Archive for February, 2013

Feb 24 2013


Published by under Family,Special Occasions

In case you didn’t know, my brother totally rocks.

He has been a volunteer firefighter for many years (yes, he runs into burning buildings and fought the terrifying wildfires of 2008 for no money) and is a Captain in the fire department. He is a teacher and works with the mentally handicapped. He is a great (formerly professional) cook, a certified scuba diver, can make a circuit board or a robot from scratch, and is a Number One Groover on Life.

On Saturday, he also jumped in the ocean. The cold Pacific Ocean. On a windy February day. Of course Megan and I were there to cheer him on. I actually took Saturday off to do it – the first Saturday in six months! And it was so worth it.

The event was called Polar Plunge, and it was a benefit for Special Olympics. My brother and his team raised around $1,000 or maybe even more!

All the teams wore costumes. My brother’s team were the Soggy Bottom Boys. He’s the one on the far right:

I love it that the only girl on the team – wearing adorable Tigger-embroidered overalls – had the letters “GY” (or “guy”). 🙂

Before jumping – well, running into – the water, they regaled the crowd with “Down to the River to Pray” (above), and it reminded me of how our atheist father used to merrily carol out hymns every time we happened to be in a cathedral or other situation which called for it. In his tone deaf way. Without a hymn book. Because when he was a boy, school days started with prayers and hymns. Dad sure would have had a blast on Saturday.

After the song, my brother ran into the cold water (far left):

and went in up to his shoulders or higher – the rules state that you have to go in up to your waist, but of course that’s not enough for my brother, who perused the list of other places in Northern California holding Polar Plunges on the same day, and thought the one in the Sierras where you would probably have to cut a hole in the ice to jump into would be “fun”. Maybe next year!

Here he is running out again:

He said he felt “great” and “invigorated” as he toweled off:

Only my brother. I am so proud of him!

3 responses so far

Feb 22 2013

Scouting Expedition

Published by under Cats,Family

Little Miss Scout

It was a Valentine’s Day spay for my brother’s mini-cat, Scout!

As our local Humane Society’s slogan has it, “If you ♥ your cat, have it ♠!”

Since we do ♥ Scout, it was time to do the deed, before some amorous boy cat showed up. It’s unlikely in the depths of winter, but you never know. And you may remember that the precocious Miss Audrey went into heat before she was six months old (and that was delightful*).

Over the past four months since she made her surprising début, Scout has become accustomed to the fabulous lifestyle of sleeping inside and having food and pets on demand. And demand she does. If she wants to be petted, she lets you know. Despite her diminutive size, she has the loudest purr of any cat I have ever known.

At the vet’s, we learned that Scout is at least a year old, so our calculations about her age were pretty close. She weighs 6 pounds, so at this point, I think it’s safe to say that she will remain a cat-ette. I’m guessing that lack of nutrition as a baby (and maybe before that) has stunted her growth. Other than her smallness, though, she is in good shape.

She hid for a day after the surgery, but got over it surprisingly quickly. The other day, my brother saw her playing for the first time, batting a pinecone around in the sunshine. Now that she’s not in constant fear for her life and struggling to find food and water, she has time for things like that.

I’m so glad they found each other.

*A drawback of this look is that it doesn’t show hyperlinks, like on “delightful” and “Scout” in the first paragraph. Maybe I should bold these so you’ll know they’re there…

5 responses so far

Feb 15 2013


Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

Every month at the jobette, we feature a different artist and try and have a theme for First Friday, the day we and other downtown businesses stay open late and pour wine and serve nibbles, alomg with book signings and meeting artists.

This month, we featured the fine woodworking students’ work from our local college, which was displayed at a gallery on Main Street this month. The students installed a wonderful window display at the jobette. Here it is from the inside – I couldn’t get an outside shot that wasn’t totally glare-y:

This is a very prestigious program, and students apply from all over the world for one of the 22 available spots. The students must be dedicated to their craft: they will be at school six days a week, eight hours a day. As you can see, however, the time is well spent.

This set is inspired by “Mad Men” and is called “Don and Roger”:

Here’s a better look at the top of the “Don” table, which certainly conveys the complexity and elegance of the mysterious Mr. Draper:

This corner cabinet is beautiful in itself:

But when you open it, the door looks like a wing, and you can see that the texture of the wood inspired the artist to make an altar to his totem animal, the owl:

It’s a very spiritual and moving piece. Guy, I thought of you when I saw it.

This was my favorite, an exquisite roll top desk with elegant, willowy legs:

So feminine! And so cleverly designed: the roll top vanishes into the body of the desk when it is rolled back.

I’m so proud of these young artists and what they have achieved. Their fiutures look bright – and beautiful.

4 responses so far

Feb 11 2013

Man’s Best Friend

Published by under Dogs,Family

Growing Up!

I know you’ve all been wondering about how Jarrett and Archimedes, the World’s Cutest Puppy, are doing.

The answer is: great! Archi had doubled his weight by the end of December:

I think this dog is the best thing that has happened to Jarrett in a long time.

They have a great routine. In the morning, Jarrett takes Archi for a walk, plays with him and feeds him. Archi then retires to his enormous crate, which fits Archi’s bed (but doesn’t fit in Jarrett’s giant, 1970s vintage car) and naps while Jarrett heads to work.

At lunch, Jarrett comes home and walks Archi again, before taking him to doggy daycare, where Archi is a staff favorite and welcomed with joy. Archi likes playing with the big dogs – yes, the ones that are four times his size – and they like playing with him, too.

At the end of the day, Jarrett picks up Archi. The daycare is about five minutes from their home – about as far as Archi can walk after playing most of the day. As Jarrett says, “Picking up a tuckered out puppy after a long day of work – priceless!”

I’m so glad that they found each other and are so happy together.

3 responses so far

Feb 09 2013

Photo Finished

Published by under Bullshit,Work

The Inner Me

Well, the record remains unbroken. Two good pictures of me in half a century. If I were playing professional baseball, I’d be batting…something really bad.

I hate the pictures for the website, but I’m stuck with them. I think I look like a lunatic in them. In the first one, which the photographer selected, I can almost hear Jack Nicholson hollering, “Heeeeere’s Suzy!”

Hide the kids and sharp implements!

On the other hand, my blow out does look fabulous. Ditto the pearls John gave me for my long ago 30th birthday. And to think I felt old then!

Megan combed through the photos with me, agreeing that they are unflattering. Before you say that my sister is prejudiced, I will tell you that she is the first to tell me if an outfit is unflattering or I don’t look good, feeling, very correctly, that it’s better to tell me so I can fix it before unleashing it on the unsuspecting public.

We think this is marginally better:

They might let me out of the straitjacket in that one.

I hesitated to even show these to you, but as I said, I’m stuck with one of them (not sure which) on the website, and I made such a big deal about it that I felt obligated to unveil the denouement.

After I finished crying over the pictures and the fact that they would be out there for anyone who googles to ridicule, I realized that the two pictures of me which I do like were both taken by men who loved me: the first by my beloved godfather, the one and only Spencer Steele, and the second by John. Maybe that’s the real secret of a good photo: the look of love.

8 responses so far

Feb 05 2013

Water Works

Published by under Country Life,Family

It’s been a cold winter by California standards: at or below freezing many nights, though as I said before, the clear days are sunny and the nights are starry. The Ridge is often icy in the morning, and there is hard frost on the grass at the side of the road, looking all winter wonderland.

I know that doesn’t seem all that cold to all of you back East, where they keep the real weather in all its extremes, but your house probably has insulation, and you probably have heat in your bathroom. You probably also have closets and walls that don’t curve and more than three feet of counter space, too.

But Chez Suzy, the flash heater is located outside, instead of inside, the way it’s supposed to be, even out here in the boonies. For those of you wondering what this contraption is, it heats water on its way to your shower or kitchen sink (not the washer, though – that’s only hooked up for cold water). This winter, the shower has been just about warm enough, not quite, which is kind of unpleasant with the window in the shower blowing a draft on me in the cold mornings.

I figure this is because the water is being pre-cooled outside. But last week, it started getting colder. And then it was just plain cold.

Rob came and took a look at it, but it’s not really his forte. I emailed Mark about it, and he replied with some suggestions that didn’t help. A couple of days without hot water and it got pretty old, not at all like “Little House on the Prairie”, as you would think.

We called in the cavalry in the form of my brother, who took the flash heater apart – well, the plumbing part. Even a fireman didn’t want to start in on the gas part, and if it came to that, I’d have to take the whole thing to Willits to the one guy in the entire county who can repair one of these expensive German contraptions.

Apparently it is top of the line and costs something in the luxury neighborhood of $700 or $800. Jonathan complimented the German engineering and reminded me of one of our father’s old jokes:

“Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics German, the lovers Italian and it’s all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the chefs are British, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss, the police German and it’s all organized by the Italians.”

Dad was never afraid of the politically incorrect.

Jonathan discovered a mini pebble in the works, so small that it’s hard to believe it was the big problem, and a valve that was sticking. He removed the pebble and lubricated the sticky valve and voilà! The flash heater was restored to mediocrity instead of freezulation. Mediocrity never looked so good.

Jonathan mentioned that he has some insulation we can put on the outside pipes to help make it warmer, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying the (relative) warmth.

Update: I picked up and installed the insulation. I guess the water is a little warmer, though I still don’t need at add cold water to my shower, which I was kind of hoping for.

2 responses so far

Feb 02 2013

Free Range

Published by under Cats,Country Life

The worst thing about getting up at 5:30 in the morning – other than, you know, the getting up at 5:30 in the morning thing – is that it takes so long to get light enough to let the boys go out and play. Audrey, as the undisputed winner of “Survivor: Hooterville”, is allowed to go out in the pre-dawn (and post-sunset) darkness, but the boys have to wait until it’s light enough outside that I’m pretty sure the Monsters have clocked out.

Roscoe often gives up and goes back to bed. Roscoe is very clever at finding cozy nests to nap in, and his latest discovery is the pillows on the bed – he sits on top of them. He also sleeps under the covers with me almost every night, especially because it’s been so cold lately.

Clyde, on the other hand, usually perches on the heater until his patience runs out. Then it’s time to start clawing the couch and or rug, with maybe some jumping on the counter action thrown in for variety. He’s always anxious to go out in the morning, even though he’s usually the first one in at night, with an eye to the welcome home treats and dinner.

The other day, one of Mark’s chickens came by to say hello:

It was interesting to see how the cats reacted. Roscoe, in keeping with his ultra cool character, merely observed the intruder:

No point in getting all excited about a chicken.

Clyde, on the other hand, got ready to pounce:

But the chicken eluded him.

Audrey the Enforcer swung into action:

She ran the chicken off her territory and then sat on the porch in the sun, having a victory bath. Earlier that day, she had reared up on her back legs like a little bear and growled and clawed at poor Luna, who ran away in horror. Luna is about 75 pounds’ worth of dog, and Audrey is the size of her head. Go figure.

3 responses so far