Archive for December, 2012

Dec 31 2012

2012 in Review

Farewell, 2012

It’s really fun going back and seeing what happened during the year, even if it wasn’t that great a year, like this one. Pay cuts and grand jury summons do not make for a good year. Hopefully the new one will also be improved.

Power outages: 6, including one in October due to someone driving into a power pole at 8:30 am – go figure – and two from a big storm in late November.

Rainfall: 24.20 inches for the season so far, vs. 11 inches this time last year.

Books read: 103 (vs. last year’s 118). Working more means reading less.

Favorites this year were Damien Echols’ astonishing, moving memoir, Life After Death; Gillian Flynn’s clever Gone Girl; William Landay’s surprising Defending Jacob; James M. Cain’s just-discovered final novel The Cocktail Waitress; Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins; and the beautifully written and moving Stoner (it’s not what you think).

Trips to San Francisco: 3. I went 4 times in 2011, but one of those was to keep Megan company while Rob endured more spinal surgery, so that doesn’t really count. I’m starting the new year off right by heading to San Francisco tomorrow morning for a few days to meet up with my boss/partner and make some plans for the future. And maybe do some shopping…

As for this year:

January: Hockey, Suzy-style. Little did I realize there wouldn’t be any when October arrived. Or December, for that matter. The case of the ransomed Christmas cards. Ordeal by utility company. Technological difficulties. Why I’m here. Outs & ins. One man’s trash…an unexpected visitor.

February: Cops and a movie! Third power outage of the season. Musing about one grandfather…and another. Coffee break. Finally, a break for Rob! In which our heroine learns that she is just as annoying as everyone else. Maybe more. A surprise wedding.

March: Small town moments. Home repairs. A visit with Jim (and other things). Dad’s 81st birthday. A date with my family. Getting a jump on spring. Suzy the screwup. Surprise present!

April: Megan’s new (to her, anyway) car! Mom’s 80th birthday. Spring planting. A rainy trip to the City. Impersonating a responsible adult. San Francisco storm. A lovely last day in the City. Jessica’s ninth birthday. The arrival of Digit, the Office Cat. Kitty update. A girls’ day out. With my favorite girl.

May: A new (well, to me) couch! My 12th blogaversary, among other things. Festive. A dilemma. License to drive. Scarred for (or by) life. An eclipse, and other things. Rob’s epic trip to see his Mother one last time. My considerably less epic trip to San Francisco. Farewell to Rob’s Mother.

June: A magical evening with the Beach Boys. Fabulous fifty! An unexpected trip. Birthday party. Dilemma solved. Birth of a garden. A wonderful tour of artists’ studios. The arrival of my first (and I hope only) subpoena.

July: A belated and fabulous birthday present. Erica and Jessica are back! My first crown. Sadly, not the Queen kind, though almost as expensive. The looming trip to Detroit makes my humble home look like paradise. The unlovely itinerary. The trip does not go according to plan. Finally in Detroit. Court of horrors. Home at last. Changes at home and at work. Time for an engine check. The neighbors stop by. A snake in the grass. I mean, house.

August: A quick trip to San Francisco. The splendid pool reopens. My 2,000th blog post. And Roscoe’s mystery injury. A lousy day with a better ending. The 11th anniversary of Dad’s death (post won’t link; it’s August 18). A new home for the adorable Digit (who is very happy there). First day at the new office – and more car problems.

September: The money fairy stops by. First foray into retail, and an update on Digit. Two very sad losses for two very dear friends. A fabulous County Fair. A check up for the Schatz. Could, woulda, shoulda – or not. Appreciating the simple things.

October: A small town moment. A very special event. A great evening with family and friends. Swimming lessons resume. Now with Jessica! The 15% pay cut rears its ugly head. So does winter. An eventful day. The Giants win the World Series again! Oh, and we go to the circus.

November: A happy Halloween. The President is, thankfully, re-elected. This campaign was brutal – I can’t believe we have to go through it again in four years. But I won’t think about that now. A beautiful way to remember. An evening at the theatah. A look around the garden. Some new beginnings. Getting ready for Thanksgiving. A wonderful Thanksgiving. Jarrett adopts the World’s Cutest Puppy.

December: Christmas decorations. Church concert. Getting ready for Christmas. A happy holiday. Lighting up the night.

Thanks for joining me for another year of adventures. I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year!

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Dec 29 2012


Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

For a small coastal community, there are a lot of fun things to do around here. Sometimes it’s hard to choose which one to attend, like when I went to Sallie’s choir recital instead of the tree lighting ceremony and lighted truck parade in the Big Town.

Weather can also play a part. The Festival of Lights at the beautiful Botanical Gardens was cancelled several times in late November and early December due to the heavy storms which wouldn’t take the hint and leave. But finally, one clear, starry evening, the time was right for me to stop by and enjoy this winter wonderland.

Come on in through the lighted gate:

Follow yonder star:

The cacti looked so dramatic against the evening sky:

Don’t be afraid of the giant spider:

This weeping willow looked like fireworks to me – a shower of sparks and sparkle:

Looking up through the branches:

One thing I noticed as I wandered around the Gardens is that the lack of ambient light really makes light displays like this stand out. So darkness isn’t all bad, even though I don’t like driving in it. I should be more like Galileo, who said, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”

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Dec 27 2012

Christmas Memories

Well, the weather did come in, with days of storms, battering us with thunder, lightning, pouring rain, and hail. But I woke to a sunny day on Christmas Eve, the garden glittering with last night’s rain.

Somehow, it took me all day to get the cooking and cleaning done. By the time the house was ready, Rob was in the garden working on the barbecue, filling it with mesquite and apple wood cut from a long-abandoned tree, and Megan was walking through the secret path between our houses with an apple pie she’d made after planting onions and garlic over on the family property.

Megan started the glaze for the ham (maple syrup, bourbon, apple cider, Worcestershire sauce, etc.) and we discovered that we were short of Jack Daniel’s after that festive Thanksgiving, so we made a quick trip to the Gro and bought beer and bourbon, like total Christmas Eve degenerates.

Back at the house, I attempted to impose some civilization on the proceedings with Christmas crackers all the way from England and bright fruit in Grammie’s star dish:

The table was set with Grammie’s 90 year old, ivory-handled silverware and Nana’s wine glasses, along with the nearly 200 year old Wedgwood biscuit barrel (full of miniature cheese biscuits) and salad bowl and servers, ready for the salad with roasted pears and fresh pomegranate seeds. The mincemeat tarts are on Nana’s glass platter, embossed with the word “Remembrance”:

And I do. I miss my grandparents most at the holidays. I’m glad to use their things and feel like they are are part of the celebrations.

My friend Patrisha’s Christmas card was so wonderful that I had to hang it on the tree:

Things were pretty much under control by the time Erica and Jessica appeared, Jessica wearing soft footed PJs and her mother in a panne velvet skirt with a side slit which she had made herself, accessorized with knee-high motorcycle boots. She’s all about the style.

Before dinner, we watched the traditional “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. Here you can see Jessica completely wrapped up in the story:

She observed that she looked a lot like Cindy Lou Who “but when I was little”, which is true. It’s hard to believe that in just a few short years she will be a teenager, and probably uninterested in hanging out with her aged aunties. She was delighted with the new bathing suit Megan bought her. We had noticed that her (pink floral) suit was too short for her, and Megan asked her what color she’d like in a new one. She said she wanted a “gothic black one”, and she got one, looking like a blonde Wednesday Addams when she tried it on.

Lichen stopped by for dinner, bringing his own special joy and peacfulness with him. Jarrett (whose puppy now weighs 25 pounds!) and Paul couldn’t make it, and Rose’s daughters were together in New Jersey, so it was much quieter than Thanksgiving, but still wonderful. I love having my family and friends gathered in my little house. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.

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Dec 20 2012

Getting Ready

Weather’s comin’

It was a winter wonderland this morning, Northern California style: hard frost on the grass by the road; the Ridge glittering with frost and puddles frozen. The ocean was shades of pewter and lavender, and the wild, white-crested waves told of storms to come. It looks like we will get another series of storms for about a week, which should be finished in time for Christmas Eve. I hope.

Christmas Eve will be Christmas day for us. Megan got the day off from work, but Jonathan is working. He is going to bring his client to dinner and then head back to work. They are both working on Christmas day, and then I am working until the 30th, so it was Christmas Eve or forget it.

It shouldn’t be quite as busy as Thanksgiving. Paul is staying in Florida after his epic trip home in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Catrin is visiting her sister and family in New Jersey. I’m not sure if Jarrett (and puppy!) or Lichen will be there, but Erica and Jessica will be. Yay!

I’m pretty much ready. We just have stockings instead of presents – mostly – and last weekend, I went through everything to see if we had enough for everyone, and it looks like we do. It might have been the weekend before that when Megan and I met up with Monica and her crew of cheerful volunteers at the historic Little River Inn to make Christmas tree ornaments.

We brought Schatzi with us, so we could make an ornament with her pawprint in it. She was the very first customer on this beautiful day. Here you can see her with her adoring Megan, after her pawprint was immortalized, Grauman’s style:

Being nearly 15 years old, Schatzi tired pretty quickly of all the ornament festivities, so I took her back to the car, admiring the view on the way:

I have to say, Megan’s careful regimen of food, supplements, and medications have kept Schatzi in remarkably good shape, especially considering that it was nearly two years ago that Dr. Carl told us about her secretly Swiss cheese bones. Nearly every day, she comes prancing by my house in her bright sweater, looking like a five year old dog having an excellent day.

We made an ornament for Jarrett’s puppy, and later I found out that Monica also made them for Roscoe and Clyde:

and Audrey:

On our way out the door, Megan asked me how Monica came up with all these wonderful fundraising ideas, and I said, “Because she’s Monica.”

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Dec 14 2012

With a Song in My Heart

Decisions, decisions! Last Friday, there was the tree lighting ceremony in the Big Town, to be followed by the Lighted Truck Parade. It was also First Friday, the day that shops and galleries stay open late, and I should have stopped in to see my colleagues, but I had other plans.

Going to church.

It was very possibly the first time I had been to church since my father’s memorial service eleven years ago, and that was in a Quaker meeting house actually built and attended by William Penn. You know, the guy who put the Penn in Pennsylvania. It was nearly 400 years old and beautifully simple.

The church in this case is one of the best known and best loved landmarks in the Village (and is also both a national and a state historic landmark), built in 1867 of local redwood to replace a much smaller building put up a decade earlier. Here’s how it looked then:

And here’s how it looks now:

Fortunately, I had brought my trusty little flashlight, which has taken up its winter residence in whatever handbag from the Suzy Collection that I happen to be carrying. It was pretty dark in the Village, despite the occasional streetlight and the welcoming light from the church’s beautiful windows:

I scored a cushioned pew right next to the heating vent – bliss! – and about 5 rows from the altar. After taking off my coat, I looked around. This was my first visit inside this little jewel box, and it is just beautiful:

I could easily imagine the chandelier and wall sconces lit with flickering candles instead of eletcric light bulbs. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the cross is beautifully hand carved:

Those are little white paper doves on the holiday decorations.

I was there to see my beloved swimming teacher, Sallie, sing in a choir. In addition to teaching swimming to grown-ups and kids, she is also an addiction counselor, and somehow still finds time to go to practices and perform in a choir. She is the petite girl on the left in the front row:

Sallie is radiant when she sings – she just glows. I told her that after the performance and she said that she loves to sing. It definitely shows!

It was an eclectic program, including spirituals and songs from all over the world, as well as a hymn or two and Christmas carols. For “Ave Maria”, the choir split up and some went into the choir loft:

which produced an ethereal stereo effect for the haunting song. In one of the spirituals, there was a line about how Mary had only one child, which made me wonder how that happened. Assuming Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were real, you’d think that birth control would have been an issue back then.

And although “Silent Night” was my beloved maternal grandmother’s favorite carol, the “Holy infant so tender and mild” part always make it sounds like you’re going to eat him. But I kept these thoughts to my silly, shallow Self (at least until now).

When the performance was over, I greeted some friends and chatted for a while before heading home under the blazing stars. It was a magical evening.

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Dec 09 2012

After the Storm

Published by under Country Life,Garden,Weather



Well, the storm kicked our collective butts for about 10 days, dumping 8 inches (20+ centimeters) of rain, taking the power out twice in Hooterville (and keeping it out in the Big Town for a selected few residents for a week), and closing the road to civilization twice as well. Then it blew away, leaving wreckage in its wake, but almost laughably blue skies* overhead:

Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor.

As you can see, I am going to need a couple of cups of Rob to fix the passion flower vine. It will have to be unwound from the wreckage of the tree and relocated, I think. The purple honeysuckle is still lying beside the house. Its trellis will have to be mended somehow. It braved all the storms last year, but this year it’s been having a hard time. I looked at my blog from this time last year, and I was still watering the garden instead of the Almighty doing it, as my atheist father used to say.

Anyway, we look set for fair skies for the next few days, though that does mean that the nights are pretty cold. It’s been hovering around the 32F/0C mark outside, and the 45F/7C mark inside when I get up in the morning darkness. But it’s like someone has turned up the stars and planets – they blaze and glitter against the black winter sky.

*Sorry about the Batman angle, but I took it from the car when Megan was driving.

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Dec 02 2012

Stormin’ Up a Storm

Published by under Country Life,Family,Weather

The power came back on before I got home on Wednesday night. Apparently the valiant PG&E crews repairing the downed power lines also came across some faulty equipment, which they repaired, though this took some time, and the power was out for about 9 hours.

It then went out again from about 10 pm until 5:00 am. Later that day, my brother came by with his soaking wet clothes from fire calls and put them in the dryer. Apparently someone had called in a burning vehicle right near Megan’s and my address, adding that a “late 30’s male” was at the wheel. Worried that it was Rob, Jonathan raced to the scene, only to find a downed power line and no car or driver or anything burning. The theory is that someone thought they’d get a faster response if they said it was a burning car, and they did, so their naughtiness was rewarded.

This is often the case with grown-ups, kiddies. You didn’t hear it from me.

As I mentioned, the jobette gave me Saturday off due to the ominous weather reports. We also canceled swimming, and it was weird, yet delightful, to sleep in on a Saturday and not have to work or drive to the Big Town or anything. I took advantage of the break to put up Christmas decorations, which I have been dying to do since before Thanksgiving, thanks to North Star Nursery’s incredible Christmas tree display. Megan and I went there to get things like garlic to plant and ended up spending an hour in a holiday wonderland.

Putting up the tree before Thanksgiving is just wrong, as well as taking up valuable floor space when you are expecting a dozen people in your housette, so I waited like the faux adult I am. But I wasted no time in decking the halls before the rain started again.

As usual, I forgot how annoying, sheddy, and hard to put together my vintage tree is until I was actually dealing with it and it was snowing all over the rug. I love having an artificial tree in a house surrounded by trees, but I am seriously considering getting a real live one in a pot next year which I can put outside with its homies when it’s not Christmas.

Eventually I wrestled the tree up:

Like last year, the cats have ignored it so far, but I don’t expect that to last.

I also put up the traditional banister lights:

And this year, I put up lights on the back deck instead of the front balcony, mostly for the selfish reason of being able to enjoy the show from the comfort of my couch:

Last night, the weather folks warned that this third storm would be worse than the earlier two which took the power out both times, and it was pretty scary. The rain was pouring down hard, and the wind was howling ferociously for hours on end. I was up most of the night because it was too loud and unnerving to sleep. Having an unnerved Clyde sleeping on my head and neck didn’t help. Roscoe also did his best to take up as much bed real estate as possible, while biting my hand when I least expected it. I tried putting a pillow over my head when Clyde wasn’t on it, but there was no shutting out the storm’s roar.

This morning, I got up aching and exhausted, feeling about 103 years old, but happy that the power was still on. I was less than pleased to note a three foot wide puddle in the kitchen and an even bigger one in the pantry/laundry room.

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