Archive for December, 2015

Dec 31 2015


It was a year of change for me. Maybe too much in too short a time. I lost my job at the end of 2014 and jumped into the hell job in February, jumping ship for a less hellish job in March, and interviewing for a job I was lucky not to get in late summer. I have interviewed more over the past year than in the previous 20 years. I still kept up with the jobette, though, working Saturdays over the summer. Working six days a week was an interesting experience, and taught me a lot about time management.

The year ended on a tragic note, with the staggering loss of my beloved Roscoe. I can’t believe I will never see him again, hear his mournful meow, pet his rough, yet soft fur or his rakish torn ear. His loss leaves a hole in my heart and home which will never be filled.

Trips to San Francisco: 0! For the first time since moving to Hooterville, not one single trip to civilization. That’s what happens when you lose the job that paid for the trips.

Season rainfall (late 2014 through May 2015): 40.43 inches. Better than 2014’s 32.75 inches, but not enough to make a dent in the drought. Let’s hope the El Niño forecast for the 2015-16 winter is accurate, though not too floody.

Power Outages: Three, but they were epic, each time.

All that working made the merest dent in my reading, though, coming in at a count of 93 versus 2014’s 100. Favorite books read this year were all true stories. What Stands in a Storm was both inspiring and harrowing. It follows the lives of several Alabamans during a “superstorm” in 2011. I was so caught up in the lives and experiences of those who survived and those who didn’t that I was reading it with tears pouring down my face and my hands shaking. The Residence tells the fascinating story of the White House servants from the Kennedys to the Obamas. Many of the staff continue to serve the First Families well into their 70s and 80s, and become almost part of the family. Life After Murder follows the lives of men who were paroled after serving long prison sentences, the joys and challenges of adapting to life outside prison walls after decades inside. I learned a lot about California’s alarmingly arbitrary parole system, as well as human nature.

As for my little corner of the world:

January: My New Year’s clean up unearthed some treasures. A great celebration of Jarrett’s birthday. The Covered California madness continues. The many joys of Erica and Jessica. And visiting the dynamic duo in their Batcave/Palace.

February: A dream sparks a childhood memory. It’s nice to meander down memory lane sometimes. Stormageddon blasts into town, taking the power with it. And the weather just keeps getting scarier. I say farewell to my dear co-workers at the jobette. ~Sob~ The beginning of my new job. I love my handyman and my pen pal.

March: It’s Erin to the rescue when a propane leak stops me from getting home after a long day at work. I have such great friends! Why go jump in a lake when you can jump in an icy cold river? For charity? My brother is always my hero. And I have the best ex-husband ever. I also have a new job. Again. Remembering my father and best friend on his birthday. He was the best Dad ever. And speaking of family: it’s always fun to meet more! A trip to the South Coast to revel in a theater production all the way from London. And some spring cleaning at home.

April: A peek at the past, starring Me. In which my veins are found wanting. An evening at the theater. Learning about Hooterville’s past. My blog’s 14th birthday, and a very memorable 12th birthday for a very memorable girl. Saying goodbye
to Lu’s dog Marco, a gentle giant and a gentleman. Sleep well, sweet boy.

May: The Derby and a new ‘do – what’s not to love? It’s official! Stella joins the family. Trying to adjust to my new lot in life. More successfully on some days than others. A lovely evening at the theater. Megan’s wonderful birthday barbecue.

June: The extremeness of Audrey knows no bounds. She really is the Audreyest Audrey ever, from stripy head to expensive toe. A less than stellar birthday for our heroine this year. This was entirely made up for by the utter awesomeness of Junapalooza. Midnight adventures. Remembering a long ago Paris vacation. Megan and I take a day off together.

July: The midnight intruder left quite an impression. A wonderful time at the circus. Erica’s cleverness and creativity know no bounds. The unexpected leads to some unexpected road incidents. Dinner and a movie. The wonderful Kalli’s wonderful annual birthday party. Working six days a week presents some challenges. The retro balcony garden.

August: Fierce wildfires burn in neighboring Lake County, which was brutally hit again a month later by the even worse Valley Fire, whose burn scars could be seen from space. The fourteenth anniversary of Dad’s death. I will never stop missing and loving him. As time passes, I find I think more about how lucky I was to have him than how sad I am at losing him, though the sorrow is always there in my heart and my blood, like the bassline to a song. Of dentists, dogs, and James Dean. An an encounter with a deer. I hope I never have a close(r) encounter, though part of me fears that hitting a deer is pretty much inevitable.

September: Started the month out right with dinner and a play. Musings on cars. My younger, I mean, older brother is now 50! He is one of the most amazing people I know, and one of the best things in my life. Health insurance of any kind is just plain ridiculous, at least in this country. The pleasures of the County Fair. And the displeasure of the time change (even though it hasn’t happened yet. I’m pre-complaining here. It’s all about time management!).

October: Just another Manic Monday. A wonderful visit with a wonderful friend. And my friends can pretty much get me through anything. Taking a little break from it all. Vertigo suddenly rears its ugly head in my pretty one, and refuses to leave. Getting up close and personal with my old friend the moon.

November: Roscoe the hunter (and cuddler). A Jessica-free, but not fun-free Halloween. Our good friend Paul stops by while on a cross-country road trip with his 90 year father. A magical trip to the South Coast (is there any other kind?) to see Benedict Cumberbatch in “Hamlet”. And pick up some Thai food, of course. In which our heroine attempts to become less of a dizzy blonde. Thanksgiving preparations do not go as planned. But a good time was had by all.

December: The joy of the Festival of Lights at the Botanical Gardens. And the agony of losing my beloved cat Roscoe. Oh, Roscoe…

Let there be lights in the darkness. And a soul-soothing mini break, right here in town. And the beauty of the Bolshoi Ballet. A slightly neurotic and busy Christmas Eve, followed by a wonderful Christmas.

I did an OK-ish job of keeping my new year’s resolution to spend more time with friends and family. There’s room for improvement, though in my defense, I do work between 50 and 60 hours a week, which severely cuts into fun time. I would still like to spend more time hanging out with my brother when it’s not related to my car.

As for you, Dear Reader: I wish you health and happiness in this coming new year, and always. Thank you for always being there for me and sharing your wit and wisdom.

A YEAR AGO: A look back at 2014.

2 responses so far

Dec 26 2015

Christmas Recap

Christmas Day dawned both beautiful and cold:


which felt quite seasonal and festive but also meant that it was too cold to sit outside, even with the outdoor fireplace and a stack of wood chopped by my brother and kept dry on the porch. Somehow, we all packed into my little hippie hovel. Here’s Clayton, squeezed by the door to the studio with a glass of red wine to keep him company and keep him warm:


The table was set with all the heirlooms: my English grandmother’s ivory-handled silver and Wedgwood biscuit barrel (with my world-famous cheese biscuits) and salad dish with matching servers, dating from about 1830, and my American grandmother’s wineglasses and glass “Remembrance” platter:


Erica brought not one, but two Bûches de Noël, one a sinful chocolate and the other an Antoinette, based on the Tarte Antoinette (quince membrillo with vanilla chiffon) which was such a huge hit at Thanksgiving:


Jessica brought a Christmas drawing for each of us:


I love mine. And I love that kidlet. She and Jonathan did a spectacular job as always at the traditional reading of “Red Ranger Came Calling” after dinner, alternating pages and outdoing each other with showmanship:


You will notice that this is the first year she is too big to sit on Jonathan’s lap. Also that she is wearing fuzzy skeleton PJs.

It was great to share all our holiday traditions with old friends and new, and my house was overflowing with love and joy that night. It may have been cold outside, but it sure was warm and wonderful inside.

A YEAR AGO: A merry Christmas.

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Dec 25 2015

Christmas Morning


Merry Christmas, everyone! The amaryllis greeted the day with brand-new holiday blooms.

Here in Hooterville, it dawned bright and sunny, and you know what that means: it’s cold! Clyde and I are sitting by the heater and watching the Queen’s Speech together. I always find it inspiring, but this year I was particularly touched by her saying, “Christmas is a good time to be thankful for for all that brings light to our lives.”

Last night’s festivities were delightful. I can’t tell you how it gladdened my heart to see our old friend Clayton coming through my door with his beautiful smile and his friend John in tow. John also lives in San Francisco, but he hails from Birmingham, and he is a total hoot. It was nice to have an English voice at our celebrations again after all these years.

Clyde took one look at the visitors and fled, like Roscoe used to do, and hid in the studio until the evening was over, also like Roscoe. He used to be the life of the party, strolling among the guests for pets and admiration. Audrey joined him there and they both only emerged when the coast was finally clear. Maybe my cats are no longer party animals.

Everyone else was, though, and more wine was drunk and food was eaten than I expected, and a good time was had by all.

As for today, I will make cheese biscuits and get the garlic mashed potatoes ready to go. The salad and dressing are ready, and Jonathan is in charge of the ham. Megan is going to take Clayton and John for a walk with the dogs somewhere scenic, and Erica is going to take them mushroom hunting in the early afternoon. One of the many prizes she won at the County Fair this year was for wool dyed with mushrooms she foraged on the family property.

And that means…I will have an afternoon with Jessica! When she returned from her most recent visit with her deadbeat dad, she told Erica, “Thank you for saving me from the gaping maw of normalcy.” Is it any wonder she is my favorite kid on the planet?

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us!

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Dec 24 2015

Christmas Eve

Published by under Cooking,Friends

It’s 4 am. Do you know where your Suzy is?

She is sitting by the heater, Clyde at her side, contemplating all the things she should be doing as the rain patters against the roof/walls.

I went to sleep last night thinking of all the things I needed to do this morning, and this is not conducive to a good night’s sleep, even after a long and tiring day of cooking and cleaning.

I took yesterday off, and spent it cleaning my very humble home and then starting the epic parsnip Vichyssoise for tonight’s dinner. I used to make this for Christmas Eve dinner when Dad came for Christmas (he and my stepmother rented a house in Bodega Bay, partway between me in San Francisco and my sibs in Hooterville, and we all got to wake up together on Christmas morning), and I thought it would be fun to revive the tradition.

My brother dug up parsnips from the family garden, and I also used garlic from the garden. It was a lot of peeling and chopping, and I began to realize why I had stopped doing it. I will just say that between the cleaning and the food prep, it was 7:00 pm and I was still working on that soup, now reposing peacefully in the refrigerator as if nothing had happened. My “day off” was more work than an actual day of work.

My plan for today is to make salad dressing for tomorrow, finish the soup with milk and cream (it is insanely rich) and make whole wheat rolls to go with it. I also have to go over to my brother’s place to drop off Jack Daniel’s to go into the ham glaze and pick up chives to garnish the soup. Megan is going to stop by when she gets home from work early this morning and I will exchange her roasting pan for the salad and cheese biscuit fixings for Christmas dinner.

Our friend Clayton is on his way up today and will be with us for dinner. My cinematic choice for the evening is hovering between “A Christmas Story” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas”.


The rolls are ready. Some rose to the occasion better than others:


I don’t think anyone will mind, though. Dinner’s ready!

The propane fairy came by and filled my tank. Of course, he also dropped off a bill for $282, which is due on New Year’s Eve, but it’s nice to have a full tank of gas.

My dear friend Erin stopped by with my Christmas gift, which I couldn’t resist opening on the spot. She said, “It just screamed you!” and so it does. It also fills in that embarrassing gap on my Charlie Brown Christmas tree:


And looks perfect with the other Eiffel Towers just across the room with my Dean & Deluca spice boxes:


She knows me so well!

A YEAR AGO: Santa brought me a power outage. You shouldn’t have! Guess I was more naughty than nice* (as usual).

*My favorite quote from the ever-soapy “Nashville”: “I guess nice just ain’t my color.”

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Dec 23 2015


bolshoi1The glorious Bolshoi Ballet

Megan and I braved the stormy, twisty roads to head to the South Coast last weekend. Rain and wind lashed Wednesday, and even the fearless former ambulance driver had to concentrate on the road instead of the spectacular ocean and scenery. I was glad I wasn’t driving.

Our first stop was Anchor Bay Thai Kitchen, of course, where we loaded up on enough delicacies for both dinner that night and Megan’s long work week ahead, and then headed back to Point Arena. The Arena Theater was showing a recording of the Bolshoi Ballet performing The Nutcracker.

I showed Megan the bliss of the balcony, and she agreed that it was definitely the place to be. On the screen, there were images of the breathtaking Bolshoi Theater, built when this country was just getting started. I still remember the beauty of the buildings I saw when I went to Russia just after glasnost, especially the Catherine Palace and the Hermitage.

Megan studied ballet for many years when she was young, before her knee defects (an unfortunate family trait which skipped me but also plagues our brother) sidelined her. As we took our seats, she reminded me how I never missed her recitals and how much it meant to her. It meant a lot to me, too. And all these years later, it was an extra pleasure to watch what are probably the world’s elite ballet dancers with someone who was trained in that difficult, yet glorious art.

The Nutcracker/Prince was played by the very handsome Denis Rodkin, who had an incredible combination of power and grace. He was the best dancer, but the Mouse King, going into battle armed with nothing but a fantastic fashion sense, stole my heart with his purple, ermine-trimmed cape and huge gold star on his chest. The snowflake dance, set in a magical forest with a glittering white tree (much more elegant than the one in my living room), was our favorite part, though we also loved the Arabic dance.

All in all, it was a delightful experience, a wonderful combination of memories old and new. I love it that we have access to some of the world’s greatest artists here in our little corner of the world.

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Dec 22 2015

Getting Ready

Published by under Cats,Special Occasions

The day after I got home from my mini break, I put the stockings together (at least, the ones I’m responsible for) with the soundtrack from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to inspire me.

Everyone gets a quarter and a clementine in the toe of their stocking and a candy cane* at the top, because that’s how my parents did it and it’s nice to have that tradition still.

Last year, I started wrapping the “present-y” things in the stockings, so it makes opening them more fun. It’s a drag when you’re doing it, especially for the wrapping challenged like me, but it’s so worth it when the stockings are opened.

Clyde supervised, much as he supervised Rob during the bathroom renovation. He has a talent for this. He has changed since we lost his brother. He rarely goes outside now. I don’t know if it’s because of the rain (though that never stopped him before), or because he saw what happened to Roscoe or knows on some deeper level, or because he’s sad. He sleeps on my head again, like he did when was a baby, and is a lot more vocal about needing attention and following me around.

He sits on my desk and stares outside, but when I open the door, he won’t go outside. Is he looking for Roscoe? It reminds me of how Yellow Dog still comes around looking for his friend and playmate Schatzi two years after she too vanished into the woods. I would love to know what goes on in their minds.

*In “classic flavor”, per Jessica’s preference. This year I put a roll of SweeTarts in hers and Erica’s. Erica was bemoaning her lack of romantic success recently, and I said it was because she’s like a five pound bag of SweeTarts. She loved this so much that she posted about it on Facebook, so I think she’ll get a kick out of it.

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Dec 21 2015

Mini Break

I took a break from my Roscoe-less house and spent a night in the Big Town.

First, I left work early (!) and went to meet Angelika at a lovely, hidden away salon (hidden away in the Big Town rather than the Big Woods). She works there one day a week now, so it will be easier for me to pop in and get beautified now that I work in the Big Town so much.

Angelika greeted me with a warm hug as always. She has such a joyful yet restful presence, the perfect thing at any time but especially for a girl who is fighting the tide of sadness at the holidays. She cut about three inches off my hair and, as always, made it look better than I ever thought possible, while simultaneously lifting my spirits and making me feel hopeful again.

After my glamification, I did a little shopping in the heart of downtown and picked up dinner from the ever-crowded and ever-delicious Piaci’s Pizza, and then headed to the hotel.

From my days at the jobette, I still have many friends in the lodging industry, so I was able to get a lovely room at an equally lovely price. The room looked over a creek and estuary, where ducks met and played in the sunset water:


Looking to the right, there was a peek of ocean past the trestle bridge and historic Highway One. I watched the streetlights and house lights wink on as the pink sunset light faded into darkness.

I took a glass of wine and repaired to the enormous soaking tub with bath salts and bath gel thoughtfully provided:


As I floated in the embrace of the warm water, I felt myself relaxing. I tried to look my Roscoe feelings right in the face, acknowledge them, and let them go, at least for now. I decided: he had an ideal cat life, he was never sick a day in his life, was always loved. I was lucky to have had him at all. And we all know it’s never long enough.

I had dinner while enjoying a “Gilmore Girls” marathon on the thoughtfully provided DVD player, and slept a dreamless sleep. In the morning, I had coffee on the balcony overlooking the estuary, enjoying the view and the playing birds. I went out for breakfast, ran a couple of errands, stopped at the post office to find a boxful of Christmas cards (many of them glittery, which I love) and came home to find Audrey and Clyde waiting for me.

It was a nice little break.

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Dec 19 2015

The Office Party

Published by under Bullshit,Calamity Suzy,Work

It turns out hell is decorated quite nicely

Or “How I Learned More Than I Ever Needed to Know About Lottery Tickets”.

I should get a t-shirt that says “I survived the office holiday party”. Or maybe a medal…

Planning a party for more than 100 people is enough of an undertaking without the Powers that Be suddenly changing the date of said shindig to be a week earlier than planned. I had to unplan and replan everything that had already been planned.

I thought I had everything in place for the big day, but I was Foolish and Deluded, as Winnie the Pooh would say. The caterer emailed me that morning asking if it was OK if they brought the food an hour earlier than planned, since they had to get their van in the shop by 1:00. Did it matter if it wasn’t? And should I worry about the mechanically challenged van?

The holiday party was also the venue selected to distribute bonus checks. Four of the many employees have not worked long enough to get a bonus, and their manager was concerned that they would feel left out when everyone else got an envelope. Although the plan was known for weeks ahead of time, this manager waited until the morning of the party to freak about it and ask that these people get some kind of token gesture in envelope form.

It was decided to get lottery tickets. My boss said, “Get $20 worth” and said to put them on the store credit card. I dutifully went to the store and discovered that you need cash to buy lottery tickets. So I bought $20 worth with my own money.

Returning to work, I asked to be reimbursed, and while the accounting person was dealing with that, went to give the lottery tickets to my boss. She then told me that she meant $20 per person, not $20 total. I guess I should have known that “Get $20 worth” meant “Get $80 worth”. So silly of me.

I asked the accounting person to front me the money, and she gave me a $100 bill from the safe. Armed with this, I returned to the store, only to learn that not only do you need cash to buy lottery tickets, said cash cannot exceed $20 denominations.

Back to work to get the $100 bill changed into lottery-appropriate $20 bills, and then yet another trip to the store to buy said lottery tickets. “They’d better effin’ win something,” I said to the accounting person*.

The caterer’s van limped into the parking lot about then, and I helped them unload the giant insulated boxes of food. It soon became apparent that there were no chafing dishes to keep the food hot during the hour before the festivities began, although there were supposed to be. I called the party rental folks down the street, who happened to have some, and I went to the car for the fourth time in less than hour and headed to the rental place.

As I loaded the last minute chafing dishes into the car, I couldn’t help wondering how I had gone from managing millions of dollars of other people’s money to wrangling chafing dishes and buying other people lottery tickets. Clearly adulting is not one of my talents. Good job in the life department there, Suz.

Needless to say, I was too busy running around, cleaning up, and keeping dishes full to eat any of the food, though it got enthusiastic reviews. And no, I didn’t leave early, even though the halls were pretty much vacant by 3:30 in the afternoon.

I definitely didn’t win this lottery, even though I now know how to buy the tickets.

*They did; one person won $20 and another won $15.

A YEAR AGO: At home in a wine cask.

3 responses so far

Dec 17 2015

Let There Be Lights

Published by under Cats,House,Special Occasions

You’d think being heartbroken over losing Roscoe would mean no Christmas decorations, but you’d be wrong. Part of my survival strategy is squeezing every little bit of joy out of every little thing, whether it’s Fred the hummingbird hovering like a jewel outside my office window or cuddling with Clyde before the alarm goes off in the morning darkness.

I decided more light and sparkle were needed, so I hauled out the aged Christmas tree:


and twined lights up the driftwood banister:


I put the wreath on the door:


The mistletoe in the middle is a gift from an 8 year old admirer, “So you’ll get lots of Christmas kisses.”

I realize I never did show you the lights on the tree in the outdoor living room:


So the house is cheerful and sparkly on the rare occasions when the power stays on. It’s been a wild and stormy couple of weeks, in more ways than one.

A YEAR AGO: The horror of interviewing for what would turn out to be the hell job. Ignorance can be bliss, and interviews can be better than the actual jobs.

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Dec 14 2015

With a Bang

Published by under Weather,Work

I was at work making copies when there was a huge bang and the building shook. Before my two brain cells had processed the Big Bang, the power went out and we were cast into darkness.

Emerging shocked from the copy room, I heard the generator kick on and saw the pale emergency lights activated. Walking back toward my office, I saw a staff member entering the building, shaking. I asked her what happened, and she said that lightning struck a house right across the street. The force of the lightning had thrown her against our building. An hour later, she said she could still feel the lightning on her back*.

We rarely get thunderstorms here in our little corner of Northern California, and when we do, there’s a rumbling of thunder in the distance and a warning while it rubs its hands and gets ready to get down to work. This time, it just slammed the door open and yelled “I’m here!” It was soon joined by its good time buddies Torrential Rain and Quarter-Sized Hail, and they partied merrily for a while with Thunderstorm.

When it subsided, the sun came out, as if it were all a huge, celestial joke, and I headed home during the break in the storm, since the power was out indefinitely at work and I was powerless to work while powerless.

Sadly, I discovered that the power was also out at home, 25 miles from work. I later learned that lightning got bored and left the party in the Big Town to strike a transformer on the road where my friend Jim lives, scaring him and his dogs and casting Hooterville into darkness.

I had buckets of water ready as well as drinking water, and various lanterns and flashlights on hand. Both Clyde and Audrey were inside, thankfully, and I could heat up dinner on the gas stove. I could not, however, heat up the house, since the propane heater requires electricity to work, and the post-storm temperature had dropped by more than 10 degrees. So I put on a couple of sweaters and washed my face in icy rainwater and settled down with the latest (and last) Ruth Rendell.

The power came on that night at my house, and I was delighted with the warmth and light. The next day, I checked the outage at work online and discovered that it hadn’t been fixed yet, so I texted my bosses to say I would stay home until the power was back up. Of course, that was a couple of hours later. Arriving at work, I soon learned that computers were working, copiers weren’t (did I do something?) and there was no internet. I still got through the day, though, and from the looks of the ocean, it ain’t over yet.

A YEAR AGO: What do you know? Another storm. Though the power stayed on that time.

*When she got home, her husband asked her if she she wanted a drink. She said, “Do you have to ask?”

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Dec 11 2015

The Final Mystery

Published by under Cats


Roscoe is gone.

I came home one evening, when it was still light out, and found that Roscoe wasn’t in the house. I called him to no avail. Since it was a rainy and windy night, I thought he’d be home soon, but he wasn’t. I was up most of the night, calling his name with increasing desperation in the stormy darkness, but he never came home.

Roscoe was the most skittish cat I have ever met, reacting instantly to the slightest noise. He was smart, fast, athletic – he could climb trees in seconds, and do a mouse drive by in less time than that – and invisible in the darkness in his inky black fur. He grew up here in these woods. It seems all the odds were in his favor, and I never thought this would happen to him.

Rob helped me search all the sheds and outbuildings, as well as the logging road and the Ridge. He told me that the logging companies have been working on the haul roads around here, and between that and the drought, it has flushed out many creatures like foxes and wildcats, who probably took my beloved boy.

Rob told me that you have to feel your feelings and take it a day at a time. It is amazing what a huge hole one feather-light, stealthy cat can leave in your heart and your house, which suddenly seems empty with only two cats in it.

It’s especially painful since Roscoe really blossomed over the past few months, sitting on my lap every morning and often in the evening as well. He maintained his Mysterious Mr. Roscoe way of slinking around the house and being super skittish, but he was more openly affectionate than ever. He slept with me every night, and one of my greatest pleasures was smelling his strangely rough, yet soft fur, which had a unique scent of piney woods and warm Roscoe. He had an inherent dignity in everything he did, and I always felt like it was an honor to be part of his world. His loss is almost unbearable, and I’m spending a lot of time crying in the car and coaching myself to keep it together at work, at least on the outside.

I don’t know how to get through this. And I don’t know how to live with the new and terrifying knowledge that something terrible can happen to my few remaining cats in the daytime. When the Beautiful June Bug vanished on the night of my birthday several years ago, I naturally assumed it was the monsters in the darkness that stole her away, and if I kept the remaining cats inside during darkness, they would be fine. Since that is not true, or is no longer true, I don’t know how to find peace with the knowledge that when I pet them goodbye in the morning, I may be petting them goodbye forever. How do cops’ wives do it?

I also feel like I failed June and Roscoe and that I am a terrible pet parent. My cats’ survival rate is 50% at this point. Not getting any more cats after Clyde and Audrey leave my life (may those horrible events be many years away and be peaceful, please) would be a solution, but a catless life is a sad thing to contemplate. As usual in life and death, there are no good answers.

And now there’s no Roscoe, either.

A YEAR AGO: I had all three cats. The Christmas tree was up and there was some weather coming.

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Dec 02 2015

Lights in the Darkness

Jessica and I watched “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” together on Thanksgiving, the appropriate day to introduce her to this holiday classic*. During the scene where Steve Martin is desperately trying to get a cab in rush hour New York, Jessica turned to me and asked, “Is it true that Megan can always get a cab?” I told her that the legend was true, and she was suitably impressed. Now that we live in a taxi-free zone, this talent has evolved into CHP ESP and the ability to find parking spots just about anywhere (some more successful than others, however).

Megan’s amazing parking locating ability found us a place right outside the front door at the Botanical Gardens. It seemed too good to be true: was it a loading zone? A handicapped spot? But no, the only caveat was “Compact”, and her little red car fit right in between the lines. And we were early enough to avoid the lines: when we left, the line was snaking through the parking lot, where no spaces were to be found, even by Megan. I imagine the one we vacated was taken in about a millisecond.

The Botanical Gardens are always a magical place. They consist of almost 50 acres and flowerbeds that reach all the way to the sea. Something is always blooming, year-round. They are home to so many species of birds that the local Audubon Society holds weekly bird watching sessions there (one of which I enjoyed very much back in the good old jobette days). On winter evenings, they are transformed into a winter wonderland, with lights sparkling in the trees and flowerbeds, and surprises like giraffes looming out of the cypresses:


reminding me of Jagger and Buster at the B. Bryan Preserve and the wonderful visit there for Jessica’s last birthday.

Jellyfish floated in the chilly air:


and, appropriately enough for this maritime area, a ship sailed through rough seas (don’t miss the whale’s tail):


There was a fire pit where you could toast yourself and some marshmallows before heading out to see the rest of the lights and sights. Leaving the busy parking lot and weaving our way through the would-be spectators, it soon became apparent that we had left the lights behind in the gardens, because there were none in the car. No headlights, that is.

Fortunately for us, the high beams worked, even though the regular beams didn’t. Needless to say this, like everything else car, was a total mystery to me, but at least we could get home. We did feel like complete jerks on the way home, though, since we were unable to dim the high beams, which was highly disapproved of by those who flashed theirs at us. But there was no choice – there were no streetlights and no ambient light on the 20 miles of dark, winding country roads between the Big Town and Hooterville. Luckily Rob was able to fix the lights before Megan started her four night shifts of the week. We passed each other in the driveway on Monday evening, me on my way home and Megan on her way to work, both of us with our headlights glowing in the darkness.

*I was shocked, shocked, as Louis Renault would say, to learn that Jessica is unfamiliar with the oeuvre of the late, great John Hughes. I can’t wait to watch “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Pretty in Pink” with her. We need to schedule a sleepover.

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