on the motel, which they now own, and take a stroll down memory lane. I’m glad I was one of the stops on that stroll.

*Which always makes me think of Bugs Bunny. Also Prefab Sprout.

**I was taught in school that the US has never lost a war. Seriously! They referred to the Vietnam War as a “police action”.

Miscellaneous

Things have been busy in Suzy-land since I last checked in with you, faithful readers.

My blog was hacked, though I can’t imagine why, unless there’s a severe trivia shortage somewhere. The wonderful Candi of the appropriately named No Hassle Hosting solved the problem for me, restored everything, and implored me to change my password, which I did, though I have to say one of the things I like least about the modern world is having to have passwords for everything. Hopefully in the future they can be stored in one’s fingertips. I hope the Powers That Be are working on that, along with the Star Trek style of travel.

Because instant gratification isn’t fast enough for me.

*****

The jobette moved. We have gone uptown, both literally (three blocks north) and figuratively. Our new space is bigger and much more attractive. We have added a retail element, selling local goods ranging from Seasoning Sand (as seen in Oprah magazine) to books, t-shirts, and mugs.

It looks pretty good, no?

Here is my desk, where all the magic happens:

I’ve started working longer hours, including the weekend, so the jobette is getting more and more job-like. I have never worked retail before, and was (and am) still baffled by the cash register when I made my first sale, to a darling 20 month old from Sacramento named Joshua:

His parents bought some sea salt and Joshua got a book about the Skunk Train, which he has already ridden twice in his short life. I gave them a deal since I couldn’t find a price on the book, and they were our very first retail customers. It was exciting.

****

Also exciting was the fact that jury duty, planned right smack in the middle of the move, was cancelled. I called in the night before and was delighted to learn that my presence was no longer requested and required. I have to admit that I would actually find serving on a trial interesting, but the timing wasn’t good. Hopefully my involvement in the judicial system for this year will be limited to my Grand Jury appearance in July and watching The Good Wife.

That reminds me: I can burn that August 15 “placeholding” subpoena. That will be fun.

Last week, I emailed the US Attorney’s Office to ask them about my expense check, which has so far failed to materialize. At first they told me they had no record of me, which made me laugh, since they had not only issued two subpoenas to me, but had paid for my airfare and hotel so I could testify for an hour.

Then they tried to tell me that they never got my expense report. Fortunately I had copied everything and sent it certified, so I could tell them that it had been delivered at 8:16 am on July 23 and offer to mail them the copies, even though the form says you have to submit the original receipts.

Eventually they admitted that I did in fact exist and that they had my expense report. Then they said they had an issue with my staying overnight in San Francisco on my way home. I had noted on a cover letter that the flight they put me on arrived in San Francisco after 10:00 pm and that it was after 11:00 pm by the time I got to my car. Since it’s a four hour drive from SFO to my house, after that long flight from Detroit, I stayed overnight.

I suggested that they just disallow that portion and pay me for the rest of it, but they said they’d try to get it approved. I sent them an email this week to find out what the status is, but I haven’t heard back yet. The wheels of justice, i have heard, move slowly.

****

I know you’re all dying to hear how Digit is doing in her new home. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a picture of Digit on her very first day in her new home:

Her new family emailed us with the following report:

Digit is doing great. She settled in surprisingly easily. She and our other 3-year-old cat surprised each other the first time they met (he’s the disabled one and he accidentally bumped into her), so they started out hissing at each other. After a few hours, though, they got into an easy truce, and now share almost everything. She seemed to have an almost immediate curiosity and affinity with our older polydactyl long-haired grey, which I found quite interesting.

So all’s well that ends well!

M-O-N-E-Y

Thursday kicked off with a visit from the money fairy while I was asleep. The money fairy really doesn’t visit me often enough these days. I actually thought she had lost my address a long time ago.

I woke up to discover a pile of cash on top of my also sleeping computer, with a note from my sister saying, “We gotta help each other out. We’re all we got. xo”

I was so touched that I had to take a moment. I walked out into the sunny garden, where the hummingbirds were buzzing around and the cats were playing, and thought how lucky I was to have such a wonderful family.

I was still drinking coffee when my neighbor and Rose’s daughter, Catrin, stopped by to give me some money for her half of the cable bill. More money! Then the phone rang to tell me that Miss Scarlett* was finally ready to leave the emergency room. Between the cash from the money fairy and the coupon I had received earlier in the week from the garage, the bill to repair her was much more tolerable than I had anticipated.

I love days where people throw money at me. It should happen more often.

*I’m beginning to think I need a “Car” category. Though I hope not.