Archive for August, 2014

Aug 28 2014

On & Off the Couch

Published by under Calamity Suzy,Country Life,House,TV

Today I felt improved enough to venture a couple of miles down the Ridge to look for a new (to me) doorknob for the other door in the bathroom. You may recall that after buying the new door and accessories, it became painfully obvious that the cheapo knob on the cheapo hollow core door would have to go.

My back did not enjoy jouncing down the dirt driveway or the dirt road leading to my neighbor’s place:

I ignored it, though, and looked through boxes of vintage doorknobs and faceplates before narrowing it down to three finalists, and finally the winner:

I knew I wouldn’t find a match, but I did find one in the same kind of tone and with a taper, so I think they will work well together. The new knob got the Rob seal of approval, too. Currently we are planning to paint the now blue door shiny black, which should look great with the black and white floor tiles. I think Rob is also going to paint the bathroom white after mudding in the wall next to the new door. It’s going to look great.

When I got back home, I put on the heating pad and then applied Glam Glow’s Thirsty Mud mask and Bright Mud eye treatment while enjoying the soap operatic antics on Nashville. The best line of the season has to be Juliette Barnes saying, “I guess nice just ain’t my color.”

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Aug 27 2014

The Couch Report

Published by under Calamity Suzy,Cats,TV

I’m still on the couch, but I’m getting better. The Magic 8 Ball and I are both pretty confident that I’ll be able to go back to work at the jobette on Saturday. I’m all set up, with pills and water close at hand, along with phone and TV remotes, all the better to watch Daria with, my pretty. It occurs to me that Erica is much like Jane Lane. Also, is it wrong that I have a crush on Trent? I mean, he’s a lot younger than I am. Also, he’s a cartoon, so our relationship is probably doomed.


From my vantage point on the couch, it has come to my attention that Yellow Cat seems to think that he is now a semi-regular member of the cast, rather than a cameo as I thought. My lack of mobility has impeded the shooing process, but I have twice ejected him from the studio, where he was chowing down on cat chow with an air of entitlement that I found disturbing. I also caught him peeking in the living room door, and he didn’t leave until I levered Self off the couch, tossed the blanket aside, found my sandals, and lumbered out into the garden, carefully avoiding the construction materials spread around in order to avoid yet another Calamity Suzy episode. Later, he was hanging out in the sun by the new tree, and I’m sorry to report that I turned the hose on him, Grinch Girl that I am.

I never thought I’d be the kind of mean old lady who soaks neighboring cats, but he started it by fighting with my cats. Fortunately, they seem to run into the house and avoid YC as much as possible, so even if he is here eating all their food, he isn’t clawing them to pieces, so maybe this is the compromise we’ll all have to live with. And you know what a compromise means, kids: it means nobody’s happy.

On the bright side, the cats have been keeping me company in my time of need. Clyde has been multitasking by keeping me company while simultaneously napping:

Roscoe took advantage of my relative immobility and flexeril induced carefree attitude to get a drink on the counter, which is normally forbidden territory:

Sometimes a guy just needs a drink.

Meanwhile, outside, Audrey was keeping an eye out for Yellow Cat and any other would-be intruders:

Who needs locks for their doors when they have Audrey and The Glare of Death to keep trespassers at bay? Except of course for Rob, who brought me frozen pizza and ice cream and worked a bit on my bathroom, keeping the invalid company. Even Audrey loves Rob.

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Aug 25 2014


Published by under Calamity Suzy,Garden

I am marooned on my couch, hanging out with the lower back pain that showed up like an uninvited guest around dinner time yesterday and has refused to leave ever since. I have texted my boss at the jobette to let her know that I am not coming to work, and Megan to let her know that I have somehow damaged Self and could use some first aid after she caffeinates.

I’m not sure how I managed to do this, unless it was my unwise attempt to carry the outdoor table upstairs and onto the balcony. The plan was foiled by physics, since the curviness of the roof means that neither the glass door nor the screen door can be pushed back far enough to inveigle the table through the balcony door.

I puzzled ’til my puzzler was sore and Rob showed up. He assessed the situation and opined that making a pulley out of ropes and hauling it up that way was the way to go. Then he took the problematic table back downstairs.

He had not come over to solve my furniture problems or even work on the bathroom, but rather to bring me a tree.

Yes, a tree.

Ever since I moved up here, Rob and Megan have been planning to give me some trees in preparation for moving over to the family property. The trees are planted in giant containers owing to the poor quality of the soil around here, making them hard to move, especially if their roots have grown through the container.

But when there’s a Rob, there’s a way, and now there is a big green Japanese maple (complete with mini helicopters and Clyde on the right):

right near my medium red Japanese maple:

Rob says that the tree will be traumatized, since he had to cut some of the roots to move it, and that I should water it carefully. I hope it survives its transplant and will be happy here.

I haven’t done anything in the garden this year because of the drought. The beds by the shed in the front of the house are empty, and other than replacing the geraniums which were killed in the frost in December, I’ve just been trying to maintain what I have and try not to feel guilty about watering once or twice a week. So far so good as far as the well goes – let’s hope it keeps going well!

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Aug 20 2014


Published by under Bullshit,Country Life

Did you ever see that movie Final Destination? The flick that spawned a million sequels? In the first (and only one I’ve seen), a bunch of kids are boarding a plane for a school trip when one of them has a premonition that the plane is going to crash. He and some friends leave the plane, and kaboom!

Our friend the Reaper is not to be shaken off so lightly, so the rest of the movie entails the ever more ridiculous demises of the escapees, the point being that you can’t escape Fate, or the Reaper, depending on how you look it.

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived at the jobette to discover that the internet was out, meaning that we also had no phone, so the boss closed up for the day (Snow day! California style!). I was going to San Francisco the next day, so I just took that day off, too, since the entire Big Town was cut off from the world*. I won’t exactly say that I was thinking, “Haha! I’m on my way to unlimited internet!” all the way to the City, but it did occur to me that for once having crappy and expensive satellite internet paid off, since it was unaffected by the destruction of the fiber optic cable that cut off the Big Town from civilization.

However, while staying at the modest motel in San Francisco which is my home away from home, the internet was out for a day and a night as the motel managers upgraded the system. Anyone who has ever had anything upgraded knows that “upgrade” is code for “chaos”. Eventually, it was back up and running, though not notably improved, being slower than it was before it was improved. At least it worked.

A couple of days after I got back from the city, the crappy and expensive satellite internet experienced technical difficulties requiring the personal attention of a technician. The first appointment was four days later. While waiting for the appointment, I used my phone to check email, but other than that, I was web-free. Other than cobwebs, that is.

The day before the technician was due to appear, they called to tell me that the technician’s truck had broken down and he would come the next day. I later learned from the technician that his truck hadn’t broken down, and this was a frequent lie/excuse when the satellite company overbooked his services. Once they even told a customer that he had broken his leg, which made it a little embarrassing when he turned up without a cast on. This guy covers most of northern California and drives about 400 miles a day. I don’t know how he does it.

He made sure that everything was in working order before he left, since it would be three to four weeks until he could return if something turned out to be wrong. So far, so good.

*I later learned that many cell phones didn’t work, as well as ATMs and food stamp cards, for two or three days.

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Aug 18 2014


Published by under Family,Memories

Dad and Megan

“All the things I long for, those are not things in the future. Those are things in the past.”
— Jo Nesbø

Thirteen years ago, my life changed forever with one early morning phone call. I will never forget my sister’s tight, tense voice as she told me that our father was gone, nor the shock of hearing those words. I will never forget my brother’s strong, work-callused hand seizing mine as we walked through the echoing, impersonal vastness of SFO, saying “Let’s do this.” I felt his strength pour into me as he held my hand so tightly that summer morning, just as I felt Megan’s through the phone just hours before.

Dad, we got through that dark day and the 4,745 days since, whether they were dark or light or something in between, with each other, the way we always have and always will. Thank you for teaching us what love is and the importance of family, no matter what happens. Together we are holding hands and walking into the future. We just wish you were walking beside us.

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Aug 15 2014

Round Here*

Published by under Cats,Family,House

So far, I’ve successfully gone two nights with the slowly improving bathroom exposed to the elements.

Rob removed the old door and started to frame in the doorway for the new door, which is narrower:

The new door also needs to have a hole drilled in it for the lovely doorknob set. As you can see, it’s shiny and beautiful after its sojourn in the Rob spa:

Maybe sanding and varnishing are the door equivalent of microdermabrasion for people.

Rob hasn’t had time to finish the door installation yet, so in the meantime, I’ve had to be cautious about facility usage during the dark and dangerous night hours.

I’ve been leaving the lighted X on to discourage skunks and other unwanted visitors from partying in there, and when I do, I put on the light on the back porch by the sliding glass doors. Then I can check for potentially escaping cats before heading back inside. To quote Alex from Happy Endings, “I’m not as dumb as I am.”

So far it’s worked, but I have to admit I’ll be glad not to have a hole in the house one of these days. Also I’m dying to see how the new door looks when it’s installed. Rob thinks it will make the room look bigger as well as brighter.

It occurred to me that we have shopped local(ly) for everything other than the X, and even that came from San Francisco, less than 200 miles away. And that we have spent very little. Rob bought the medicine chest for $7 and the floor tiles – all of them! – for $6 at a thrift store. The towel rod and lighting fixtures were found and rehabbed, and the copper pipes for the shower rod were found in James’ vast collection of things and stuff. The door and its accessories were the highest ticket items at $200, but were bought just a couple of miles from my house. Other than that, we bought a basket of sundries at the hardware store, and that’s it.

It’s amazing what can be done with ingenuity and skill – Rob’s, anyway! 🙂

*Now I have that Counting Crows song stuck in my head.

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Aug 12 2014

Here & There

Published by under Cats,Family,House

While I was working in the City, Rob was working at my house.

It’s nice to know that he was there, and I’m sure the kitties appreciated it. Audrey in particular loves Rob, and I’m sure they all enjoyed petting breaks while Rob was working there.

Here’s look at the vent he constructed for the bathroom fan:

As you can see, the hole with the mesh is protected by a little copper “house” Rob made, and in turn, it’s protected by the eaves of the house in case it ever rains again. The fan seems to be quieter now that it vents outside, though I could be imagining things.

Inside the house, the glass towel rod has been installed:

Rob found it at the dump, removed the paint and dirt from the 60 year old glass, and replaced the battered metal ends with copper ones he made. I think it’s gorgeous. Almost too nice to cover up with towels!

He also got a medicine cabinet at a thrift store for $7. It fit almost perfectly into the space of the old one, other than a tiny crack which Rob filled in while I was away.

He also hung up a letter from an old movie marquee in San Francisco:

I love it, and it casts a beautiful rosy light, as well as going nicely with the copper fittings. This was my find, and therefore more expensive, like the door, which is currently being worked on in Rob’s workshop and cabaret:

This is an old Airstream-type trailer beside my house, which Rose used to store her pottery equipment. Rob moved in a stand to hold the door, some lights, and a heater, and closed up the front with a heavy duty canvas tarps. It’s like a nightclub in there: dark, smoky, and exclusive.

The door apparently required much sanding (some with machinery, some by hand) and coats of varnish, and it’s just about ready. Before Rob installs it, he’s going to install moldings and baseboards, and I think paint the bathroom, since he can’t stand it. I’m considering painting the bathroom door to the hallway shiny black and getting new knobs from our neighboring window and door emporium down the Ridge, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.

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Aug 09 2014

Home Again

Published by under Car,Country Life,San Francisco

Sleeping Clyde

It was a good trip to the City. The drive home…not so much.

Along about Novato, the traffic slowed to an ooze, sometimes giving up on oozing to just sit there in the baking heat. I had the Blue Jays game on the stereo through my iPhone and the air conditioning blasting. It seems that Novato is the new Santa Rosa, where the traffic used to grind to a halt before they widened the highway there.

Later, I passed a CHP car with lights flashing, and a lot of broken glass by the side of the road, but otherwise no sign of a car accident. There were lighted signs on the highway telling me to conserve water* (though how, exactly, I was supposed to do this while in the car, I don’t know), but nothing warning me of delays of more than hour or incredibly slow traffic.

I finally got home close to 6:30, and Megan came by to pick up her pizza and help me unload the car, not necessarily in that order. She was amused when I told her that the counter guy at Victor’s – who is now used to my extreme take-out ways – told me that people from LA take Victor’s pizza home with them, too. So maybe I’m not that extreme after all.

The kitties were definitely happy to see me, and I was happy to see them. Also making me happy were: eating pizza while watching the final season of The Killing; sleeping in my own bed with the clean, country air pouring in the balcony door; kitties sleeping with me; waking up to the birds singing and a sunny Saturday.

It’s good to be home.

*There were billboards in San Francisco suggesting that we stop washing our cars to conserve water, so I drove my dusty, dirty car with pride on the hilly streets.

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Aug 07 2014

Counter and Culture

Published by under San Francisco

Once the annoyances of work were out of the way, I checked the clock and thought that the line at Swan Oyster Depot might be of sufficient brevity to work with the brevity of my patience. The line was relatively short, but seemed to take a long time. At last, I was rewarded with a stool near the end of the counter:

I ordered crab cocktail, and while I waited for it to arrive with darkly crusty sourdough bread, I watched the ballet behind the counter. One guy was slicing smoked salmon paper-thin, while another cut up a few loaves of that delicious bread and a third performed the esoteric ritual of preparing fresh sea urchin to serve. It’s always busy at Swan’s, but somehow, once you grab that coveted stool and sit down, all the cares of the world disappear and you just feel happy and peaceful. And then there’s the food.

Next to me was a woman with a gumball sized diamond on her wedding finger (and a surprisingly nondescript husband/jewelry donor beside her). The ring almost defied even my jewelry appraising abilities, but I’m guessing ten carats and at least $100,000. Diamond told me it was her first time there, so I asked if she had cash (Swan’s doesn’t take plastic). This momentarily flustered her until she learned that Donor (unsurprisingly) had some. I made some suggestions, which were seconded by the gents behind he counter, and when the bread came, she exclaimed, “I never eat bread, but this is phenomenal!” Everything was “phenomenal”. I’m glad Diamond and Donor were happy, and when I left, I wished them a happy visit. She beamed and patted my shoulder. There I was, rubbing elbows (and shoulders) with the One Percent!

I kept with my modern theme of this visit by heading to the Contemporary Jewish Museum to enjoy their exhibit Designing Home: Jews and Mid Century Modern:

I loved this “Marshmallow” couch by Anni Albers, made in 1956:

I’m pretty sure I could write the great American novel if I only had this desk and chair, designed by Muriel Coleman in 1960, to write at:

I’m not normally a fan of wallpaper, but this “Aviary” paper designed by New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg is so charming that I’d give it a try:

Another very gifted Saul was Mr. Bass, who designed these record covers for Columbia in the 1940s and ’50s:

When he wasn’t doing that, he was designing the striking opening credits for little flicks like “The Seven Year Itch”, “Vertigo”, and “West Side Story”. And when he wasn’t doing that, he ws designing iconic logos for United Airlines, Kleenex, UPS and countless others. You can see more of his remarkable work here.

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Aug 06 2014


Published by under San Francisco,Work

I woke up before the alarm went off, even though it was dark. I was a little confused when I first woke up (Where am I? Why did I have to get up again? Why are my dreams so weird? Where’s the coffee?), and disappointed to find a cat-free bed. I miss them already. After one day. This may officially make me a crazy cat lady.

I had coffee in bed while I woke up slowly. Somehow, even when I bring the little French press and my own coffee, I still make crappy in room coffee. It would be worth having a maid just to have some else make (good) coffee for me.

Once I was faux grown up-ized and ready to face the world, I called my friends at City Wide Dispatch and clacked out to the street in my heels. I hardly had time to notice the fog before the taxi arrived, sweeping me to my first meeting of the day. It went well, and I caught up on some industry gossip too, before heading to the second meeting, across the palmy expanse of Union Square:

That’s the lovely and historic St. Francis hotel peeking through the fronds, where the Fatty Arbuckle scandal started and they still have an employee who washes all the change in the hotel so as not to soil the gloves (or the sensibilities) of guests.

After work was done for the day, I made my way to the de Young Museum, which is, at least for blogging purposes, beginning to take over from the Legion of Honor as my favorite San Francisco museums. I seem to be warming up to its copper clad, monolithic charms, perhaps because of all the copper improvements in my own modest salle de bains. Here’s a shot of one of the many interior gardens:

I find that they refresh the spirit as well as the eye, and play to the organic quality of the building.

I was there to enjoy the Modernism exhibit on loan from the National Gallery:

My father used to say that if he had to choose one art museum to visit for the rest of his life, it would be the National Gallery in Washington, DC, and this exhibit confirmed his view, though he probably would not have enjoyed the artwork. He was delighted when all “the rubbish” was moved from the original Tate, home of the immortal JMW Turner and wonderful Restaurant, to the Tate Modern, while yet appreciating the architecture of the Modern.

I was stunned by the beauty of this Frank Stella, “Flin Flon IV”, from 1969:

In the same room was this strong, dancing “First Theme”, from 1964:

I was delighted to see two boxes by the quirky and inimitable Joseph Cornell, “Sand Fountain”:

and “Les Constellations Voisines du Pole”

I was moved by a series called “The Stations of the Cross” by an artist called Barnett Newman. He was inspired to create a series of paintings while recovering from a heart attack in 1958. The series grew into the stations of the cross, and Newman commented that it may seem strange for a Jew to make art based on this story, but he said that his inspiration was really Christ’s cri de coeur “Why have you forsaken me?”, which Newman looked at as an eternal, unanswerable question more than a religious theme. Here’s a picture I sneaked of the first few paintings in their minimal majesty:

The paintings were sited in quiet, peaceful room of their own, going around the room and ending with a fifteenth painting which was titled simply, “Be”.

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Aug 05 2014


Published by under Travel,Work

Even way out in Hooterville, you just never know what will happen…

On Monday, I left home early to get yet another check-up for Wednesday. Her sullen teen years, like most kids’, have not been that great for the grown ups in the picture, no matter how faux. It seems that I will have to take her to a Ford dealership in the county seat, but I’m taking the Scarlett on that for now.

After that dispiriting news, I went to the jobette only to be greeted by all my co-workers. Don’t get me wrong: they’re always glad to see me, but they rarely are hanging around en masse by my desk, which is, as we know, where all the magic happens. They also had news: a car accident (later reports said a truck) had taken out some fiber optic cable just south of the Village, and surprisingly, this had removed all internet access to the Big Town.

We had no email or internet or phone and couldn’t sell anything either, since the cash register and credit card sales machine use the same system. So I made a sign, posted it on the door, put out the garbage and recycling for pick up this morning, locked the doors, and went back home. A snow day!

On arriving home, my snow day lost all its fun as work reared its ever ugly head. One of the good (or bad) things about having terrible satellite internet is that it’s not interrupted by the hiatus of the otherwise speedy and unlimited internet that others enjoy. It was its slow and expensive self, allowing me to work at my other job whether I liked it or not.

My boss/partner also – stop me if you’ve heard this before – has to attend his aunt’s funeral in Virginia (that makes five in the last three months), so is heading to the airport as I write. He had to reschedule our meeting, planned for Thursday, to today. So instead of working at the jobette and then driving to the San Francisco today, I drove to Oakland instead.

I don’t think I’ve set foot in Oakland since I left almost five years ago. I met Adrian across from City Hall, built exactly 100 years ago:

Here’s the Tribune tower, built in 1906, the year of the Great Quake:

Sadly, it is no longer a newspaper, but the tower still looks beautiful and is a landmark, especially when lit up at night.

I have to say that what little I saw of downtown Oaktown looked pretty good. Ditto the traffic wending my way back across the new and improved Bay Bridge toward Civilization. Though it had been a long day. Tonight: Thai delivery and the Giants game. Tomorrow: Meetings starting at 8:00 am.

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