Archive for September, 2015

Sep 28 2015

A Day in the Life

Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Family,Friends,Work

Saturday was my last day of working at the jobette. For real-real, as Jessica used to say in her long-ago youth. They have hired someone to work from Tuesday through Saturday, so they will only need me on Saturdays to fill in for her if she has to work an event or something.

I walked slowly through the familiar shop after I turned out the lights, and turned the sign to “Closed”, feeling a little sad. It was just a summer job, but it kept me connected to my former work family and the visitors. I guess it’s always hard to say goodbye.

Fortunately, my brother and sister decided to have an impromptu BBQ that evening for no particular reason, so I headed over there after I went home and changed out of my work clothes and corralled the kitties.

Our good friend Lichen was there:

lichen

Here’s a view of the canopy Rob picked up at the mall. You can see some of the Waltons-sized picnic table my brother built out of redwood a couple of years ago:

canopy

In case you’re wondering who the mystery dog is in the picture, it’s Marley. Marley is at Camp Lichen for a few days, learning valuable lessons like how not to whine his ass off when temporarily left in the car by his owner. Lichen is an excellent dog trainer, being both gentle and intolerant of nonsense.

Jonathan grilled up a simple dinner of sausages, and I thought that it won’t be long until he is manning the ‘cue for the traditional Christmas ham. This year the equally traditional split pea soup will be made of beans from the garden. I have heard rumors that I should resurrect making parsnip vichyssoise for Christmas Eve from the garden’s parsnips. And that there are plans afoot to make hard cider from all those apples.

Later, the moon rose over the garden:

moon

I suck at taking moon pictures, y’all. Even though the moon and I are pretty close after the mystical experience we shared a couple of years ago, I have never been able to take a good photo of her. Maybe she needs to start considering selfies and stop letting Kim Kardashian have all the fun.

A YEAR AGO: Bugs and fairies. You know, the usual.

6 responses so far

Sep 24 2015

Darkness

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life

It seems strange that I had more to write about when spending more time at home in Hooterville than I do now I’m out in the world five or six days a week. It’s probably because I’m spending that time immured in work in my office, and who wants to read about that? Work has severely decreased my reading time as well, and I am at an all-time low for books read this year. Even someone as math-challenged as I am can figure out that + work = – fun.

It was a preview of coming attractions this morning. I left early to fit in some grocery shopping before work, and it was both dark and foggy, rendering high beams useless. The fog throws the light back at the car instead of lighting the dark road, so you have to drive along in an anemic puddle of light, hoping that a deer doesn’t suddenly loom up in the road. When it comes to hitting deer (and falling in the water when he, Megan, and Rob lived on boats at Pier 39 in San Francisco), my brother says there’s only two kinds of people: them that has, and them that will. I’m hoping to stay in the latter category as long as possible.

The familiar Ridge, which I have driven so many times, becomes a scary and unknown place in the dark, a likely setting for a horror novel, and speeds which seem moderate or even slow in daylight hours seem extremely speedy when deprived of daylight. There are no streetlights at all on the Ridge or on storied Highway One, so it’s like driving blind. Indeed, I am often blinded by traffic heading the other way. I squint more when driving in the dark than I ever do in the bright California sun, blasted by the headlights of oncoming traffic. The anemic puddle of light is pretty much my only option, since most traffic is heading south in the morning (also mysterious, since they are heading away from the Big Town, where the jobs are), and I’d just be turning the high beams on and off every five seconds.

Pretty soon, I will be driving in the dark both ways, especially after the twice-yearly madness of the time change. It has taken me a while to realize that the entire purpose of the time change is to make sure that you have to get up in the dark for 9 or 10 months of the year. As soon as there is a glimmer of hope in the pre-dawn hours, it is cruelly snatched away by the Powers That Be. I find it mysterious that we have not risen up and rebelled, especially since most of us have to rise when it’s still dark out, which just adds insult to injury. It’s still going to get dark sooner than most people would prefer, but that’s the time when you curl up with your cats and a book or a hockey game, maybe a glass of wine, and enjoy the comforts of home. It’s cozy. And it’s Nature! Deal with it!

/Rant

A YEAR AGO: My bathroom remodel is almost finished. Brought to me by Rob, using all found and reclaimed materials.

5 responses so far

Sep 20 2015

Fair Suzy

It’s the middle of September, and you know what that means: time for the County Fair!

I left work early on Friday afternoon, picked up Megan, and set off fairwards. It was a postcard day, with not even a wisp of Karl the Fog* over the shining blue Pacific as we wended our way through the eternal redwoods and into sunny Anderson Valley.

When we lived in San Francisco, one of Megan’s many gifts was being able to get a taxi anywhere, any time. This talent has been modified over many years of country living to always being able to find a parking spot** (and a sort of ESP when it comes to California Highway Patrol, an ability that has undoubtedly saved her many tickets over the years). Fair Day was no exception, as she neatly parked Wednesday about a block from the fairgrounds.

We texted Erica on arrival and found that she was also there, so we happily met up in the floral building, where there was a Suzy theme going on, including pinkness and whimsy:

fair1

accessorized by glittery silver shoes. On a silver platter, no less!

fair2

The glamor theme continued in the livestock area, with fashion forward fowl whose outfit I coveted:

fair5

and glamorous goats with glitter signs. We even got to pet the world’s softest bunny, belonging to a very young and very poised 4-H girl.

fair3

In the agriculture building, it soon became clear that both the wildfires and the drought had taken a serious toll. The “biggest” pumpkin in the weigh off this year was a mere 200 pounds:

fair4

compared to last year’s 700 pounder. There was very little produce on display at all, other than apples and grapes. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new era.

It was a new era Jessica-wise as well. This was the first year she spent most of her time with her friends instead of her auntourage. In case you’re wondering: I chose not to embarrass Jessica by taking her picture when she was with her posse. I know this is the way it should be, but it makes me a little wistful about time passing and how she is no longer a little girl. Indeed, her curves are kicking in, despite her model slimness, and it was alarming to observe the effect she had on the male population. To be fair, she was wearing sunglasses, so they couldn’t know how young she was, but yikes. Fortunately, she has a good head on her shoulders and a smart mama.

Megan and I enjoyed strolling around the fair with Jessica’s smart mama. She has recently acquired two cattens (not quite cats; not quite kittens), a long-haired black female named Hecate and a short-haired grey male named Man Ray. They are rescued litter mates. I must go and meet them as soon as I stop working on Saturdays.

So it was kind of a skimpy fair this year, but we still had fun. I always have fun with Megan, Erica and Jessica.

*As I write, it’s 86 heinous degrees in my living room. I think Karl needs a nice, relaxing visit to the Mendocino Coast. He can be seen here hanging out in my old ‘hood:

karl

**Sometimes this has backfired on her, though.

A YEAR AGO: At the Fair, of course!

One response so far

Sep 15 2015

I Should Have Known Better*

Published by under Bullshit

Meanwhile, back in Absurd World™…
I foolishly checked the mail on Friday, even though I know no good ever comes of it**, and was greeted with a dental bill for more than $100. You may remember that I lost part of a filling recently, and had to visit the dentist to get a temporary fix (and pay for that) and then the real fix (and pay again). For some reason, I believed that having insurance after about 15 years of not having any would actually make it less expensive to visit the tooth doctor, but I should have known better than that.

I called the dental insurance folks, who informed me that my luxurious dental plan only covers up to amalgam (the old school style silver) fillings, and I had a resin one put in. I asked if the dental staff should not have told me that resin wasn’t covered and offered me the amalgam option instead, and the insurance person said that amalgam fillings are no longer done.

Me: “So it only covers up to a service that is no longer provided?”
Them: “Correct.” [Pause] “It’s your responsibility to know what’s covered.”

It seems I was better off, or at least no worse off, when I had no insurance. Now I’m paying into it every month, and when I have the temerity to use it, I still have to pay. I ended up paying $200 of the $238 bill for the filling. All in all, it doesn’t seem like a great system.

*Title inspired by little Miss Marina, the Beatlemaniac. 🙂

**To be fair, sometimes there are postcards and The New Yorker.

A YEAR AGO: Random updates.

6 responses so far

Sep 11 2015

Birthday Boy

Published by under Family,Friends,Special Occasions

We celebrated Jonathan’s 50th birthday* last weekend with, appropriately enough, a garden party. Well, a garden party our style. And it’s appropriate because the 80 foot by 80 foot garden/party palace was made with the hard work and vision of my siblings, with a little help from our (heavy machinery owning) friends. It all started a few years ago, when Megan and Jonathan decided to grub up the huckleberries and bull pines and make a garden out of nothing.

I sometimes wonder if they regret making this dream come true, since they seem to spend half of the year weeding, making compost tea, and watering and the other half canning, preserving, and getting ready for next year.

Jonathan spent his actual birthday climbing a mountain:

jdmountain

Which seems only fitting for an adventurous guy who is never happier than when he’s rescuing someone who fell off a cliff, or fighting wildfires, or scuba diving in or sailing down the coast of the notoriously dangerous Pacific. When he got back from his birthday adventure, he was greeted by a birthday dinner of spaghetti squash and sauce made of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and basil, all grown in the garden and served on the Waltons-sized picnic table he built a couple of years ago, now ensconced under the canopy Rob picked up at the mall**.

Erica made fried green tomatoes on the outside burner – dinner theater! She also made a fantastic southern Italian polenta cake with ginger-peach jam, dried figs, and quince steeped brandy. She grew all the fruit, so our home grown theme continued.

Our friend Carrie joined us, with her daughter Miranda, who is now 13. It had been a couple of years since Carrie and Miranda made it up here to visit from the Bay Area, and Miranda has become the cat whisperer. She was actually able to pet Jonathan’s skittish, semi-feral mini cat Scout outside, a nearly unheard of feat. While Miranda was charming Scout, we reminisced about how Carrie had come to my apartment in San Francisco for Thanksgiving dinner just weeks before Miranda was born and other happy memories from long ago.

The sun set in a spectacular fashion, the sky suffused with enough pink and lavender to gladden a Suzy’s heart (or make a Garden Party cocktail) above the dark trees. The technicolor gave way to glorious black and white, in the form of cloudless, ink black sky and brilliant stars. The city dwellers were awed by the light show, which reminded me to maybe not take it quite so much for granted.

As Jessica escorted Fair Suzy to her car, I realized that I had failed to take a single photo that evening. I was having too much fun eating and talking and being with my friends and family. I read somewhere that you make better memories if you don’t take pictures, because you’re living it instead of documenting it. I don’t know if it’s true, but I do know that it was a wonderful, memorable evening.

Here’s to the next half century!

*He is now my older brother. 🙂

**The dump, to the uninitiated. Rob is not like most people, and unlike most people, he doesn’t just drop things off there – he picks them up, too. It’s amazing what useful things he has found there.

A YEAR AGO: Miscellaneous things and stuff.

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Sep 07 2015

Past & Present

Published by under Car

I lent Wednesday to a friend who was making the trek to Santa Rosa last week, so I drove the 30 year old Honda for a couple of days. It was a whole different experience from driving a seven year old car. You lock and unlock the car with an actual key, and you roll down the windows with that thing at the end of your arm – you know, your hand. So you can actually roll the window down (or up) with car off. Such freedom! I also enjoyed the total lack of tinting on the windows, allowing for the luxurious use of the rear-view mirror. I felt like I was driving around in a fishbowl. When driving Wednesday, I rely exclusively on the side mirrors. I keep meaning to get the tinting removed, but haven’t gotten around to it. I probably should before the darkness and rain of winter descend.

I definitely missed my Ford* when dragging my butt up steep, curving hills. The Honda can do it, but it lacks the power and strength of Wednesday. And it’s not as power assisted, either, though the boys recently spent way too much time tearing it apart and replacing the brakes, which are notably brakier. As my brother said, the most important thing is that a car can stop (I thought it was that it could go, but as so often happens, I was wrong).

This reminded me of my 1966 Mustang convertible, Josephine**. She was light metallic blue outside and blue inside, with a white top that was only up when it was actually raining. I’m sorry to say that I was guilty of driving with the heat on and the top down back when I lived in San Francisco. Josephine liked to go fast. You could tell that she was happiest when going 60 mph or more, and she had a very powerful engine. But she did not have power brakes or steering, so when stopping on the San Francisco hills, I would practically have to stand up to press the brake pedal hard enough not to slip backwards. And when I drove up here to visit my sibs, along the legendarily curving highway, it was a real workout going around the curves.

UPDATE: John’s pack rat-ness pays off again! Here’s a photo of Josephine (at the place I bought her in Southern California):

BLCONV~1

*I have only ever owned Fords. If they’re good enough for Clyde Barrow, they’re good enough for me.

**Named for my equally beautiful and equally long ago Siamese cat Josephine. Her eyes were the same color as the car (or vice versa). Oddly, I can’t find any pictures of the car, and all the links in my blog are broken, so you will have to use your imagination or the Google to see what the car looked like.

A YEAR AGO: At the theater with the girls, enjoying “The Graduate”.

7 responses so far

Sep 02 2015

Play Date

Megan and I caught up with our good friend Lu before she and her boyfriend Rik took off for Central America for three weeks. Rik and Lu are both EMTs, and most years, they go on a mission of mercy to Honduras to provide medical care to villagers living in rural areas with no doctors or hospitals. This year, they decided to take a vacation instead, though they will also look in on their patients, make sure the ambulance is still running, and check on supplies. I am in awe of their courage and commitment.

We met up at the bookstore, which has a stunning view:

view

And its own resident cat, the Great Catsby, who was resting up from the exhaustion of dealing with his adoring public (not seen in the picture: a sparkly fuchsia mouse tucked next to his magnificent fur, like a teddy bear for cats):

catsby

Lu ordered some books, which will await her return, and I made a mental note of some small gifts for Jessica’s Christmas stocking. I know it seems early, but it’s already September, so the festive season starting with the County Fair (in a couple of weeks), then Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, has already begun. The Naked Ladies flaunting their pink loveliness by the side of the road tell me that fall has arrived.

We peeked into the pub through its heavy velvet door draperies, and discovered that it was too crowded for us to have dinner, as we expected, so we went to our usual spot, where we scored a table by an open window and admired the artwork on display:

art

It looks like something Rob would make.

The play was “The Normal Heart”, a moving piece about the early days of HIV/AIDS, when no-one knew what it was, what caused it, how it was spread, and it basically seemed like a huge and sudden plague. Living in San Francisco, I remember this all too well and the many we lost. This lovely remembrance blackboard was in the lobby, and the audience was invited to add their own lost loved ones:

lobby

The lobby also boasts a tiny, yet surprisingly well-stocked bar, and a creative bartender who creates a signature drink for each production. This one was Pride Punch: vodka and triple sec shaken with ice, poured into a glass, and then cranberry juice poured slowly over a spoon until the drink blushes:

drink

I said, “Come for the drinks, stay for the play,” and the bartender said that there are many people who do come there just for the drinks. I stored this valuable information away for future reference.

A YEAR AGO: Little Miss Lupe, my workout partner, came into my life. Also the MacBook I’m merrily typing away on. Sometimes it seems like September really is the new year, just like when you’re a kid.

3 responses so far