Silly Rabbit

Megan stopped by my house, saying, “Rob sent you a bunny,” which is not something you hear every day. I came downstairs to find a wonderful ceramic rabbit made in 1955 (the date is etched on the base):

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He got it for $2 at a thrift store, knowing that it would both delight me and look perfect with the kitschy vintage animal planters on my balcony, and so it does:

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Rob and I share a certain aesthetic appreciation. 🙂

I didn’t plan it, but somehow I ended up with all these cute old planters up there:

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The top one is a little squirrel in a log, and underneath is another log with a saw, perfect for this area where logging is one of the biggest (legal) industries.

Here’s a look at the rest of the balcony:

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It’s the perfect place to read and drink wine.

In addition to the rabbit, Megan also brought a plant called an anthurium. Lu bought it for my office, and said the heart-shaped flowers are to remind me that I’m loved. I wasted no time in bringing it to work, where it looks perfect with my filing cabinet garden:

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I bought the sea urchin planter when Megan and I took that Saturday off together a couple of weeks ago. I love it! I brought the old vase on the right from home. I like my office garden. I have a real garden outside my window, where the courtyard is beautifully landscaped and Fred the hummingbird visits me every day.

A YEAR AGO: Things were pretty much the same, with me working all the time and Megan at Reggae on the River.

Future Girl

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Oh, future dishes – I think I love you least of all.

The last time I got paid, I made the unpleasant discovery that I was overdrawn by $39. This made me realize two things: 1) Clearly, I shouldn’t have recklessly squandered $44 on gas that day; and B) I should get a summer job.

So I’m working at the jobette on Saturdays through Labor Day. Compared to the hours I work during the week (about 50), it seems like nothing to just do 6 hours. And it’s fun. I love talking to the visitors – last week, a young couple from Berkeley who are getting married here in the fall came in for visitor guides and maps to give their friends attending the wedding. I am always sentimental about brides, even though I don’t really believe in marriage, at least not for me. Go figure.

I also like feeling that I’m helping out my former colleagues, who often pop in to say hello while I’m there. It’s nice to know that I’ve left the place tidy and ready for them to start their work week on Monday.

But that only gives me one day off, and you know what that means. Chores and work preparations have to be packed in during the week somehow. So far, I have coped with this by putting out my work clothes for the next week on Wednesday or Thursday of the current week. I throw in a load of laundry when I get home from work. After work on Fridays, I invest a couple of hours making my lunches and dinners for the following week. This task is made much more pleasant by a glass or three of wine, which as Jacques Pepin so rightly said, inspires the cook.

The downside of this future food though is the present dishes, as you see above. That’s what it looked like when last Friday’s culinary marathon was complete. I left the dishes until Saturday morning. I don’t have to leave for the jobette until after 9 am, so I can sleep in until it’s light outside and still have time to get the house tidied up before I go.

Needless to say, Sundays are completely dedicated to sloth and hanging out with the kitties!

A YEAR AGO: File under Miscellaneous.

Party Time

Kalli’s birthday camping party has become an annual tradition, and a delightful one, too.

Kalli, Jarrett, and an entourage of their many friends convened at the family property on a recent Saturday. Megan and I were a little concerned about the head count of 30 or more, but we needn’t have worried. They arrived with a keg of beer and coolers full of food. Jonathan made 10 pounds of pulled pork, and I made a more modest quantity of chicken filling for the evening’s taco dinner.

We were lucky to have any chicken filling at all. I got up early on Saturday, did a few loads of laundry, and set the chicken to cook in the slow cooker. A couple of hours later, I went to check on it and discovered that it was ice cold. As in, the chicken was still frozen. I tried unplugging the slow cooker and plugging it back in again – pretty much the limits of my expertise with any form of technology – and it still didn’t work.

I took the whole thing, chicken and all, over my brother’s place. We put the chicken into our friend Lu’s crockpot, which she had lent to him a couple of weeks earlier, and I took it back to my place while Jonathan dismantled mine. Spoiler alert: the heating element had met an untimely demise, taking the rest of the slow cooker with it. So much for that. The good news is that I managed to get the chicken filling done on time.

Meanwhile, tents were merrily growing in the garden:

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And the tents’ occupants were playing beer pong. They soon discovered that the drinking part of the game didn’t work so well in the pygmy puff dust, so it became more of a game of skill while drinking the beer in your hand.

We had some visiting dogs, including a darling little spotted brother and sister rescued from under a house a couple of months earlier. Lucky, the sister, was a little unsure about all the unknown people and found a safe spot:

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I’m not usually one for small dogs, but they were so cute and really warmed up to the attention as the party went on. Another of Jarrett’s friends had recently traded in a problematic girlfriend for the adorable Atticus:

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Definitely an upgrade.

Kalli thoughtfully provided Party Survival Kits:

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These included provisions like Band-Aids, sunscreen, a toothbrush, condoms, gum, disinfectant wipes, and other things you might need when camping in the middle of nowhere with some of your best friends.

We had a great BBQ despite the near kitchen emergency, and in the morning Jarrett made bacon, eggs, and home fries on the outdoor gas stove (if you can call it that – it’s two rings hooked up to a small tank of propane, last seen in Erica’s al fresco samosa frying at Junapalooza). Then the visitors set off home, with more happy memories and plans for next year.

A YEAR AGO: The joys of faux pho. And the sadness of memory.

Pick Up on Mouse Street

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Above you see a rare photo of the Mysterious Mr. Roscoe in his native habitat. Unlike his little brother Clyde (I think of Roscoe as being the big brother even though they are litter mates and the exact same age), Roscoe tends to go out and stay out all day, unless the weather isn’t up to his high standards. You know how native Californians are.

So I often don’t see him when I’m home, which makes it all the more surprising that I was an observer of his superhero antics yesterday. He came around the corner into the kitchen, leapt gracefully onto the kitchen counter, snatched a mouse from behind (or possibly on top of) the microwave, and then jumped onto the floor, mouse in mouth, and vanished into the woods.

All this happened much faster than the time it took me to write it or you to read it, and there was no time for me to intervene in the mouse’s interests (sorry, mouse!). The casualness and the athleticism were equally impressive.

Makes me wonder what else I miss when I’m not home.

Love & Mercy

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Last Friday, I left work early, went home, and lured all the kitties into the house with treats and dinner. Then I turned lights on inside and out* and headed for the beautiful South Coast.

Even though it was an overcast day and the Pacific was living up to its name with millpond flatness, the South Coast was as beautiful as always. There’s something magical about it to me, though I can’t explain why. It seems wilder somehow and the drive prettier than the northbound one I do nearly every day. Maybe it’s because I don’t drive it as often that it seems more special.

I headed to Anchor Bay for delicious Thai food. I was pleased to note that the restaurant was full at the Floridian hour of 5:30. I ordered sparkling fresh spring rolls, which arrived with a sweet, yet spicy dipping sauce, and an order of Panang curry, which is scented with kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil, and peanut sauce. There was enough left for me to take home with me for dinner another night.

Wednesday and I turned around and went back the way we came. After a couple of curvy miles, I heard a fire engine screaming, and I began to look for places to pull over, not an easy task on narrow and winding Highway One. Eventually, I located someone’s driveway and cowered by the mailbox as the fire truck raced by.

The fire truck may have raced by, but traffic soon ground to a halt, reminding me of the mysterious episode on the Ridge the afternoon before (I still don’t know what happened, and no-one else does, either). I began to worry that I would miss the movie in Point Arena as I turned the car off, though I tried to comfort myself that there would be endless, horrible ads** before the movie.

After several minutes, cars started to move again, and I came across the cause of the pause. A truck had blasted into a fence on the southbound side of the road (though facing north), and a car had smashed into the hill on the other side of the road, also facing north. It was completely crumpled. Things seem to have been a lot more eventful on the roads lately than usual in our little corner of the world.

I made it to the lovely theater in time for Love & Mercy, a new film about the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. Brian has had a fascinating and sometimes tragic life, and the film chose to focus on two different facets of it: when the Beach Boys were tremendously successful but Brian wanted to try new things musically, and later, when he had a nervous breakdown and fell into the thrall of the evil Eugene Landy, who overmedicated him and cut him off from his family. Brian was played by Paul Dano in his young incarnation and John Cusack in the older one, and both actors did a fine job, though Cusack looks nothing like Wilson. It’s flawed, but worth looking for if you can find it – the film has not been widely released, despite buzz for Dano as a possible Oscar candidate.

I’m pleased to report that the drive home was uneventful. I went to sleep with Wilson’s divine harmonies dancing in my head and the cats cuddled up beside me.

*Sorry, ecology! But it was after 10 pm and totally dark by the time I got home, summer or no summer.

**How right I was. There was a lengthy and embarrassing ad for a new Meryl Streep movie, and another for some animated movie which was so bad that it ruined “More Than a Feeling” for me, the song blasting in the background during the visual torture of the trailer. And I love that song!

A YEAR AGO: Kalli’s birthday camping party was in full swing.

Showered

I was both surprised and delighted by the gentle rain that started falling in the early afternoon on Thursday. It was still raining when I drove home, and I made a point of driving more slowly than usual, remembering that the first rain after a long drought makes the roads extra slippery. And they are already extra curvy. The summer tourist traffic helped in this effort, and I reminded myself to be thankful that the visitors kept me driving below the speed limit.

Traffic slowed dramatically as I approached the sharp curve leading to a state beach, and I thought that perhaps the time had finally come that I could take a picture of my favorite view on the coast, even though it would be in the rain. But I couldn’t get my phone out in time, and soon learned that the cause of the slowdown was a car accident. Two cars heading in opposite directions had ended up in the southbound lane (the side I was on). It must have happened recently, since there were no flares or emergency services on scene. We just drove carefully around the crashed cars.

I thought the excitement was over, but I was wrong. Along about my friend Jim’s road, traffic on the Ridge was crawling along as far as my eye could see:

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I passed a blue PG&E truck at the next road, which made me worry that the power was out. I texted Megan, but she was in the Big Town hanging out with Lu, so she had no idea what was going on in Hooterville. As I crept along the Ridge at less than 5 miles an hour, I wondered if I would be able to get home at all, or if I’d have to turn around and head over to my friend Erin’s place again, especially when traffic ground to a halt.

Just as I was about to turn the car off, it started inching along again. Arriving at the road where our friend lives whose skills and heavy machinery made the garden at the family property possible, I saw two Highway Patrol trucks, and let a third one turn off to join them. They all had their lights flashing, but I couldn’t see any crashed or stopped cars, or any sign of anything other than the CHP trucks themselves.

For some mysterious reason, traffic eased up after that, and the rest of the way home was uneventful. The power was on, the garden and its resident frogs were overjoyed about the rain, and the cats were napping. All was right with the world.

A YEAR AGO: Of cats and carpentry.

Magic Wand

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For those of you who deciphered the mysterious runes above and are wondering what the piano reference is all about: When Jessica was very young, she visited a friend who had a piano at her house. Jessica was enchanted, and when she got home, asked her mother to make her one. Erica said that she couldn’t make a piano. Jessica was stunned. This was the first time in her life she had asked her mother to make something and she couldn’t. As far as I know, a piano is still just about the only thing Erica can’t make.

A YEAR AGO: Farewell, electric lime green bathroom floor! I think I’ll miss you least of all.

Under the Big Top

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A red and white striped tent appeared in the park in the Village, and that could only mean one thing: Flynn Creek Circus was in town!

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They are a small, local circus which has begun to tour internationally and garner the acclaim they deserve for their amazing aerial acts.

Megan and I snapped up tickets for the Fourth of July show. We perched on elaborate cast iron benches which wouldn’t have looked out of place at a Victorian garden party, and prepared to enjoy the show. The circus kicked off with a glamorous girl walking, dancing, and even jumping across the tightrope in heels, making her my personal hero:

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Later, she switched to pointe shoes, but the heels amazed me the most. She was followed by “a unicycle built for two”, which was a couple doing acrobatics on a unicycle, including his sweeping her off her feet and onto his shoulders mid-ride, and, incredibly, jumping rope while on a unicycle. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Even more unbelievable was the act that followed. This guy balanced a board on top of a cylinder, and then stood on that, and added another layer of cylinders and board, and then another. And then he stood on his hands on top of it all:

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I was completely amazed and enraptured, along with the rest of the audience. The show concluded with two kids doing aerial silks. Megan works with one of the kids’ mother, and apparently this kid is still in high school and is only allowed to do circus work if he keeps his grades up at school. As far as I can see, he is doing great at both. It was impressive to see the skill, focus, and grace of all of the artistes. Once again, I feel so lucky to live in an area with so many talented people who share their art and vision with us all.

Back at Megan’s house, we made a stir fry for dinner. Everything in it, other than the noodles and shrimp, came from the garden over at the family property, and Megan also picked 15 pounds of peas for us to take to work and share with our co-workers. There are still peas left! And the orchard is teeming with ripening fruit: apples, pears, plums, and peaches. It’s summer!

A YEAR AGO: Come along on my drive to the Big Town! It’ll be fun!

The Beast

Jerry Seinfeld gets his car back from the valet, and something is amiss.

Jerry: Boy, do you smell something?
Elaine: Do I smell something? What am I, hard of smelling? Of course I smell something.
Jerry: What is it?
Elaine: I think it’s B.O.!
Jerry: What?
Elaine: It’s B.O. The valet must have had B.O.
Jerry: It can’t be. Nobody has B.O. like this.
Elaine: Jerry. It’s B.O.
Jerry: But the whole car smells.
Elaine: So?
Jerry: So when somebody has B.O., the “O” usually stays with the “B”. Once the “B” leaves, the “O” goes with it.

— Seinfeld, “The Smelly Car”

I may have solved the Mystery of the Cat at Midnight, without any help from Nancy Drew (though I still envy her blue convertible and general efficiency). It seems that Roscoe may in fact have been amusing himself with a late bird behind the box of my late father’s letters.

Working all the time has not improved my general domestic disability, but the strange smell that made its odoriferous appearance lately was above and beyond my lack of housekeeping skills. I pulled out the couch, but there was only a crop of unscented dust bunnies back there. I virtuously vacuumed them up and replaced the couch. The smell was still there, so I kept hunting. Oh Nancy, where art thou?

My house is small, and basically one room, so the places to look in this game of stink hide and seek were limited. Eventually, I thought to remove the box of letters, revealing a very dead Steller’s Jay. I swept the deceased onto a dustpan and removed it to the woods, but even though the “B” was gone, the “O” remained, and it seemed that the removal made the O worse.

I mopped the entire area under the stairs with Clorox and water, which I had previously believed had omnipotent cleaning powers. But it was powerless against the O. As Jerry said, “This is not just an odor – you need a priest to get rid of this thing! It’s a presence! It’s The Beast!” I borrowed Nature’s Miracle from my sister, thinking that if it gets rid of skunk smell, it can get rid of dead bird smell, but The Beast just laughed at it and turned up the stink. I applied more Clorox and prayed. Rob came by and applied Pine Sol, crawling around under the stairs with a sponge which went straight into the trash, but the cure was temporary. At this point, I have to hope it fades with time, or move. Any cleaning or exorcism tips gratefully accepted.

A YEAR AGO: Birthdays and anniversaries. Unscented.