Archive for March, 2014

Mar 29 2014

The Breakfast Club

Published by under Cats,Special Occasions,Weather

The rain is really trying to make it up to us. According to my friend and neighbor Jim, we got more than three inches of rain yesterday, and I emptied more than five out of the rain gauge this morning, and five is as high as the rain gauge goes.

I can believe it – it was pouring last night when I drove home from the Village. I went to see a play of the beloved film The Breakfast Club, which made its début thirty years ago this week.

This production was my friends’ daughter Maya’s senior year project. She wrote the play script based on the movie, designed the set, chose the actors, acted in it, and directed. Did I mention that she is sixteen and is going to college in the Fall?

Maya did a great job. I was surprised that the minimal set worked so well and that Maya was able to effectively capture scenes like the chase in the hallway and the dance in the library. I really enjoyed it, and on my way out, I told the kid who played Bender what a great job he did. He ducked his head with embarrassment and thanked me.

I ran to the car, but was soaked anyway. When I got home, the kitties greeted me happily. This morning, though, they didn’t care that I got to bed late. Audrey insisted on going out at 6:30, and I fed the insistent Clyde and went back to bed. Clyde had other ideas, though, and kept making his distinctive ClydeSounds™ while walking all over me. I gave up and got up and let him out into the rain. I guess the cats have their own Breakfast Club.

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Mar 26 2014


Published by under Country Life,Family

Procession for a Fallen Hero

When the alarm flashed in the 5:30 darkness this morning, I was already awake, listening to the rain and petting Roscoe one last time before getting up. As I made my way downstairs, I thought of the many other people in our County who joined me in the pre-dawn darkness, preparing to say farewell to Sheriff’s Deputy Ricky Del Fiorentino, who was killed in the line of duty last week.

Thanks to the ridiculous time change, I needed my trusty little flashlight to find my way to the car in the pouring rain, and it was dark nearly all the way to the jobette. I left early to avoid the closure of Highway One for the Deputy’s funeral procession. The highway is closed from 8 am to 10 am, when the memorial service will start. The Governor is attending the service, and Megan told me that his security staff was in the ER last night, asking how to reach them in case of an emergency with the Governor and what would happen. As this was happening, Megan was helping the family of a 100 year old patient with a brain hemorrhage say goodbye.

Just another night in the ER.

Megan did take time out to attend the candlelight vigil at the police station last night. She met our friends Rik and Lu there, who also knew and loved the Deputy, and Megan said it was beautiful. Hundreds of people were there:

She said she was hugged by many officers and thanked for coming. I hope it was somewhat healing for her, since I know how heart-broken she is by this terrible, senseless loss.

As I write, the service is about to start. Law enforcement and fire officials are in attendance from all over California and Oregon, including my valiant brother. I hope you will join me in taking a moment to think of Ricky Del Fiorentino, his 26 years of dedication as a law enforcement officer, and his short 48 years of life in this world, which he left a better place than he found it.

Thanks to Lu for the photo of the procession and to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat for the photo of the candlelight vigil.

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Mar 24 2014


Published by under Country Life

Most of the time, I feel like I live in a west coast version of Stars Hollow. Not so old and historic, and without snow, but replete with quirky characters and a strong community. None of my many doors have locks, and I leave them open when I go to work so the kitties can go in and out in the absence of their doorman.

Last week, our little corner of the world was shocked and saddened by the tragic and violent death of a beloved Sheriff’s Deputy, Ricky Del Fiorentino. The Deputy was the victim of a heavily armed lunatic from Oregon who was on a crime spree, including car theft, kidnaping and arson, originating in his home state and ending here. The killer murdered the Deputy in his car – apparently, he was still seated and both the front and back windshields were shattered from gunfire, and the vehicle was described as “riddled with bullets.”

The murderer was killed by law enforcement, but not until he had taken the life of a man who was universally beloved in our community. The Deputy was known equally for his smile, his good judgment, his dedication, and his courage. My sister, who knew him well and is heart-broken at his loss, said he had often “saved her butt” when she worked on the ambulance and that it was always a relief to see him on scene, no matter how terrible the situation was. He was the exact same age as our brother and left behind a wife and five children (Megan was present at the youngest one’s birth) and a shocked and saddened community. Even Governor Brown released a statement about Ricky’s death and ordered flags to be flown at half staff.

Tomorrow there will be a candlelight vigil at the courthouse in the Big Town, and on Wednesday, there will be a memorial service with a procession starting at the county seat 60 miles away and ending in the Big Town at an auditorium large enough to hold the many mourners. I hope the ceremonies help the healing process, but we are all still reeling from this terrible and senseless loss and the shock that it happened here.

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Mar 21 2014


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

Peach Blossoms

We recently had an unseasonable BBQ at the family property with my sibs’ land partners, Dave and Jennifer.

The property is huge, and my sibs couldn’t afford to buy it all on their own, and neither could Dave and Jennifer, so they joined forces and bought it together. How’s that for cooperation?

Big Bird* would be proud.

The market crash in 2008 derailed their plans to build, but it looks like they will break ground this spring! They are working with an architect to draw up plans, but most of the work will be done by Dave, his brothers, and my brothers. We are all pretty excited about this.

Dave and Jennifer came for a weekend, bringing two of their horses all the way from distant Grass Valley, which I think I passed on the epic trip to Reno last year. It must be a long and slow drive on these curvy roads with thousands of pounds of horses.

The orchard is beginning to bloom, as you see above, and garlic is merrily sprouting through the hay. Our friend with the heavy machinery who made this entire garden possible came by and dug two 20 foot long trenches to plant raspberries in, and my brother and brother-in-law are busy digging another well:

Never a dull moment over at the property.

We gathered around the fire on the evening of the BBQ, and when dinner was ready, we gathered around the Waltons-sized picnic table my brother built last year. At some point, someone (I think it was Dave) asked, “Where do you think we’ll be 20 years from now?” and I said, “Right here!”

I hope I’m right.

*Who represents the average six year old, or my mental age.

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Mar 17 2014

The Gift

Published by under Dogs,Family,Memories

Visiting the prisoner

When Dad returned to his native England – about a dozen miles from where he grew up – he brought his muttley dog Jesse with him. He knew that Jesse was facing six months of jail, aka quarantine (which I think has now been abolished), but there was no way he was leaving his beloved companion of nine years behind him. Prison was the lesser of two evils.

When the time came to take Jesse home, he went so crazy at the sight of his leash and collar that it took about 20 minutes before he calmed down enough to get it on him and off to the leafy glades of Wimbledon, where he lived out his remaining days like a king. Dad always said he had a deal with Jesse that he expected five years from him, considering the cost of quarantine, and Jesse lived up to his end of the bargain. When Dad died, his ashes were scattered under the same tree as Jesse’s, so they are still together.

Megan definitely inherited Dad’s love of dogs along with his science gene. With her love and care, Star has blossomed, and in the three months she has had Stella as a foster dog, she has come a long way. Just yesterday, she passed her Canine Good Citizenship test:

The fact that it happened on Dad’s birthday eve made it even more special to me. I know he’d be proud and happy. Happy birthday, Dad. We love you.


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Mar 15 2014

Criminal Clyde

Published by under Cats,Country Life

Always where he shouldn’t be

Megan and I were planning to have a girl night, starring the delightful Call the Midwife and some cocktails, but plans went somewhat awry…

The Gro has a little deli with delicious things, and Megan had heard they had grilled chicken marinated in tequila and lime. Our work-saving thought was to add some hand-made (not by us) tortillas, salsa and black beans and call it dinner. On arriving at the Gro, I ran into Mark, who had in his truck a replacement for the sliding glass door at my house which has refused to slide for about a month. He headed to my house to install it (fortunately before dark), and I headed to the deli, where I discovered that all the chicken had been sold.

Hmm. There were no obvious substitutes, and I already had all the other stuff in my basket. I set it down and tried to call my sister’s cell from the pay phone (there is no cell or texting service in beautiful downtown Hooterville). No answer. I later learned that this was because she was helping the boys in their well digging endeavor, which tends to be both loud and dirty, so she didn’t hear my SOS.

One of the deli employees helpfully found some pre-made chipotle and lime sauce, so I decided to just buy everything I had and thaw some chicken in the microwave when I got home.

When I got home, I put the bowl for the chicken on the counter and once again tried to reach my sister. I went outside to increase the chances that I’d get cell reception* and as I listened to the fruitless ring, I heard a smash from inside.

Ckyde scampered out as I scampered in, and I was sorry to see the broken clear glass Corningware casserole broken in a zillion pieces on the floor. It had been my parents’ and I remember it from my increasingly long-ago youth. I was really sad to sweep it up and put it in a paper bag. I know we shouldn’t be too attached to things, but we don’t have much left from our parents, and I used it often.

Clyde’s hobbies include jumping up on the counter and even the bookshelves beside the (now) sliding glass doors, as you see above, where he doubles as a statuette. Sometimes he shows off his athletic prowess by slinking across the curtain rod above the doors:

It’s hard to believe that this spectacularly naughty kitty is the same innocent one who I found sleeping cutely behind my bed along with Audrey earlier in the day:

I imagine it’s pretty warm back there with the corrugated plastic stuff. As I write, he is in cute mode again, which is probably how he gets away with stuff like this.

In the end, I got the chicken thawed and made dinner for my tired and filthy sister, who went straight to the shower without passing Go or collecting $200, which she probably should have for her day’s work. The insta sauce was pretty good and we all enjoyed a nice evening together.

*My siblings’ cell phones are long distance, even though we have the same area code. Go figure. So I use my cell to call them since it’s free. On the other hand, the iffy cell reception can make things frustrating. I had a work call drop out three times that day for example. No wonder I have been spared the iPhone addiction everyone predicted when I finally got one.

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Mar 11 2014

News Round Up

Or, sweepings from the corners of my life…

The big moment!

In just a couple of hours, my boss from the jobette (third from the left, or the rebel with the long hair, as my co-worker phrased it) will be meeting President Obama. Can you believe it? Instead of being at his desk in our office (a converted JP Penney store), he will be standing in the Oval Office with the most powerful man in the world. He might even get to shake the president’s hand! The occasion is the President’s signing into law an act making the Stornetta Public Lands on the beautiful south coast part of the California National Monument, protecting its breathtaking views and sensitive ecosystem forever.

I’ve been participating in the twice monthly conference calls dedicated to this project for a year now, so I feel that in some small way I am part of this success for our county. My father (whose birthday is less than a week away) would be proud.

So, yeah…health insurance.

Jarrett’s been helping me find my way through the labyrinthine maze of health insurance. As I suspected, I make “too much” money to qualify for assistance with the premiums. You’d think I’d be used to being squeezed like a lemon as a member of the rapidly dwindling middle class, but I’m still bitter about paying $250 a month for it, especially since I’m still paying off Wednesday for the next two years or something.

I get to pay $250 a month and the cost (“co pay”) to see the doctor is about the same and the prescription cost is more than I pay now, without insurance.


Speaking of Jarrett, there was an earthquake on Sunday night, centered 50 miles out in the ocean from the town where Jarrett lives, which is a two hour drive north of Hooterville. Jarrett was fine and there was no damage. I didn’t feel it, though Megan did. She said it was the longest one she could remember in quite a while, and Jarrett agreed.

I think even the earth is revolted by the hideousness of the time change. I know I am.

Megan came home yesterday to find Audrey in her – that is, Megan’s – bedroom. At first Megan thought it was her cat Ramona, who is also a tabby but is much bigger than Audrey, until she got one of Audrey’s patented Stinky Looks before Audrey vacated the premises.

I wonder how often my cats go over there and what they do when they are there. Maybe it’s because Megan is their Staff when I’m away and so they think of her house as kind of their other house?

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Mar 08 2014

Jumping In

A beautiful day to jump in with both feet!

I don’t know what you do on a windy Saturday in February, but if you’re my brother Jonathan, you jump into a frigid river as it meets the equally frosty Pacific. Not just for the hell of it, though that would not be surprising (he is, after all, a guy who thoroughly enjoys a cliff rescue and winter camping in the snowy Sierras), but to benefit Special Olympics.

In addition to running into burning buildings and fighting 60 foot high wildfire blazes for no money, Jonathan also works with developmentally challenged adults, so the cause is near and dear to his heart. A couple of his clients were on his team, including Frank, who has helped out at the jobette from time to time, and who now works at a local garden center. He’s also a really good artist. Here’s a card he gave me with his drawing of an owl:

I love owls. And Frank.

The sign welcomed us, flapping in the breeze:

My brother ordered costumes for this year’s Plunge, but they didn’t arrive in time, so they will wear them next year. The outfit of choice seemed to be overalls:

That’s Frank on the far left and my brother in the middle. When I posted this on Facebook, one of my brother’s friends commented, “Is that a redneck Speedo?” 🙂

Just minutes later, they ran into the freezing cold river. My brother actually dunked his head under a couple of times, and he was all smiles when he came out:

I bet his official sweatshirt felt really good:

I’m glad I was there to cheer them on and donate to such a worthy cause. I am so proud of my brother and his team!

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Mar 05 2014


Published by under Country Life,Friends

Little salon in the big woods

It was high time to get my hair cut and re-blonded. I made my way to Angelika’s little salon in the big woods.

You can tell you’re approaching her driveway because of the always-decorated trees. Even the gate is welcoming and tinselly:

You can feel yourself relax when you get there. I love the little sign on her salon:

“Once upon a time is now, as is happily ever after”
When you go inside, it’s warm and cozy and scented with lavender. It’s a pretty space to get more pretty in:

Angelika is meticulous about highlights not being stripy (stripes look good on Audrey, but not on her staff). She said that when Lichen does her highlights, she’s always asking him to make the sections thinner. She actually uses a paintbrush on mine, and wraps it in some kind of special paper to process. I’ve had foil before, but never paper. Even Lichen had to learn how to use it.

While the three shades of blonde were blonding me, Angelika and I caught up. She said that it was a funny coincidence that I’d called her for an appointment, since she was going to call me and I beat her to it. She was heading to Germany for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and her 30th high school reunion (as I write, she is there) and wanted to check in with me to see if I needed anything since she’d be gone for a month. So it was meant to be!

I realize that I only know three people whose parents are a) still alive* and 2) still married. Angelika’s parents still live in the house she grew up in, and of all her classmates, she is the only one who doesn’t live in Germany. I don’t think Europeans have the same culture about moving that we do in North America.

With my hair and spirits refreshed, I made my way home in the winter sunset.

*My boss/partner lost his father at the age of 91 on Sunday. His father’s final words to him were “You’re a fine man.”

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