Archive for December, 2013

Dec 31 2013


I’m ending the year the same way I started it – in my beloved San Francisco. This was a banner year for trips to the City: 9, an all-time high since moving to Hooterville four years ago. There was a lot more travel this year, some less fun (Atlanta) than others (LA).

This was a year full of endings and beginnings. I finally got divorced after almost a decade of being separated. While it was good to get the formalities out of the way after a long separation, it was still sad to put “The End” on our story. I am grateful that John and I are still friends and have many happy memories of our many years together. I did not manage to stay out of court, though on an unrelated matter. Summertime subpoenas have to stop! New year’s resolution: a subpoena- and court-free year.

The loss of our beloved Schatzi cast a shadow over the latter part of the year, a loss that resonates through every day, though I am thankful she was in our lives as long as she was. She was an unforgettable gift.

A new dog found her way into our lives (temporarily) at the Christmas season, when we were least looking for one, in the form of Stella the foster dog. There is no better way to honor our Schatzi than by rescuing another dog.

I said goodbye to my battered old car Miss Scarlett and said hello to a newer, fancier one, which took some getting used to.

I started my moments. This was inspired by a friend who writes down something funny or beautiful or delightful that happens to her each day on a slip of paper and then puts it in a jar. At the end of the year she reads all the slips of paper and remembers all the great things that happened.

This was fun to do for a year and a good exercise in much needed-discipline. It really made me appreciate the small moments every day: cuddling with the cats; the sun setting over the Pacific; a spider web jeweled with dew.

Favorite books of the year: Ann Leary’s The Good House, a great portrait of small town life; and the utterly poetic Ordinary Grace. I also read two outstanding books about Detroit, a place near and dear to my heart – Detroit: An American Autopsy and Detroit City Is the Place to Be. The charasmatic Charlie LeDuff, the author of “Autopsy”, also showed the equally charasmatic Anthony Bourdain around Detroit on an episode of “Parts Unknown”, which is well worth watching.

I only read 83 books this year, a significant drop from last year’s 103, a continuing decline which I attribute to the more work, less fun aspect of the new (though not improved) economy.

Rainfall for the season: 5.14 inches. Last year at this time: 24.20. The drought is getting alarming. January and February of 2013 were the driest in recorded history in California. People in the Village are having water delivered!

No power outages so far this season. None! There were 6 at this time last year.

Here’s what happened to our heroine this year:


Started the year off right by heading to San Francisco. Got a new look for my old car and a new iPhone (which has yet to ruin and/or take over my life, possibly due to the lack of cell service here). Wednesday was also Weirdsday. However, Friday was Funday. Yet another trip to San Francisco, this time for (mostly) professional reasons. Royal Treasures of the Louvre at the Legion of Honor. An epic day to get my photo taken for my work website. Spoiler alert: I hated the finished product, although my hair looked awesome.


The cats react to a visiting chicken. An update on Archi, The World’s Cutest Puppy. Beautiful woodworking. Scout’s vet adventure. My intrepid brother takes a Polar Plunge.


Schatzi gets a check-up. Little did we know it would be her last one and that we only had five months left with our beloved girl. Divorce and taxes. Why not? Dad’s birthday. First day of spring. Working on the endless divorce paperwork. A lovely trip to the South Coast.


A late season storm. Haiku. Jessica turns ten! In San Francisco. Breakfast at Swan Oyster Depot. There isn’t a better start to the day. My welcome home included a screen door on the sleeping loft balcony, which has made life about 1,000% better. Thank you, Rob! Jessica’s birthday BBQ. More divorce paperwork, with moral support from my sister. An evening at the theatah.

My blog also turned twelve on April 20, though I failed to note the fact. Sorry, little blog!


Amazing woodworking show. A walk with Star and drinks with Monica in Little River. Birth of an orchard. An early birthday celebration for Megan. A delightful dinner with delightful friends. The end (almost) of the decayed old hot tub. Needless to say, the motor is still there. Megan’s actual birthday, complete with a hand-made picnic table and a daring cliff rescue, both courtesy of our intrepid brother.


Birthday baseball in beautiful San Francisco. Impressionists on the Water at the Legion of Honor. Back home for my birthday BBQ. Monica’s birthday party.


A cavalcade of health problems: Megan’s flu; Jessica’s broken leg; Clyde’s mystery illness. Everyone on the mend. Thinking about summers past. The truth about Schatzi. Wedding plans and peaches.


A lovely stroll with Star and my sister. A frantic Friday. Clyde meets the mysterious Slobber Monster. Megan takes care of the patient. The devastating loss of our much loved Schatzi. A day at the beach with Star. The twelfth anniversary of our adored father’s sudden death. I will never stop missing him until I catch up with him. How to make a really expensive peach pie. A beautiful, joyous wedding. A surprise in the mail – and at the door.


Celebrating our incredible brother’s birthday. A long drive to Reno. Enjoying the spa. Back home in the fresh air! Megan’s last gift to her beloved girl. The County fair. The wonder of a south coast safari. A look around a delightfully eccentric local town.


Last minute car repair before heading to San Francisco. My divorce becomes final as I drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. A soirée in the Village. Audrey does not enjoy her visit to the vet. A local landmark reopens. An epic journey to Los Angeles. The delights of Santa Monica. The glamor of Hollywood. A fascinating tour of downtown LA. A virtual walk with Megan and Star at Big River.


A happy Halloween. A quick trip to Atlanta. The delights of Hockney and Bulgari at the De Young – not to mention the view from the top. A late season barbecue with family and friends. The beginning of the end of Miss Scarlett. Thanksgiving preparations.


Thanksgiving recap. A conference starring my boss. So proud! A long and busy day. The end of the road for Miss Scarlett. ~sob~ Of frozen pipes and Christmas trees. Puppies! And meeting Stella. A surprise dinner and a play for our nephew, Jarrett. A brand new (well, to me) car! Working hard – or hardly working? A merry Christmas.

Thanks for coming along with me on another year of adventures, great and small. I wish you all a joyful and healthy new year!

7 responses so far

Dec 27 2013

Merry Christmas!

Sunny Christmas Morning

Our Christmas Day (aka Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day, neither of which exist here in the US of A) dawned sunny and beautiful, as you can see above. As the day progressed, it warmed up enough to have the doors open while I cleaned the house and got everything ready for the feast:

You can see my world famous cheese biscuits in the Wedgwood biscuit barrel, salad in the matching bowl, as well as the family silver and wine glasses. My brother smoked the ham over wood Lichen trimmed from the apple, peach and cherry trees on the family property, glazing it with honey from our bees (who sadly perished in the extreme cold snap earlier this month), bourbon, shallots, and other secret ingredients. He also made a lemon tart to go with the mincemeat tarts.

Erica and Jessica appeared in the afternoon bearing a beribboned sprig of mistletoe, Jessica festively dressed in velvet and sporting Gucci loafers:

Here’s a close up of her amazing shoes, which she found at a thrift store for $5:

As she said, “What are the chances of finding Gucci shoes in a thrift store? In my size?” I would have been as thrilled as she was. I almost was, to tell you the truth.

Jessica also came up with the perfect name for the new car: Wednesday, as in Addams. Dark, gothic, and a little dangerous. I’m pretty sure Wednesday would embrace the tinting, though.

Dinner was magically delicious, and after dinner, we opened our stockings. If I do say so myself, I think everyone was really pleased with them this year, from the chocolate ammo in reusable ammo boxes for the boys to the fantastic Sephora skincare set for Megan to the sparkly skull ring and Shakespearean insult gum for Erica.

We pulled the Christmas crackers, put on our hats, groaned at the jokes, and then had the traditional story reading of the magical Red Ranger Came Calling. If you’re not familiar with this delightful tale, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy and correct this shocking oversight. Jessica started off the reading:

Later, she and Jonathan took turns:

I honestly don’t know who did a better job. It was a wonderful moment, and it’s nice to know that Dad’s legacy of reading aloud lives on.

Needless to say, I woke up to a huge mess this morning. But as a wise man once said, “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”

One response so far

Dec 25 2013

Christmas “Eve”

Published by under Special Occasions

Christmas Morning

Merry Christmas to everyone who’s not related to me! For those who are, this is Christmas Eve. My sibs’ work schedules mean that we will be celebrating Christmas tomorrow. Someone’s gotta be there to deal with those holiday emergencies.

I woke up to a sunny day but put the lights on anyway. If not today, when? As you can see, I spent Christmas Eve in a suitably elfish way by filling the stockings and wrapping the few presents. It was the first time I have done this alone in quite some time. Everything is more fun with Megan, but in addition to her crazy work schedule, she is currently fostering the mama dog (now renamed Stella; you really can’t have two dogs in one house named Star and Starla, however cute that would be) and really has her hands full. It makes me happy to see all the stockings there, and I get to enjoy them for another day.

As for today, I’ll make mincemeat tarts and the dressing for tomorrow’s salad, as well as delivering items for the ham glaze and lemon tart makings to my brother at some point this morning. I will finish the final chapter of The Box of Delights, my father’s and my favorite book, knowing that a copy awaits Jessica under the tree. I can’t wait to share it with her.

Merry Christmas to all with love from me to you.

One response so far

Dec 23 2013


Published by under Country Life,Work

Some days the jobette hardly seems like work at all. Take last Tuesday, for example. I got up when it was light outside, had coffee, and made my way to the South Coast in the fancy new car.

The new car (as yet unnamed – any suggestions?) has a 30 day warranty, and I think between the long drive home from Modesto and the steep, curvy drive to the South Coast, I have a pretty good idea of how the car is going to perform. My brother says that problems should appear within the first 30 days. So far, so good.

The trip to the lovely south coast was to distribute materials for an upcoming festival to all the businesses which are participating, as well as the visitors’ center. It was a beautiful day, warm enough to have the car windows open. The ocean was feeling pretty that day:

and I saw a pod of migrating orcas chasing dolphins when I stopped at the Point Arena lighthouse. It is 115 feet tall and doesn’t quite fit into my camera’s lens:

The lighthouse is situated on the westernmost part of the Lower 48. Next stop Hawaii!

The Point Arena pier is a favorite location of surfers, who say it has some of the best waves in northern California. It is also beloved of fishermen, with some of the deepest waters in the County and a sheltered cove location:

I had clam chowder for lunch overlooking the pier:

It was warm enough to sit on the deck and watch the waves.

On my way home, I picked up dinner at the delightful Thai restaurant where Megan and I had lunch after our amazing South Coast safari this fall.

The next morning, I met my jobette co-workers at the Botanical Gardens to watch birds with a guide. Apparently birding is very good here, even in the winter, and these birding tours are available twice a week, year-round.

Embarrassingly, I am not good at identifying birds other than the obvious. My father kept a list of birds he had seen from the age of five, and every week, he’d send a list of the birds he had seen in the garden to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds*. Lest you think him more of a crackpot than he really was, the RSPB depends on these amateur reports as well as the annual bird count to keep track of what species are doing well on the sceptered isle and which aren’t.

I caught a hummingbird at rest:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen one just sitting on a branch before. We sighted an egret, and several robins, which are a cheery harbinger of winter here (along with the happy peeping of frogs, which we haven’t heard due to the lack of rain), as well as a flicker and a sort of warbler (or possibly wren) which had a yellow part under its tail, which the guide called “butter butt”. Sadly I was unable to see the bird or its butt. Sorry, Dad.

Wednesday was as foggy as Tuesday was sunny, which lent the garden a dreamlike look:

Despite the lack of rain, this brook babbled happily through the garden:

This gate looks like something Rob would make:

After our birding expedition, we went back to work and had pizza, salad and wine for lunch. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it!

*After he died, we found his partially completed list for that week on his desk with his reading glasses resting atop it, as if their owner might walk back into the room at any moment. We mailed it in for him.

4 responses so far

Dec 21 2013


Published by under Car

There’s nothing like driving The Beater to motivate a girl to buy a real car.

After an exhaustive (and exhausting) search, I finally located a car that met my two criteria of a) less than ten thousand dollars and 2) less than one hundred thousand miles on it. You’d be amazed by how hard it is to find a car that is both of these things. I saw some that were two years old and had more than 100,000 miles on them. That takes some serious driving.

So did the trip to get the car. Rob and I went all the way to Modesto, in the Central Valley, and back in one day – a round trip of about 500 miles. We left home at 7 am and got home about twelve hours later. I don’t think I’ve ever been in the Central Valley before. It was interesting to see a different kind of farmland – almond trees and orange trees, heavy with bright fruit, instead of vineyards and sheep.

The car is a 2008 Ford Fusion, with about 85,000 miles on it. My record of only owning Fords remains intact. Hey, if they were good enough for Clyde Barrow, they’re good enough for me. It’s a lot fancier than I’m used to, and characteristically, it has opened a whole can of neuroses.

I have never had a car note before, and I woke up at 3:00 am the night after I bought it, thinking about owing the bank thousands of dollars and what if something happens to it before I pay it off? What if the insurance rates go up after The Incident which led to the untimely demise of Miss Scarlett? The Incident really shook me up, too, so I’m nervous about driving at all, let alone driving a car that makes me look like a tourist.

It’s a real grown-up car, with its leather interior and helpful little messages (“Tire pressure low”; “Low fuel”) and general gadgetry:

including one of those silly keys with a chip to lock and unlock the door which you cannot get copied at the hardware store, but rather, have to spend a bunch of money to get another one from an official source (but where?). A second key is a total necessity for a girl like I, who loses everything and has an advanced degree in screwing up.

In addition to it being so nice that I’m terrified to scratch it or dent it, it has gangster dark tinting on the back window and side rear windows, which is a necessity in the Central Valley, whee temperatures are routinely over 100F in the summer. However, it also makes it impossible to see anything in the rearview mirror, and thus it’s more likely that I will scratch or dent the car. I’m planning to get the tinting removed as soon as the holidays are over and just hope for the best in the meantime.

I felt kind of sorry for my new, as yet unnamed ride as we made our way down the rough, unpaved driveway. I imagined it thinking, “You’re kidding, right? You don’t expect me to live here?”

2 responses so far

Dec 19 2013


Published by under Family,Special Occasions

You all know that we have known our “nephew” Jarrett since he was about four years old, right? When we met, my brother and sister were living on boats at Pier 39* and Jarrett’s Mom was one of their neighbors**.

Jarrett was a cute little kid with no father in his life, so my siblings stepped in to fill the void. Jarrett lived with them – on land – during his last two years of high school, just like Megan lived with me***. So he kind of grew up with us, and even if he isn’t actually related to us, he’s still family.

This year, he can’t join us for Christmas due to his work schedule (Sound familiar? How’s that for a family thing?), and his birthday is located a couple of weeks before Christmas, leading to the dreaded combo gift most of his life. His lovely girlfriend Kali rented a little cabin near the Big Town for his birthday this year, but what she didn’t tell Jarrett was that we were taking him out to a birthday dinner and a play.


We managed to all get to the Wharf before Jarrett and Kali and were seated at our table by the window when they appeared. Jarrett was so surprised! We had a great time at dinner, watching the crab fishermen heading out on the turning tide and catching up on our lives. I tried to remember the last time we three siblings had gone out to dinner together and failed – it was probably with Dad, so it was a long time ago. It was about time!

After dinner, we headed to the theater – the same one where we saw “Boy Gets Girl” earlier this year – to see a special production of Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”. The friend I’m working with on the restaurant app got us the last row of five seats together (his wife is the head of the theater), and Megan, Rob and I barely had time to sit down before the lights went down and the play began. We were a little worried about Jarrett and Kali, even though nothing could have happened between the Big Town and Village (could it?), and when the lights went up for the intermission, they were in the back row. They turned up a few minutes late after walking Archi and had to knock on the door to get in.

We all enjoyed the play. Shakespeare’s language always captivates me, and this play is particularly amusing with its plot twists and comedy. As Jarrett said, “It’s like a Shakespearean Jerry Springer!”

We had a wonderful time and it was a memorable evening. All really is well that end well.

*The smell of waffle cones always brings me back to those live aboard days, though I probably haven’t been to Pier 39 in more than 15 years.

**Jarrett’s Mom still lives there on the same boat. She is one of the few female sushi chefs in the City.

***Now I listen for the sound of her car coming home in the morning like I used to listen for her coming in from dates at night.

One response so far

Dec 16 2013

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

Published by under Dogs


The other day, my sister pointed out that I have been remiss in not mentioning The Puppies.

Yes, dear readers. I have been so busy with work and travel and Thanksgiving and car problems and, more importantly, complaining about these things, that I have failed to mention the presence of puppies in our lives.

While admitting that I have in fact been holding out on you, I hasten to add that these puppies are not in my house or Megan’s. Rather, they are a leap of holiday faith taken by the ever optimistic Monica.

A Good Samaritan, through no fault of her own, found herself landed with a dog in active labor who produced eleven – yes, eleven – happy and healthy puppies. Knowing that she couldn’t keep these visitors, the Samaritan contacted her local shelter only to be informed that all of the dogs, mother and newborns, would be immediately euthanized. She then contacted Monica, who in turn contacted the owners of one of the premier resorts on the coast – with a restaurant beloved of Oprah, no less – who donated a room for the canine family.

They were cared for round the clock by selfless Daisy Davis volunteers, including Monica’s sweet husband Joe (who must have wondered if this was the “for worse” part of the vows he took more than twenty years ago) and my valiant sis, giving up her weekends after her long night shifts. There is a passel of puppies:

Their mother, Starla, is remarkably lovely:

She has an incredibly calm demeanor, and despite all she’s been through, is open and affectionate. There is an ageless wisdom in her golden eyes. I think she’s an old soul who has been here before. She is a wonderful mother, and there is no runt in her litter, seen here nursing:

After they eat, it’s time to sleep:

I took these pictures a couple of weeks ago, when they were barely out of the gerbil phase. They were born on Halloween and will be ready to go to foster homes soon. Six of them already have foster homes lined up, and Monica is confident that good homes will be found for all. I hope Santa is listening to this Christmas wish!

2 responses so far

Dec 13 2013

‘Tis the Season

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Garden,Weather

Inland snow

The record-breaking cold snap is finally beginning to lose its grip, though it’s still a lot colder than it should be. It’s beginning to feel like the White Witch is running things around here – always freezing, no rain. At least it’s stayed above freezing the past couple of nights and the pipes have stayed unfrozen, which is the way I like them.

Yesterday I took a walk around the garden and I must say it was dispiriting. Anything that wasn’t zapped by the extended deep freeze had been eaten by Mark’s rabbit. I’m finding it a lot less cute right about now. At least the indoor paper whites are beginning to bloom.

As for the Christmas tree, every morning I collect the ornaments from the floor and put them back on again. Maybe the woodland theme was an especially bad idea. Today I found all of the acorns on the floor, and most of the snowflakes had fallen, not as pretty a sight as the picture above, taken in the county seat last Friday.

It seems that I forget every year about the cats’ propensity for playing with ornaments and attempting to take down the tree until it’s too late. Then it’s a six week battle until I put the tree and ornaments back in the box, swearing never to do this again. And just plain swearing.

4 responses so far

Dec 09 2013

The Big Chill

So the pipes are frozen. Again.

They were also frozen yesterday morning, despite the fact that I left the tap running in the bathroom both nights, not an easy thing for a Californian to do after so little rain for so long. Not that it helped, though. So I apparently wasted water for nothing.

Even the emergency buckets of ice outside are frozen over so hard that I need an implement to break the ice. No conversational gambit was equal to the task.

Good thing I filled the kettle for coffee and took a shower last night, just in case.

The cold does make it feel seasonal, though, and I believe there was snow inland when we got that half inch of rain the other day. Might as well put up the Christmas decorations, And after all, it was the first Saturday in December, which we all know is the correct day for putting them up (not before Thanksgiving, whatever the stores would have you believe).

This year, my theme for the white, vintage Christmas tree from long ago Gimbels:

was artificial woodland. I love having a fake tree in a house surrounded by real trees, and I decorated it with faux nests with robin’s eggs:

And little acorns on ribbons.

These are made from real acorn caps and felted white wool. Finished it off with clear snowflakes and of course white twinkle lights.

I wrapped lights around the banister:

And the glass roof of the back porch:

In case you’re wondering why I took the pictures in the daytime, it’s because my camera steadfastly refuses to focus when it thinks it’s too dark, which is almost always in the winter. And it looks (and feels) like it’s going to be a long one.

4 responses so far

Dec 06 2013


Published by under Calamity Suzy,Car

The insurance adjustor checked out Miss Scarlett yesterday, and as we expected, the news was not good.

The repairs needed to get her back on the road again exceeded her current street value, so they declared her a total loss. The adjustor asked if I could remove my personal items* from the car so they could tow it away, and even though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I got in The Beater and headed for the Big Town.

On the long and noisy drive, I wondered if I am supposed to learn something from all this, and if so, what it is. Everyone around me seems to feel that these things are just random events and that’s the way life is, but I’m not so sure. I wish I knew what, if anything, the lesson is. I’ve certainly been pushed outside my comfort zone, driving The Monster and The Beater. I’m grateful for the support of my family and even the kindness of the insurance folks.

When I spoke to the claims representative, just about the first thing she asked was whether I had been hurt, another car involved, the police, or the hospital, and when my answer to all of these things was no, she said that in that case, it was as good as it could be, and she was right. I’m glad that I wasn’t hurt and that I didn’t hurt anyone, and that I was able to get the car off the road. But I’m very anxious about the cost of another car, not to mention the hassle of finding one. I’ll almost certainly have to go to the Bay Area or Sacramento to find something. Also I’ve never had a car note in my life. Maybe all this is some kind of life lesson.

*This was a surprisingly upsetting experience. I have to admit that I patted her gently and gave her a little kiss goodbye. We’ve had a lot of adventures together, and I miss her already. I had to sit in The Beater and sob a little bit before I could move on.

4 responses so far

Dec 04 2013


Published by under San Francisco,Travel

It’s 6:15 am, and it’s 44 degrees F/6 degrees C inside my house. Winter’s here!

Here’s yesterday’s schedule:

5:30 am
Get up and make coffee. Glad that I brought coffee and small French press with me to avoid the equally horrifying possibilities of in room coffee or having to go and get coffee in the dark before having coffee.

6:00 am
Conference call dealing with minor work emergency. Hope it’s minor, anyway, since the SEC is involved and also the word “violation”, which is even more horrifying than in room coffee.

7:00 am
Put hair and face together. Prepare to impersonate responsible adult.

7:30 am
Get taxi and go to hotel for Day Two of conference, where I have been charged with tracking down a couple of strangers and charming them.

While looking for a cab, my brother calls and we have a discussion about the Car Situation. Still have to finish dealing with that.

10:00 am
Leave conference for another meeting, right near my old office. As I walk along the familiar streets, I pass Lotta’s Fountain, where survivors (as of this date, there are only two left) of the ’06 quake assemble at 5:12 a.m. every April 18:

I still feel like San Francisco broke up with me, but the pain has faded to a bittersweet ache with time. A little less stab in the heart, a little more punch in the gut. I guess I’m really lucky that I lived there so long that its streets are still so familiar to me.

12:00 pm
Get a cab back to the modest motel, finish packing, load up car. Whirlwind trip to Victor’s for pizza; careful topping up of The Monster’s gas tank; Trader Joe for necessities like coffee.

1:11 pm

On the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

3:00 pm

Stop in Cloverdale to finally eat something and get out of The Monster.

3:45 pm

Stop at Yorkville Cellars to bring them promised jobette materials. Resist this delightful suggestion:

and admire the sweeping vista over the sleeping vineyard:

Notice a last bunch of grapes which missed the harvest:

4:00 pm

One last stop at Gowan’s, for fresh walnuts and apple cider.

5:00 pm

Arrive home. Unpack with Leafs game on and kitties getting underfoot. Will they ever understand that this makes the feeding process slower instead of faster? The magic 8 ball says NO.

It’s way past drink o’clock.

As for today, I just have to get up in the dark, wait until it’s light enough to let the cats out, get ready to work, drive The Monster back to the car rental desk, walk to work, and then, you know, work all day. Is it really only Wednesday?

4 responses so far

Dec 03 2013


Published by under Work

The St Francis on Union Square

Yesterday I magically hailed a cab with Megan-like ease and headed to the grand St. Francis Hotel, the storied establishment which survived the ’06 quake and the Fatty Arbuckle scandal, and still has a gentleman on staff whose job is to wash the coins given out to guests, a tradition started back in the days when lunch, taxis, and tips could be bought with change and ladies did not want to soil their gloves.

For generations, people have met under the clock in the grand lobby:

The festive castle in the picture is made entirely of sugar!

I met my colleagues under the clock and we headed into the conference. Adrian was one of the speakers, and even though I have known him for twenty years, I don’t think I have ever seen him speak before:

He spoke about the bankruptcy in Detroit and what led to it. My favorite line was “While Stevie Wonder was singing ‘Everything is all right, up tight and out of sight’, things were unraveling in Motown.” The crowd loved it, and I was really proud of him.

I had lunch with my colleague Donald, who is a third generation Detroiter, and learned that his father was in the Chatham, Ontario Negro League team and pitched to Satchel Paige and Jackie Robinson. They tried to convince him to join the team they were on, but he was unwilling to leave the freedom of Ontario for the segregation of the South. He would later become the first African American master electrician at Ford.

After a long day at the conference, I headed back to the motel, had some dinner, and pretty much called it a day. I was up at 5:30 this morning, and it’s time to get ready and get started on the day.

2 responses so far

Dec 02 2013

Suzylocks and the Three Cars

Published by under Bullshit,Car,Travel

I’m coming to you from the modest motel in San Francisco, where the foghorns are blowing up a storm, so I’m guessing it’s dark grey outside. You may wonder how I got here with Miss Scarlett in the shop and the loaner Honda clearly not up to the road trip.

The day after Thanksgiving, Megan, Jarrett and I went to the craft fair in the Village, our holiday tradition. Then we went to the Big Town, where we confidently drove up to the strip mall where the DMV is and the one car rental place used to be. Used to be.

I checked my confirmation email on my iPhone and learned that the car rental place had moved. We went to the new location, which is a fancy way of saying “desk with a girl inside a car dealership”. It turned out that she only had one car available, even though it was nearly 4:00 in the afternoon and they close at 5:00. Apparently people who promised to return their cars had not kept their word.

Since the car rental place is closed on Saturday and Sunday, I had no choice but to take the enormous and hugely hideous Jeep Compass. Megan and Jarrett callously left me there to deal with it with the insouciance of people who have driven an ambulance (Megan) and currently drive a gunboat sized 1977 Chevy (Jarrett). I asked if I should bring it back full, and she said, “No, it’s at a quarter. So bring it back at a quarter.” Not only did this necessitate an immediate trip to the gas station, where it took me forever to figure out how to get the key out of the ignition as the day darkened, but I’ll have to try and finesse my gas purchasing to make sure I don’t give the rental people an early Christmas gift.

Did I mention that the monster gets about 18 miles to the gallon?

Although huge, it’s claustrophobic inside, with surprisingly little trunk room. Also the windows are tinted, making vision difficult at dusk, and the rear window is partly blocked by the absurdly high seat backs, even at their lowest setting, and is difficult to see out of at all due to the odd angle.

I felt like the universe was saying, “You don’t like the tiny, noisy, rattly old car with no radio or stereo? How about a huge, quiet, new car with a CD player?” I had an almost physical longing for Miss Scarlett as I drove along the Ridge, in peril of the three foot deep car eating ditches. This one’s too hard. This one’s too soft. This one’s just right.

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Dec 01 2013

Thanksgiving Roundup

Wow, I really have a lot of catching up to do! Today I’m getting ready for a quick and business-like trip to San Francisco, and I haven’t even told you about Thanksgiving yet.

In keeping with the the theme, I was clearly having too much fun at Thanksgiving to take pictures. I took pictures of the outdoor living room after I set it up for guests:

And the table indoors, with my American grandmother’s wineglasses (still unscathed!) and my English grandmother’s ivory-handled silver and Wedgwood:

But that was it. I didn’t even take a picture of Jessica!

It was a lovely, sunny day, as you can see in the outdoor picture, though it did get chilly once darkness fell. My brother brought over a load of firewood so people could (and did) sit outside. My little house was overflowing with friends, family, food, and good cheer.

The turkey, if I do say so myself, came out perfect, despite the challenges of my odd little oven. I simply did it Nana style (she of the wineglasses): rubbed with butter, dusted with sage, salt and pepper. I really think a free range, organic bird makes all the difference. With it, we had the stuffing Jonathan made, along with his excellent gravy and mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and my famous cranberry-bourbon relish. We also had a salad of bitter greens with roasted pears and fresh pomegranate, with a honey-shallot dressing.

Erica brought rolls made with delicata squash from the family garden. To go with them, she made a beurre composé with clementine zest, paprika, and Strega liqueur which was out of this world. She also brought Brussels sprouts made in a magical Erica way which vanished almost immediately, and THREE pies. Two were made of a special squash with home-made sea salted caramel (Erica is, after all, the girl who makes her own chocolate nib spiked marshmallows and graham crackers from scratch before making s’mores), and one was an apple pie for Jonathan, who famously dislikes pumpkin pie.

However, the squash pies won him over with their truffley goodness (or is it evilness?) and the apple pie was almost as unscathed as the wineglasses when the party was over.

We talked to our good friend Paul, who wasn’t able to be here and will also not make it for Christmas, though he is planning to visit in January. It looks like a quiet Christmas this year, since Jarrett has to work and I think Lichen said he was going to visit his birth family in SoCal this year. Lichen turned up for Thanksgiving bearing gifts: a sprig of blue hydrangea he had dried himself for Jessica (which just happened to match her Erica Original dress); shower gels for Megan and me; and the bottle of Strega for Erica, which was immediately put to good use in the beurre composé merveilleux. Only Lichen would bring gifts on a non gift holiday only days after his own birthday.

He was joined in his usual eating spot on the stairs by Audrey, who loves Lichen. She slunk around and allowed other people to admire her before hanging out with her buddy. Clyde was his charming party self, working the room for pets. I thought Roscoe was outside, but after everyone left, he appeared from upstairs, where he was likely hiding under the bed until the coast was clear.

It was an amazing Thanksgiving and I am incredibly grateful for my family, my friends, and my life in our little corner of the world.

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