Archive for July, 2013

Jul 28 2013


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

Peaches at the family property

It’s that time of year again, when quarterly calls and reports are due, so things have been kind of a hectic whirlwind at Chez Suzy this past week. And as you know, all work makes for no blogging, since a) blogging about work is not fun as well as unwise; and 2) there’s no time for fun things since you’re always working.

But I did carve out a little time for fun this past week.

I drove the three miles to my friend Jim’s house, experiencing the wonder of microclimates once again. It was warm and sunny at my house, but I needed a sweater by the time I got to Jim’s place. I was greeted by his adorable dog Zoe, and ushered into the lovely house by Jim’s partner, Joel.

Ironically, since I am in the throes of a hard-won divorce process, I was there to help the couple plan their wedding in August. After 25 years together these two can finally say “I do” in the eyes of the great state of California. It’s about time.

They are expecting about 30 people (including Me), and Joel is doing all the cooking. It all sounds quite wonderful. We spent some time figuring out logistics (where to put the tables; what to rent and what to buy; what to do for decorations) and then just caught up on our lives over peppermint tea. I am so happy for them both and am looking forward to the ceremony.

On Friday, my brother and sister threw a huge BBQ at the family property. There were dozens of people there, some who were new to me, but most were known and loved: Lu, her daughter Ali, and partner Rik; Jennifer and David, my siblings’ land partners (who brought their horses all the way from Grass Valley); and Monica and her husband Joe. Joe and Monica have owned and operated a flooring store for 20 years, and Joe told me that every time he lays down carpet, he leaves a page of newspaper or some baseball cards underneath, like a little time capsule.

I was delighted by this, and he said that he has replaced some of the carpets he previously laid and found his own time capsules. He adds to them and keeps the original items as well. Lu mentioned that her sister had just bought a house, and it turned out that Joe had put new carpet in that week. Small town!

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Jul 23 2013

The Envelope, Please

Published by under Dogs,Schatzi

Schatzi in a field of clover, Spring 2010

Gordie: All right, all right, Mickey’s a mouse, Donald’s a duck, Pluto’s a dog. What’s Goofy?

Teddy: Goofy’s a dog. He’s definitely a dog.

Chris: He can’t be a dog. He drives a car and wears a hat.

Vern: Oh, God. That’s weird. What the hell is Goofy?

Stand by Me, 1986

Megan has always wondered what the hell Schatzi is. When our mother pulled the princess to be out of a dumpster in Southern California, she thought Schatzi was a black dog. After a bath, her beautiful brindle coat appeared. Mom already had two dogs, so she took Schatzi to the local shelter, where they informed her that Schatzi was a pit bull and would therefore be euthanized. No chance of adoption, no nothing. Canine racism in action. The death penalty just for the crime of being a certain breed struck our mother as unjust and intolerable, so she took Schatzi home. She named her Schatzi, which means “treasure” in German, because one man’s trash is another man (or woman’s) treasure*.

Schatzi turned out to be at least two women’s treasure. Mom and Schazti moved in with Megan shortly after this, so Schatzi has been part of Megan’s life for most of her 15 years. And I think we can all agree that Schatzi owns Megan rather than the other way around.

I gave Megan a DNA testing kit for her birthday so she would finally know what Schatzi is (besides one of the most beloved and spoiled dogs in America). She got the results back, and….

….drumroll, please….

Our Schatzi is at least 50% pit bull. As Megan observed, the Evils that Be at the SoCal shelter were correct in their identification of her as a pit bull, or at least a pit bull mix. The remaining 50% is unknown, though some of their suggestions seemed odd to me. White German Shepherd? Chow? Really?

Megan is dying to know about the mystery 50% and is thinking of getting a blood DNA test, which has a wider database and more accuracy. I don’t think she’ll have much trouble taking Schatzi’s blood. When Megan was thirteen, our father had Megan dissect a bird in front of his scientist colleagues at the University of Siena in Italy. They were all impressed. Dad just took it in stride. Hardly surprising that his youngest child is looking for scientific answers to a mystery.

*It can also mean “sweetheart”. When Dr. Carl, who is German, first met her, he exclaimed, “She is a Schatzi!”

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Jul 20 2013

Up and At ‘Em

Published by under Cats

How It’s Done

I have come to the conclusion that my cats do not approve of my sleeping in.

And by “sleeping in” I mean “getting up later than 5:30 am”, which is the default time for most of the week due to one reason (aquafit) or another (conference calls). Even in the dark depths of winter, I let Audrey out around 6:00. Now it’s light, even on foggy days, at that early hour, so one day earlier this week, I opened the doors and went back to bed.

Roscoe ignored the outdoors, and instead walked all over me. Literally. Eventually he settled heavily down, simultaneously pinning down the covers and making it hard to breathe with any ease. I tried to get him to cuddle with me, but he climbed back on my side and sat there staring at me. I gave up and got up.

Today I tried opening the doors and feeding them before going back to bed, figuring that Roscoe’s sit in was a protest against their unfairly delayed breakfast. They were eating when I headed back up to the sleeping loft. I was just dropping off when both of the boys climbed up on me and started kneading and jockeying for position on the coveted real estate of my body. Then a mosquito whined by my ear and I gave up on the whole thing.

As soon as I was up and making coffee, the boys took off. Mission accomplished!

Audrey doesn’t concern herself with such petty things as sloth and schedules, and as you can see from the picture, she has an advanced degree in R’n’R. In fact, she likes to hang out and nap for much of the afternoon after whatever incredibly urgent business she has to attend to first thing in the morning. But she can and does control me with the power of her mind. Call her Carnac the Magnificent.

Audrey, being Audrey, gets special privileges, which the boys understand and don’t seem to resent. They are definitely wary of her, though, and seem to expect her to be in charge. She’s the one who growls at Yellow Cat when he cruises by and chases away dogs and chickens with equal determination despite her diminutive size. The only thing that’s small about Audrey is her body. Her personality and stubbornness are huge.

For some reason which I cannot now remember, my brainette looking pretty much like Miss Havisham’s attic and full of useless things like 1970s pop song lyrics and the difference between “carat” and “karat”, I started giving Audrey a spoonful of wet food in the morning. She has come to expect this service, and will sit on the back porch and stare at me with her huge, clear green eyes until I give it to her. She never makes a sound. She doesn’t have to. She is Audrey the Magnificent, controlling me with the power of her sleek, Scandinavian loft furnished mind.

She also has superpowers of stubbornness. Yesterday she was napping on the bed in keeping with her daytime snooze schedule. I moved her off it to make the bed, to her vocal disgust. She jumped right back up. I put her off again, and before I could even drape the blanket over the sheet, she was on the bed again. I ended up making the bed over and around her. When I was finished, she emerged from under the covers and went to lie down again on the exact original spot I have moved her from, staring at me in disgust before settling down to resume her interrupted beauty sleep.

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Jul 17 2013

Past & Present

Published by under Memories

The other day, I was mixing a vodka and tonic, enjoying the civilized tinkle of ice in the glass and the refreshing scent of lime. For some reason, the sharp lime fragrance reminded me of the cocktails my parents used to have with friends of theirs, the Kixmillers. We often stopped off and stayed overnight with them, breaking up the epic annual summer trip from New York State to Maine.

The Kixmillers lived on and owned an island in Lake Champlain. Even as a child, this impressed me. Dr. K would pick us up in town and take us to the island in his motorboat. Apparently boat is still the only way to reach the lovely island with the unlovely name of Fish Bladder Island.

I curiously Googled the island and discovered that it is for sale for nearly $2 million dollars. I was surprised to see that the house I remembered, with its lovely wood paneling, gracious porches, and, most impressive to me, the wraparound upstairs gallery where the many bedrooms were located, is long gone. In its place is a new house:

which bears an uncanny (although luxe version) resemblance to my current home:

In the old days, the grown-ups would sit on the porch overlooking the lake and sip their gin and tonics in the evening while we played on the lawn and in the lake (where we acquired leeches, removed by salt after much squealing). Dr. K raised the flag – I can see no sign of the flagpole in the listing – every morning, and in the evening, he lowered it to the sound of “Taps”, finishing off the ceremony with firing a very small cannon. You can see why this place impressed itself so strongly in my memories.

Sometimes I think I’d like to go back and see the house where I grew up, and my grandparents’, and revisit our old stomping grounds in Maine. I haven’t been to Bar Harbor in 20 years, and found it refreshingly unchanged at that time, but perhaps it’s better to remember things the way they were.

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Jul 14 2013

Here and There

Published by under Cats,Family,Friends,Jessica

Clyde is back to his old self again. I’m still in the phase of being delighted by his naughtiness rather than annoyed by it. Oh, look! He’s on the counter! Yay, he’s clawing the couch! It’s so cute that he’s milling around under my feet and meowing while I’m trying to feed him!

I will never know if it was the potassium infusion the vet gave him, or whether he just needed an extra day or two to recover from whatever it was. I will also never know what it was. A bug? Virus? A bad bird or mouse? At least I do know that he is 100% OK according to the tests. And I’m so thankful to see that he’s alert and happy again. My little guy.


Megan is also doing fine. She shook off the flu quickly enough to do four 12 hour night shifts this past week. She woke up on Friday afternoon and we met Monica for drinks that evening (more about this later). On Saturday, she went to swimming lessons in town, then went to Safeway and shopped for Erica, and then brought the shopping to Erica’s house, about an hour and a half’s drive one way.

I couldn’t go, but I sent along some movies for Jessica and also The Munsters, which she loves. Jessica will be in a cast for twelve weeks. Goodbye, summer! We will have to figure out some way to get her around the county fair in the middle of September. I also have to figure out a way to go and visit those girls soon. Erica reminded me that they have been back from Portland for an entire year now and I have yet to go and visit them. Worst. Friend. Ever.

Speaking of which: I ended up giving back the fancier camera. It wasn’t notably better than my old one, so it didn’t make sense to me to keep it. Fortunately no-one was offended. I’m just glad they can get their money back and that their feelings aren’t hurt.


On Friday evening, Megan and I met Monica at the bar of what is rapidly becoming our regular watering hole, the Little River Inn. Here’s the view from our table by the door:

My co-worker turned up with her beautiful family, including her mother’s friend who is an attorney in Nevada. We spoke about the Zimmerman case, and he said that juries can be very unpredictable, and he thought that they might acquit despite the evidence. Unfortunately, he was correct. I was as appalled by this verdict as I was in the trial of Oscar Grant’s killer several years ago. Coincidentally, the movie Fruitvale (named after my former BART stop in Oakland, where the murder took place) was released that very day. I am saddened by the racism and injustice in this country.

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Jul 11 2013


Published by under Cats,Family,Friends,Jessica

Why stop and smell the roses when you can play with them?

You will be glad to hear that everyone is improving. Jessica learned to crutch around pretty quickly – always her way of learning everything – and is in the capable and loving hands of her mother at home. Jonathan is coming up with science experiments for her to do while her slim limb recovers, and I have ordered her a book of paper projects. I think she’ll love that it’s called “The Secret Society of Paper Cuts”.

Megan, of course, was back at work Monday night. She said that bugs that violent rarely last very long, and despite my attempts to dissuade her, she worked on the family garden on Sunday as well as checking in on Clyde twice and reporting to me while I was at work. She was a Montessori teacher before she was an EMT/ambulance driver and has worked in the ER for years now, so she has a really kickass immune system. Still one more night of work for my valiant sis tonight. I don’t know how she does it.

Clyde is almost his old self again. I first noticed he was sick on Saturday night. He looked all bleary-eyed and was non-responsive. In the morning, he walked downstairs in slow motion. He ate and drank as usual, but he seemed out of it and not at all like himself. He went outside and huddled there like an uncomfortable loaf of bread. He wasn’t grooming, not purring, his head and tail were drooping, he slept a lot, walked around slowly, and, perhaps most remarkably, no naughtiness.

By the time Monday rolled around and he was pretty much the same, I called the vet. Dr. Karen is in Italy with her family for three weeks, and Dr. Carl is (not surprisingly) booked for a week. So Dr. Barbara saw Clyde. She gave him a complete blood panel and checked everything out. $200+ later, it seemed that everything was A-OK, except for, you know, the whole sick thing. And his potassium levels were a little bit low. Since he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) eat a banana, Dr. Barbara gave him a subcutaneous infusion of potassium. It was a relief to know that nothing major was wrong, but I still wish I’d gotten a definitive diagnosis.

Clyde was very brave and stoic. I should really stop thinking of him as a baby boy. And? He weighs 11 pounds! I would never have guessed!

Clyde seemed better the next day. and started clawing the couch again. I never thought I’d be happy to see or hear that! Or his jumping on the counter. He finally climbed up on me and purred like he used to, and when I came home yesterday, he was all dirty from playing on the haul road, which was another good sign that he was getting back to normal.

Interestingly, Audrey stayed near him while he was sick, and Roscoe sniffed him thoroughly every time he saw Clyde. They also exchanged what I think of as little kisses, more than usual. Today they were playing in the sunlight, so I’m hoping everything is back to normal.

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Jul 07 2013

(Under the) Weather

Published by under Cats,Family,Friends,Jessica

Independence Day evening finally freed us from the death grip of the blasting (and blasted) heat. The weather has been so strange this year. The driest January and February in recorded history, the strange rain storm in June, followed by the heat tsunami, which concluded with thunder and lightning but no rain. We were all terrified of a repeat of the ’08 wildfires which my brother and his brotherhood fought so valiantly for so long. He told me later that he was half awake all night, listening for the pager, and that in his mind he was already halfway out the door. Fortunately, there was only one small fire inland which was easily contained and that was all.

Independence Day evening also freed Megan of the delightful BBQ we had had at our brother’s place. She was violently sick all night, with her body and bones aching, so it was a flu or virus which a visitor to the ER thoughtfully gave her as a parting gift. Due to the holiday, she didn’t know the locum doctor on staff at the ER, and the staff at the clinic, where my sister is regularly seen, refused to call in a prescription for an anti-emetic. I went to the village and asked the pharmacist if he could recommend anything to help her, but he said there really isn’t any over the counter medication for this. He was visibly shocked that the clinic wouldn’t call in a prescription for a regular patient for something that has no recreational use. I have a feeling that the clinic staff has not heard the last of this.

I stocked up on ginger ale, Jell-O, chicken soup, and other queasiness supplies and dropped them off at Megan’s house. She had lost the juice and water she drank that morning, and couldn’t even think about coffee, even though she is composed of at least 75% caffeine at all times.

I am pleased to report that she is feeling better today, though I wish she didn’t have four 12 hour night shifts waiting for her, starting tomorrow night. That’s pretty tough, even for her.

In other medical news, our beloved Jessica broke her lovely leg a couple of days ago. I don’t have all the details, but apparently she was trying to get out of another kid’s way on the trampoline when he or she fell on Jessica and broke her leg in two places:

Fortunately, she didn’t need pins, just a cast, and she is back home, resting as comfortably as possible in the circumstances. Erica said the doctors were concerned about Jessica’s striking pallor until she assured them it was Jessica’s normal skin tone. 🙂

Seems like my little Clyde is under the weather as well. He looked bleary last night, and this morning, he didn’t run outside as usual. He did eat, but then he just huddled by the (open) door like an uncomfortable loaf of bread. I couldn’t see any wounds, and he didn’t cry out when I picked him up and felt him all over, but he didn’t purr and he just looked blah.

I notified Megan before I left for the jobette, and told her I was keeping him inside (which means Audrey and Roscoe will have to be outside all day), and she said she’d stop by to check on him. Dr. Megan is never too sick to pay a house call. Hopefully he will be feeling better by the time I get home. I hope everyone is!

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