Hello, Goodbye

My hard-working sis is working an extra shift this week, and I stopped by to say hello and goodbye this morning. Attire: kitty pajamas, sweater, and sandals (like Peppermint Patty, I wear them even in winter). I was surprised that the car was full of dogs and she was ready to go. It turns out that she had come over to my house yesterday morning, only to find that I was already gone to the jobette (I left early to buy groceries, gas, cat food, and go to the library).

She was planning to drop the dogs off at our friend Lu’s house, where they can play with their friend Harlow and run around the big, fenced yard while Megan is at work. At least we had a couple of minutes to catch up with each other’s news (Megan’s cat Ramona is experiencing age-related health issues; I had my hair cut) and promise each other we’d try to spend some time together on Friday. For girls who live about 100 yards away from each other, we don’t see each other very often. Still, it’s good to know she’s there.

The wonderful Angelika cut my hair on Friday. It was high time, since the last time she cut it was in March! On my way there, I came across a flock of little boys riding their bikes down the Ridge, each with a fishing pole tied to the handlebars. They rode into the parking lot at the firehouse to let me pass, waving and smiling. It was kind of an Andy Griffith moment. Nice to know that kids still want to go fishing with their friends on a fine, late summer day.

At Angelika’s little salon in the big woods, the garden was looking lovely:

As was I after my haircut. Angelika is from Germany, where they apparently take hair styling very seriously. She studied for four years, as if it were college, apprenticing after two years. She has never said so, but I think she’s appalled that in the US, it’s about nine months of training instead. All I can say is, even after six months, my hair still had its shape, even when I didn’t blow dry it.

She and her boyfriend have been converting their garage to an artist’s studio, installing windows that she traded haircuts for. Her boyfriend traded cutting down trees for lumber, which somehow seems appropriate. I love how this kind of thing is still possible around here. A visitor told me this week that we live in a sort of fairyland up here, and sometimes, it seems like we do.

It’s not all fairies, though. Some of it is bugs.

Like the cricket who found its way onto my stove, leaping away in horror when I turned the burner on, then retreating to a safe distance to watch the proceedings with interest, occasionally waving his antennae in approval.

Or the termites wafting gently through the autumn sunlight. I didn’t even know they flew until I moved to Hooterville. They eventually lose their wings, which lodge nicely in the cobwebs the less Martha Stewart among us have in our houses, and retire to eat someone’s house, possibly mine, though I have not caught them yet.

On the other hand, Erica’s insect encounter was less benign:

“My washing machine just broke because a banana slug got electrocuted on a circuit board.

Now I’m looking for new fuses to solder in, after cleaning out slug bits and carbon, because soldering that thing in is going to be cheaper than the $450-600 to have a repairman replace the board.”

The hazards of living in the country. Or fairyland. You decide.

Nearly Done

We were gifted with another inch and a half of rain! It’s very early in the season, and it’s making me hopeful for a rainy winter.

During the rainfall, I realized that I did not have any sauce for the pasta I was planning to make for dinner. So I pulled on my little flowered rain boots and the hat I bought at the fair one year, and skipped through the puddles to my sister’s house, where she was getting ready for work.

The dogs were more excited than usual to see me, and that’s pretty excited. I don’t think anyone in the world is ever happier to see me than Star. Even my Dad made less fuss when I flew halfway around the world in coach to see him. The dogs were bored out of their minds in the way dogs are when it rains. They went out to pee, but couldn’t wait to get back in the house and out of the wetness. If possible, Stella actually hates the rain more than Star. So they are bored, but don’t want to go out and play. An appearance by Auntie Suzy just brightens up the dullness of their day.

Fortunately for me, Megan had some tomato sauce, and also tomatoes from the epic family garden which are due to be made into sauce any day. I also used onions, garlic and peppers from the family estate to make the sauce.

While I was at Megan’s, Rob showed me that he had done some work in their bathroom, repainting and planning to replace their sink with a better one he found somewhere, as Rob does. So he’s been cheating on my bathroom with his own bathroom. 🙂

There’s really not much left to do in my bathroom. Rob came by last night and put on a coat of primer. There’s just the walls to be painted white and the door to be painted black, along with installing the new door knob set. Here’s how it looked before the primer went on:

And here’s how it looked before Rob made it beautiful:

Amazing difference, isn’t it? Rob suggested taking down that shelf and it makes the whole room look bigger. I love how Rob was so creative in finding and using things. It’s been so fun spending more time with him. And of course, Clyde did an excellent job of supervising.

Here & There

We ended up getting 3/4 inch of rain! My lazy side (is there any other?) was happy not to have to water the garden, though the rain did seem to revitalize the mosquitoes. Every silver lining has its cloud?

Wednesday required a follow up visit to the car spa in Santa Rosa. Apparently whatever they did last time needed a minor-ish adjustment, and since it was part of the warranty repair, all it cost was about five hours’ driving and a tank of gas. I can’t tell you how nice it is to be able to take the key out of the ignition on the first try, and to have the dashboard warning light- and beep-free. I’m hoping that this has finally solved all of Wednesday’s woes and that the car curse is broken.

A girl can dream.

The other day, I stopped on the Ridge on my way home and gave a lift to Michael. He is an older gentleman who can often be seen riding his bike around Hooterville. When Schatzi was missing, he was very helpful in searching for her, especially since he was not in a car but able to cover a good distance. As you know, we never did find our beloved girl, but it was comforting how our little community rallied around and did its best to help.

On this evening, he was on foot. I stopped and asked him if he would like a ride – he often says no when he is on his bike, but I keep asking anyway – and he was very happy to hop in. I asked where his bike was, and he said that he had hitchhiked to the Big Town that day and was on his way back.

I asked him where he lived, fairly confident that it wouldn’t be as far down the Ridge as I am, and it turned out that he lives on the same road as Lichen. Not just the same road, but on the same property! Not only that, but someone had just bought the property, which had been for sale for years, and he and Lichen have six weeks to find somewhere else.

As I was digesting this shocking news, Rob passed us and I waved and smiled. Michael said, “That’s Robert.” I said yes, he is married to my sister. Michael was surprised and pleased with this information, and spent a few minutes telling me that Rob is a good man, very smart and very funny. It was nice to hear that someone appreciates Rob as much as his family does.

I offered to drive Michael all the way home but he preferred to walk down his road. He said that he lives in a ten foot by ten foot cabin and wasn’t ready to be inside just yet. I told him I’d keep an eye open for a new place for him and went on my way.

I expect that whoever bought that property will tear down the little houses and build something new, and I don’t like the thought of people who would kick tenants out of their homes with inadequate time to find shelter moving into our little community. One of the nice things about living somewhere so isolated is that it tends not to attract people like this. I hope it’s not a harbinger of change. And it’s hard not to worry about it happening to me some day.

Yesterday, my little abode seemed more like Grand Central than a little hippie hovel deep in the woods.

Mark came by to borrow season two of “Dexter” – he and Citlali are both completely hooked on it, and while he was there, checked out the cupboard in the pantry/laundry room that came off about a year and a half ago and which he has been promising to fix since he got home from New Jersey last year. He thought he might have the right hinges somewhere, and went off to look.

He came back with them and they didn’t fit, so he made a note to look the next time he’s in town.

I started dinner – chili cashew chicken stir fry – and Rob knocked on the door. He was looking for Parmesan since the Gro was closed, and fortunately, I still had a piece left over from the pasta with pesto, chicken and artichokes which I had for dinner the night before.

I gave it to him along with a belated birthday hug – Rob turned 50 on Thursday and I hadn’t seen him to give him a birthday hug and kiss. We really need to get it together with our celebratory BBQs this year – I still haven’t had mine, nor has Jonathan. And note to Self: let Jonathan know that he has been promoted to my big brother. He and Megan are the only ones still hanging onto their 40s.

I had just sat down to dinner and “Murder In the First”, a very enjoyable policier set in San Francisco and actually filmed there, when Citlali came by to borrow some conditioner for her beautiful girls’ beautiful long hair. I gave her the rest of the bottle, knowing all too well what it’s like to try and detangle long hair without conditioner.

I love how we can all help each other out. We’re all in this together!

Update: Megan tells me that Lichen knows the guy who bought the property. Apparently the new owner’s vision is to make the little houses an “artists’ colony”, and since the new owner knows Lichen, has enlisted his services to find a contractor to renovate the houses. Lichen can stay in his house and be an on site caretaker, though everyone else has to move. They have sixty days to find new places, which is better than six weeks.

Fairly Good

Before I tell you about the county fair, I have an announcement to make: it’s raining! It started yesterday evening and I rushed to put the hanging plants out so we could all enjoy the welcome, effort-free watering. I was thrilled to find half an inch of rain in the rain gauge this morning (imagine its surprise) and the usual leak puddling on the kitchen floor. As I write, it’s still raining and the garden and I are sighing with happiness. The kitties, not so much.

Roscoe has gone back to bed, as he often does in weather which is not up to his standards. Audrey is sitting on the front porch glaring at the rain, and Clyde is sitting on the back porch, watching it like it’s a movie.

As for the fair, Megan and I ventured to the beautiful Valley on a Sunday afternoon, the last day of the festivities. It was foggy on the coast, but sunny in the Valley, where the giant apple (does it have a name? Andy Apple sounds good to me) greeted us:

Inside the fairgrounds, we passed the Ferris Wheel, which always reminds me of Henry and Fern in “Charlotte’s Web”, and also of my horror when I actually tried it out a few years ago:

We met up with Jessica, who scampered off to go on the rides with hr friends, and Erica, who was our fearless guide to the fabric and fiber building. Inside, someone was demonstrating the correct way to shear a sheep, and Erica’s gossamer shawl had taken every prize known to fairdom:

including grand champion, first place, division champion…you get the picture. I imagine her fellow contestants heartily wish her back in Portland when fair time rolls around.

She spun, dyed, designed and crocheted (or possibly knitted) this wonderfully webby creation herself. Even Charlotte would be impressed:

and no photo can do it justice. I did try, though.

Jessica had a couple of her haikus prominently posted in the window of another building:

I love how she mixed mythology with Addams family aesthetics.

Jessica was excited to show us the “snack size sheep”, but alas, they had packed up and gone home. We soon learned that the major drawback of going to the fair on Sunday afternoon is that the 4-H kids had packed up their bunnies and fancy fowl and things like that, as well as most of the animals, which are kind of my favorite part. There’s always next year…

We stopped by the agricultural building to admire the biggest pumpkins:

The biggest one was 700 pounds!

Jessica posed by the array of apples:

I remarked wistfully to Jessica that she wouldn’t want to meet up with us at the fair much longer (this was the first year she had gone off to the rides with her friends, and she is 11 and a half now), and she said cheerfully, “The hormones haven’t kicked in yet!” Then she added, “Maybe I’ll be like you and never grow up.”

I hope so.

Random Updates

You will be glad to hear that my back is back to its old and now much more appreciated self. I am still trying to remember to be nice to it to keep it in a good mood. A grumpy back is actually more fearsome than a grumpy Suzy. Imagine!

In addition to the temporary couch coma*, here’s what’s been going on around here:

  • So far, I have managed not to kill the new (to me) Japanese maple. I’ve been watering it every day for about three weeks, and so far, so good. It’s not showing any signs of trauma from being dug up, dragged here, and moved into a bag. I’m trying not to think about how sad it and the neighboring red Japanese maple will look in a couple of months when all the leaves fall off.
  • I had the bright idea of putting the cats’ dishes away when I went to the jobette or was otherwise out of the house all day. I’m sure this new policy was not popular with food fan Clyde, but I’m hoping it will be equally, or even more, unpopular with Yellow Cat. I figure if he slinks in there and finds it food free, he might cross us off his route. I think this evil plan has been somewhat successful, since on non jobette days over the past week, I’ve seen him only once, and he fled when he saw me. I kind of feel like a jerk, but I have a zero tolerance policy for bullying my kitties.
  • Wednesday had a vacation in Santa Rosa. The fix it lights came on yet again, and the car doctors here on the Coast judged the problem to be beyond their abilities. They recommended a place in Santa Rosa, where the mechanics not only figured out what was wrong with the car, but that the fix it was under warranty by Ford. So Wednesday got a whole new transmission on the house, saving me between $3-5,000 (not to mention $500 worth of rental car while Wednesday was in the shop). Apparently the problem is unusual so we should be good to go.

    Having said that though, today was the first time I had driven Wednesday around here since she got home from the Santa Rosa spa, and while enjoying the lack of lights on the dashboard and the ability to go around curves and uphill simultaneously without the engine jerk I had been suffering before the plastic surgery, I heard a loud BEEP and the low tire pressure notice and light came on.


    I stopped in at the tire place on my way to work, and couldn’t get the key out of the ignition. The tire guy came over and I got out of the car and explained what was wrong. He reached in and took the key out. I asked him what he did, and he said that sometimes even when the car is in park, you have to push the gearshift forward a bit or the key is locked in the ignition. Apparently it’s a safety feature.

    Maybe I am as dumb as I am….

*While marooned on the couch, it occurred to me that I often wish I could just sit around on the couch all day when I have to go work and do other faux adult activities, and now when I could, all I wanted to do was…not. I guess part of it is my general perversity, and part of it is wanting to lounge when not drugged and damaged. Having wishes come true often seems to be more “Monkey’s Paw” than not.

The Graduate

It’s certainly been a good year for plays. Friday marked the third play I attended this year, and the second one based on a beloved film. Last time, it was The Breakfast Club, produced and acted in by teenagers, and this time, it was The Graduate, produced and acted in by grown-ups. They were both wonderful.

Before the play, Megan and I met up with Lu at Frankie’s in the Village, where we sat outside to enjoy our chicken pesto piadines (basically a big salad inside a flap of flatbread, and impossible to eat daintily, at least by me) and a bottle of local, organic wine:

It was from Yorkville Cellars, where I stopped in to drop off some jobette-related materials but didn’t drink the wine, even though I wanted to, and which, it turns out is delicious.

We had a lovely time messily eating our salad sandwiches and catching up on each other’s lives, though it was strange to be there without any dogs. Frankie’s owner has her own rescued pit bull, and welcomes dogs of all kinds on the patio of the restaurant. One of the things I love about this county is how dog-friendly it is.

After dinner, we made our way to the theater, which was lit up festively:

We picked up our tickets at the box office, and settled into our seats. The play was directed by one of the dancers from the burlesque show I enjoyed last year, and speaking of dancers, Lu’s niece played the stripper in “The Graduate”, doing a wonderful job with wit and style. She is part of the same burlesque troupe as the play’s director, and is also a fire dancer and belly dancer, so you can imagine that the girl has moves!

The cast was all great, especially Benjamin and Mrs. Robinson, who followed the tradition started by Kathleen Turner of courageous full nudity on stage. The drama and comedy of the film were beautifully captured, and of course the soundtrack is fabulous. It was a wonderful evening with two of my favorite girls.

New & Improved

It was obvious for a while that my old MacBook needed to be replaced, but both my resistance to change and innate cheapness meant that I didn’t do anything about it for quite some time. Finally, I decided to ask my boss/partner for the price of a new Pee Cee and pay the remainder to buy a new MacBook. To my surprise, he offered to pay for the whole thing, even when I informed him that the terrifying price tag, including Apple Care and other what nots, was around the dizzying $1,700 mark.

Needless to say, it took me a while to figure out the new operating system, including a couple of calls to Apple to help with questions on email (solved) and iPhoto (it appears I am stuck with the stupid “events” set up, rather than the library format I’m used to). I also hate the super wide tabs in Safari and have so far been unsuccessful in getting rid of them, even after trying Glims, though I have removed the icky Top Sites thing and annoying hot corners. However, the track pad seems to make pages move from side to side from time to time for no particular reason that I can discern.

I have also noticed that the silvery surface shows fingerprints readily, which I always imagined would also be a drawback on the stainless steel appliances that everyone apparently finds so desirable. Still, it’s a big improvement over the old one as far as speed and capacity go.

I was trying to remember when I got the old one, and I’m pretty sure it was about eight years ago, which is antique in computer terms. I got my Product (RED) iPod at the same time. Looking back through my dusty archives, I’m surprised that I didn’t write about buying it at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, which looks like a floating glass box:

It’s right across from the Plaza Hotel, Eloise’s fictional home and my spiritual one, and near Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE sculpture:

I love(d) it, even though it only has 8GB of memory. Despite a lot of use, it remains a shiny metallic red. But it began to sound like the singing was underwater, and it didn’t hold a charge very long, so it was time for a new one, which, as you can see, is fuchsia and shiny. Almost as good as red. And it has 16 GB of memory. That’s a lot of music for those long drives!

New Kid in Town

Happy Labor Day, y’all! I am celebrating by doing as little as possible, whereas for my hard-working sibs, it’s business as usual. There are no holidays for emergency services*.

I did get back to work at the jobette on Saturday, though. I was careful of my back, and let my co-workers know that hauling around 30 pound boxes of visitor guides is out of the question for at least a week. While I was couch bound, I was touched by all the sweet and caring emails from my colleagues. My favorite was the one which read simply, “Drugs help.”

It seemed like a pretty long day, and I wondered if drugs, in addition to helping, stay in your system for a while. Though I hadn’t taken any in more than 24 hours, I still felt more out of it than usual.

When I finally got home from the jobette, I was greeted by Luna as usual, but also by a miniature Luna. I dropped my things on the driveway in surprise, wondering if it was the drugs, but it turned out to be a puppy! Mark had adopted a sweet little girl named Lupe:

Needless to say, I wasted no time in picking up Lupe and cuddling her, which I have done every time I have seen her since, despite the very scented flea collar she sports. It smells a lot like Old Spice, combining the snuggly, wiggly puppy experience with Old Guy fragrance.

She is super happy and adorable. Luna seems to enjoy teaching Lupe how to be a patrol dog, and I’m glad to know there will be two sentinels keeping the monsters at bay as Lupe grows up. She does need to learn about the cat flap, though:

*On the bright side, we can finally have Christmas on Christmas Day this year, since it falls on a Thursday. Yay!