Home Again

My culinary errands were not 100% successful. I found myself unable to face the line at Swan’s. Even at 10:30 am, the line was a block long and my patience wasn’t. I also struck out at Bob’s Doughnuts, where they were sold out of old fashioneds, so I settled for two cinnamon cake doughnuts. Of course Victor’s never lets me down, and I bought a surprise pizza for Megan and Rob to thank them for their cat sitting while I was away.

It was a bright, sunny day as I left the city, the Bridge gleaming International Orange in the sun, the white sails of boats dotting the blue Bay and the pastel houses tumbling down the hills. The hills closer to home were the deep green of winter, but starred with California poppies, daffodils, and calla lilies. The vineyards slept, but around them trees were hazed with green leaves and clouds of pink and white blossoms. Weeping willows dipped their long fronds into rivers that are rivers again instead of trickles.

Through the tall, dark, and handsome redwoods and out to the ocean, which was showing off for me. For the first time in three years, I missed my brother’s Polar Plunge, where he jumps in the freezing water to benefit Special Olympics, usually after singing a song while in costume. This year, it was “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid”, and Megan was there to cheer him on and send me this photo of our merman after the jump:

JD

I am so proud of him!

Arriving home, I was greeted by Luna and Lupe, wagging their tails and jumping for joy as I petted them, and Megan, who happened to arrive home at the same time. Megan was much more helpful at unloading the car than the dogs were. Pets, I have noticed, never feel that they need to lend a paw with the housework.

Megan’s delight at the unexpected pizza delighted me. And it was nice to have unloading help. As we worked, we caught up on what had happened during my short absence.

Clyde came running to me, meowing his distinctive ClydeSound(TM), and I picked him up and cuddled him while he purred and pressed his head against me. Audrey, of course, does not permit such indignities as Being Picked Up, and she kept swatting me every time I passed her. I’m not sure if she was asking for attention or letting me know how annoyed she was at my absence, but hey – it’s Audrey. She also chased Lupe and Luna away with her tail all puffed up and giant.

My house seems amazingly quiet after Monterey and San Francisco, with their traffic and sirens and people yelling and honking. All I can hear are frogs peeping and cats purring. I’m really glad that I listened to Megan’s advice and came home on Saturday, so I have all of Sunday to relax and get ready to jump back on the hamster wheel on Monday.

Farewell Monterey

beach1
The dreaming spires of Monterey

I’m coming to you from San Francisco, where the foghorns are singing their sad song and the wild parrots are crying out harshly as their green and red wings clatter overhead. And there will be Lemongrass (delivered) for dinner!

Before I left the balmy shores of Monterey, I stopped by Del Monte Beach. I was charmed by the dunes dotted with wildflowers:

dunes

and the fact that there was actual sand. I’m used to the rocky shores of Mendocino and San Francisco, so it was delightful to walk along the shore with my feet sinking deep into the soft sand:

shore

Murres and oystercatchers rode the waves, and they were joined by a fellow surfer:

surfer

As I drove away from the beach, I noticed several people either changing into or out of their wetsuits, so it must be a popular surfing location.

My route to San Francisco took me through farmland, dotted with what my friend Janice calls “contented California cows”, but also thick groves of spiky artichokes. I stopped at a farmstand, where they were working the fields right behind. I loved the cut outs by the highway:

farmstand

I came away with some early strawberries and of course artichokes.

Traffic was kinder to me leaving Monterey than it was getting there, and tomorrow I will head home after running some important culinary errands: Swan Oyster Depot, Bob’s Doughnuts, and Victor’s Pizza, not necessarily in that order.

Monterey Day

montereybay
Beautiful Monterey Bay

I woke up to the shouts of seagulls and a beautiful, sunny Monterey day. It was hard to believe it was February as Wednesday and I headed to the famous aquarium. I even took off my thin sweater and had the windows down. It would have been a perfect convertible day.

My friend Richard, who has friends everywhere, finagled a free pass for me to the Aquarium, a breath-taking savings of $40. The last time I was there, I went with my father, so it’s clearly been several years, and I think it was around $25, which seemed like a lot at the time. Even if I’d had to pay, it would have been worth it.

The Aquarium is located on Cannery Row, made famous by the great John Steinbeck. Little remains of Steinbeck’s gritty, hard-working area where women worked 14 hour days canning sardines caught in the bay, though the Aquarium houses some of the boilers which ran night and day to aid in the canning efforts:

boiler

And sardines swirl in silvery shoals in the kelp forest:

silvery

Fearsome lion fish, who are poisonous yet striking:

lionfish

lurk among coral and brilliantly colored sea stars. Also poisonous – and striking – are the jellyfish:

seanettle

They pulse gently as they waft through the water, looking so delicate and otherworldly that it’s hard to believe they are real. If I had to choose my favorite thing among all the marvels, the jellyfish would probably be it, though they get pretty stiff competition from the sea otters:

seaotter

They are so utterly adorable, swimming around with their webbed paws spread wide, coming right up to the glass as if to say hello, and generally being little goofballs romping around underwater. They are like big underwater Clydes, and I love them.

It was as delightful to visit there now as it was so many years ago, and I walked into the sunny day feeling like a kid again, with a sense of wonder and joy. Now, that’s priceless.

Road Trip

You guys! I actually left the County after a year and a half. Alert the media!

I’m coming to you from Monterey, where it’s warm enough to have the door of my motel room open at 7:30 pm as I await the delivery of Chinese food.

While I love food delivery as much as – well, probably more than – the next girl, and suffer from slothitude in about the same way, in my defense, I left the house at 10:00 am and got here at 4:30.

Granted, it’s 260 miles, including a long stretch of winding, narrow country roads, and I stopped for lunch in San Francisco, but still. Traffic was pretty bad in some parts, especially for a for a girl whose idea of “traffic” is waiting for two trucks to turn onto the highway or being stuck behind tourists driving 15 miles below the speed limit. I amused myself by watching people desperately switching between the two available lanes on this highway, as if this would make any difference whatsoever. Glacially paced traffic is glacially paced traffic, my friend, especially when it stretches as far as the eye can see. It was that mystery traffic, too, where there’s no accident and no particular reason for the slowness, or for it picking up the pace again.

It was a little daunting to see the arrival time on the GPS keeping getting later and later, and I mentally revised my plan of doing some shopping on arrival to having an adult beverage and calling for delivery food after unpacking.

At least I know everything is fine back home. Rob came by before I left this morning, so I could give him last minute instructions and he could tell me about his latest woodworking endeavor which he will be working on in my absence, ingeniously combining cat sitting and home improvement.

The shelves he recently built for me were such a success:

shelves

that he is going to build more for me. Maybe with a cabinet underneath with sliding doors. We’ll see! I am looking forward to it.

It was also good that he came by when he did, because Clyde had thrown up on the quilt, so I had to wash it. I did not want to leave it wet, or leave it in the propane dryer with its scary open flame, so it was good knowing Rob was there to keep an eye on it. Also to pet the kitties. Clyde has never been without both Roscoe and me at the same time, and Audrey is not exactly cuddly, so I know he will need pets and fussing from Rob. Even Audrey likes it when Rob pets her, so I imagine they will all keep each other company.

Dinner’s ready, and tomorrow is another day. I am planning to visit the famous Aquarium. I believe I can walk my traffic free way there. Stay tuned…

A YEAR AGO: I seem to be living my very own Groundhog Day. A year ago Rob was working on my house, and I was battling Audrey’s fleas a year ago, just like I am now. Hmmm…

Weekend Update

And in the “some things never change” department…

I spent most of Saturday in a concerted effort to get rid of a secret flea invasion which has made Audrey scabalicious once again. Clyde and I are bite-less, but the delicious Audrey is apparently the French Laundry for fleas, being a destination location for discerning siphonaptera.

Or else one or two of them sneezed on her or walked by, since her intolerance for the presence of fleas is about the same as her intolerance for everything else, from canine passers-by to being kept inside against her will.

I am always surprised that there is a flea siege in the dead of winter, but a perusal of my blog shows that there was one the same time last year, so I am a little slow on the uptake.

The day was spent in washing all the bedding, sprinkling diatomaceous earth on the carpets, working it in with a broom, and vacuuming it up after it sat for a while, as well as applying Revolution to the napes of my annoyed cats’s necks. Unfortunately, it comes in packs of three, and not having to use the third one reduced me to tears.

After a long day of lachrymose housework, it was good to have dinner with Lu and Megan before going to a reading at the theater.

I had never been to a reading before, and didn’t know what to expect. I thought the actors would sit on stools and read from scripts, but there were sets (who knew you could do so much with a folding screen?), props, and costumes, and some of my favorite actors. The reading was a trio of reimagined Grimm fairytales, each grimmer than the last (a stepmother kills her troublesome stepchild and feeds his stewed body to his father; a father is forced to chop off his daughter’s hands by a devil). Despite the gruesomeness, we all enjoyed the acting and it was a great evening. I hope they do this again during the new season.

A YEAR AGO: Fighting the flea fight. Again.

Friends

The kitties and I were yanked out of our (in my case) much-needed beauty sleep last night by a wild and crazy storm. At times like this, I wish my house was not quite so well equipped with acres of glass and skylights, since I felt like I was right in the middle of the storm, with the thunder shaking the house, rain and hail blasting the roof/walls and lightning flashing every which where. The ocean was pretty active this morning, dashing itself spectacularly against the rocks, so I don’t think we’re out of the woods (or storms) just yet.

It’s a dramatic change from the past few days, when it’s been close to 70 degrees F (around 20C), warm enough to leave the doors open. Cherry and pear trees are in full bloom, and there are drifts of calla lilies* and daffodils on the side of the road. Spring has definitely begun to spring.

I went to pick up some work from my old friends at the jobette (they have had a difficult time successfully replacing me, so I have picked up some of my old duties on the side), and as I was heading back to my car, I heard a voice call out, “Is that my friend?” It was Monica, heading home from work with Stella’s son Joey sitting in the passenger seat, his distinctive and ever-comic ears streaming happily in the wind as they drove past.

On my way home, I stopped by Erin’s house to admire her plush new carpet and have a glass of wine (which I managed not to spill on the new carpet). It was great to catch up with her and her family. Her son is learning to play the piano, so he provided some music as well as making me an origami Yoda. He also gave me the mistletoe this past Christmas.

As I headed home, I thought of how lucky I am to live here, surrounded by friends and family and, well, love.

*For some reason, I associate calla lilies with funerals. Also carnations. Calla lilies grow like weeds here.

A YEAR AGO: Laying Megan and Rob’s sweet kitty Ramona to rest under the pet tree. She is resting in peace in very good company.

Drive My Car

One day last week, I picked Rob up from Lu and Rik’s house on my way home from work. Lu and Rik just got engaged after 17 years together, and the wedding is planned for July 2, so there was a lot to talk about before Rob and I loaded ourselves and the dogs into the car.

I waste no opportunity to be chauffeured, so Rob took the wheel. Megan said later how gangsta my black car with its deeply tinted windows looked with Stella the pitbull stereotype in it. The fact that Rob and I are about the whitest people on the planet undoubtedly spoiled the effect.

As we drove along listening to the late, great David Bowie and chatting about this and that (I will never cease to be entertained by the way Rob thinks), Stella slowly but surely oozed her 65 pound self onto my lap. She did this by first peeking her giant head between the seats as if she was just admiring the view* through the windshield, then putting one paw on my leg, then another paw. To be fair, her back legs remained on the back seat with Star, who was curled up neatly, so she wasn’t totally in the front seat.

I had such a great time with Rob and the dogs that I wish I could do this more often. It was the high point of the week.

Later in the week, I picked up Michael, the older gentleman who I am happy to chauffeur whenever I see him and he needs a ride. He usually rides his bike, but he had made a trek to the Big Town that day, which meant walking three miles to the Gro to get the one bus that goes there each day and then getting home from the Gro when the bus dropped him off.

I couldn’t find a place to stop and pick him up when I first saw him, so I drove until I could turn around and go back to where he was. Maneuvering Wednesday’s short turn radius meant that I took up most of both lanes of the Ridge, inconveniencing some neighbors so I could help another. They all took it well, though.

Michael is adjusting to his new-ish place. As he observed, everything has its positives and negatives and it’s more positive not to focus on the negative. I set him down at his little cottage and we parted with a hug and a smile.

When I got home, I found Rob hard at work in the vintage trailer where Rose used to store her pottery equipment. I store non-pottery related things and stuff in there that are damp resistant, and Rob uses it as a workshop from time to time, like he did when working on the bathroom door.

This time, he is working on a beautiful shelving unit to house some still boxed up books in the studio:

workshop

Being Rob, there is a cornice on top, the edges of the shelves are beveled, and there are little feet, so it’s more like furniture than just a bookshelf. He even cut out little wood circles to fill in the screw holes so they wouldn’t show. It’s going to look great.

*To be fair, Stella does like to admire the view. She often sits and watches the ocean or observes birds for a long time. I have never known another dog to do this.

A YEAR AGO: Farewell to my friends at the jobette. ~Sob~

Graceful

At dinner after the woodworking show, Dave and Jennifer surprised us by asking us to join them at the Bolshoi Ballet’s “Taming of the Shrew” the following day. Dave is the kind of guy you expect to see ensconced in his favorite chair, watching football with a beer at hand, but it turns out he is also a guy who enjoys an avant garde production of Shakespeare transformed into ballet. Who knew?

Since we rarely, if ever, journey to Point Arena without a side trip to Anchor Bay for Thai food, we agreed to meet them at the theater. We arrived at the restaurant shortly after it opened:

thai

and ordered delightful things like fresh spring rolls and Panang curry to take home for dinner.

As for lunch, we had enough time to go to the old chowder house at the pier:

pier

where we watched the intrepid surfers plying their daring art in the icy, high tide waters, apparently unafraid of the rocks that lurked just below the surface. It is impressive to watch them ride the rolling waves with skill and strength.

We parked across from the theater and were greeted with deep, hound dog barks. It turned out that we had unknowingly parked right in front of Dave and Jennifer’s car, and their dog was excited to see us. The ticket taker was less than taken with his voice, however. When we bought our tickets, Megan told her that he wouldn’t keep barking after we were out of sight, and she grumbled, “He’d better not!”

Inside, we found Dave and Jennifer ensconced in balcony seats, and we only had a few minutes to spare before the magic started. I was concerned that Shakespeare’s comedy would not translate to ballet with no spoken words, but I need not have worried. Of course, you would have to already know the play for the ballet to make sense, but even if you didn’t understand the subtleties of the story, you would enjoy the beauty and power of the dancing. It was athletic as well as graceful, and even the whisper-thin ballerinas had muscle definition in their arms and backs.

The music was by Shostakovich and the sets were minimal. The costumes delighted my fashion-loving heart:

balet

We all enjoyed it so much, and it was even more fun to share it with our friends.

A YEAR AGO: The latest in a series of storms was merrily toppling trees and, yes, leaving us powerless. The (winter) usual.

Spring Preview

You guys! It was 70 degrees in Hooterville today!

It was warm enough to have the doors open(!), and the cats went out to play. In keeping with Clyde’s New Deal, he didn’t venture that far from the house, preferring to bask in the sun on the balcony or just outside the kitchen door, which suited his paranoid Staff just fine.

I took the opportunity to clear way some storm debris (I recently had to stop my car on the muddy driveway in the rainy darkness to clear a fallen tree so I could get to work) and fallen pine needles, and to look around and see what was going on. Usually, it’s dark when I leave for work and dark when I get home, so I don’t have a lot of opportunity to observe. On the other hand, this makes for some nice surprises.

The daffodils in the jasmine plant are blooming:

daffodils

It’s nice that they just keep coming back each year without me having to do anything, just like the rhododendrons.

The orchids have new flower spikes, in addition to the buds they already have:

orchid

Every year, I mean to take them out of the pots they have clearly outgrown, pull them apart, and discard the dead parts, but I never do, and they seem to bloom more every year and thrive on benign neglect, like the daffodils and the geraniums:

geraniums

The jasmine outside the kitchen door is beginning to leaf out, too. On a day like this, it’s easy to believe that spring is just around the corner. And since the groundhog didn’t see his shadow* this year, winter’s days (or weeks) are numbered.

* Love the outfits, especially the hats.

A YEAR AGO: The weather was a lot different. Stormageddon rolled through town, leaving a giant mess and powerlessness in its wake.

Artfully

I met Megan and Rob after work one evening. They were accompanied by the ever-adorable Star and Stella. In fact, Stella was walking Megan as I came out of the door. Stella was quite interested in going in and seeing what my workplace was all about, but we eventually persuaded her that nothing fun ever happens there.

We stopped at the library for the near-weekly book exchange, and I noticed that it was not pitch dark at 5:30 pm anymore. 5:30 am could learn a lot from 5:30 pm.

In keeping with her former taxi and current parking locating abilities, Megan found a spot just a few steps from Town Hall, where this year’s crop of students were showing their mid-year designs at the Fine Woodworking Show.

We met up with Dave and Jennifer and a maddening crowd. I had never seen the show so crowded. Part of the problem was that it was the opening night reception, and the tables of food were set right inside the doors, creating a traffic flow problem worthy of LA at rush hour.

It was worth fighting through the throngs to see the wonderful art within and talk to the artists. This chair was not only gorgeous, but comfortable:

chair

The artist said that anyone who sits in it, whatever their height and size, says that it’s comfortable. The color of the upholstery was inspired by the sails of the ship which carried her grandfather from China to California many years ago.

This piece looked like a plain box, until it opened to reveal the asymmetric wonder within:

box

I really enjoyed being with Rob, who knows so much about woodworking and who notices things that no one else does.

We all went out dinner after the show, with the rain sluicing down the windows like a waterfall as we enjoyed our burritos and shouted over the loud music. The food and the company were great, though.

When I got home, I stayed up late reading and was rewarded by a storm-induced power outage. The next morning, I had my phone in my hand to call PG&E for an update on the outage when the power came back on. I rushed around washing dishes and doing laundry while the power shone and the frogs cheerily sang about the rain.

A YEAR AGO: A trip down Memory Lane. One of my favorite places.