Archive for May, 2015

May 29 2015

Birthday BBQ

On Saturday, I made a special appearance at the jobette. It was Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial opening of the summer tourist season, and I decided to go in and help out, partly because I’m still on probation at the new job, so I didn’t get paid for Memorial Day, and partly to help out my former work family.

It was good to be back. I took down all the expired event postings in the lobby, refreshed the supply of visitor guides and other tourism materials, added up all the sales and visitor sheets, balanced the cash, updated the database, took out the trash, watered the inside and outside plants (which I suspect has not been done since I left), and washed the dishes. Oh, and turned off the heat, which was blasting when I arrived.

I had a great time chatting with the visitors, and sold $160 worth of art. I imagine my former employers were pleased when they arrived at the office on Tuesday.

I went home and collected the al pastor which I had put in the slow cooker on Friday night. It was my first attempt at making this, and I think from now on I will just leave it to Libby’s, even if they are almost never open. It turned out to be atomically spicy, despite the fact that I only added a teeny can of chipotles in adobo sauce to a 5 pound roast, along with an entire pineapple, a bottle of beer, some red onion, and a couple of tablespoons of chili powder.

To be fair, I have a low spiciness tolerance and believe that food should come in hot, medium, mild and Suzy. But still. I texted Erica in a panic, and she suggested that I drain off the sauce and put in a can of tomato sauce. I didn’t have any tomato sauce – all I had was an extremely unhelpful jar of spicy red pepper sauce – so I went over to Megan’s, even though it was early, since I had to deal with it before heading to the jobette.

Fortunately, she had a can, so I swapped the sauces, and I think it worked just fine. Rob helped me to load the giant slow cooker into the car and we headed over to the family property, where Megan’s birthday BBQ was in full swing:


Erica and Jessica were there, as well as Jarrett and Kalli and Dave and Jennifer. Jarrett had invited his dog Archi’s brother (and his owners), and I couldn’t get over how alike they look:


Lichen also came, bearing rose lemonade for Jessica, and all together, there were nearly 20 people. Erica fried up samosas she had made in a special pot outside by the Waltons-sized picnic table:


They were, of course, delicious.

Erica had also brought a giant, industrial sized jar of mayonnaise:


It turned out to be an elaborate practical joke. Megan hates mayonnaise (we are a family of picky eaters), but Erica bet her that she would be digging into this one. Megan was horrified until she discovered that the jar actually contained vanilla bean-bourbon vanilla pudding, chocolate espresso cookie crumbs, and sea salted caramel sauce, all made from scratch by Erica the Evil Genius. It was insanely delicious.

Erica said it was the hardest dessert she had ever made, since she had to hide the cookie crumbs and sauce inside the pudding, so it still looked convincingly like mayonnaise. Only Erica!

Meanwhile, I was discussing designers with Jessica, saying that I love it that she actually knows who Charles James, Schiaparelli, Claire McCardell, and Madame Grès are (she has all these and more on her Pinterest boards). She said that sometimes it seems like designers are playing a practical joke to see if people will actually wear their crazy clothes. “It’s like, ‘Go home, fashion, you’re drunk!’” Jessica said, referring to some of the more outrageous confections at Fashion Week.


When it was time to go home, Jessica once again offered her arm and asked if she could escort “Fair Suzy” to her car. I love this tradition!

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday, of course!

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May 25 2015


Published by under Cats,Country Life,Garden

More sweepings from the corners of my life…

On my way to the “gym*” today, I was startled to see Audrey sitting with Mark’s cat Coco on the driveway. They were about six inches apart, both sitting like companionable loaves of bread with all four paws tucked under. As soon as Audrey saw me, she took off in horror, like I’d busted her with a bong or something. It made me wonder about the secret lives of cats. Maybe she is so anxious to get out of the house in the morning because she has a play date with Coco. Or maybe it’s just her Audreyness. It would be fun to put little cameras on all three of the cats and see what they do all day.

comment: Edited by Paul Sherman for WPClipart, Public Domain

The drugstore is next to the tire store, so while Wednesday’s balding tires were being inflated and my wallet deflated, I stopped in to pick up some sundries. The UPS guy who delivers to the jobette was ahead of me in line, buying an outdoor couch**. I offered to help him load it into his truck, and we did just that. After all, he helped me to unload countless boxes during the good old jobette days. He says they miss me and it’s just not the same without me.

comment: Edited by Paul Sherman for WPClipart, Public Domain

Someone came by looking for Rose the other day. After nearly six years in her former home, I thought I was finished giving people the sad news, but apparently not. The visitor was as shocked and saddened as you’d expect. We chatted for a little while, and it turned out that he was from Wimbledon, where my father lived. He had lived here on the coast for a few years and returned to his native land due to family obligations. He said he’d love to move back here to this magical place.

comment: Edited by Paul Sherman for WPClipart, Public Domain

It’s been cloudy for what seems like weeks now, but not a drop of rain. It’s like Narnia when the White Witch was in charge: always winter, but never Christmas. Always grey, but no rain. Given the seemingly endless drought, I stopped by the nursery and picked up some succulents, in shades of red and purple, to brighten up the garden without depleting the water supply. The nursery owner told me that he had just done the very same thing at his home the day before. I think they will look nice when they spread out a bit.

*The “gym” being a place Mark built to be his office, but was taken over by his daughters as a hang out space. The treadmill and TV are there, too. Lately, I’ve been watching “Bewitched” while I’m on the treadmill and Lupe has a nap.

**People who live in other places might be surprised to learn that you can buy lawn furniture, cheap shoes, booze, and cigarettes in drugstores here. I was equally surprised to learn that you can’t in Michigan, where I had to walk several blocks in the stifling heat to buy some much-needed booze in Detroit.

A YEAR AGO: A lot of sadness.

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May 21 2015


Published by under Car,Country Life,Family

One thing about Wednesday – and it’s not just Wednesday, it’s every new car, it seems – is the endless binging and bonging and nagging. Sometimes it’s useful (“Uh, Suz…you left the lights on”) and sometimes it’s just annoying (Yes, I realize that my seatbelt isn’t on. Because, you know, I didn’t put it on). And then there’s the autolock feature, snapping all the locks shut as if a horde of carjackers was attacking me as I lurch down the narrow dirt driveway at 5 miles an hour. I have tried to no avail to turn this off, and I can never quite get used to it.

I have also gotten to the point where I am phobic about warning lights on the dashboard, which seem to happen more often than I would like. The other day, the “low tire pressure” light came on, and it took a couple of days before I could get to the tire place. Once there, Rick the tire guy* informed me that the two front tires needed to be replaced. He said that I shouldn’t go out of town or anything, which I found alarming.

As usual when anything alarming happens to the car, I immediately thought of my brother, and on my way home that night, I stopped by his place. He took a look and noted that the tire on the passenger side was more worn than the one on the driver side. He said that if they both looked like the one on the driver’s side, he wouldn’t replace them, but when you do one, you have to do both.

He also said that low tire pressure is the main reason for wear like that (besides, of course, our rough and bumpy roads). I had been relying on the light telling me to get the tires checked rather than taking Wednesday to have Rick check her tires every couple of months as I did with Miss Scarlett. My general automotive ineptitude makes it impossible for me to put air in the tires, let alone read the pressure, and I’d much rather take it to the pros and get it done right and quickly. The problem is I haven’t been doing it enough.

Jonathan said I should just drive more slowly**(!) and replace them within the next month or so, since it’s not winter and I don’t have to worry about rain. He added that it might be worth just doing it now for the peace of mind, though the cost of two new tires is not conducive to peace of mind.

*He also told me that his wife, who used to work behind the counter and do the books, had died of lung cancer at Christmas, which I was very sorry to hear. He said he was working as much as possible to try and keep his mind off it, but he still looked stricken.

**No matter how I try, I am an impatient driver, which is not good, especially during tourist season. Jonathan pointed out that going 10 miles over the speed limit gets me to the Big Town about two minutes sooner and risks a ticket, though he added that when he’s driving long hauls, like between here and LA, it’s worth it, since he gets there about an hour and a half sooner. It’s all relative. Just ask my relative.

A YEAR AGO: Things were sad.

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May 19 2015


I had a lovely Saturday.

I started the day off with a return visit to Angelika’s little salon in the big woods, where she brightened my hair and my outlook, and trimmed off another couple of inches. As usual, I left feeling happy in my outer and inner selves. Who needs a therapist when you have an Angel(ika)?

My friend Erin was working at a rummage sale to benefit her son’s school, which I pass on my way to Angelika’s, so I stopped in to say hello. I valiantly resisted the urge to buy more stuff – I should be getting rid of things, not accumulating them – and stayed and chatted for a while. We are hoping to get together for a drink and a gossip soon.

Megan had also had her hair cut and highlighted, and for once we actually had somewhere to go to show off our unaccustomed ‘dos: dinner and a play! First, though, we had to stop by the family property, where Megan went to feed Dave and Jennifer’s horses while they were out of town, and I took a stroll around the garden, nibbling sun warmed strawberries:


As we headed toward the Village, I told Megan that I had stopped in to see Jim a few days ago. This week marked the first anniversary of his husband’s death, and I was both surprised and pleased that he is doing so well. I admire his strength and courage. I also mentioned that I often see Siri, the gentleman who married Jim and Joel, at work since he conducts breathing skills classes there, and how wonderful he is.

Approaching the restaurant, who did we see but Siri! I introduced Megan and we had a lovely chat before joining our friends Lu and Rik for dinner.

After dinner, we headed over to the theater:


to see the play “Mauritius”, in which the cast of four tries to out con each other over two very valuable stamps. Who knew stamp collecting could be so dark and devious? The set was minimal but effective:


We were surprised and delighted to find our friend Lichen there, looking dapper. We are plotting a strawberry margarita extravaganza in his new kitchen (which I still haven’t seen) in the near future. I can’t wait!

A YEAR AGO: Roscoe is a little alarming.

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May 14 2015

The Path

Published by under Work

“’Wilmet, when you work for your living – and I hope you may never have to – you find that there are some days when you can hardly bear to do your work, and others when you definitely cannot bear to. This has been one of those days. I woke up this morning knowing that I couldn’t bear it, so I didn’t go.’

I hardly knew what to say. Neither sympathy nor reproach seemed quite what was called for.”

Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings

I’m finding the return to working five days a definite challenge. It’s been many years since I had to do that, and when I did, I had a cleaning lady twice a month, so I didn’t have to spend my precious weekends cleaning my spacious apartment, and I (usually) finished work around 3:00 pm, so I had time to run errands and go to the gym as I walked home up and down the San Francisco hills.

Now I get up about half an hour later than I did then, but I get home around 5:00 pm if I’m lucky, and I drive about 250 miles a week to do it. Everything is closed when I go to work, and it’s closed when I leave work. It’s not easy going back to prison once you’ve escaped, and it’s been a long time since I was in the hamster cage. However, the cage is currently the best case scenario – the alternative being a tent or cardboard box on the family property – so I have had to find a way to cope. I’m working toward a sort of transcendental acceptance. Not there yet, though.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • A dear friend sent me a book on how to do yoga anywhere, including while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, in the shower, even at your desk in the hamster cage, and I’ve been doing that as much as I can. I try to be conscious of my posture and breathing, even in the car.
  • I downloaded an app called Calm to my phone, and every day I go and sit in the car and do a five minute meditation. I forgot to do it this past Saturday, but before that I did it every day for three weeks.
  • I try and jump on the treadmill at Mark’s before work, and succeed most days. Unlike the rest of the world, exercise makes me tired and hungry, but not notably more tired than I already am from getting up at 5:00 am. Not for the first time, I wish my parents had sprung for the deluxe package with the endorphins. Bonus: it’s extra reading time! So far, I have found reading is the best distraction from the horrors of exercise.
  • I savor every moment of joy, whether it’s just cuddling Roscoe in the early morning darkness before I get up, or the golden sunlight slanting through the eucalyptus trees, or the parting of the trees when I get my first glimpse of ocean for the day.
  • I spend as much time as I can with my family and friends. This is also one of my resolutions for the year, and just knowing I’m meeting Megan, Lu, and Rik for dinner and a play this weekend can help raise my spirits (even though I have to fight not to be depressed on Saturday afternoon because it’s almost Sunday and who can enjoy Sunday with prison doors yawning?) Also, you can either have fun or get things done on the weekend, but you can’t do both. Nor will you have time to recharge your aging batteries.
  • I try to be thankful for what I have: a roof over my head (admittedly quirky); a car that goes (though not paid off or even close to paid off); family and friends nearby. Angelika says she tries to be thankful for even small things, like a cup of coffee, and I’m trying to do that, too, though I’m more successful on some days than others.
  • Neither sympathy nor reproach is called for, though I’d be glad of any advice or suggestions!

    A YEAR AGO: Rob the handyman.

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May 10 2015

It’s Official

Published by under Dogs,Family,Schatzi

Star & Stella

Megan pointed out a shocking oversight in my blog: I never told you that she and Rob officially adopted Stella!

You may remember that Stella came into our lives at the puppy tail end of 2013, when Monica heroically agreed to find homes for two year old Stella and her 11 (yes, 11) puppies. Being Monica, she somehow managed to finagle a free room at one of the loveliest resorts on the coast as a nursery, and also found homes for all of the babies.

Megan and Rob agreed to take Stella on a trial basis, partly because Star is, as Megan puts it, “dog selective”, and partly because their hearts were still broken over the loss of their beloved Schatzi. It turns out that Stella and Star are a great match, and it’s good for Star to have another dog around again. Star, like me, can be nervous and unsure, but Stella just barges right into life fearlessly. Nothing bothers her, and she does everything 110%, 110% of the time, whether it’s sleeping, eating, or playing.

The other day, Megan stopped by to see me at work while Rob was at a doctor’s appointment, and brought the dogs with her. Stella was almost as happy to see me as Star, and I’m convinced that I have extra credit with Star because I was there with Megan when Star was rescued from her bad old life. Stella is definitely part of the family now, and it just goes to show that dogs choose us, not the other way around.

Star turned seven on Cinco de Mayo this year, marking her fifth year with Megan and Rob. I bet she doesn’t even remember the bad old days, and it’s so nice to see her cuddle up with Stella, two happy dogs in a happy home.

A YEAR AGO: A field trip with Megan and Stella.

2 responses so far

May 06 2015


Derby Day dawned foggy, wrapping the world in a cool silver mist, which was just fine with me after a couple of unseasonably and unreasonably hot days, when I came home from the coolness of the Big Town to a scorching 83 degrees:


As you know, I find anything over 75 completely unnecessary, so I was glad when Karl the Fog made a return engagement, though I realize this is not a popular opinion. What can I say? I have a pro blanket policy, year round. It’s a blanket policy.

I was also delighted to learn that there’s a new Royal baby in London, a lovely and healthy little princess with a serious pedigree of style. It was a happy note to start the day on, and the day just got happier as I made my to Angelika’s little salon in the big woods:


It may have been chilly outside, but inside, candles glowed against the coral walls, lavender scented the air, and towels were warming on the heater. One of Angelika’s dogs came in and sat at my feet as Angelika cut my hair and we caught up on each other’s news. She cut two inches off – I hadn’t had it cut since October – and I am hoping to afford highlights soon – I haven’t had it highlighted since last February. It still looks pretty good, though:


I got home in time for the Kentucky Derby, which as you know is my favorite sporting event of the year. And why not? Name another sport which has a red carpet, glamorous celebrities, outrageous hats, practically mandatory daytime drinking, gorgeous horses, a century of tradition, and is over before even I have time to get bored. My favorite jockey, the inimitable Calvin Borel, was not in contention since his horse was scratched at the last moment, but it was nice to see Victor Espinoza win for the second year in a row, proclaiming, “I feel like the luckiest Mexican on earth!” Inspiring that he saved up from his bus driving job to learn to be jockey and made it all the way to win the greatest horse race on earth.

A YEAR AGO: Rob the handyman.

3 responses so far

May 03 2015

Animal Magnetism

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Dogs,Schatzi

While I was getting ready for work one morning this week, I was abruptly jolted from my makeup routine by the distinctive sound of a cat fight in progress. I knew the boys were inside (they like to eat some breakfast and then go back to bed lately), so I figured it was Audrey defending her realm.

I ran out the bathroom door, lip gloss in hand, and chased away a large white cat. Audrey appeared unharmed, but she wouldn’t come in the house so I could see up close and personal. But even my Worrier self knew that a cat who is the terror of the neighborhood dogs can take of herself. And after all, she is something of an evil genius. I was still glad to see Mark’s dog Luna on patrol as I left for work. I really think having Luna and Lupe around keeps us all safer, and I’m pretty sure they also keep the garden eating deer at bay.

In addition to their security duties, Lupe and Luna always come to meet me when I get home from home, merrily wagging their tails and enjoying the pets and attention. Nothing makes you feel more appreciated than a dog who is happy to see you. The other day, I saw Clyde messing around in the bushes near Megan’s house as I drove past, and as soon as he saw me, he scampered homewards, meeting me at the same time as the dogs.

Lupe has also taken to overseeing my jaunts on Mark’s treadmill. I try to get over there most mornings, and lately Lupe has been joining me. The treadmill is in a little building Mark originally intended to be his office, but has been taken over by his teenaged daughters as a hanging out spot, though not early in the morning.

While I hop on the treadmill, Lupe curls up on the floor and goes to sleep while I walk and read, reminding of the way Schatzi used to curl up on the bathmat when I took a bath while she visited me in the city, long ago. When I’m done, she follows me out of the building and then trots home to get on with her day while I get on with mine.

A YEAR AGO: the madness that is Covered California.

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