Archive for November, 2013

Nov 28 2013

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

I always say that organization is the key to surviving the holidays, but delegating helps, too.

As I type, Jonathan is making the stuffing, meaning that I get out of peeling chestnuts, which has now been officially decreed to be in violation of the Geneva convention. I did buy all the stuff for the stuffing, and chop up the bread ahead of time so it would be appropriately stalenized, and then dropped it all off at his place yesterday, so it’s not like I was no help.

Erica has made pies, rolls, and some kind of magic Brussels sprout thing. Megan called me from her fourth 12 hour night shift in a row last night to see if there was anything else we needed, though she had to run due to one patient needing to be restrained (if you ever need a hand restraining a crazy person, she’s your girl) and another having a heart attack. She valiantly bought the things for salad on her way home this morning and dropped them off at my place.

I peeled pears for the salad and prepped them while watching the 85th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I was delighted by the Hello Kitty and Snoopy balloons as well as the always fabulous Rockettes. Not for the first time, I wondered if I’m the only one who would rather have it be mostly balloons and floats rather than insipid musical production numbers. I feel the same way about the Oscars: I wish it was mostly gowns and then the big awards and that’s it. I realize this is an unpopular view, however.

While peeling and thinking great thoughts like this, I noticed a huge white and brown bunny loping slowly by. I think it’s one of Mark’s pet rabbits. Fortunately, the kitties seemed more weirded out by the rabbit than anything, since I would hate to have to explain to my long-suffering landlord that my pets had exterminated his pet on a national holiday.

The Thanksgiving Bunny

I de-cobwebbed the house as best I could and set up the outdoor seating area. I just have to vacuum and the house will be about as good as it gets. Jonathan will be bringing over the stuffing pretty soon and I’ll get the big turkey in my tiny oven. I’m looking forward to a happy evening with my loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

2 responses so far

Nov 27 2013

One of Those Days

Published by under Bullshit,Car,Country Life,Schatzi

Oh, it’s been quite the morning so far.

The little heater I use in my uninsulated and otherwise unheated bathroom crapped out on me before my shower – hello, 50 degrees! – which was not quite warm enough despite only using hot water. On emerging from the warmish shower, I reached, glassesless, for the pink towel turban I use for my hair, discovering that a spider was in residence.

Now, I’ve pretty much learned to peacefully co-exist with my arachnid roommates, but this was unexpected and somewhat horrifying as the spider skittered down my face.

Imagine how the spider felt.

I got into the 1986 Honda that I’ve been driving during Miss Scarlett’s hospital stay. It’s creaky and rattles and sounds a lot like the Waltons’ old truck that was always breaking down. I can barely hear the rattles and creaks over the sonic boom of the engine, however. There’s a hole in the exhaust pipe or similar, so it sounds like a plane taking off even when you’re only going 20. It also doesn’t have any kind of power assist for steering or brakes, with the result that I am now driving like the old lady I am, or, dare I say it, a tourist.

Good thing, too, since as I came around a curve on the ridge on my way to the jobette this morning, there was a dog dancing happily in the middle of the road. I slammed on the unassisted brakes while the dog bounced around happily. He reminded me of the good old days when Schatzi used to prance around in front of my car on the driveway, necessitating getting out of the car and making sure she was safe before heading on my way. I’d do anything to have to check on her safety now. I sure miss that girl.

I stopped off at the mechanic’s on my way to work and they were still working on estimates, but the numbers under discussion were alarming. We’ll see what happens. I may be the only girl in America who is less stressed by Thanksgiving than the rest of my life. I wish I was running up a tab at a bar instead of at the mechanic’s.

3 responses so far

Nov 24 2013


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

So I gave myself a little treat this morning.

Most days, I get up in the cold and dark, and you know how I love that. Today, it was still dark-ish, and the house was 46 degrees F (7C). I let the demanding Miss Audrey out, put on the outside lights, and then put on the heat and headed back upstairs to bed.

I snuggled down with Roscoe and went back to sleep. When I woke up, the sun was shining and the house was warm. I put on my sparkly new slippers with the warm, fuzzy insides and went to make coffee. Audrey came back inside and the boys went out…for about five minutes. Roscoe went back to bed and Clyde basked in front of the heater while Audrey had breakfast and I read Postsecret, my Sunday ritual.

I also gave myself a treat on Friday. Megan and I met Lu and her daughter Allie in town. We admired the Christmas trees at North Star Nursery (they always make it so hard to wait until after Thanksgiving to put up my tree) and bought some bulbs for indoor winter color. I know this sounds ridiculous to those of you with real winter, but I really miss color in the garden during the winter. I got some paper whites:

And an amaryllis bulb. I’ve never grown indoor plants before, so we’ll see how it goes. The paper whites are in the basket with river pebbles. Below it is a picture of my father at about the age of 9 (in 1940) with his friend (and later best man) Brian, with guns they found in a downed German plane. Below that is a card sent to my mother to congratulate her on her engagement to Dad in the late 1950s. It’s like a wonderfully sparkly valentine:

We ran a few errands and are pretty much ready for Thanksgiving later this week. Even buying groceries is fun with Megan and Star. We wrapped up the day with Gilmore Girls and Skinny Girl (“girling it up”, as Lu calls it) to keep my mind off my car problems. No matter what happens, we have each other and I have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving and every day.

2 responses so far

Nov 23 2013


Published by under Bullshit,Car

So yes, we did get the rain. Two and a half inches of it in three days, though we are now back to sunshine and I fear that I will once more be watering the garden with icy cold water before too long.

On the rainiest of the rainy evenings, beset by logging truck backwash and the futility of headlights, I was just a few miles from home, driving up the hill from the Gro when I noticed that the car was barely going 30. The engine light came on, and then I lost all steering and brakes, not fun on a dark, rainy country road. Somehow I was able to steer Miss Scarlett off the road and more or less off the Ridge, though her capacious butt was closer to the fog line than I would have liked.

I went down to the house whose driveway I was unexpectedly occupying and knocked. It was locked up with no lights and all the shades drawn, so it’s likely a vacation rental. I made my way to the Gro, where there is a pay phone to call for help – no cell service in these parts – and a nice place to wait for it to arrive. I was offered rides home and possible diagnoses of what ailed the car.

Miss Scarlett was ignominiously towed back to town, where it was discovered that there was a problem with a belt, pulley and tensioners. They further discovered that there is a hole in the radiator, which is buried far, far inside, necessitating an entire day’s labor to replace it.

I called my brother, who said that I should have called him when it happened, so that Rob could have towed it to the family property and worked on it, saving the exorbitant labor costs. I pointed out that he was at work in town and Rob was out when it happened, and I was so shaken up that I wasn’t thinking straight. I am barely an acceptable adult at the best of times, and this was not the best of times.

My brother is going to go and look at it on Monday and figure out whether it’s better to tow it back to Hooterville or let the mechanics work their magic. Stay tuned….

3 responses so far

Nov 18 2013


Published by under Car,Country Life,Friends

This morning, I dropped Miss Scarlett off to get two new tires put on, just in time for the rain that’s supposed to arrive tonight. Tires have a short life expectancy around here – they’re basically all members of the 27 Club. Maybe not even that old. If they last two years on the rocky, rough, rutted country roads, you’re doing well. Which is why I always feel like I’m buying tires. Because I am…

After leaving the car in the capable hands of the tire technicians, I walked to the jobette. It was nice to walk in the cool morning air, but a couple of blocks down the street, I was honked at. It turned out to be my friend Liz from the pool. She said they were all worried about me – I haven’t made it to the pool in the past couple of months due to my crazy work schedule(s) – and missed me. I explained some of what had happened and she was really sweet. I have promised myself to go tomorrow.

As I walked down the street, I felt so lucky to live in this odd little corner of the world, where people actually care about you, and to have somehow landed here, surrounded by friends and family. On Friday, we had a late season BBQ at my brother’s place with our friends Rik and Lu (and their dog Harlow, who is Star’s BFF), Lichen, and my siblings’ land partners, Dave and Jennifer, who were so kind and helpful during the Great Schatzi Search this summer. They are buying the property along with my siblings, and one of these days they will have a house on their half of the 68 acres, so they will be neighbors as well as friends.

The sun was setting and the moon was rising when I arrived:

My brother was manning the grill and everyone else was gathered around the fire pit*:

Lu and Rik went on a medical mission to Honduras earlier this year, where they helped villagers who hadn’t had any medical help in months or even years, and they are going back in February. They specified that they wanted to be posted to same village so they can check in on the same folks they met last year and see how they’re doing. I’m so proud of them for caring and making a difference, not just here but abroad as well.

After dinner we sat by the fire feeling as relaxed as Harlow looks here:

It was a good evening with good friends.

*Which used to be a well ring.

5 responses so far

Nov 14 2013

The Cat Report

Published by under Cats

It’s 11 am. Do you know where your kitties are?

If you’re Roscoe, you are still asleep, curled up in your nest of pillows. Roscoe is very appreciative of my pillow fetish. When he comes in at night, he has dinner and then goes right to bed, cuddling comfortably in feather pillows until it’s time to get up.

If the weather is not up to his high standards, he just stays in bed, or goes back there after inspecting climactic conditions and not finding them sufficiently attractive to warrant venturing outside. Today it’s cloudy or foggy or both, so Roscoe isn’t giving the day the time of day.

Eventually he will come downstairs. I can always tell who it is without seeing them. Roscoe has a majestic, deliberate step, whereas Audrey bustles manically and Clyde scampers.

Clyde is currently cuddled up against my shoulder, alternately purring and sleeping and generally doing his best to help me in the procrastination process. How can I possibly write reports when I have a cat who thinks he’s a kitten sprawled over half of my body? Even though I can apparently still blog. Procrastination, like most (or maybe all) of my special skills, is not particularly useful. I can also accurately identify the most expensive piece in antique jewelry ads in “The New Yorker” and tell if someone really is a guy or girl no matter what they are wearing, a skill honed from years of living in San Francisco. None of these are remunerative, however.

Audrey is sitting on the back porch, controlling me with the power of her mind. She has an amazing ability to make me do what she wants without making a noise or doing anything much other than gaze at me with her huge green eyes. If Audrey were a girl, I think she’d look like Ida Lupino. Notice the resemblance:

The two lovely ladies share sassiness and smarts as well as beauty. Right now, Audrey is telepathically commanding me to give her some canned food. I give her a spoonful most days, after which she takes off to terrorize the local dog population and other pressing matters.

I wish she’d terrorize Orange Cat. I’m almost sure The OC is responsible for Roscoe’s torn ear and the bald spots over Clyde’s eye and the nape of his neck. Needless to say audacious Audrey is untouched. Now when I see Orange Cat I chase him away, even though I never thought I’d be the kind of person who chased cats. I guess love makes protectors of us all.

2 responses so far

Nov 11 2013


Published by under Cats,San Francisco

Apparently, I am more exciting than a beautiful Fall day. The sky is a cloudless blue, the doors are open, and the cats…are all sitting with me instead of playing outside. Such is my considerable personal magnetism. Or maybe I have just been away too much recently.

Before I left San Francisco on my way home from my whirlwind trip, I made time for some fun. I stopped by Swan Oyster Depot and was pleasantly surprised to be the third person through the door. It was the first time in the ~mumble~ years I have been going there that I didn’t have to line up.

I perched on a stool and watched the ballet behind the counter: fresh oysters being plated on a bed of crushed ice; a smoked salmon being filleted; a delivery of the specially baked sourdough bread from Boudin’s. I ordered a half cracked crab, but the guy who served me (in the photo above) pointed out that I could order crab cocktail and not have to do the work. Good point! So I did. It was delicious and my hands remained (relatively) clean. I enjoyed the sunshine, Sinatra on the radio, and memories of my father, who loved Swan’s, along with the crab.

After the usual errands, I headed to Golden Gate Park to enjoy the dual delights of Hockney:

and Bulgari*:

at the De Young Museum.

My favorite part of the Hockney exhibit – which was on two floors – was his exploration/documentation of the seasons changing in his native Yorkshire. In this painting, you can practically feel high summer:

There are few places as beautiful as England on a summer day.

Another part of the exhibit had film of the actual locations in the paintings in all four seasons projected onto multiple screens so you could compare the paintings to them.

I also loved watching the iPad paintings take place as I watched, and the glass case of sketch books. I feel closer to the artist seeing the drawings sometimes than the finished work. It’s like you can see his vision and inspiration taking place and feel part of it.

The high point of the Bulgari exhibit was definitely Elizabeth Taylor’s stunning emerald and diamond set, along with two “tremblant” brooches, one of which she is wearing in the photo above. These are sprays of flowers designed to move with the wearer. And no-one could wear jewelry like the legendary Elizabeth Taylor.

I took the time to go to the top of the museum’s tower for the first time. There is a stunning view of the city from there:

It was fun to walk around and enjoy the panoramas and the beautiful day.

It was time to head home. It was a good trip.

*The poster quotes Richard Burton: “The only word Elizabeth knows in Italian is Bulgari.”

3 responses so far

Nov 07 2013


Published by under Travel

A lot has happened since I last checked in with you from the 27th floor of my Atlanta hotel.

I woke up before the alarm (and wake up call) at 6:15 am. Despite utter lack of use, my ability to cope with time zone changes and lack of sleep while traveling has not atrophied. The secret is to forget about what time it is at home and just be on local time.

I had cleverly pre-ordered breakfast the night before, and it, especially the coffee, arrived none too soon. I watched the sun come up over the city as I ate:

I wish I’d had more time to explore Atlanta. Everyone was so nice to me there. Even the airport processing was as polite as possible.

The longer flight home – it’s always longer flying west – was worse than the overnight one, since sleep was not an option. There was wifi on the plane, but no outlets to plug in your laptop, and no room to use it in if you did. I am pretty sure that planes are more crowded than they used to be, jamming more seats and people in than ever before. I don’t think I could handle the 12 hour non stop flights I used to do once or twice a year to visit Dad in London under current conditions.

I was glad to be back in San Francisco, though pretty tired. I don’t recommend traveling almost 6,000 miles in two/three days (depending on how you calculate the overnight flight). I was also glad that I opted to stay overnight before facing the drive home. Enough already!

I am back home and I don’t know who is happier about that, Me or the cats. Or maybe Megan, who has had to cat sit the unruly bunch (Audrey, I’m looking at you) far too often lately.

Bags are unpacked, laundry is hanging out in the sunshine, and all is right with the world.

3 responses so far

Nov 05 2013

Home of the Braves

Published by under Bullshit,Travel,Work

Atlanta at night

It was a long, long walk through the Atlanta airport. This turned out to be a universal source of amusement for everyone in the know, which turned out to be everyone but Me. Apparently I should have taken one of the train things labeled Gates A, B, C, etc. instead of persistently plodding toward the signs that said Ground Transportation, with alluring pictograms of taxis.

About a day later, I arrived at the taxi stand and was swept on my way to the hotel. The traffic was as bad as I remembered from my epic drive to Florida a few years ago, though still a total delight compared to LA.

At the hotel, I was thrilled to see a beacon of hope. A Starbucks! Right in the lobby! I ordered a small coffee, and perhaps due to the alarming demeanor of a girl who had had no sleep while wedged into a tiny airplane seat all night, he asked me no questions in return, but simply put a warm cup of hope in my hand, becoming my new best friend.

I took the great glass elevator to my room on the 27th floor, which featured floor to ceiling windows, as you see above. I repaired face and hair, put on dress up shoes, and prepared to impersonate a responsible adult.

It was a short walk to the building where the meeting was to take place:

The lobby was quite lovely:

The meetings took up most of the day and went very well. Yes, I still have to write up my report on it along with the rest of the third quarter reporting, but I’m not going to think about that now. One of the ladies I met with walked me to the nearest branch of my bank, where a kindly gentleman issued a temporary card for me and printed out a list of recent transactions.

About 75% of them were not mine. When I got back to the hotel, I called my friends at the Fraud Department to go through them, and what they showed on their system and my print out – just minutes old! – did not match. Needless to say, they showed about half of what was on the print out. I will have to go into a branch and deal with it there. Again, not thinking about that now.

I went back down to the lobby, where I printed out my boarding pass for this morning and discovered that the store with the souvenirs also had wine! They even opened the bottle for me and put the cork back in for the perilous journey in the great glass elevator:

The wonder store in the lobby also had clary sage bath salts, so after checking in with my boss and my sister, I took a long bath with a glass of wine and my MacBook perched on the toilet playing an episode of “Gilmore Girls”. After that, it was time for room service and an early bed.

Now it’s time to head back to the airport. It’s been a good trip.

One response so far

Nov 04 2013

At the Gate

Published by under Travel,Work

Note: I am now in Atlanta. Wrote the following at SFO last night.

I’m coming to you from the gate at SFO, waiting for my midnight plane to Georgia. Although there is an outlet at my seat, I can’t make the wifi work. You can’t have everything.

It was a long, dark drive here. I had forgotten how streetlight deficient the first part of the highway was, though it had an over abundance of blinding headlights: in your face, in your mirror, everywhere! But nowhere useful.

Before I had even left the county, I got a call from my bank’s fraud department alerting me to the fact that someone in Australia tried to charge $1,337 to my card (they were, thankfully, denied). After that, there was a series of $10 charges at Petco and $4.33 at an Apple store (what can you get at an Apple store for $4?) which did go through.

I pulled off the road to talk to the bank. They have put a hold on my account, so nothing can go out, and will reimburse me for any fraudulent charges. Once I get to Atlanta, I can stop in at an office and get a temporary card to use.

I was kind of shaken up, even though it turned about as well as it could have. I feel violated and wonder how on earth someone on the other side of the world got my debit card info.

Just what I needed before a trip across the entire country. I will arrive in Atlanta around 7:30 am and will hopefully have time to check into my hotel and fix my face and hair before facing the day’s meetings after little or no sleep.

One response so far

Nov 03 2013

Happy Halloween!

The evil elf

It was a happy Halloween this year. You may remember that last year it was raining and Erica tried everything to bribe Jessica to stay home. In case you were wondering, this is not a winning strategy. I don’t think there’s a kid alive who can resist the candy’n’costume combo.

This year, it was clear and beautiful:

I did not need the warm scarf I wore or the winter jacket, which I ended up taking off and lugging around. Where’s a lady’s maid when you need her? Oh, that’s right – they’re all at Downton Abbey.

We met up with Erica and Jessica in the Village, where Erica handed over Jessica’s overnight bag, somewhat surprising (though delighting) us. Erica was off to compete in a contest with her incredible handmade costume in a neighboring county and would be staying overnight there. Her parting words of wisdom were that Jessica should start trick or treating right away, while the candy donors were still fresh. So we did:

Once again, I was amused by the “Open up, police!” quality of Jessica’s knock. One guy said, “You have a heavy knock!” and she said “Thank you!” She thanked everyone and wished them all a happy Halloween without any prompting from her auntourage, which made us proud(er).

Many of the houses in the Village were creatively decorated, especially one with dry ice floating out in the evening air and a ghost that moved around:

I loved the skeleton dragon perched on the roof of this house:

Megan and I agreed that if we lived in the Village, we’d decorate our houses like crazy and have fun with it.

On our way back to the car, we stopped off to admire the amazing fire dancers and then picked up some things for dinner. We visited Dr. Karen’s haunted house on the way out, and Jessica added to her giant haul of candy. Back at Megan’s house, we had dinner and watched a movie while Jessica sorted throug her bag of treats. It was a happy Halloween.

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