Archive for April, 2013

Apr 30 2013


But it hasn’t all been divorce and (melo)drama. A couple of weeks ago, we had a lovely Friday evening.

Megan and I went to the Village to look for books for Jessica’s birthday, which, as every right-thinking person knows, is every April 15. Originally we were looking for books on Hindu mythology, but we struck out on that, so we headed across the street to Out of This World, which is. It didn’t take us long to snap up a make your own bath bomb kit, a book on science experiments, and, what every ten year old girl needs, a do it yourself lemon clock (lemon not included).

After that, it was time to take Star for a stroll and admire the ocean, which was feeling pretty that day:

Star gets perturbed when I wander off and take pictures. She stops and looks for me, clearly thinking, “The pack should stay together at all times!” Once I rejoin the pack, she trots along happily, tail wagging and ears perked up. Star gets extra credit for totally ignoring the (many) barking dogs in cars. I finally understand why Megan trained her dogs to never, ever bark in the car. If only more dog owners did the same thing!

We met Rob for dinner at Frankie’s, where we sat outside with an ever-alert Star at our feet. And she was right – of course she got some dinner, too!

In the background, you can see the famous statue of Time and the Maiden on top of the bank:

It was made in 1866 of a single truck of redwood and is one of the most famous and best-loved landmarks in the Village.

After dinner, we made our way to the theater, which was festively lit up for the occasion:

The play was called Boy Gets Girl, written by Rebecca Gilman in 2000, but set in New York in the 1990s. It’s a dark tale of a successful young journalist who is set up on a blind date with a man who seems to be innocuous at first, but soon becomes obsessive and terrifying.

Here’s the set when we first came in – it serves as the bar where the couple first meets, the journalist’s office, and her apartment:

During the play, the journalist has to interview an aged filmmaker who specialized in B movies featuring voluptuous women and who continues to be, as the journalist puts it, “a breast buff”. The posters for his movies are pretty funny:

I was delighted to see one of the actors from Farragut North, which I saw last fall at the same theater. And one of the actors was the guy who owns the wine shop on Main Street. We all had a great time, and I think we’ll do it agin. Soon, I hope!

2 responses so far

Apr 27 2013

One of Those Days

Published by under Bullshit,Dogs,Family

Well, yesterday was not fun.

It kicked off with a series of conference calls at 7 am which ran until 1:00 pm. When they ended, I headed to the Big Town to meet with the Family Law Facilitator again. She is in the Big Town one day a month; otherwise, she’s at the county seat, which is about a 4 hour round trip drive. And she won’t be in the Big Town next month, since it’s Memorial Day, so it was now or the end of June.

Fortunately, my valiant sister took me to the courthouse, along with a dopy Star. Star’s day was almost as enjoyable as mine, starting with an early appointment with Dr. Karen. Star needed some shots and tests and other unpleasant things. Star’s murky past makes these things more stressful for her than the average dog, so Dr. Karen prescribed dog valium to help make the ordeal more bearable.

It helped, but Star still stayed on Megan’s lap as much as she could (all 54 pounds of her), shivering with terror as the kind vet staff took care of her. So she was glad to crash on the duvet in the back seat of Megan’s car as we went to the courthouse.

Much like Star (though not actually sitting on my sister’s lap), having my sister with me made a big difference. It was good to have her there while Deborah explained the paperwork to me. It turns out that what the clerk told me last month is inaccurate. I still have a package of paperwork to send to John for him to sign and have notarized and send back to me. When I get it, I have to sign and get my signature notarized, and then send it to Deborah, who will file it with the court.

Deborah has filed the paperwork we have so far with the court, and apparently everything flows from the day that John signed the first thing she “served’ him with, which was April 1. According to Deborah, I can get married again on October 2. When she told me that, I instinctively cried out “No!” without even thinking about it, to her amusement and Megan’s. It’s beyond me why people who get divorced ever get married again.

I still don’t really understand how it all works, but Deborah assures me that it’s proceeding well and that we can handle the rest of it by mail. Megan and Rob are going to the county seat one of these days to see Rob’s eye doctor, so if I do need to see Deborah in person I can ride there with them.

On the way home, I said to Megan that although this is a remote area, it certainly attracts amazing people, like Dr. Karen and Deborah, who used to be a public defender in LA. I don’t know that I could find people like this in a big city, and I feel lucky to have them in my life. And as always, I’m thankful for my sister, who makes the bad times better and the good times great.

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Apr 24 2013

Four More Pages

On Friday, I wrapped up some work and some presents for Jessica and headed over to the family property for Jessica’s birthday BBQ.

It had been a while since I’d been over there, and things are rocking and rolling in the garden:

Those are onions and garlic in the foreground, with a new frame for peas and beans on the right – my sibs were discontented with the frames last year – and behind them, you can see the party palace, with the fire ring and grills. If you look really carefully in the background on the left, you’ll see the vats of compost tea, used to fertilize this produce extravaganza along with the adjacent orchard. I owe you a post on the orchard and garden developments so far this year.

It was a beautiful afternoon, but windy, as spring days often are here. Jonathan and Jessica used the golf cart to transport wood for the fire. it’s always good to have a real fireman show you how to make a fire:

Jessica practiced carefully. She’s a quick learner:

Megan had marinated a pork shoulder in lime juice and spices, and set it to cook slowly on the grill for several hours. It was removed to the oven to make room for Jonathan to grill onions and peppers. These were peeled and sliced and served up with the pork, black beans, and shredded cheese on tortillas for a delicious dinner. Lichen joined us and we had a great time.

When the grown-up talk got too boring for Jessica, she read (“Really, Memmin, have you ever known me to be without a book?”):

Her current read is called Graceling and it looks pretty interesting. According to school tests, Jessica is reading at a college level. Not bad for someone who just turned ten.

When we interrupted the reading, or tried to, Jessica said “Four more pages!”, usually without looking up. Erica explained that when she was a child, she asked her mother for something while her mother was reading, and her mother said, “Four more pages,” meaning that she would attend to Erica’s needs when she had finished her book. Eventually “Four more pages” got to mean, “Leave me alone, I’m reading,” regardless of the number of pages actually left, which is how the third generation of that family’s reading ladies uses it.

We were able to pull Jessica away from her book long enough to open her presents and have some cake. Megan bought the cake at a bakery, and it was chocolate with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting, with roses and “Happy Birthday Jessica” on it. Megan had even found candles whose flames burned the same color as the candles.

As for the presents, Megan gave Jessica a lemon clock kit (with lemon); a make it yourself bath bomb kit; and a book on totally irresponsible science experiments, along with a big box of Whoppers, Jessica’s favorite candy. I gave Jessica a pair of real, though tiny pearl stud earrings set in 14 karat gold. Jessica loved the book of experiments (and the Whoppers), and I think she would have been totally happy with just those. She is the least materialistic kid I have ever met.

Erica has done an amazing job over the past decade. I can’t wait to see what the next decade brings!

5 responses so far

Apr 21 2013

(Welcome) Home Improvements

Published by under Country Life,Family,House

Megan’s way of welcoming me home

As you can see, Megan replenished the laundry supplies while I was gone. Megan’s little house has wiring even more eccentric than mine, and considerably weaker. She can’t run a washer or dryer, so she uses mine. She usually keeps the laundry room supplied, but due to one thing and other, we were running low and I made a note on the whiteboard shopping list before I left for the city.

I thought it was so sweet to find that little note! She also opened up the house for me, so it wouldn’t be hot when I got home in the late afternoon.

While Megan was shopping, Rob had not been idle, installing a screen door on the balcony. Here you see it looking from the inside out to the balcony:

You can see that some of the roses are still a little remedial. I treated them before I left, and Megan also squirted them with compost tea from the property to work on the black spot and powder mold that is plaguing them. Hopefully they will improve along with the weather.

Here’s looking from the balcony into the sleeping loft:

We still need to get a doorknob and some way of keeping the door closed, but it came with the metal reinforcements at the bottom, and I’m hoping that it will be kitty proof. One of the challenges of living in a house shaped like an overturned rowboat is that heat tends to rise and stay in the sleeping loft. It gets pretty warm up there if it’s anything over 65 degrees outside, so it would be great if I can keep the door open at night during the warmer months.

Rob and I bought the door a couple of weeks ago. The door, like many (most?) of the doors in the houses James designed and built, is an odd size, but it turns out that there is a guy in Hooterville itself who sells doors and windows of all shapes and sizes. So Rob and I hopped in the truck and went to his little establishment in the woods. This door actually fit with a couple of minor adjustments by my fearless brother-in-law, and it was nice to shop local.

When I was getting ready to leave* for Jessica’s birthday BBQ on Friday, my neighbor Aaron stopped by to tell me that Mark had asked him to get rid of the disused hot tub in my backyard. Yay! He and his puppy Lola took a look at it, and he thinks he can remove it in the next few days. I am hideously excited. Stay tuned…

*I had a bottle of wine in each hand, which I was loading into the car. Slightly embarrassing. The car was also full of all the folding chairs I could find, following Megan’s text asking me “Do you have any chaos we can stuff in the car to take with us?” Good old autocorrect.

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Apr 18 2013

Home Again

Published by under San Francisco

I’m back home in sunny Hooterville.

The kitties came running out to see me. Even Audrey the Grumposuarus wanted to be petted, and later crashed out on the top of the armoire as if relieved to no longer be in charge. I cuddled the boys – Audrey does not tolerate the indignity of such things – and they purred happily before running off to chase butterflies and climb around on the roof.

Boys will be boys.

I managed all of my ambitious itinerary except the museum. Yes, it’s lame to miss out on seeing a Vermeer, but Vermeer never imagined Bay Area rush hour traffic, so I chose getting out of town before the madness descended over immersing myself in art and beauty. Does this mean I’m finally a grown-up?

I waited in line at Swan Oyster Depot as per usual. It’s always worth it. I pulled up one of the few stools and ordered a half cracked crab (there must be some joke in there about how I’m half cracked and/or crabby, but I’m too tired to think of one) with sourdough bread. The bread is from Boudin’s (pronounced BO-deenz), but they bake it extra-long for Swan’s and the crust is dark and magnificent.

I love the ballet behind the counter. All of the servers are family, and it shows. Here you can see them in action:

The gentleman in the foreground is explaining the various types of oysters. All the food there is sparkling fresh. The crab was heavenly. They even gave me a finger bowl afterwards, perhaps an unexpected refinement in a place with shared bowls of oyster crackers and lemon wedges.

When you’re done, you tell one of the brothers what you had, and depending on which one it is – not necessarily the one who served you – he either adds it up in his head or on a napkin, and then rings it up. You have to bring cash. It’s old school there.

After getting gas and picking up pizza and doughnuts, I went to Trader Joe at Hyde and California. It was delightful. Huge and uncrowded and like night and day compared to the madness of the Santa Rosa branch. Who would have thought? The clerk told me that they had been open for about four months, and I said it was a big improvement. She laughed and said. “Everyone says that!”

I made my way across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, feeling a pang as always at leaving the place I lived in and love(d) for so long. Mount Tam loomed over the freeway as Marin county gave way to the rolling farmland of Sonoma county, and Sonoma to Mendocino. The happiness I feel when I cross the county line isn’t exactly the same as I used to feel when my plane swept over San Francisco preparing to land, but it’s good in a different way. And it’s good to be home.

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Apr 17 2013

Sunny & Careless

Published by under San Francisco,Work

Well, the conference is over for another year.

It was interesting and I learned a lot (though some of it was a little depressing as far as a world economic view), but I’m ready to go home to the kitties and not have to wear uncomfortable dress up clothes for a while.

I meandered back to the motel through my old neighborhood. I had the foresight to bring sneakers to change into (and wear socks today), so I could wander in comfort. The sky was a cloudless blue and the sun was sunny enough that I really did not need the conference-mandated jacket. Despite this, I felt all sunny and careless, as Christopher Robin would say, and “just as if twice nineteen didn’t matter a bit, as it didn’t on such a happy afternoon.”

I popped in at the cheap and cheerful nail salon, where I caught up on gossip magazines and had my nails painted a sparkly gold while watching the world pass by. People watching is a lot more interesting in San Francisco than it is in Hooterville and environs.

My glittery nails and I explored some new shops and some old favorites. I picked up a couple of totally unnecessary, yet utterly delightful things, and noticed what had changed and what was the same. There is a new apartment building going up a block from my first* San Francisco apartment. The new apartments are about 750 square feet and will rent for something between $3,000 and $3,800 a month. I tried (and failed) not to think about how the mortgage (including taxes) on our condo was $1,400 a month for 1,500 square feet. Selling that place is a big regret.

Anyway…it’s good to see some new construction and positive signs of growth. Maybe the doom and gloom forecasts at the conference will be proved delightfully wrong.

Tomorrow’s somewhat ambitious program:

  • Breakfast at Swan Oyster Depot (assuming manageable line)
  • Pick up pizzas from Victor’s
  • Pick up doughnuts from Bob’s
  • Check out the Trader Joe at California and Hyde
  • Go to the De Young Museum to see Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and other treasures
  • Drive home
  • Pet kitties

At least I will have Friday off to unpack and get ready for Jessica’s birthday BBQ. Stay tuned!

*It was built in the 1890s and survived the Great Quake of 1906 (and the 1989 one as well). It had hardwood floors, a formal dining room with built-in china cabinets, and a wood-burning fireplace, as well as the worst landlord ever. It was $800 a month and I considered this insanely expensive at the time.

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Apr 16 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Published by under San Francisco,Work

Well, today didn’t turn out exactly as planned…

I woke up before the alarm at 5:45 am and made some bad in room coffee, then repaired back to bed to read my fan mail and gradually come to terms with the horrors of waking up.

Eventually, I got in the shower, armed with Lush soap (Carmen Miranda) and fancy shampoo (Frederik Fekkai). I enjoyed having to actually add cold water because the hot water was hot. Not to mention no bugs or drafty window in the shower.

I enjoyed having lots of towels and a warm bathroom, applying makeup with abandon, until it was time to blow dry my hair. The dryer didn’t work, and it was applied to the wall, so I couldn’t try it in another outlet (my appliance version of restarting the computer). I shoved my feet into my heels and clopped over to the office to ask for a new hairdryer.

Alas, they didn’t have one, so I had to go to the conference and meetings with wet hair, which dried in the cab. Sort of. I had to put my faith in Angelika’s haircut and hope for the best.

On the bright side, I discovered that what used to be Cala Foods, where I used to buy my groceries when I lived here, is now a Trader Joe! So I can stop in there after getting pizzas for Megan and me from Victor’s instead of having to stop in Santa Rosa on the way home. Score!

At the Four Seasons, I enjoyed the attentions of the doorman and the view as always:

The conference was more crowded than I’d ever seen it, and I had to perch on a chair near the back without benefit of a table, which made it challenging to take notes. Not for the first time, I couldn’t help noticing that it was a very predominantly older white male audience. Finance seems to be an old boys’ network, at least in this town.

I had a couple of meetings after the conference, and as I sashayed down Market Street (San Francisco’s Main Street), I realized that I had forgotten to put on socks, since my feet began to blister. After the meetings, I limped to the St. Francis Hotel and was kindly handed into a welcome taxi by their doorman. Did I ever mention how much I love doormen and taxis?

Back at the modest motel, I kicked off the shoes from hell and tried to order Chinese food on line, which failed. I ended up calling them – old school, I know – and making a drink while watching the Giants game. Megan texted me that the kitties are in and fed, and tomorrow is another day.

2 responses so far

Apr 15 2013

Birthday City

Published by under Jessica,San Francisco

First things first: happy birthday to Miss Jessica, who turns ten today. Ten, folks. Double digits! We are having a family barbecue for her on Friday, since I am currently in San Francisco. Megan told me that she called Jessica last week to ask her what she wanted for her birthday dinner, but Jessica was so distracted by the fact that she had just gotten a load of books from the Bookmobile that Megan gave up on trying to talk to her. Jessica handed the phone over to Erica and scampered off into the land of books.

It was a lovely drive to the Land of Civilization this morning. The ocean was a deep blue, frosted by white caps, giving way to the ancient redwoods, followed by the rolling hills and vineyards of the Valley. The trees were a haze of translucent green leaves, and the grape vines were unfolding their leaves hopefully in the spring sunshine.

Filming of Need for Speed has concluded, so there were no traffic delays. I dropped off welcome gifts for Aaron Paul and his co-star at their hotel at the beginning of the filming, but I didn’t get to meet them or even see them, which seems kind of unfair since I was the only person at the jobette who knew who they were. Even Megan and Rob never got into Breaking Bad, so I was alone in my star-struckness.

Before leaving for the City, I enrolled in Fast Trak, which automatically deducts from your credit card the $6* toll for the privilege of entering San Francisco. Apparently human beings have been declared obsolete by the Bridge, except for the tireless painters. It was odd to drive through the toll plaza without stopping.

Now I’m at the modest motel in my not so modest former ‘hood, listening to the Leafs game and waiting for my Thai food to be delivered. Tomorrow I’ll get up bright and early – well, early, anyway – and head downtown to the Four Seasons for the annual conference.

*I remember being incensed when it went up to $3. Once I didn’t have the cash when returning to the City from visiting my sibs. I had to pull over and go into the office by the Bridge to write them a check.

2 responses so far

Apr 13 2013

I’ll Drink to That

Published by under Country Life,Family

After Megan and I closed up shop on Saturday, we stopped at the garden center to get my delayed ground cover:

It’s a plant called Lithadora, which sounds like a Harry Potter character, and this type is named White Star. I think it will look nice with the heather* and alyssum in the areas by the shed (see the fourth and fifth pictures). The alyssum is beginning to revive after the winter.

We were greeted enthusiastically by the owner’s beautiful dogs, Rio (left) and Rusty:

Part of the enthusiasm stems from the fact that Megan almost always gives them treats. Rusty in particular kept sniffing the pocket where the treats usually are, ever hopeful. Unfortunately, this time, she didn’t have any. The boys settled for pets and ushered us around.

Megan bought some praying mantises, still in their cocoons, which will act as pest control in the family garden and orchard. Apparently there are 100-200 mantises in each cocoon. She already has ladybugs hard at work over there.

We packed up the car with our purchases, petted the dogs goodbye (one last sniff from Rusty), and headed home. As we approached Little River, Megan suggested that we stop in at the historic Inn and have a drink, which we did.

We perched on bar stools in the Whale Watch Bar. As its name suggests, it has a stunning view of the ocean, even on a cloudy day like this one:

and you can actually see whales passing by during their annual migrations.

This is the first picture I have ever taken with my iPhone! And of course Megan had to show me how to do it and then how to post it to Facebook, since she had her iPhone for ages before I got mine.

I had a Melon Ball and Megan had a Cosmo, and we shared a plate of award-winning crab cakes before heading home.

It was a nice end to a busy day.

*I was amused to note when I bought these plants that their proper name is Erica. Amused because of the twins on Degrassi (Junior) High who were named Erica and Heather. Years later, I finally get the joke. I’m quick like that.

3 responses so far

Apr 11 2013

Wine and Roses (Well, Flowers)

Published by under Country Life,Family,Work

It wasn’t all storms last weekend, though.

On Friday, I did an extra shift at the jobette to finish up a project. I finished about half an hour later than I expected, crushing my grandiose dreams of stopping at the nursery for more ground cover. I had an appointment with the wonderful Angelika that afternoon to get my highlights refreshed, so I called her to tell her I was running late and got there as soon as I could.

I love Angelika’s little salon in the woods. Everything smelled like lavender and all the rush went out of me as she “painted” my hair two different colors (she literally painted some of it with a brush) and put it in paper to process. She deep conditioned it when it was done, and even waxed my eyebrows. We chatted and caught up on each other’s lives, and before I knew it, it was almost 5:30!

The next morning, Rob called me around 8:30 to ask me if I was ready to go to our 10:00 swim class. Since I was still in my PJs, the answer was “no”. His plan, unbeknownst to me, was to go to the Gro for smokes, then the grocery store in the Village for a travel mug, his having disappreared, and then the coffee shop for coffee to put in the mug. I threw some clothes on, petted the kitties, and raced out the door.

We accomplished all the java-related chores before hitting the pool (on time) for the last lesson of the series. They start again in two weeks. Then Rob dropped me off at the jobette.

Megan met me there a couple of hours before we closed, and she did a great job of helping me when there were several visitors at once. In fact, our Chairman and his wife were completely charmed by her before they knew she was my sister. And speaking of charming: a visitor from San Francisco gave me the ring off her finger!

I admired it in passing while answering her question, and she gave it to me to try it on. Then she wouldn’t take it back*. It’s from SF MOMA and I am wearing it right now, the sun slanting through the colorful stripes:

It looks great with my sparkly gel manicure.

The benevolent visitor also wrote a Haiku in celebration of First Friday. Every month, we have a different theme, and this month it was Haiku. Our County seat, Ukiah, is Haiku spelled backwards, so they have a festival every year. We joined in with ikebana, an ikebana demonstration, and do it yourself Haiku.

The arrangements were beautiful.

This one reads:

Gathering light
One swell of the sea
Becomes another

This one says:

A marsh hawk
Tips the solitary

Parducci winery poured that night, and this arrangement cleverly incorporated their wine bottles:

This one was still in our conference room when I took the picture. I love the vase:

Having Megan there made it so much more fun, too.

*Megan told me later that she almost told her that she liked the bracelet she was wearing – leather with mother of pearl buttons – but was afraid the generous visitor would give that away, too!

3 responses so far

Apr 08 2013

A Dark and Stormy Night

Published by under Weather

It’s been a strange winter. We had storms and power outages much earlier in the season than usual, and last night, we had one much later than usual.

I woke up around midnight when the power went out. Even though it’s always quiet here, I guess the sudden total silence instead of the humming of the refrigerator and other accoutrements of civilization is noticeable, even in sleep.

I could hear the wind howling – later, I learned that it was gusting up to 45 mph, and in San Francisco, they closed the Great Highway since the winds were so high – and the much-needed rain coming down. The rain seemed much louder without the ambient house humming.

I lay there and thought about how I had just emptied out the emergency pails of water – if you don’t do this early enough in the spring time, they become breeding grounds for undesirables, like mosquitoes – and the fact that I could not grind beans for coffee in the morning. There was no leftover coffee to reheat, either. Between dark thoughts like this, the storm, the kitties’ extra naughtiness, checking the PG&E outage phone number for updates, and watching the hours dwindle on my glowing alarm clock, I didn’t get much sleep.

The power eventually came back on, though, so I was able to make coffee before rushing off to the pool for aquafit. I had to get out of the car and drag a branch out of the muddy driveway, and the road to the Big Town was littered with lesser branches and pine needles. The air smelled like Christmas from the fallen needles and battered pine trees, and the sky was clear blue as if nothing had ever happened.

Maybe it was all a dream.

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Apr 04 2013

Breakfast of Champions

Published by under Country Life

On Sunday, I woke up to the sound of birds singing and the ocean pounding against the rocks and cliffs.

I drove homeward through the same striking scenery, really pleased that I had taken the time to explore a different part of the County. I stopped in the town of Elk (population 200 or so, and originally named Greenwood, after the founders of the town, whose father was one of the rescuers of the ill-fated Donner Party) and bought a newspaper in the little local store:

The one person serving was busy with other customers, so I left the money on the wooden counter and told him as I was leavng. He saluted and thanked me while making a sandwich.

I took the paper with me to Queenie’s Roadhouse:

It had been years since I had been there. It used to be that they were open irregularly, so it was wise to call first and make sure they were open before making the drive. Now they are open from 8:30 to 3:00 every day but Tuesday and Wednesday.

It’s still wise to bring the paper with you. There is no cell service or wifi there, and since every order is made from scratch with organic and/or local ingredients, it’s not fast food. It gives you time to enjoy the lovely view:

I had an omelette with fresh broccoli, balsamic onions, chicken apple sausage, and sharp white Cheddar, accompanied by house potatoes, fluffy rye toast, and two home-made jams (apricot and raspberry).

Replete, I set off for home, noting that it took a mere 20 minutes to get to Hooterville. I will be back soon!

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