Archive for January, 2014

Jan 31 2014


Published by under Country Life,Work

I had a flashback to the months-long Hooterville bridge repair while driving home from the jobette one day this week. Traffic ground to a halt just before the steep curve leading to the resort which reopened with considerable fanfare last fall. This is one of my favorite parts of the drive, going around the intense curve with the sunlight filtering through the tall eucalyptus trees.

The halt stretched on, and I turned off the car. The car stereo doesn’t turn off when you turn the car off, so I opened and closed the door to make it turn off. The manual is on a DVD and needless to say, I haven’t bothered to drag my MacBook out to the car and figure out how to set the clock (if there is one) and/or turn it off by hand. It starts up again when I start up the car. Yes, Wednesday is too fancy for me.

We finally got going again after 20 minutes. The poor guy in front of me actually turned into the resort! He could have walked there and back ten times in the length of time we were stuck there. I’m still not sure what CalTrans was doing, but it looked like they were lopping off some eucalyptus branches.

The next day, I left work early to head to Elk, where I was commissioned to pick up something left behind in a hotel room by a New York Times writer, who was here for the Crab festival. We were finally getting some rain (we ended up with almost 3/4 inch in the rain gauge, though we are back to sunshine today), so I drove extra carefully. The ocean was so beautiful in its shades of pale aqua and stormy grey, with frenzied white waves. Sometimes it’s really hard not to look at the ocean while you’re driving around here.

I arrived at the inn. A sign on the door said that the innkeeper was either assisting a guest or had stepped away. Hmmm. The thought of standing out in the deserted parking lot in the rain wasn’t exactly appealing. I decided to head to Anchor Bay to get some Thai food dinner and then try again on my way back.

In my usual fashion, I had forgotten/underestimated how far it was. I kept thinking it was right around every curve for miles. Finally, it was, and after I ordered, I texted my boss to let her know of the hotel problem (cell and internet service being unavailable on the south coast). She texted back to check the back door of the inn. As I left the restaurant, I noticed a sign saying that they’d be closed from February 10 to March 18, so it’s just as well I made my way there after all.

Back at the hotel, I went around the back, accompanied by an Audrey looking cat, who in an Audrey like fashion started scratching at one of the two doors. I knocked at it and eventually a ponytailed guy in a Grateful Dead shirt appeared. The cat scampered in and I explained my mission. He brought me over to the neigboring restaurant, which was as closed as it had been earier that day. Then we went to the house next to it. He knocked to no avail and then rang the buzzer. Someone answered, but with the tinnynesss of the intercom and the whizzing by of logging trucks on the rainy highway, it sounded to me like the Charlie Brown grown ups.

Mr. Dead understood, though, since he headed back to the restaurant and knocked on a back door, unearthing another guy who went and got the writer’s bag. Whew.

I was really glad to finally see Hooterville. Later I added it up and estimated that I drove more than 150 miles that day. How’s that for extreme take-out?

2 responses so far

Jan 28 2014


Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Family

Stella enjoys the view

My valiant sister picked up an unwelcome hitchhiker on her last night shift in the ER: the Bug From Hell. The same one that rendered me snotty and sweaty and generally miserable for nearly two weeks. Being considerably smarter than her aged sibling, however, she got a prescription for Tamiflu called in to the pharmacy and also armed herself with zinc and other flu fighting equipment.

I learned all this between my many fourth quarter calls, and fortunately had a couple of hours at my disposal to go and pick up the pills and almost more importantly, walk Stella. As Megan observed, no matter how sick you are, you don’t get a day off from dog walking.

I loaded Stella into Megan’s car (I am trying to preserve Wednesday’s fancy leather interior as long as I can) and set off for the Village. As usual, it was a beautiful day with no sweater or jacket required. I am beginning to wonder if we are ever going to get some rain.

I soon learned that driving with Stella is, uh, challenging. At any moment, she may decide to lick you, and she loves to lean against you. She is a pretty strong dog and it made it hard to navigate the curves. As I drove across the long arc of the Big River bridge, the car suddenly slowed dramatically and started making disturbing noises. It turned out that Stella had shifted the car into neutral, unbeknownst to me and to the annoyance of the motorists behind me. So I was more prepared when it happened as we drove down Main Street and able to fix it faster.

We walked along the headlands, where Stella wanted to meet every single dog and person we passed – as I mentioned before, there are no strangers in Stella World, just friends she hasn’t met yet. She made a slightly embarrassing scene in front of a group of little old Asian ladies, who were visibly horrified despite my best efforts. Stella was tangled up in the leash – she has an epic ability to get tangled up in the leash – and was also enjoying her favorite hobby, chewing the leash, at the same time.

Stella is a rather chatty dog, so she was making alarming noises while attempting to eat Megan’s lovely leather leash. It was pretty hard to get it out of her mouth and then untangle her as the little old ladies scurried away in horror, no doubt to report on the girl eating pit bull they had seen in the middle of this lovely landscape.

They probably wouldn’t have recognized Stella a few minutes later, when she sat peacefully watching the ocean. She really loves watching the waves. It was high tide, and the sea spray flew up high enough to wet us both on the headlands. We both enjoyed the seascape for a while before heading to the pharmacy and picking up juice and other Bug defying supplies.

When we were about a quarter mile from home, she curled up on the passenger seat like a dream dog.

*Imagine the Brando voice.

One response so far

Jan 24 2014


Published by under Family,Friends

This week was a pretty busy one: usual jobette from Monday through Wednesday with the enhancement of 6 am calls on Tuesday and Wednesday; fourth quarter calls starting at 7 am on Thursday and Friday; and the unpleasant surprise of having to work on Saturday. I don’t usually mind filling in once in a while, but why did it have to be this week?

Our good friend Paul turned up on Tuesday. I was sorry that we were all working on Tuesday and Wednesday while he was here, and he drove back to San Francisco on Thursday. He is now making his way to LA to visit his grandchildren, then down to San Diego to visit some cousins, then back up to SF To see his uncle and then come back up here next weekend when none of us (I hope) are working.

Faithful readers may remember that I stayed with Paul in Florida one winter a few years ago, and that he took me on a tour of the Hamptons, where he has spent the summers cooking for the rich and (in)famous for more than 20 years. He has been our friend since he and my siblings lived on boats at Pier 39, back in the days before the sea lions moved in, with their twin specialties of barking and stinking. I used to be able to hear them from my apartment on Russian Hill, though I thankfully couldn’t smell them.

Being the hostess with the leastest, I had shamelessly asked Paul if he’d make me dinner when he had told me he was coming to visit. After we hugged hello and caught up a bit, I asked him what he was making for dinner. Being a guy, he had not planned or shopped. So we perused the contents of the refrigerator and freezer (like my Dad, and to a lesser extent, Self, Paul has mastered the art of making something good with whatever is on hand). We needed a few more things, so we and Wednesday went back down to the Gro and bought them.

Paul made chicken Francese, which was new to me and something like this, with Paul’s enhancements. With it, he roasted potatoes and zucchini. It was delicious! The next night, it was crispy fried shrimp in a Gorgonzola herb sauce over fresh pasta. It’s very relaxing to sit on the couch and sip wine while a professional cook makes dinner for you. I could get used to this.

2 responses so far

Jan 22 2014


Published by under Country Life,Dogs

Care to join us?

While people back East are getting covered in snow and dreading the return of the Polar Vortex’s evil twin (and if I wish I’d never heard of it, I can just imagine how they feel), we are having clear, starry nights flooded with moonshine, the temperature about one or two Celsius degrees, and days that get close to the 20 degree mark on the C scale. At some point in the morning, I open the doors, letting in fresh air and temporarily freeing me from being the cat doorman. They don’t make me wear a uniform, but they don’t tip, either. Maybe it’s the lack of pockets in their fur coats.

January these days is a lot more like Junuary, so in celebration, I cleared my schedule and headed to Big River with Megan and Stella on Friday. As you can see, it was a beautiful day:

We didn’t even need jackets or sweaters! Bare arms in January still seems very strange to me. Stella was wearing her bright orange “Adopt Me” vest, along with a big smile:

The gate leading to the road beside the river was open for the first time I can remember. Usually, we have to take a little dirt path, scented with wild fennel, beside the big metal gate. The gate was open because the Parks workers were repairing the road. One of the Parks guys was there to warn us about the giant trucks. Stella jumped on him for joy and kissed him. There are no strangers as far as Stella is concerned – just friends she hasn’t met yet. Unlike most girls, she enjoyed every drop of attention she got from the construction workers. And she got a lot.

She was completely unperturbed by the huge, loud trucks and people whizzing past on their bikes, and her only complaint about other dogs was not being allowed to play with all of them. Stella is taking the Canine Good Citizenship Class which Star passed a couple of years ago, so Megan is working hard on training Stella for her new home. Apparently Stella’s former guardians neglected to teach her minor things like coming when called, not to eat food from tables, and not to chew things like iPod connector cables and seat belts in the car. Or Schatzi’s old dish. No one can use that mangled piece of plastic now, at least not as a dish.

Other than some leafless trees, you would never know it was winter. The grass is still “golden” and the streams are low. I know pampas grass is a pest, but it was so pretty in the sunlight:

And the Village, where both residents and businesses alike are beginning to have water delivered, looked like a postcard:

In the evening, we sat by the fire at Megan’s house and had mojitos while watching “Legally Blonde” (I’m sorry, I love that movie) and listening to the dogs snoring happily.

It was a great day. So much more fun than work!

4 responses so far

Jan 19 2014


Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Schatzi

Who, Me?

The other day, I was driving home from the jobette, thinking great thoughts, as I tend to do in the shower and in the car. Or what passes for great thoughts when you only have two brain cells, both underachievers, and the inside of your mind looks like Miss Havisham’s attic. Or this lady’s place.

One thing about keeping track of the magic moments in my life last year is that it really taught me to appreciate the little things, like the sun setting in my rear view mirror (not that I can see it, with Wednesday’s dramatic after-market tan. So non Goth. It’s gotta go) and the golden afternoon light on the long and winding road that leads (eventually) to my door. On this particular evening, I was thinking about how Gene Clark of the Byrds, who lived right here in Hooterville on the same road as Lichen, drove this very road, and how if he could see it today, it would look exactly the same as he remembered it. The Little River Inn, where both Gene and I have enjoyed the view and the bar, is the same, too. It’s kind of cool to think that we have this in common. And that things change slowly in this neck of the woods.

I also remembered the long days Megan and I spent looking for our beloved Schatzi last summer on this road, and how she is probably resting somewhere we drive past every day, peacefully and I am pretty sure undisturbed. It took a long time before I stopped looking for her as I drove down the Ridge, and it took Megan even longer. Guess The Schatz out stubborned us all one last time.

I was thinking about the Saturday afternoon I was driving home from the jobette and came across Megan’s car parked by Lichen’s road. I pulled over and saw Megan, desperately seeking Schatzi. She and our friends Dave and Jennifer had spent the day combing the area. As I was thinking about this, I came around the same corner and…saw my sister’s car parked in the very same place.

I had a horrifying feeling of déjà vu and also “Little did Suzy realize she had entered…the Twilight Zone*”. I pulled over and once again saw my sister heading toward me. Once again, she was dogless. In this case, Stella the foster dog had wandered off the family property, where the boys were supposed to be baby sitting her. Megan was in her work scrubs and clearly just out of the shower, and didn’t have much time before she was due at the ER for her twelve hour night shift.

The boys were looking near the property, and Megan commissioned me to head back down to the store, which is the Hooterville equivalent of alerting the media, while she looked and called. At least this time we were looking for a dog who could hear, though one who is a little unclear on the concept of coming when called.

Wednesday and I had gone a mile or two when I felt my phone buzz in my pocket. I hit the microphone button on the car console, but the call dropped – cell service, or the lack of it, is one of the major tourist complaints – so I pulled into the fire station. I saw the call was from Megan, so I headed back, thinking that I could go to the store later if she wasn’t calling me with good news.

She was. While calling for Stella, the grandson of the guy who owns the store came out and asked if she was looking for a dog. It turned out that Stella had sneaked away from her babysitters and found a house with other dogs, where she spent the next hour or so happily playing with her new friends, trying to get in the house, and trying to get a snack.

Megan bundled her into the car, took her home, and then went to work, undoubtedly wishing she could have a drink instead. I’m glad that all’s well that ended well.

*Fun fact: Rod Serling and I were both born in Syracuse, New York.

2 responses so far

Jan 16 2014

Report Card

Published by under Bullshit,Car

Newsflash! I’m still blowing my nose about 500 times a day at a conservative estimate. Maybe you should just assume that I’m a snot monster until you hear otherwise.


Ironically, I went to the clinic yesterday for a check-up having nothing to do with my actual illness. It was just a routine check up. I had originally scheduled it for a couple of weeks ago at 8:00 am, when I would have been the first patient and I would have had a fighting chance of getting to work on time at 9:00. Of course, the clinic called to reschedule it for 11:30 today, making sure I’d have to take at least one unpaid hour off from work.

As usual, I waited for more than an hour and saw Dr. Sue for about 10 minutes. Poor Dr. Sue was totally overwhelmed with fellow flu sufferers. I don’t know how she works such long hours with sick people and is still so nice. She actually apologized for my waiting in a room full of germs. 🙂 In case you were wondering, I am perfect as always, other than the seemingly endless sniffles.

I ran into my brother in the waiting room. He was getting some paperwork done for continuing to be a fire fighter, and his next stop was the DMV for more fire fighting related bureaucracy, always fun after working a 48 hour shift.

I paid my usual $50 for the check up. I still haven’t availed myself of “affordable” healthcare. I need to research it more, but it appears that I will either have to pay $200 a month, which has a $4,000 deductible and requires $75 for a doctor visit, or $400 a month for a lower deductible and co pay. If I understand my insurance-ese correctly – and I should after the whole Miss Scarlett débâcle – this means that I will be paying $200 a month for nothing, since it will not go toward the massive $4,000 deductible, which will have to be met before any benefits kick in. This doesn’t strike me as exactly affordable.

5 responses so far

Jan 12 2014

Slow Progress

Published by under Calamity Suzy,Cats,TV

Cuddling Cats

Yesterday, I woke up to the delightful and unfamiliar sound of rain on my curved roof. I knew it wasn’t enough to banish the drought which was recently declared in our County, but I enjoyed the sound. We got half an inch, but now we’re back to sunny skies (or clear, or fair – what’s the difference?) with a faint chance of rain on Friday at the earliest.

As for me, I’m better, but still tired, coughing, and using enough Kleenex to make me wish I’d bought stock in the company. Is it insider trading if you know you’ll be using the product by the gross for an extended period of time? Come to think of it, that’s probably the definition of insider trading.

Anyway, I’m sick of being sick and disappointed that I’m not completely better after more than a week. Of course, I’m still well enough to work, just not to do anything fun. Megan and I were planning to see a live broadcast of the National Theatre’s production of “Frankenstein” at the beautiful Arena Theater on Saturday, but we both reluctantly agreed that I wasn’t well enough. I really wanted to see it – it stars the delightfully named Benedict Cumberbatch, also the shining star of the BBC’s stellar series Sherlock* – not to mention the proximity of Franny’s of the magic coffee and cuteness.

But cooler heads prevailed, and I ended up watching the trashy soap operatics of Reign** (picture an even less historically accurate The Tudors crossed with the frothy, costumed delights of Gossip Girl) with the cats. Above you can see a non-great picture I took with my iPhone***. That’s Roscoe in the back. The boys hardly ever cuddle, so it was a nice treat.

*It’s finally back! And I’m not the only one who’s excited.

**I am officially old. Megan Follows, who played Anne in the “Anne of Green Gables” series, plays a wicked queen with a teenaged son in “Reign”. How did that happen?

**Which has yet to ruin my life.

2 responses so far

Jan 08 2014


Published by under Calamity Suzy,Weather

I started the new year with a new Me! A sick Me! Not an improvement over the old Me.

I get sick so rarely that when I do, I am sort of offended, disappointed that my vintage body is letting me down. I should probably get used to that instead of experiencing the usual dismay and consternation. I am convinced that I picked up this flu in the mall, where I made an unaccustomed visit during my most recent Bay Area trip.

I am now completely unused to malls, and when I go into one, I am immediately overwhelmed and appalled by the tidal waves of perfumes and people. My mind also immediately goes on hold and I forget why I’m there, gazing around me in a daze at how huge the place is and how packed with people and stuff. How is this possible? What did I want to buy? What’s that thing?

At the Whole Foods, I nearly lost what little is left of my mind while trying to buy something for dinner. You’d think it would be pretty simple to just take a number and order some food to go, but it was a free for all in the style of an Italian bank. I was practically whimpering by the time I got out of there. I think it’s fair to say that the bumpkinization process is now complete.

I hadn’t realized that a flu bug hitched a ride home with me until last Friday, when I began to suspect that something was wrong. On Saturday, I woke up with chills, fever, achiness, coughing, etc. and emailed my boss at the jobette to say I wouldn’t be in on Monday. Later I extended it to Tuesday, and although I’m at the jobette today, I still feel under the weather.

Speaking of weather: I woke up to a sprinkle of welcome rain. Just enough to make the road slippery and ruin one’s hairdo, but not enough to help the drought. My county just declared a state of emergency. I guess it’s better than the extreme cold and snow people have been facing back East, but it’s scary nonetheless. Here’s hoping both health and weather improve soon!

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Jan 06 2014


Published by under Special Occasions

For a change, I was in the Bay Area for a party instead of for work.

My boss/partner’s wife, Jacci, celebrated her 50th birthday in style! I kind of wish I had made more of a fuss about hitting my own half century than I did.

Jacci manages a lovely hotel, and held her celebration there. Every table was decorated with a picture of Jacci, a golden shoe, and a champagne glass with “Jacci is fabulously fifty” on them:

There was an elegant dinner served by waiters, a guest book, and a beautiful cake:

There was also a reggae band, a nod to Jacci’s Jamaican homeland, and a DJ after the band packed up for the night. Here you see the happy couple dancing the night away:

I was shocked to learn that their oldest child is now 28 and the youngest 17. I remember when the youngest was a newborn baby! And there she was, tall and beautiful, rocking stiletto heels and long braids. I really should have unearthed my one and only pair of Manolo Blahniks for the occasion. The shoes in that room were incredible.

After Jacci blew out the candles on her cake and we sang Happy Birthday, Adrian gave a beautiful speech which moved me to tears. I was especially honored that he mentioned me in it and our long friendship. It was a wonderful way to end the year.

One response so far

Jan 03 2014

New Year

Published by under Country Life,San Francisco,Sports

Clyde helps me to unpack

I’m back in Hooterville. I came home on New Year’s Eve, and for the first time I can remember in my many years of driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, traffic was completely backed up on the northbound (leaving San Francisco) side. Later, I saw three CHP cars, but no accident or stopped car or other reason for the slowness.

As I edged past the now empty toll booths, I thought about the time I didn’t have the two dollars for the toll, and had to pull into the office’s parking lot in my Mustang convertible and write a check. Good thing I had my checkbook with me – I never carry it now. And I remembered when there were actual people in the booths collecting our tolls (now $6), and the time I was totally delighted by the woman blasting music in her booth, dancing and singing along.

Once over the Bridge, traffic speeded up and Wednesday and I had no more delays. I stopped in Philo and picked up fresh crab – it’s Dungeness crab season – bread, and salad for dinner. The sun was just dipping into the Pacific as I reached Hooterville. I think I passed Megan on the Ridge, on her way to the drunk tank and maggot emporium that is the ER on New Year’s Eve.

I unpacked the car, though not the suitcase, and settled down with champagne and crab to watch “Downton Abbey” and say farewell to the old year. The new year began with coffee and the Winter Classic, which I love. It’s so fun to see hockey played outside, and the goalies even wore pads that looked like the old school ones (undoubtedly they were grateful that the similarity stopped there, since they used to be made out of leather, soaked up all the water from the ice, and were unspeakably heavy). Also it’s much easier to enjoy the romance of the falling snow from the comfort of your sunny California living room, rather than being one of the 105,000 fans in the single digit cold (not including wind chill) or one of the players on the often shoveled ice.

Still, it was a wonderful event and I am pleased to report that the Toronto Maple Leafs won over the Detroit Red Wings in a shoot out, giving them two much needed points. A good way to start the year.

2 responses so far