Archive for November, 2012

Nov 29 2012

Happiness Is a Warm Puppy

Published by under Cats,Dogs,Family

Jarrett and Archimedes

The day after Thanksgiving, Jarrett met his new puppy, Archimedes*. Monica met us in the Village, with the puppy, his crate, blankets, a leash, and a package of information.

Everyone who adopts a dog from Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue gets a package of information about the breed – misconceptions, history, facts – and a dog who has been fostered with a loving family and is well socialized and happy:

In addition to all this, there was a letter from the foster family, who just happened to include two of the child artists from the wonderful Farm to Table Dinner in October (if you follow the link, these girls’ painting is the second one, blue and orange). The letter told everything they had learned about Archimedes during his stay with them, and I thought it was a really sweet gesture.

Like so many modern couples, Jarrett and Archi met on line.

One Saturday, Monica stopped in to see me at the jobette, carrying a just-rescued Archi. I fell for him on the spot and took some pictures, which I posted on Facebook in the hopes of helping to find him a good home. Jarrett saw the pictures and fell for the little guy, too.

After spending some time in serious thought, talking to Megan, and checking into daycare and training options, he filled out the application and was approved. I never saw it and still don’t know what his responses were to Monica’s detailed questionnaire, but she is very thorough and careful with every application, so I’m proud of Jarrett for passing the screening all on his own.

It happened that Megan had an appointment set up with Star to see her trainer that day – they meet once or twice a week, weather permitting – and Archi came along. He is a very smart dog, quick to learn, and Star made real progress in tolerating the puppy.

Jarrett and Archi stayed at my house:

and it was fascinating to see how the kitties reacted to the invasion.

Audrey: “You are disgusting. Get out of my house.” ~death glare~

Clyde: “Mommy! Save me! Eeeeek!” ~slept on my head all night~

Roscoe: “Whatever, man.” ~yawn~

*Named for the great scientist, mathematician, and inventor of antiquity. I find it rather delightful that the original Archimedes was from Syracuse in Greece, and Jonathan and I were born in the New York Syracuse. Also our friend Clayton. It kind of seemed like a good sign.

5 responses so far

Nov 28 2012

And We’re Out

Published by under Country Life

Right before I left for the jobette this morning, the power went off and on a couple of times, and then off. I called PG&E on my cell phone, and was unfortunately the first person to report the outage on this dark and stormy day.

The Ridge’s ditches were full of water and the road all the way to the Big Town was scattered with fallen twigs and even branches. The storm is supposed to go on for next few days, so I may need to borrow my brother’s extra generator.

I called to check on the status of the outage and the recorded voice was discouraging due to “widespread power outages” and said to prepare for extended periods without electricity. At the jobette, they said not to come in on Saturday, since no-one will come in during a driving storm, and it looks like the road will be flooded and closed, so we won’t be able to pick up Jessica and go swimming, either.

At least I can enjoy the warmth and light at the jobette for now.

[Update: Power is back on! And I have a generator and two full cans of gas, thanks to my wonderful family. We are slated to get more storms over the next few days, so I may need them. Stay tuned!]

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Nov 24 2012

Thanksgiving Memories

The day after Thanksgiving, inside…

…and outside!

So much has happened since I last wrote that I hardly know where to start.

It was a really wonderful Thanksgiving. My little house was overflowing with friends, family, and food. Good thing we had the outdoor seating area as well as the indoors.

The turkey cooked a little faster than I had anticipated:

Erica thinks that the temperature indicated on my tiny old Wedgwood stove might not be all that accurate. Erica and Jonathan came to my rescue when I forgot to turn on the potatoes while simultaneously forgetting that the stuffing was in the oven. It’s a real pleasure to watch two professionals swing into action. And this was after they had already supplied the pies:

Erica’s pies, garnished with rose geranium, were some kind of squash rather than pumpkin and were made with caramelized sugar. They were like eating pumpkin truffles – really rich and really delicious. In contrast, Jonathan’s lemon tart – his first ever – was light with a perfect citrusy bite. It was garnished with lemon peel he candied himself.

Jessica and I explored my jewelry box, and she unearthed a pair of diamond earrings I had forgotten about but am wearing now. Here you see her excavating Queen Suzy’s Mines:

Remarkably, she returned the ruby necklace I had loaned her indefinitely last year. I have to say, I didn’t really expect her to return it, at least, not so soon. Now that I think about it, she may have gone home wearing a little diamond necklace instead…

I got some fizzy cranberry and apple juice for Jessica, and found a small cordial glass and a small Champagne goblet. I asked her if she preferred the flute or the Marie Antoinette style, and she immediately exclaimed, “Marie Antoinette!”

Then she said, “I just got an idea for a Halloween costume – restored Marie Antoinette!” She added that she could still have fake blood on her neck even though her head would be reattached. She then started speculating on her wig and gown. Is it any wonder I forgot about the potatoes?

It was a wonderful evening, with the fire and candles outside, and love and laughter inside and out. My family was there, as well as Jarrett and Lichen, who brought cocktails for the grownups and fizzy juice for Jessica, Rose’s daughter Catrin and her husband Zac, and a couple of other people who stopped by to say hello. I just love having my house full of family and friends. We have a lot to be thankful for.

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Nov 22 2012

Ready, Set…

The secret to surviving Thanksgiving – as with most things – is to plan ahead and prepare as much as possible.

The jobette very sweetly gave me yesterday off, so I started off by roasting chestnuts (for stuffing) and pears (for the salad). While they were roasting, I dug up potatoes from the buckets of sand where my brother and sister had stored the ones they grew this summer:

Including the mutant voodoo doll potato:

Then I made cranberry-bourbon relish, once again marveling over how incredibly disgusting booze smells in the morning, as opposed to in the evening. It’s worth it, though, and look how pretty it is in my paternal grandmother’s star dish:

After two loads of dishes and kitchen clean-up, it was time to clean my humble abode. I spent hours de-spider webbing, mopping, vacuuming, etc., and the house looks pretty good:

This Thanksgiving morning, I woke up to sunny skies after a week and several inches of rain. Megan stopped by on her way home from work, bearing more wine and a free-range, organic turkey. Oh, and a hug and a kiss.

I spent this morning chopping up Café Beaujolais sunflower bread and sourdough for stuffing, along with apples, onions, celery, sage, and those damn chestnuts. It took longer than I thought, and I had to use two bowls to hold it. Then I made the salad, putting half of it in my paternal grandmother’s Wedgwood salad bowl and the other in a less picturesque bowl. Then I made the salad dressing and sliced up the pears.

Rob just appeared and removed the old outdoor couch, and we set up a seating area around the outside fireplace (or, you know, the big old rusty thing I burn paper in during the winter):

There will be abut 12 of us, including Erica, Jessica, Jarrett, Lichen, Rose’s daughter Catrin and her new husband Zac, so we’ll need all the room we can get.

The turkey is now roasting merrily away, Jonathan is bringing a lemon tart he made, and Erica is bringing a couple of other pies, so I think we’re all set! Ready, set…

2 responses so far

Nov 20 2012

New Beginnings

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Dogs,Family

It’s a blustery day here in Hooterville – the kind where the wind chimes sing merrily of power outages, and you wake up to find that your purple honeysuckle has been swept off its feet. I will need to borrow a cup of Rob, like I did a few days ago when the sliding glass door in the studio came off its moorings. Fortunately, the glass didn’t break, and Rob was able to reinstall it by the light of the silvery flashlight, but I’ll use one of the other four doors for a while…

Thanksgiving is approaching rapidly, and we have a couple of new reasons to be thankful.

One Saturday when I was at the jobette, Monica stopped by so I could meet someone:

It was the world’s cutest puppy! I fell pretty hard for Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue’s latest member, and I posted pictures of him on Facebook to try and help find him a good home. Imagine my joy when our nephew* Jarrett adopted him! Jarrett will be here for Thanksgiving and will pick up the puppy then. I can’t wait! And I’m so glad that I will get to watch Archimedes grow up.

A couple of weeks ago, a small, starved, mangy-looking kitty turned up at our brother’s place:

We estimate that she is somewhere between 6 and 8 months old. We have no idea how she got there – Jonathan lives alone on 68 acres, and across the street is a further 100 uninhabited acres – but somehow, she found him. He’s been catless and dogless for a long time, so it’s a win-win.

I hesitated to post about it before, because it took a long time to get close enough to pet her and get her to come inside for the night, and we were all afraid that she would take off and take our hearts with her. But fortunately, she is enjoying the food and the pets, so we’re hoping that she will be a permanent member of the family.

She has the loudest meow and purr, sometimes both at the same time. She’s quite the character.

*We have known Jarrett since he was four years old. He and his Mom lived on a boat at Pier 39, as did Megan, Rob, and Jonathan. They took the fatherless kid under their wings, and he lived with Megan and Jonathan during his last two years of high school, like Megan did with me.

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Nov 16 2012

Garden Notes

Published by under Garden

Stevie, my former neighbor, has moved to Hawaii, where she is hopefully being welcomed by the goddess Pele. According to Stevie, if Pele doesn’t like you, you’re out. Kind of a cosmic club bouncer.

Before Stevie moved to Club Pele, she gave me some lovely parting gifts, such as this stunning 12 year old Japanese maple:

She is also the source of the palm trees, bamboo, and garden set, so it’s kind of “Garden by Stevie” around here.

While we were digging up the maple, I noticed some roses that needed some care:

I’m hoping that they, too, will be Roses That Could, like the ones on the balcony. I have been watering and fertilizing them and hoping for the best, but I think it will require more rehab than Eminem to get them back in bloom.

They are joined in the remedial room by some agapanthus donated by another neighbor. The deer ate them down to little stubs, but I’m hoping to nurse them back to health. One is in Rose’s garden:

Here’s a close-up:

You can see they’re pretty munched.

The others are in pots for now, but I’ll plant them in amended soil once it rains a bit and the ground is softer. I really think that Luna being on patrol here, as well as the presence of Schatzi, who meanders all over the property, has kept the deer away. So far.

I realize that I never showed you the beds Mark helped to build this spring next to the shed in front of the house:

He found the wood, and I bought the soil and plants. They are lobelia, alyssum (white and purple) and portulaca. They have actually grown quite a bit since they were first planted:

I don’t think I showed you my terrarium project from months ago, either. There are two under the arch of the balcony by each lounge chair. Each one contains moss, sea shells, and an air plant:

Finally, the rare yellow geranium is finally in bloom:

I got it last year, but it didn’t flower then. I didn’t give up, though. It’s funny how well living things respond to regular food and water, isn’t it?

It’s been a good year for the garden. I’m already thinking of projects for next year: making a water garden out of a half wine barrel; planting lavender beside the house…

3 responses so far

Nov 14 2012

The Play’s the Thing

Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

Just two short days after the election, I set off in the deep rural darkness to see a political thriller.

You’d think I would have had enough political thrills and chills that week, but you’d be wrong.

My brilliant co-worker at the jobette – the same one who predicted the election results and the Giants’ World Series win – was the director. The play was Farragut North, the play that the George Clooney movie The Ides of March was based on.

As I made my way from the car to the theater, I made a mental note to keep a flashlight in my handbag at all times. I couldn’t see where I was walking, and there was no Jessica to guide me. I have to admit that I find driving in the darkness a nerve-wracking experience – one I now face at least four days a week, since I work much later and winter is pretty much here. There are no streetlights even on the highway, and it’s like driving in a pocket, though the stars are starry.

It had been two years – almost exactly to the day – since I went to the theater (that time I went with the fabulous Erica and Jessica to see the musical adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline in the fabulous City), so it was high time.

I gave my name at the box office and was given my ticket without having to spell my name, a rarity in my life. I was also ushered elegantly to my front row seat, and I barely had time to get settled before the lights went down and the magic began.

I was immediately drawn into the action and the story. Being so close made me feel like I was part of it, and that it was happening right in front of me. I was shocked when the lights came up after the first act, and brought me back to reality for fifteen minutes. The cast was wonderful, and the play really made me think, as well as laugh out loud and appreciate the artistry of the actors.

It was an enchanted evening.

4 responses so far

Nov 11 2012

Beginnings and Endings

Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

I guess I – and you – should just get used to the time lag between things happening and my reporting on them, if you haven’t already. I am now writing about a long, long time ago, about last Friday. In fact, it was last Friday.

One of the many things I love about our little community is its vibrant arts scene. The Big Town celebrates this on the first Friday of every month, with galleries and shops staying open late and serving wine and nibbles. The First Friday this month was also our “new” office’s Grand Opening:

Megan and I stopped by to say hello, and were warmly greeted by my colleagues. I felt like the King of Kensington introducing her to so many people, and it made me realize how much I have become part of the community in the (relatively) short time I have lived here. Claudia Springs was there, pouring local wine, and there were appetizers and music. Our Chairman, a County native, just happens to be a founding member of the seminal 1960s band It’s A Beautiful Day, which was part of the San Francisco music scene along with luminaries like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, and was DJing the event. It was a huge success and I’m really glad we stopped in.

Next up was the incredible altar display at Town Hall, which I have attended in the past and really didn’t want to miss. This is in the Mexican tradition of celebrating lost loved ones on the Day of the Dead, the day after Halloween or All Souls’ Day. We were greeted by a wonderful painted skull in a birdcage decorated with Monarch butterflies:

The perfect way to set the tone. The Hall was filled with beautiful altars to remember lost loved ones. This one, for a librarian, was both my and Megan’s favorite:

From this view, you can see that the “roof” of the altar is a book:

I love the little brass hands holding the library book cards.

This one is a suitcase full of love:

It is for a woodworking artist, shown in his studio.

Besides the delightfulness of the sugar skull with the candy corn, this wonderful little box with family photos and handmade white silk roses contains a touching little poem, which starts:

I’d like the memory of me
to be a happy one
I’d like to leave an afterglow of love
when life is done

Clearly that goal was achieved:

And this lovely lady is remembered in all her glamorous glory, with her embellished compact and swansdown powder puff:

I’d like to be remembered that way, too.

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Nov 07 2012


Published by under Special Occasions

Our Beautiful First Family

First things first yet again– it’s been a momentous week or so.

Despite the predictions of a friend who called the President’s re-election almost perfectly at 304 electoral college votes versus the actual 303 (he also accurately predicted the Giants’ world-series winning sweep of Detroit last month), I was pretty nervous last night. Even those non-American readers must have sensed how difficult and grueling this election year has been. In my long history of voting, I have never found it so painful for so long.

I literally felt a wave of relief wash over me. I have felt under attack by Republicans over the past year, threatening my right to be paid the same as a man doing the same job; to have legal access to birth control and abortion, and by the laughable (yet horrifying) notion that women who are “legitimately” raped cannot become pregnant. I was glad to wake up in 2012 instead of medieval times, I tell you what.

As my boss and partner emailed me last night:

“During the difficulties of 1862, Lincoln told Congress: the fight today is not for today but for a vast future that will be a New birth of freedom. We are that vast future and we must continue to live our creed.”

Let’s keep this great country moving forward. I am thankful for the dedication, intelligence, integrity and passion of our President. I am looking forward to his second term with pride and joy.

6 responses so far

Nov 04 2012

A Happy Halloween

Halloween dawned appropriately gloomy and sinister looking. By late morning, it was, as my late, great stepmother used to say in her rich, plummy voice, “simply tipping it down.” The rain gauge later informed me that we got more than an inch of rain that day. Erica tried to bribe Jessica into staying home that night, offering popcorn, candy, movies, and a fire, but as Megan predicted, Jessica would have none of it.

I borrowed a huge golf type umbrella from the jobette, and Megan and I set off to meet E & J in the Village, which was appropriately dressed for the occasion:

Fortunately, I was incorrect about the acrobats in the street:

As an added bonus, this particular artist was wearing a skeleton suit. I was so absorbed in the performance that I almost didn’t notice our friends making their way through the crowd. Jessica re-thought her costume and was dressed as Neil Gaiman’s Death:

She added that she was “not the traditional Death” and was wearing a sword instead of carrying a scythe. She also wore the wrapped wire circlet she had made, and Erica made the rest of Jessica’s costume, including the dark red taffeta petticoat you see peeping out in the picture above.

When I showed Jessica this shot I took of her, she said, “Whoa! I look really freaky in that light!” She did:

We amused ourselves with our favorite quote from “Addams Family Values”:

Me: “She’s at that age when girls have just one thing on their minds.”


Jessica (gleefully): “Homicide!”

We set off to the task at hand as the sky darkened. Needless to say, it had stopped raining and Erica and I were lumbered with three huge and unnecessary umbrellas. The air was soft and scented with woodsmoke and the ocean. The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse blinked romantically in the distance, and the ocean crashed endlessly against the rocks as we made our way through the Village.

Erica pointed out that Jessica’s knock on front doors was extremely authoritative, which was both true and amusing. Once the doors were open, though, she charmed the candy donors one and all. It was a delight to hear her clear, bright voice calling out, “Thank you! Happy Halloween! Have a good night!” completely unprompted by her mother.

As we made our way through the darkness, she warned me of potholes and uneven sidewalks, occasionally taking my hand to guide me around the hazards, but mostly skipping ahead.

I don’t know which of us had the most fun.

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