One Thing & Another

When the storms blew through here earlier this month, they not surprisingly wrenched the tarpaper off the former bathroom window:

window1

which was, as Mark puts it, “cancelled” when Rob fixed up the bathroom last year. I don’t think I ever showed you the toilet paper holder he made from copper pipe to match the shower curtain rod which he also made:

copper1

He also covered the outlet/light switch with copper to match:

copper2

It was Rob to the rescue as usual, just like Mighty Mouse. Come to think of it, he kind of is Mighty Mouse. Small in size, big on help. Only without the tights. He turned up one day to fix the window before the next storm gets here. He gathered some old wood planks from James’ collection of things and stuff, and voilà:

window2

So I’m all set in case it ever rains again. Which it doesn’t seem it ever will. It’s been in the 60s and sunny every day since the storm went away, while the rest of the country has been freezing its collective butt off.

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letters

Rob’s repair delivery wasn’t the only pleasant surprise I received over the past few days. The mail* contained a letter from Jessica! It read as follows:

Dear Suzy,

How are you? I am recovering from a cold, but other than that, I am doing fine. What’s new? Are you doing anything for valentine’s day? I am planning a valentine’s party! Might not happen though. 🙁

What’s the weather like over there? It’s raining over here. Yay! I hope that you get lots of rain.

Sincerely,

Jessica

XO XO

The “sincerely” part was my favorite. I wasted no time in writing her back, as you can see above, and also acquiring more stationery, so I can keep writing to her.

penquill2

So far, I’m doing a decent job in keeping my new year’s resolution to spend more time with family and friends. We’ve been having family dinners about once a month. This month’s was at my brother’s place, and we had barbecued chicken and salad by the fire. A friend of my siblings’ was there from the Bay Area. They have known each other since the long ago days when they lived on boats at Pier 39. Though I don’t remember meeting him back then, I probably did, and somewhat awkwardly, it turned out that he helped my siblings to move my stuff out of the apartment when John and I broke up.

Despite that slight weirdness, we had a great time and I really liked him a lot. He was completely wowed by the beauty of the area and the garden, and by the blanket of stars in the sky. Both Venus and Mars blazed beside the crescent moon. He’s planning to come back up with his son this summer, if not before. Old friends, new friends, your family, and old and new memories – what could be better?

*As Jerry Seinfeld put it, “Without bills, magazines and junk mail, there is no mail.” I’m always delighted when there’s an exception to this rule, which is followed far too strictly for my taste.

A YEAR AGO: Visiting Erica and Jessica. And a peek at the local museum.

Flea Circus

I’m pretty sure a baby’s first bath is much cuter than a kitty’s first bath.

It was all my fault, too. Well, that and global warming.

Because Audrey is extreme about everything (going outside; coming back in; chasing dogs away; waking up the help), she is also extreme when it comes to fleas. She is violently allergic to them, and it seems that if one even looks at her or stops to tie its shoes near her, she starts scratching up a storm, which in turn leads to scabbiness of epic proportions lurking under her soft, stripy fur.

It has also led to epic vet bills, so I left a message for Dr. Karen today to see if there is some kind of antihistamine I can use to get the allergies under control. In the meantime, I dosed the cats with flea treatments yet again. It hasn’t been cold or rainy enough this winter to kill off the flea population.

Later that day, I noticed that my application on Clyde had been faulty, and that most of it had rolled down his silky fur in the side of his neck toward his little white bowtie. I clearly need to work on my Advantage application skills, since I did the same thing to Audrey a few years ago, making her foam at the mouth and making me freak out.

Clyde was starting to wash the Advantage off himself, so I tried to wash it off with a wet washcloth, which wasn’t very effective. I ended up putting the poor little guy in the sink and washing off his entire side, to his serious displeasure. I’m lucky it wasn’t Audrey this time, since I’d be shredded Suzy.

Clyde took off into the woods, making me fear that he’d be mad at me or scared and not come back for a long time, but he came back and sat on my lap for a little while after he had dried off, so hopefully he will be OK. I washed all the bedding, too, so let’s hope the little time the medication was on Clyde was enough to get rid of most of his fleas, if any. Let’s hope the plague is over for now.

A YEAR AGO: An evening out with my sister.

First & Last Day

Well, it’s been quite a day.

I left home in the foggy, grey dawn, making my way to the county seat for orientation and paperwork for my brand-new job. I gave myself two hours to get there, and I needed most of it, partly for the curvaceous drive and partly to locate the building, which was new to me, and parking, which was far away.

The actual paperwork and proceedings went relatively quickly, and then I set off for the Big Town, another hour and a half away. I got there around 12:30, and thought it would be a good idea to call my new boss and ask if I could grab some lunch and then report to work.

She was surprised by my call, and also by the idea that I was supposed to work today. She herself was headed to the county seat for the rest of the day, and the person who is supposed to train me will not be in until Thursday. She said she’d call me about coming in tomorrow, but as of 6:30 this evening, she hasn’t called me, so I’m not sure what’s happening other than my not getting up at 4:30 tomorrow. Clearly they are in dire need of my services. 🙂

Not being at work freed me up to meet Megan and Rob over at the family property to bury Ramona, their beloved thirteen year old cat. Megan stayed with me after bringing* Ramona and her sister home from San Diego when they were just babies, so it seems fitting that I was also there at the end.

Ramona had health issues for some time, but had taken a dramatic turn for the worse over the past day or so, and it was time to let her go. Dr. Carl took care of her in his compassionate but no nonsense way, and Rob brought her home to the family property late this afternoon, where we said goodbye. Ramona looked so peaceful and so beautiful. We petted her, kissed her farewell, and laid her to rest near little Henry Etta James and Jed the Wonder Dog. She is in good company and will always be with us.

A YEAR AGO: A look around the garden.

*Bonus: the pop up pictures in this very old post still work, unlike most of them, so you can delight in the cuteosity of baby Ramona and Harriet. Enjoy!

Last Day

deskMy desk on my last day at the jobette

Wednesday marked my last day at the jobette, just days after the fourth anniversary of my first day.

Fortunately, I was really busy tying up loose ends and making sure that my co-workers had everything they needed to endure my eternal absence, so time flew by and I was unable to dwell on and well up, which I had feared.

We got fantastic pizza for lunch, after which I was presented with a beautiful card and a piece of artwork. I had admired this artist’s work when she was our featured artist for the month, and I was touched that my co-workers remembered this (it’s the agave collage on the left hand side of the photo above). The things they wrote in the card were so beautiful! I now have written proof that I am in fact awesome. 🙂

The day brought a stream of well wishers, gifts, and flowers. I was amazed by how many people made the effort to tell me how much I meant to them, and how lucky I was to work with such a wonderful people. They really were my work family, and sometimes, I could hardly believe I was paid to hang out with them. They will now be my real life friends instead of my work family, but I will miss the days we spent together.

I should be looking toward the future and the new job, but for a few minutes, I’ll think about the past with love and gratitude.

A YEAR AGO: A shower of petals.

Wild Weather

Stormageddon III blew into town on Sunday night, taking the power with it. In keeping with the truism that sequels get progressively worse, III was much worse than II. The wind was a fearsome gale, shaking the sliding glass doors and howling around my hippie hovel, sounding much like I imagine a hurricane. I tried not to look out the skylight, where the trees were tossed wildly in the wind as the light faded.

It was a scary night and I didn’t sleep much. Megan texted me that she heard trees falling in her garden. One of them just barely missed Megan’s car and the house – in fact some of it is actually touching the porch roof:

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Another one took down another tree:

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And a third tore some jasmine and passion flower vines from the side of Megan and Rob’s house, while smashing into a tree which had fallen earlier. At my house, a tree broke off, but house, car, kitties and Self were unscathed.

On Monday morning, I got up in the cold, dark house and boiled water on the gas stove to make coffee in my little French press. Then I set off for the jobette.

The Ridge was scattered with branches and debris, not to mention five fallen trees. I was able to negotiate my way around them, and I may have driven over some fallen power lines, remembering how Dad always said that tires ground your car and make it perfectly safe during a thunderstorm. Storm damage was everywhere, and the ocean was wild and crazy. Little River had definitely gotten the brunt of the storm, with a shattered power pole and several big trees down by the side of the highway.

The traffic lights were blinking as I entered the Big Town, my first clue that all was not well. I pulled into the hotel parking lot (I had left my hat there), and checked in with the owner, who gave me my hat and the fun news that the entire Big Town was out of power.

I still went to the jobette, though, just to make sure, and sure enough, there was no power. I put a sign on the door saying we were closed until the power came back on, and took out the trash and recycling (I’m assuming the power outage won’t stop Waste Management from its appointed rounds).
So I drove all the way to the jobette for nothing. It’s really been a weird few days, with the interview on Thursday, the scary, stormy drive to the jobette on Friday (again, for no reason, really), the seemingly endless power outage, more storms, more power outages. I’m sensing a theme here.

As I write on Tuesday morning, power is still out in Hooterville and might, just might, be back on around 7:00 pm, which I’m pretty sure you all know is located after dark. And darkness is the enemy. I am so tired of the dark and the cold. I can see my breath in my living room, which is just wrong. It’s been five days of cold and dark with just one little break of heat and light. I miss civilization!

Update: Came home to find power and civilization restored! Celebrated with lights, heat, and a glass of wine.

A YEAR AGO: It was raining then, too.

Stormy Weather

As sequels usually are, Stormageddon II was much worse than Stormageddon I, which did not live up to the hype. II didn’t get the hype, but it packed the punch.

The power went out at my house at 9:30 am on Friday morning. I made sure all the kitties were in, equipped with food and water, and that the many doors were as secure as possible before heading out to the Big Town for my special guest appearance at the jobette. It was an alarming drive, with heavy rain, high winds, and roads scattered with tree bits, pine needles, nascent rock- and mud-slides, and the deep ditches close to overflowing.

I planned ahead, though, and checked in at the harborside hotel which is my home away from home in the Big Town. I figured I would not want to drive back to Hooverville in the stormy dark at 8:30 pm, and the hotel owner gave me a great deal on the room.

The rain was blowing sideways as First Friday began. On the first Friday of each month, shops and art galleries in the Big Town stay open late, pouring wine and serving nibbles as people mingle and shop. In the jobette’s case, we also have the artist on hand to meet the public and answer questions. But with the weather being so bad, the public mostly stayed home, so I was sent home earlier than expected.

I was glad that I only had to drive a few blocks in the driving rain and then dash to my cozy hotel room, where I could have a hot bath with a cold glass of wine and then lounge in bed watching “Gilmore Girls”. Alas, this heaven of civilization came to a crashing halt when the power went out around 10:00 pm.

I soon heard a generator start up, but it soon became clear that the generator was only powering the office, not the guest rooms. So I was in the unlovely position of being kept up all night by generator noise which was not doing me one iota of good. Even ear plugs and a feather pillow couldn’t block it out, and I was unable to convince myself that it was white noise and should be soothing.

The power came back on right before check out time, when I learned that PG&E had booked 20 rooms for repair personnel. I wasn’t sure if this was a good sign or a bad sign.

It was a much easier drive home, during a break from the rain, though the power was still out when I got there. There was 5 inches of rain in the gauge, which is its maximum, so there may have been more. Later, Mark went to the Big Town to rent a generator so we could all have water, which was great. I wasted no time in washing dishes and filling up pots with water. Living in one smallish room with the kitchen at one end and only three feet of counter space means that dishes pile up quickly and look terrible really fast.

Megan had put together a macaroni and cheese casserole on Friday, but didn’t have time to bake it before the power went out (her oven like my heater, needs electricity to light, so both are totally useless in the inevitable power outages). So she brought it over and put it in my oven (which lights with a match), and we played Clue by candle and lantern (she and Rob have nice oil lanterns) light until dinner was ready.

The power finally came back at 11:00 pm last night, so this morning I had a quick shower and did a load of laundry before the power could go out again. It’s raining and windy again, Round 2 of Stormageddon 2. I really hope the power stays on and it blows over quickly.

A YEAR AGO: A trip the city gets a little too exciting for all concerned.

Round Two

So I had the interview for the permanent job yesterday.

Fortunately, it was only in the Big Town, aka my usual commute, so I was spared trekking to the county seat. Luck was with me, since the forecasters were predicting another Stormageddon, and I feared the effect on my hair and make-up, but there were just a few sprinkles and my beauty remained intact. We haven’t had a drop of rain since the Christmas Eve storm with its power outage, and it was the driest January in recorded California history, so we need it, but it seems to be feast or famine this winter: pouring or nothing.

I arrived early for the interview, and was surprised that they also started the interview early. This time, I knew that it would be a panel interview, so I was better prepared, and I had spent some time thinking about my answers to the questions that had stymied me last time. At least I didn’t blush this time!

I was so relieved when it was over that I totally forgot to ask what the next steps were and when they might reach a decision. There are two jobs, so I’m hoping that will increase my chances of getting one of them. I have the indefinite temp job starting on the 17th, so I do have a fall back position and money coming in while I wait for or find a permanent job.

As I write, it’s pouring and windy out, and I feel as if we’re trembling on the verge of a power outage. The cats ran out and ran back in this morning, soaked and indignant.

Will our heroine get a job? Will the drought end? Will the cats wreck the house out of total boredom? Stay tuned ’til next time for As the Suzy Turns…

A YEAR AGO: Shopping with the lovely Miss Stella.

Memory Lane

Audrey woke me up from a vivid dream in which I was driving in the snow – which I have never done in real life – and came across my childhood home. In my dream, I asked to look around the old place. Needless to say, it was weird and not at all the way it really was, but I still wanted to see the upstairs. Audrey had other plans, and so did I, seeing as it was 3:30 am.

Audrey, Audreyer, Audreyest…

I gave everyone a snack and went back to bed, but I couldn’t rejoin my dream. Doesn’t it seem like you can only pick up the threads of interrupted nightmares?

Later that day, I saw a little girl holding her father’s hand and skipping as they went into the Gro, and it reminded me of the long-ago Saturdays when Dad would pile us into the old Chevy and take us grocery shopping and then to the library. In retrospect, it seems odd that he didn’t leave us at home, but a lot of things about my childhood seem strange looking back, even to the allegedly grown-up me.

First we’d go to the Victory Market, with its big red V, and then to the old stone library, where Miss Opal, the librarian, would let me take out extra books. In Maine during the summer, we’d go to the Shop & Save and then to the old brick library, with its glamorous wooden gallery and echoing marble foyer. At the end of the summer, there was a book sale, which was almost as exciting as the Fourth of July boat race or the lab picnic.

Our house was set in fields overlooked by gentle hills:

dryden

We had five acres of land, which included a grove of pine trees from which we’d choose a Christmas tree each year. I still remember the clear sound of the axe ringing against the fragrant wood in the cold, clean air, and the triumphant feeling of dragging it home across the snow and into the house.

Legend had it that the five acre parcel of land was payment to a Revolutionary War soldier for his service, and certainly the stone foundation of the house, which was built in the early to mid 1850s, was much older than the house. I’d like to think the tale was true, though that valiant young man might not have been best pleased to find an Englishman living on his hard-won property.

In my mind, I can still step up on the flagstone step, to the door into the closed-in porch, and through the red front door into our house. The living room, with its fireplace and the bookshelves Dad built, is to the left and the kitchen straight ahead, with a pass through to the dining room. Dad’s study and the powder room/laundry room are on this floor.

There’s a landing on the stairs where our dog Ginger used to sleep when Dad was home (he slept in front of the door when Dad was away). Upstairs is a bathroom, with a laundry chute which we always found thrilling, and all our bedrooms. My bed was set under the eaves, and Dad had built a window seat for me overlooking the view you see above – the perfect place to read. Once I came home from a visit to my grandparents’ house to find that Dad had painted my room “Fantasy Orchid”, a color I had been pleading for and he had been vetoing for weeks.

I haven’t set foot in that house in decades, but it’s still there in my memories, just like Mom and Dad and my grandparents and all the golden days of the past. Time seems to burnish more than it tarnishes when it comes to memories.

A YEAR AGO: Shopping with the lovely Miss Stella.