Thanksgiving Wrap Up

The Morning After

The rain kindly held off on Thanksgiving Day, even giving me enough time on the day after to move the buckets of wood for the outdoor fireplace under cover and to put the hanging plants out to get a shower. I had just finished all this when the rain began to fall and the cats came running back inside.

As I tidied up the house, I wondered why I had bothered tidying the day before. After all, I knew the house would be a mess the day after, even with people washing dishes as we went along the feast preparation road. It’s just one of those things about having a really small house and a kitchen that is undersized even by Manhattan standards. I guess I want to act like I am tidier and more civilized than I really am.

Erica and Jessica arrived bearing gifts: wild mushroom tartlet appetizers; three different kinds of cranberries (chutney, made with figs and quince; relish; and shrub, which you will hear more of later); rolls; and a spicy pumpkin pie, truffle-like in its utter richness. Oh, and a meat thermometer.

I had put Turkzilla in the oven about two and a half hours prior to their arrival, and applied foil after its initial hour in the oven because of the undue brownness. Erica opined that I had unwittingly fast roasted it at 400 degrees in foil rather than roasting it at a slower, more civilized pace, and that all 22 pounds of it might in fact be cooked. The meat thermometer claimed it was, though we turned the oven down dramatically and left it in there a couple more hours just to be sure. It looked pretty good:

After the turkey crisis was handled, I showed the girls my new bathroom, which Jessica pronounced “much improved”. I think Rob should make a little plaque with his initials on it and install it near the baseboards somewhere. An artist should sign his artwork.

Erica went to hunt mushrooms for dyeing (and found a bag’s worth of different hues), so Jessica and I explored my jewelry box, which mollified me after the rejection of my jewelry in the big city. Jessica thinks my jewelry taste is impeccable, and accessorized me for the evening with a string of jade beads my father brought me from China, my mother’s moss agate earrings, and a turquoise pin that had been my grandmother’s. She accessorized herself with my moonstone necklace:

When Erica came back from foraging, she made magical cocktails in my grandmother’s wine glasses with the cranberry shrub. Shrubs date from Colonial times (how Thanksgiving is that?), and are sweetened vinegar-based syrups that can be mixed into soda water or other fruit juices. Erica mixed it with clementine soda and added vodka to mine for extra fun:

I couldn’t resist eating the pickled cranberries in the drink – delicious and intense!

Lichen arrived with the happy news that he has found a new house and mostly moved into it. He said that it looks like a two story wine cask, and it’s just a few miles south. Though it doesn’t have a kitchen, the owners have invited Lichen to design an Ikea kitchen which they will then have shipped up from the Bay Area. Apparently, you can design it on a computer and see how it will look, move things around, etc. before your landlords buy it for you. I’m so happy for Lichen, and we are planning go over and check it out next weekend. I was also pleased to hear that Michael found an affordable place in Hooterville. Maybe things really do work out for the best.

At the end of the evening, Megan and I sat chatting by the fire with a last glass of wine, and I thought that I actually feel more thankful now that the future is so uncertain, rather than less. I am rich in family and friends who are family, and I know that whatever happens, they will do their best to help me, and I will never really be alone. I have a lot to be thankful for.

A YEAR AGO:
Thanskgiving prep.

Whew

OK. The turkey’s in the oven, the stuffing is made, the potatoes are peeled and cut up, the onion butter is made. Wine and beer are chilling in the refrigerator, along with various bags of things and stuff, such as segmented tangerines and thinly sliced red onions for the salad and sliced green onions (to be added to the butter with shallots and leeks for the mashed potatoes).

I didn’t intentionally create a onionpalooza for Thanksgiving dinner, but writing about it, I see that I have. I must be celebrating the fact that Jessica now likes onions. I was always amused by the fact that she would eat things like eel sushi but not onions.

Yesterday, Megan came by before work with a monstrous 22 pound organic turkey bought at a discount from the ever useful Gro, and a giant bag of russet potatoes (hence the peeling). She bought mixed seasonal greens this morning after work – shopping at 6 am on Thanksgiving Day is the only way to go – and sent them over via Rob this morning, when I was elbow deep in stuffing and rocking out to AC/DC. A girl needs music if she’s going to cook that much that early.

After the cooking was under control, I headed over to my brother’s place in the beater car, so I could drop off a bucket of compost and pick up some wood for the outdoor fireplace, along with our Mom’s roasting pan for Turkzilla. It turns out that my brother is coming down with something, and that Dave is sick, so our numbers keep shrinking while the turkey keeps getting bigger. More wine for me!

Back home, I decanted the wood and then cleaned up the house (including deconstructed, non-turkey bird) to the best of my limited patience, and then turned my attention to the outdoors, moving the cars out of the way, moving the outdoor fireplace near the seating area, cleaning up the remainder of construction debris, curling up the hoses, sweeping off the porch, etc. I am a little concerned that the rain forecast for tonight will arrive earlier than we’d like. Don’t get me wrong, we are all eagerly anticipating rain for the next few days, but I just hope it holds off until the guests, if any, have gone home.

About six hours after I started, I changed my clothes and curled my hair and now both the house and I are about as presentable as we are going to get.

While I was doing all this, it occurred to me that even though things are not great right now, with unemployment rearing its ugly head and fears for the future all too real and all too scary, I still feel very thankful for what I have. I’m thankful for my family, my friends (including you, dear reader), my cats, my little house, the memories of my parents and grandparents, and the good things, both great and small, that happen every day.

A YEAR AGO:
One of those days. I see I drove the heap that day, too!

Welcome Home

It was an unpleasant trip home, at least the highway portion, which was in heavy rain. Visibility was so poor that there were no farewell views of Alcatraz or the dreaming spires of San Francisco, the Bridge and the Bay being swathed in rain clouds and mist.

On the highway, the backwash of passing cars was pretty challenging. I was glad to exit onto the curvaceous two lane blacktop that leads to Hooterville. This time of year, the vineyards flame with yellow, red, and orange foliage, and in the Valley, even some of the trees’ leaves change colors, because the rule in California is the hotter it is in the summer, the colder it is in the winter.

It was nearly dark when I got home, to be greeted with enthusiasm by Luna and Lupe, who is quickly growing up. However, they declined to help me unload the groceries from Trader Joe, the pizza from Victor’s, or the box from Bev Mo from the car. I have noticed that pets are not very helpful in that regard.

I found a welcome inch of rain in the rain gauge and welcoming kitties in the house. The rain had aided Megan’s cat herding endeavors while I was gone, and I am pleased to report that there were no late night fiestas or all nighters in my absence. The bump on Roscoe’s head still looks a little ooky, though, as if the scab had come off, and the fur hasn’t begun to grow back, at least not noticeably. I probably don’t have to worry about him not looking his best for our Thanksgiving guests, since he tends to hide in horror until they vacate the premises.

It seems like I had hardly gotten back from the city when I realized that Thanksgiving was looming, and I hadn’t done a thing about it. It’s too late to order a turkey, but Megan thinks we can get one at the Gro. Erica volunteered to make the cranberries as well as pies and rolls this year, so that leaves me with just turkey, salad, and mashed potatoes – I’m trying a new recipe this year, now that Jessica likes onions.

I’ll be at the jobette all that week, so I’m hoping I can find time to clean up and do the rest of the shopping. Thanksgiving sneaked up on me this year. Despite everything, I still have a lot to be thankful for, and I am.

A YEAR AGO:
The beginning of the end for Miss Scarlett. ~sob~

Two Strikes

I’m watching the beautiful, light rain fall on San Francisco. The door to my modest motel room is open, since it’s not cold, just rainy, and I’m waiting for my boss/partner/friend to pick me up so we can go to lunch together and talk about our future, if any.

So far, my day has not been very productive. My plan was to go downtown and run a couple of errands, but I had forgotten how long it takes to do this by public transit. As I waited for the bus, I began to remember why I nearly always walked to work and back home when I lived here.

The bus made its way through the neighborhood I lived in when I first moved here so long ago: past the church where I twice voted for Bill Clinton with a song in my heart, through Chinatown, with its exotic fruit and vegetable stalls, and finally to the financial district, where I used to work.

I was hoping to get my eyes tested, but there were no appointments available, and I had another appointment at 1:00, so I couldn’t wait. The eye doctor I have seen back in the Big Town charges twice as much for an exam, and I have to have a new prescription before I can buy inexpensive glasses online like Erica does. My existing glasses have somewhat scratched lenses, which doesn’t help my spectacularly poor eyesight.

The appointment was with the very nice woman who bought my beautiful, two carat, century old diamond ring a few years ago. This time, I brought a pair of diamond earrings and a diamond necklace for her consideration. She was as gracious as ever, but apparently these pieces are too modern for their store, so she referred me to someone else, but I will probably not have time to get there before I head home again.

If there’s anything worse than selling your jewelry, it must be making up your mind to sell it and then having it rejected. I made my way to the bus stop in the rain, and as luck would have it, the bus was just pulling up, and my transfer was still good, so at least one thing went my way today.

A YEAR AGO:

A late season BBQ.

On My Way

Though I had a lovely dinner with my friends, I managed to spill some of the bouillabaisse I was bringing home with me in the car. It takes special skills, my friends. Or just a Suzy.

It was too dark to deal with at the time, but when I opened the car door the next day before heading to the jobette, it was quite horrifying. I scrubbed down the carpet where the spill had occurred, adding some Febreeze. When I went home that night, it was still scary, though not as bad. I had the heat on and the windows open, the way I used to when I drove my 1966 Mustang convertible. Unless it was actually raining, I always had the top down.

I scrubbed and Febreezed when I got home and again in the morning, and now the car’s interior is merely redolent of the ghost of bouillabaisse past.

It’s a good thing, because I’m heading to San Francisco today, and hours in a fish-scented car would make the trip even less enjoyable than it already is.

Of course, Roscoe took this opportunity to somehow injure himself. The fur is rubbed off above one eye, and it looked a little icky for a couple of days. I applied Vetericyn (every home should have some) and it looks better, but I have no idea how he did it. Dr. Megan says we never know what they do out there, we just have to try and fix it. She’ll keep an eye on it while I’m gone, as well as herding them in at night and feeding them. I hope they behave themselves and there are no all-nighters or late evenings.

As for me, it seems like there are a million things to do before I leave. Next week is Thanksgiving, and I haven’t ordered the turkey yet, partly because I’m not sure how many people are coming. I know Jarrett, Kalli and Paul can’t make it, but Dave and Jennifer may be here, and I’m hoping Lichen will at least stop by. I have a few errands I’d like to run while in the city, so I’m trying to get those set up, and have also been following up with the County job here and getting the runaround, as you would expect from bureaucracy. At least packing is easier, since I have no meetings other than my boss/partner/friend to discuss our future, if any. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO:

The Kitty Report.

Evening Out

Sunset at Wild Fish

While waiting for my life to get off the back burner and on to the front one, I went to meet some friends for dinner.

We decided to meet on the early side, and as I drove oceanwards on the Ridge, the sun was beginning to set in a spectacular way. Pink and golden clouds billowed through the darkening blue sky, and the ocean was a steely lavender. A single fishing boat was making its way to the harbor in the Big Town, shining in the last rays of the sun.

The contented cows in the field across from the post office glowed in the fading daylight, and pale pink roses tumbled down a rustic wooden fence. After a short but curvaceous drive, I passed the peaceful old seaside cemetery and arrived at the restaurant, seconds after my friends, who were just getting out of their truck.

Though I have driven past the restaurant many times, and worked with the owners in my jobette capacity, I had never eaten there before. The restaurant is very small, but beautifully decorated. There are windows on two sides to take advantage of the stunning ocean view, and seating for about twenty people. The room glowed with candlelight.

We shared a bottle of local wine as we perused the menu. It was hard to decide what to have, since everything looked so good. We shared a mixed seafood platter, which included fresh oysters with champagne mignonette, roasted mussels and clams with rose harissa, and smoked sablefish, along with Fuji apple and artfully shaved black radish. It was delicious! I decided on bouillabaisse, which arrived garnished with a perfect rouille and two enormous prawns. My friends know the chef, who came out of the kitchen to check in with us.

We had a wonderful evening, enjoying the food and each other’s company as well as the view. When we left, there were people waiting for tables at 8:00 on a Sunday night – surely a sign of an improved economy. My friends picked up the tab, to my surprise and delight. We hugged goodbye in the parking lot and went our separate ways into the sunny night, glowing with good food and friendship.

A YEAR AGO:

The Kitty Report.

On Hold


It’s heavenly now

There’s not much news on the job front, and what there is, is not particularly encouraging.

The legal wranglings continue at the jobette, with seemingly countless meetings and no decisions. I’ve said it before, and I hope I don’t say it again, but when there are lawyers in your life, things are not going well.

I have not heard back from either of the local jobs I applied for 6 weeks ago. My friend Jim stopped in at one of them and reported back that they have not filled it yet, and also took the opportunity to put in a good word for me, which I really appreciate. Hopefully they are just a little more relaxed in their hiring process than the imminently unemployed (and unpaid) would really prefer.

I received a 90 on the test for the county job, which Megan so valiantly chauffeured me to last month. Included with this news was the surprising fact that so few people – of the ten who took it, including me – passed the test that the county was waiving the “oral examination” portion of the testing. So I won’t have to make the long drive and/or take more time off work for testing.

On the other hand, the missive said that this put everyone in a pool without ranking them, and that those of us in the pool can’t contact the county to find out more until three weeks have elapsed, which is Thanksgiving. That’s another unfortunate thing about the timing of these simultaneous job losses: the holidays. People rarely hire other people during the holidays.

I have to hope that things work out before my pay runs out in February, a truly horrifying prospect. Much as I did when the Grand Jury summons was hanging over my head, I keep thinking about how perfect everything was before it all fell apart. All I want is to stay in my little hippie hovel and be with my cats and pay off my car. Is that too much to ask?

A YEAR AGO:

A beautiful day in San Francisco. Is there any other kind?

American Horror Story

Looking for Me?

You know, there’s been a lot more bird droppings on Wednesday than usual lately. I seem to have been taking birds away from the cats almost every day now, which makes me wonder (and shudder) at what must be happening when I’m not there to interfere. I rescued a robin from Roscoe’s clutches yesterday, glad to see it fly away unscathed, though noting that the presence of robins means that winter is here. Robins bopping around and frogs singing – along with chainsaws dealing with trees knocked over in storms – are winter’s soundtrack in Hooterville.

Maybe Hitch was right and our avian friends are trying to get some revenge.

Speaking of horror, Clyde put me through hell last night.

Clyde is the first one to come in at night, anticipating the reward of treats, so I was surprised when he didn’t respond to my call. Usually, he comes scampering out of the woods, bright eyed and happy, but last night, nothing. It was about 5:00 PM, so darkness, the eternal enemy, was hovering. Roscoe was sitting calmly on the stairs, and Audrey was taking a completely unconcerned bath in the garden, but no sign of Clyde.

As the then-seven year old Jessica observed, I am a worrier, and it didn’t take long for me to push the panic button. I texted Megan, even though there was really nothing she could do about it, and while I was out calling Clyde, flashlight in hand, I forced Rob to hug me, even though he was exhausted and sweaty from working at the property all day. They both assured me that all would be well, but did I heed their well-meant advice? No. I went ahead and worried, while calling Clyde all over the place.

I went back inside, reflecting on the pointlessness of calling cats, while yet not stopping calling them. I couldn’t focus on anything or settle down. I kept looking at the sliding glass doors where Clyde wasn’t and wondering where he was. I had seen him at 4:30 and started looking for him at 5:00. It was still basically daylight then, and also Mark was chainsawing and doing other things with loud equipment all day, which would keep the monsters at bay, so Clyde should be OK. Right? But the Slobber Monster grabbed him in broad daylight…if cowards die a thousand times before their actual deaths, so do worriers.

Eventually, he appeared, as if by magic, and my heart leaped at the sight of Clyde’s little white bow tie looming out of the darkness. He was undoubtedly mystified by my sweeping him into my arms and kissing him while crying. “What the hell?” he was clearly thinking. “Where are the treats, crazy lady?” His fur smelled of wet wood and smoke, so my theory is that he was stalking a mouse in the woodpile created by Mark’s chainsawing. You know how cats can sit for hours at a place where they think there’s a mouse, and nothing will dissuade them, even panicky girls calling their names in the darkness.

I am sorry to say that it was all of 6:30 PM at that point. Time to pour a glass of wine, heat up some of the soup I made in the earlier, pre-panicked portions of the day, text my sister to call off the APB, and watch an episode of Ray Donovan.

Clyde curled up next to me as if nothing had happened and promptly went to sleep.

Get Back

What’s not to love about falling behind (other than, you know, the hassle of setting all the clocks – surely Staff should do that? Oh, wait – I am the Staff)? Though supposedly falling behind, you are in fact ahead of the game. You get to sleep an extra hour, and it’s actually daylight when you get up, even at the new 6:30 am. Waiting until around 7:30 to let the boys out was getting pretty old, and I don’t know who hated it more, them or Me.

It was cold enough on Time Change Sunday to put the heat on when I got up, being an overly brisk 50F (10C) in the house that morning. The kitties basked happily while I drank coffee out of a different mug than usual:

and read Postsecret, as usual.

When I was finally caffeinated, I made a pile of apples from the family property into applesauce. I have never done that before, but it was surprisingly easy, other than peeling and coring about 20 apples. However, I did end up with a huge vat of applesauce*. I made two cups of it into applesauce cake, and I’m planning to freeze some and bring some to the jobette for lunch. That seems to be the down side of the giant family garden: having to deal with all the produce it produces. Megan has canned 18 quarts of tomato sauce, and is probably going to make more, along with pesto and apple butter.

It also seemed like a good opportunity to prep for winter a bit. I brought in most of the outdoor furniture and all the cushions, and filled up some buckets of water for the inevitable power outages to come. I need to buy drinking water as well.

While cutting back the hostas, I noticed that both orchids have flower spikes, so I can look forward to the blooms in a couple of months. I’ll have to remember to bring them and the geraniums in if we get another cold snap this winter.

Applesauce always reminds me of that Brady Bunch episode.

A YEAR AGO:

I was in Atlanta.

Halloween, Here & There


Showered with Confetti and Love

The Giants celebrated their epic World Series win with a parade down Market Street – San Francisco’s Main Street – to City Hall, where Marilyn Monroe married native son and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio 60 years ago. They were showered with showers, but also a hail of confetti and love. No stranger to triumphal processions through the City streets after two earlier World Series wins, manager Bruce Bochy said that he had never heard anything like the thunderous applause and screams that met the returning heroes, especially Madison Bumgarner, who was deafened with howls of “MVP” everywhere he went, perched on the back of a flatbed truck:

An observer described the pandemonium as “something between pagan idolatry and Beatlemania”.

I hope we get to do it all over again next year.

Meanwhile, back in Hoooterville, I woke up to a welcome inch and a half of rain in the gauge and a slightly less welcome forecast of heavy rain accessorized with possible thunderstorms and hail – definitely not ideal trick or treating weather. However, the forecasters were wrong, as so often happens, and there was really no need for me to haul along my winter coat and two umbrellas as well as wearing my rain boots.

This year, instead of going the Village as usual, we met Erica and Jessica at Jessica’s friend’s house. It was more of an estate to my mind than a house, since it included sweeping vineyards and several outbuildings. There was a cauldron of tea and a buffet of Halloween food:

Here’s a close-up:

Both Erica and Jessica had made their own costumes, though Erica did add the zipper to Jessica’s dress. They were Undead Alice in Wonderland and the Red Queen:

Here’s a close-up of Jessica’s apron. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but she embroidered “We’re all mad here” and made the teeth all texture-y:

Erica made her entire costume other than the boots, including the horns, yarn wig, corset, velvet cape, etc. You can see these girls share genes and attitude!

Erica also brought kitty ears for me to wear:

We had the following text exchange:

Erica: Cat ears are black with pink inside and some sparkle. 🙂

Me: How Suzy is that?!

Erica: That’s what Jessica said!

Me: Sparkly minds think alike.

A YEAR AGO:

Happy Halloween!