Archive for May, 2014

May 31 2014

Wednesday’s Woes

Published by under Bullshit,Car

You know those people who can’t wear watches because their magnetic fields or something mess them up? I think I’m that way with cars.

The five year old car that I bought a mere five months ago is already having problems and costing me a fortune.

It all started when I drove home one day from the jobette and could not open the car door. At first, I reasonably assumed it was user error, as it often (always?) is in my case, but nope. Wednesday refused to open, so I rolled down the window and opened it from the outside. Jonathan thought he could eventually fix it, but it would mean taking the entire door apart (disassembly to repair almost anything appears to be a Ford specialty). Also he was in the middle of digging a well which was due to be inspected*, and wouldn’t have free time to fix it any time soon.

I got used to rolling down the window (at least it’s summer) and holding the door open with my knee while I rolled it back up again. But then more problems struck.

The engine light came on and the wrench light also. My opinion is that these lights should be replaced by dollar signs, since that’s what they really mean. My brother read the codes and it said it was the solenoid or similar. Unfortunately, he can’t fix transmission-related things, not having the specialized and expensive equipment for it, so it was time to go to the car doctor.

The car doctor said that he could diagnose and fix the solenoid thing à la carte, but that Wednesday was overdue for a 90,000 mile maintenance, and most likely the solenoid thing or whatever it is would be fixed by the zillion and one things included in the 90,000 mile maintenance procedure. Unfortunately, the maintenance procedure was $700.

It’s at times like this that I wish I were a real adult instead of the extremely faux one I am. Surely by the time a girl is more than half a century old, and with yet another birthday sparkling on the horizon, she ought to be able to make good decisions about things like this. Somehow I didn’t get the manual, or else I never read it, since we all know reading the manual is a last resort.

I decided to just do the maintenance and walked sadly to work, trying not to cry. It took two days to fix the car, and when I got it back, I learned that it would take a further $150 to get the part for the door and get it fixed, which I get to look forward to this week. Ever since I got the car back from the shop, I haven’t been able to make my iPod work with the car stereo, so it’s been long and silent drives to the jobette and back, alone with my deep thoughts.

When I put on my turn signal today to turn into the parking lot at the jobette, I got an error message saying “check turning lamp”. At least the other lights are off, right?

Maybe it’s just as well that I learned to drive so late in life. I may have saved a bundle!

*My siblings’ land partners have rented out their house in Grass Valley and are moving to the property to start building their house there. Since the house will have to be inspected, the well will, too, unlike the original one the boys dug a few yeas ago.

5 responses so far

May 28 2014

Megan’s Birthday

I turned my focus from the dark side to the bright side over the weekend, or from one side of the circle of life to the other, if you will, celebrating Megan’s birthday. Megan’s birthday falls on the Memorial Day weekend (“First long weekend of the summer!”) and Jonathan’s on Labor Day weekend (“Last long weekend of the summer!”), and one of the great things about living here is that I can actually celebrate with them.

When I lived in San Francisco, I learned the hard way that traffic prohibited my visiting over holiday weekends in the summer, since most Bay Area residents had the same idea of coming here. Now my commute is just down the Ridge, no traffic involved.

Actually, it was a little further, since I had to go to the jobette and back in the Big Town, but still. Much better than being stranded on the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge for an hour!

It was a beautiful day. By the time I got there, the party was in full swing. Jarrett and his wonderful girlfriend Kalli:

came with Archi, formerly the world’s cutest puppy, to surprise Megan. I knew they were coming for over a month and it was hard not to accidentally blurt it out. Megan was surprised and delighted, though I missed seeing the surprise itself. Jarrett enjoyed the surprise we gave him on his birthday so much, he thought he’d give it back!

Erica, Jessica, and Lichen were there, too. Another friend stopped by who we hadn’t seen for a while. Jessica hadn’t met her before, and wasted no time in walking up to her, shaking hands, and saying, “Hi, I’m Jessica,” unprompted by anyone. Needless to say, Jessica made a big impression (and a new friend). Jessica and I talked about a lot of things, including Marie Antoinette. Jessica’s take is that the tragic Queen’s “lack of understanding of statecraft” caused her untimely demise. She is eleven, right?

Our spokesjessica is seen here wearing a dress made by her multi-talented mother.

Jessica also supervised Jonathan at the barbecue:

That’s Lichen perched on the fire ring after a long day of work. Here’s Archi hoping that Jonathan will drop some food in the fair game zone:

He still has the same adorable “worry” wrinkles between his ears as he did when he was a baby.

Jonathan had made a cherry pie from scratch, and Erica made two pies as well:

They were layered coconut and chocolate cream. Why have one or the other when you can have both? That’s pretty much Erica’s philosophy about everything. All the pies were incredible. I think for my birthday, I’ll just have pie and forget about the dinner. Isn’t that one of the few perks of being a grown up?

When I was ready to leave, Jessica offered her arm to me and said, “May I escort you to your car?” When we got there, she gave me a kiss and a curtsy, in that order. I love that kid.

The next day, I went over to see Jarrett and Kalli before they took off. They had camped in the giant garden overnight, discovering that a 70 pound dog + 2 people = no room. My timing was excellent, because my brother was making pancakes from scratch, served with strawberries from the garden and honey from the family bees:

It was great having breakfast together in the sunshine. I didn’t even have to feel sad to see Jarrett and Kalli go, since they are coming back to celebrate her birthday in July with 20 or so of their closest friends. Summer’s here! Let the fun begin!

5 responses so far

May 23 2014

Feel It All Around

Published by under Friends,Memories

Things have been on the dark side during these bright spring days. My boss/partner/friend of decades lost his father and aunt within days of each other; his uncle received Last Rites last night; my brother’s friend lost her mother just days after her first grandchild was born; and, lastly and most shockingly, my friend J died last week.

J was one of the grooms in the beautiful wedding last summer that was one of the high points of the year for me. I will never forget the joy and love with which these two were finally able to claim each other after a quarter of a century together. I expected their married life together to be a long and happy one. It was happy, but it was cut short by J’s death of complications following surgery. His widower has nothing but good words to say about the dedicated and hard-working staff at the hospital, who all worked so hard to try and save him.

He was 69.

I have been in daily touch with his widower, who is doing better than I expected. He stopped by the jobette this week after making the necessary arrangements and I was impressed by his strength and courage. He will plan a celebration of his husband’s life at a later date, which will be presided over by the Sikh who married them just nine short months ago.

It just feels like there’s been too much death, too much loss lately. May has been the new August this year. I hope things get brighter and happier for all concerned, and I wish those who have lost loved ones the comfort of happy memories as well as the strength to bear the sad ones.

3 responses so far

May 20 2014


Published by under Cats,Country Life

Outside Roscoe, Inside Clyde

So Roscoe decided to stay out on the town last night, even though Hooterville is not renowned for its nightlife. He probably wasted his allowance on that fake ID.

When he hadn’t come home by the time I went to bed, I turned into Anxiety Girl, able to leap to the worst conclusion at a single bound. Unfortunately for Self, Anxiety Girl’s superpowers do not include sleeping. Roscoe eventually slunk home at 1 am, ate a fashionably late dinner, and then curled up against me purring and went to sleep as if nothing had happened. Everything was fine as far as he was concerned.

Unlike Self, he merrily leaped out of bed five hours later, though he can look forward to a nap this afternoon. Whereas I could have used a little more beauty sleep. Ask not for whom the alarm tolls. It tolls for thee.

2 responses so far

May 14 2014

In & Out

Published by under Country Life,House,Weather

I have to say, it’s been fun coming home and finding Rob here. The way he thinks is both unique and entertaining. Also it’s fun to see the developments on the bathroom front.

Yesterday, I arrived just as Rob was installing the shower pan. The new drain hole was in a different spot than the old one, so Rob cut a new hole and put the cut out piece in the old hole to seal it. Or as he put it, “I put the new hole in the old hole!” After installing the shower pan, he created a confection of towels and wood to clamp it in place as it dried overnight:

As you can see in the background, Rob has cancelled the window, as Mark puts it, by sheetrocking over it. He also removed the peeling green wallpaper from around the shower and painted over it, ready to tile. Here’s the cancelled window from the outside:

Yes, having a drafty window in my shower was a little odd, and the wood was rotten, but it always makes me sad to see windows boarded up and know that no-one will ever look out of them again. Also the bathroom is a dark cave without a window, so Rob is trying to figure out if he can cut one in the door to the back porch or maybe put a narrow one beside the shower, or both. Stay tuned.

We’re on Day Three of the latest heatwave, which broke records in downtown San Francisco yesterday by hitting 90 degrees, and it was about the same here in Hooterville. Today is supposed to be the final day of this hellacious weather – for now, they always come back in my bitter experience – and it was the perfect time to enjoy the outdoor shower on the back porch:

It’s a relic from the good old (or possibly bad old) days when there was no bathroom at all, simply an outhouse and an outdoor shower, both of which must have been uncomfortable when it was below freezing in the winter. But on a warm morning like this, it was delightful to shower outside and admire the view:

It’s close to high noon and the temperatures are inching up inexorably. Audrey is lounging in a lounge chair on the balcony and the boys are puddles of melted fur in front of the floor fan. Let’s hope Karl the Fog comes riding in on his silvery mist to save us all soon.

6 responses so far

May 12 2014

Home Improvements, Part I

Published by under Country Life,House


In order to tell you something really cool, I’m going to have to show you something really embarrassing. Not that it should come as a total shock to you after reading about my house’s eccentricities for the past few years. I finally convinced Mark to do something about the horrors of my bathroom. You know, the room with: no insulation; no heating; a shower pan made out of painted wood where the drain is not the lowest part, so it doesn’t, you know, drain; a floor made out of electric green plywood…you get the picture. And here it is:

Whatever mystery panels were on the wall were, as you can see, impossible to clean. Even with straight bleach and a scrub brush. So I had kind of given up on the entire thing. The door is open to the back porch so you can’t see the window in the shower. It does kind of give you an idea of the scope of its awkward tininess, though, and a peek at the lime green floor. It’s a long way from the gracious bathroom I had in San Francisco:

The project started off slowly, with an actual, real (I think plastic, though) shower pan appearing at my house, where it sat outside during a couple of late season showers and the first heat wave of the season. Then Rob appeared with some black and white tiles he had found somewhere. Yesterday, he said he’d start to work on it today, just in time for the second heatwave of the season.

I was pretty sure he wouldn’t find Jimmy Hoffa or a million dollars (finders keepers!) under the mystery panels. If I was on one of those HGTV shows, he’d find a horrible problem which would cost so much money that they could no longer afford the sixth bathroom or closet annex on their house, and they’d be both furious and devastated. Since this is reality, not to be confused with reality TV, he simply found that it was wet. So when I came home from the jobette today, there was a fan blowing onto the bathroom, which was converted into a job site:

Clyde is inspecting it. Here’s the view from the back porch:

The window is gone, along with the shower, so I’m going to have to be really careful about going in and out of the bathroom tonight, since my goal at night is to keep Self and cats safely in the house and out of the darkness, which as we all know is The Enemy. I tried to call Rob to ask him about all this, but when I heard his phone ringing in the bathroom, I figured I should hang up and bring it to his house, where he wasn’t.

Stay tuned…

5 responses so far

May 09 2014

Field Trip

Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Family,Garden

No sooner had last week’s heat wave finally abated than Megan and I chased it to Wilits, where the heat usually lives. Megan was questing for pepper plants and other things not readily available on the generally cool and breezy Coast. It’s a beautiful drive on highway 20:

This is looking west toward the coast from the 3,000 foot summit, where it sometimes snows in winter, as Megan can tell you from first hand experience, having driven a patient through blinding snow on that icy road in the deep country darkness back in the good old (bad old?) ambulance days. Even longer ago, it was a wagon route for the first settlers in this part of California.

Arriving in Willits, we made our way to the garden center, accompanied by Miss Stella. I was surprised and pleased by how much positive attention Stella received while we were in Willits. A guy on his way back to work at City Hall stopped to pet her, and she was welcomed at the garden center, where she relaxed in the greenhouse:

Many fellow shoppers took the opportunity to pet her, and Stella soaked up the attention as she always does. She loves town, and she loves attention. She also enjoyed the shade:

in a beautiful little tree-lined park in the historic downtown:

You wouldn’t be surprised to see Wally and the Beav chasing each other around in that park. It was like being in the past (one of my favorite places).

Megan was dissatisfied by the pepper plant selection at the first garden center, so we followed a local’s suggestion and visited a second nursery:

where Megan bought every pepper plant in sight and I amused myself by taking pictures of the quaint garden gate:

Megan didn’t really buy all the pepper plants, but she bought enough that they had to make extra beds for them and borrow all my leftover soil from last year to house them. I think there are 20 plants. We will be in pepper heaven this summer!

3 responses so far

May 06 2014


Published by under Country Life,Family,House

As if herding cats for three days (and nights) wasn’t enough, Rob also did some home improvements while I was away in San Francisco. You have to love coming back to a house that’s better (and prettier) than you left it.

He hung up this picture, which is not easy when you have curved walls:

It’s in the sleeping loft, but I can still see it from downstairs.

I fell in love with this vintage dove planter:

even though it needed some repairs. Rob not only repaired it, but wrapped together copper wires to make an absolutely gorgeous hanger for it. He then installed it in the peak of the balcony outside my bedroom door:

It looks so perfect that I’m not even going to plant anything in it. I’m just going to enjoy it swaying in the wind, whether I’m inside or outside. I’ll add some photos of the balcony soon – I have a kind of retro thing going on out there. Also the remedial roses are FINALLY looking good, after cutting them back ruthlessly twice. I was surprised and delighted to see that the little rose that could is finally blooming – the flowers are white.

Rob put up a hose reel I bought to keep the hose from sprawling all over the balcony:

While he was up there, Rob installed a proper door handle on the screen door we bought last year, and a little bumper thing so it doesn’t smash up against the roof every time I open it.

Much better than the hook and eye I had put on to keep it closed and the kitties in. Speaking of kitties: Rob put a cover over the crawl space in the studio so the cats can’t use it as an exit:

I had it plugged up with storage bags of clothes and blankets, but again, this is much better.

He is also working on the “front” door, which has been slowly separating and getting harder and harder to open. Here you see the work in progress from the inside:

And the outside – kitty proofing the door with an old piece of carpet he found:

As he observed, gravity is your friend…until it isn’t. Good thing for me that Rob is always my friend.

One response so far

May 01 2014


Published by under Bullshit

Go pour yourself a glass of something and sit down. This will take a while.


So…last month, my buddies at Covered California called me on April 8 to tell me that the deadline to make my initial payment was April 10. I never did get the letter with the PIN I was supposed to use to pay them. I gave them my credit card number, flinching at the $351.01 (don’t forget the penny). Oddly, my insurance was effective April 1, or a week before I made the payment. April Fool’s?

A couple of weeks later, I received my membership card and instructions on how to register on line. Needless to say, the website did not recognize the membership number on my card, so I was reduced to calling the behemoth bureaucracy.

When I finally got through to an actual person (who was quite nice), I got the bad news, and then the bad news:

  1. Dr. Sue and the entire clinic are not covered by the très expensive insurance. So I can either go to a whole new, unknown doctor or keep paying for the annual visit myself. So I’ll be paying $351 a month for insurance I can’t use (unless something really bad happens – always a possibility).
  2. Because they were so late in billing me this month – apparently, the bill that went out yesterday should have gone out on the 22nd, they are billing me for May and June at once, or $702.02. Yay!

I have to say, I’m not vey impressed with this whole thing. I do not find the Affordable Care Act affordable at all. Even though my job is supposed to defray $400 of the $702, that still leaves me with a $300 payment for insurance I can’t use, and that’s not even considering all the bureaucratic idiocy that accompanied the entire process. It’s been a complete débâcle from start to finish, and the end result seems to be that I’m paying a lot for nothing.

Later: Just got a letter dated March 27, sent to my house’s address rather than the mailbox where I actually get my mail, telling me that I owe my first premium. Which I paid last month. Did I mention that one of the first things they asked me on the phone today was my mailing address, which they said matched their records? You can’t make this up!

3 responses so far