Can You?

The vertigo is fading, though it still rears its ugly head when I lay down my pretty one, and reminds me that it’s still around when I sit up in the morning. I am in line for a referral to a physiotherapist, who is supposed to do some kind of desensitization therapy which I hope will get rid of the vertigo for good (which would definitely be good). A friend of a friend is also casting a spell for me. Whatever works.

Maybe it’s the “it will take you longer to recover because of your age” remark from the doc (who is at least 15 years older than I am), but I keep worrying that this is the beginning of the long, slow decline into old age, even though I’m not that old and I have always been pretty healthy. Maybe I took it for granted all these years. I promise to appreciate it more if the vertigo goes away forever. I swear!

While I was languishing in dizzy world, my sibs were busily canning the garden produce, and I came home one day to find that either the Food Fairy had stopped by, or Santa was doing a trial run*. There were jars of tomato sauce, relish, and salsa verde:

jars

So in the depths of winter, we can open a jar and taste summer again.

*I may not have a chimney, but I do have a wide variety of unlocked doors for the jolly old elf to choose from. Assuming Luna and Lupe (or Audrey) don’t chase him away.

A YEAR AGO: Rejoicing over the Giants’ third World Series win in 5 years. Next year, boys. Next year.

Mooning

contraption
NASA worthy contraption. Doesn’t everyone have one?

What better way to celebrate my 6th anniversary of moving to Hooterville than a BBQ with my family and our old friend Paul?

We have known Paul since the long ago Pier 39 days, when he, Megan, and Jonathan all lived on boats there. Now he lives in Florida in the winter, where he hosted me a few years back, and in the Hamptons in the summer, where he caters for the rich and (in)famous and refuses to give me any celebrity dish, no matter how many times I ask him. He claims the stars don’t talk to the help, but I remain convinced that he’s holding out on me.

Fortunately for us, he also caters to the poor and unknown, and he and Megan pulled up at our brother’s place with bags full of food. Jonathan had the wood going in the Weber – no charcoal briquettes for us – and Tenacious D blasting. Paul set to work cutting up chickens and marinating them in soy sauce, Dijon, brown sugar and vinegar:

paul

Before moving on to slicing up sweet potatoes and zucchini, which he dusted with a magical blend of spices before putting them on the BBQ.

It had been a while since Paul visited us, so the Waltons-sized picnic table my brother built was new to him, and I reminded him that the slab of quarter-sawn white oak he was using for a cutting board (seen in the photo above) was the piece Jonathan cut out to accommodate the sink on the slab of wood he installed as a counter top in the kitchen of my San Francisco apartment many years ago.

Paul was on a road trip with his 90 year old father and much younger uncle. They had driven from Florida on a magical mystery tour of meeting various relatives, some of whom Paul had never met before and his father hadn’t seen in decades. We were a brief stop between San Francisco (where Paul’s Dad and uncle stayed while Paul came up here) and Seattle, where they are headed next. Paul says they will all stop by on their way back to San Francisco, and will hopefully stay for a couple of days.

While dinner was slowly cooking over the BBQ, we admired the NASA sized telescope which a fellow ham radio aficionado had given to my brother:

telescope

For free. The reflective lens needed cleaning, which Jonathan did, very carefully, and other than that, the whole contraption, which dates back to the 1950s or so, is in perfect working order. He aimed it at the moon, and I was completely unprepared for what I saw when I peeked through the lens. I could see every crater, dip, and mountain on the moon! The shadowy side was ridged with mountains, not at all smooth, the way it appears from a distance. I could practically see the flag planted up there. It was amazing.

Dinner was also amazing, and it was great to sit by the fire after a long day, eating and talking with some of my favorite people in the world. I’m glad Paul is coming back soon and we’ll have more time together.

A YEAR AGO: Cats vs. birds. And a sad farewell.

Dizzy Broad

I thought the cold I had was pretty minor. It was really just a runny nose – no sore throat, no fever, or anything else. However, whatever was going on inside my head was bad enough to leave a seemingly endless case of vertigo in its wake.

I wakened last week to find that my house was pitching around like Dorothy’s in the Wizard of Oz. I sat on the side of the bed and waited for it and myself to calm down, and then texted Dr. Megan. Her opinion was that the cold had inflamed my inner ear and I needed meclizine, which she picked up for me along with ginger ale. An unwelcome side effect of the dizziness is nausea, and as the week wore on, I felt an awed respect for all the women who endure months of morning sickness. How do they do it? I was homicidal after two days.

Although I was marooned on my couch with the house spinning around me, I was still typing up handwritten pages which my boss scanned and emailed to me. Looking down made me dizzy, so I propped up the papers on pillows and did my best, since we were up against a deadline.

The next day, I had to be driven to work. I have always wanted a driver*, though of course when I finally get one it’s in a Monkey’s Paw way because I’m too dizzy to drive. Nothing like not being able to drive to make you actually want to do it.

When I was still feeling weird toward the end of the week, I called the patient care coordinator to see if one of the docs could fit me in if they had a no show, and they did. I have to say, being seen is a very different experience when you work there. They called me when they were ready to take my vitals, and then the doctor appeared like magic. This is in sharp contrast to my usual experience of waiting for an hour to see the doctor for fifteen minutes**.

He checked me out and endorsed Dr. Megan’s diagnosis. When I asked him for an ETA on the dizziness leaving the premises, he gave me the unwelcome news that it could take up to two weeks. Why, you ask? Because I’m old! Yes, slowness in healing is apparently yet another of the delightful indignities a girl can expect as she moves gracefully through the years***. Or carefully.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner and a movie.

* I can’t understand why all those celebrities keep getting arrested for drunk driving when all they have to do is hire a chauffeur, which they can obviously afford. And what could be more glamorous and convenient?

**I was astonished when compiling patient surveys a couple of months ago that the majority said they were seen within 15 minutes of their appointment time. I kept thinking, “Who are these people?”

***I’m not that old. Not yet, anyway.

Rest Stop

I ended a tough week on a high note: meeting a friend for dinner after a mere 10 hour day. I was afraid I’d be late, but I was only 15 minutes late. We hugged hello, and then I ordered a medicinal margarita, doing my little bit to help with the Stage Three water shortage in the Big Town by not ordering water.

Most of the Big Town’s water supply comes from a river, which has been awash in ocean water for the past couple of weeks due to the Supermoon and super high tides, making it undrinkable. That, and the seemingly endless epic drought plaguing all of California led the City Council to issue an edict banning the use of glasses, silverware, and china dishes in restaurants in the Big Town. This order was drastic enough to make the “Washington Post” take notice, way across the country where they have many other things to worry about, like next year’s election, and set off controversy in our little corner of the world (What about the trees? It takes tons of water to make plastic! The visitors will freak out!).

So my libation arrived in a paper cup, but was no less delicious for that, and our adobada arrived on paper plates and was eaten with plastic cutlery, but no less delicious for that. It actually felt like we were at an inside picnic and made it more fun.

Partly because of the margarita and partly because of the long and tiring week I’d had, I had reserved a room at a hotel about two blocks away. I know the owner and he gave me a great deal, and I was glad I didn’t have to face the long, dark drive to Hooterville.

Instead, I popped a “Gilmore Girls” disc into the DVD player, applied a face mask and eye treatment, and popped open a bottle of wine for a mini spa evening. I used every single pillow on the bed to lean against in luxuriousness, and I slept well that night.

In the morning, I had coffee overlooking the working harbor:

noyo

and then ran a few errands, since I was already in the Big Town, and it was nice not having to squeeze them in before or after work. As I drove home, I felt like I had accomplished a lot, and that’s always a nice feeling.

A YEAR AGO: Living in limbo is not fun.

With a Little Help from My Friends

The Manic Monday theme carried on into last week with a vengeance. It was accessorized with a cold, which arrived on the weekend, making sure no fun could be had, and hung on like a guest that didn’t know when to leave, even when the lights were off and the chairs on the tables. The Comma made its unwelcome and inconvenient appearance as well, so my condition was already pretty weakened as I embarked on a week of what would turn out to be 10 to 12 hour days in an effort to complete the hand-written project started last week.

My efforts were hampered at every turn by my old enemy technology, partly the (government) system used to submit the project data, and partly due to the Draconian limitations on the computers at work, such as not being able to simply click on an embedded link. Instead, you have to copy it and paste it into your browser. Apparently this is for our own good. Add in the fact that we have the wrong version of the browser required by the government, and our systems will not allow us to download different versions other than the standards already installed, and you have a recipe for a perfect storm of frustration for a sick and tired girl up against a deadline.

I mentioned my less than ideal work day to my more than ideal friend Erin, and she appeared like magic with a care package of chamomile tea, aspirin, and dark chocolate drops, all in a plain brown wrapper and delivered with a hug, germs be damned:

IMG_2049

I used all of these secret weapons to get me through the day, and another former co-worker at the jobette gifted me with some wit and wisdom of the late, great, Yogi Berra* to get me through the long days:

To brighten your bad day:

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

“When you come to a fork in the road – take it.”

“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”

I laughed out loud at my paper-covered desk, and attacked the Sisyphean task with renewed energy and a brighter outlook.

Finally arriving home, I passed Rob on the driveway. We rolled down our windows to say hi, and he told me that he had dropped off a card for me on my front porch. There it was, gleaming silver in the twilight, and opening it revealed a beautiful card from my friend Joy:

card

She had picked it up in Paris and thought I would enjoy it, knowing how I fell in love with Paris on my first visit there at the impressionable age of 17. Indeed, two of my favorite bookmarks are postcards she sent me from Paris, and I have laminated them so they will last longer.

As I fell into bed that night, surrounded by kitties, I felt so thankful for my friends and the life I have built in this beautiful place. With friends like these, I can do anything.

*Somehow, I never thought he would actually die. Roger Angell, one of the finest baseball writers ever (and stepson of the immortal EB White) wrote a brief and wonderful appreciation of the legend in a recent issue of The New Yorker (feel free to click on the link with wanton abandon).

A YEAR AGO: Hmm. I had a cold then, too. ‘Tis the season?

Haircuts and Kitchens

Megan and I hopped in her little red car and headed over to Lichen’s place on the magical South Coast.

It was a postcard day, without a cloud in the sky, the ocean impossibly blue with waves crashing against the wild, rocky coastline with its dark, windswept trees. After a short and pretty drive, we arrived at Camp Lichen, where Marley was joined by a pretty, stripy cat named Mouser:

mouser

who is visiting indefinitely while his owner is off doing other things, much like the Lovely Rita and me so many years ago.

When Lichen isn’t creating beautiful landscapes at other people’s houses (and his own) or training wayward pets or cutting people’s hair (the ostensible reason for the visit was a haircut for Megan), he is making leaves out of cement:

leaves

Sometimes they’re painted and sometime they’re not, but either way, they make amazing art, whether in the garden or inside the house. He is so talented.

Megan perched on a wooden stool on the deck overlooking the garden and the ocean:

view

while Lichen cut her hair. Megan inherited Mom’s glossy, thick, wavy hair, and Lichen actually has to thin it out. Mom never lost her hair, even with years of chemo and radiation. She just got regular density hair, and it never really went grey, either.

After the haircut, we finally got a look at the kitchen:

kitchen

You may remember that when Lichen moved in last winter, there was no kitchen and his landlords kindly allowed him to design one from Ikea and had it installed. I was worried that it would look too dark, but it looks great, though my photo is a little glare-y due to the sun being so sunny that day. You know how it is.

Before we left, Lichen loaded us up with pumpkins. If the Great Pumpkin really is looking for the most sincere pumpkin patch, I know where he’ll be on Halloween:

pumpkins

We set off homewards with hugs and waves. We are so lucky to have such great friends.

A YEAR AGO: Another visit to the South Coast. Must be the time of the season.

Manic Monday

Well, the week started out with a bang that made me whimper.

When my boss arrived on Monday, she flooded my desk with a tsunami of hand-written paper, all of which had to be typed up or made into charts:

paper

While I was still assessing the damage and estimating the girl hours to get it done, she asked me to come into her office and close the door.

I immediately felt like I was being called to the principal’s office, and started mentally going through the things I could have done, followed by the things I could have been caught doing, and pretty much came up blank, since all I ever do is work.

My boss then told me that she is retiring at the end of the year, aka two months from now. An internal person has agreed to take the job, and she does not have an assistant, so I’m assuming I still have a job. But it will be different, and I kind of feel like I’ve had enough new jobs and bosses over the past few months. I tried not to take it personally that she’s leaving six months after I arrived. Maybe it will be a good thing. I will almost certainly be typing fewer hand-written pieces of paper.

Later, as I sat at my desk packaging up the remains of my boss’ lunch for her to take home to her dogs (a literal doggie bag!), I thought of how weird my job is, and that was before I got the call from the woman in Hawaii who is looking to adopt and would like us to give her a heads up if any patients tell us they would like to give up their child.

When I got home, I found deconstructed bird all over the lovely living room carpet:

floor

Deconstructed birds are much more delightful in high end restaurants than on my floor. It was the perfect end to the perfect nine and a half hour day. After I vacuumed, I had a dose or two of Vitamin V, which always improves my outlook.

A YEAR AGO: Things were even worse. I lost my job, which I still miss every single day. And the jobette was in mortal peril. I still miss the jobette every single day, too.