Archive for June, 2016

Jun 28 2016

Quilt Show

Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

Our quilt theme continued with a visit to the annual quilting show.

Megan met me after work on Saturday. She and the dogs had taken a lovely walk on the bluffs overlooking the ocean in the Big Town. You can see that both Stella (left) and Star gave it two paws up:


I think Stella looks hilarious in that picture. Those girls are so happy together.

Megan had brought the fragile old quilt that inspired my birthday gift with her, hoping that some of the quilters might know who to repair it. Fortunately for us, Cindi Jo was there. She examined the quilt and agreed it was made in the 1930s and that she could repair it for a reasonable price. Not only that, she told us that her friend has vintage fabric for sale at her shop, including some from the 1930s which Cindi Jo thought would be a perfect match. We will buy the fabric and then bring it and the quilt to Cindi Jo to work her magic.

Mission accomplished, we went on to admire more than 100 quilts, some of which had wonderful stories.

This one was made by a woman on her covered wagon journey in the 1860s from Indiana to the Big Town, where she and her family settled on the site of our friend Monica’s flooring shop!


They say that parts of the original home still remain there.

This one is an “opportunity” quilt, made as a fundraising raffle prize in Colorado in the 1930s. The winner was a bachelor who left the quilt to his landlady’s family after many years of boarding with them. I love the scalloped edges.


Both of these quilts look as good as new. And what stories they could tell!

This one was made by a local woman who started a tradition of making a quilt for each grandchild at a milestone in their lives. When her granddaughter’s younger sister received a quilt as a wedding gift, she said, “I’m 27, I don’t have a boyfriend, I dropped out of college…I’ll never be able to afford a house. And I’ll never get a Grandma quilt!” So her Grandma made this for her. According to Grandma, “In no time at all, she got married, had a baby daughter, and bought a house. I call this Grandma Magic!”


There’s something about grandmothers and quilts.

This one was Megan’s favorite. It’s called “Circle of Life”.


I love the colors and how dynamic the design is. It almost seems to move.

This one is called “Flutterbye”, the maker’s granddaughter’s name for butterflies. It is oh so Suzy!


Once again, I was amazed by the talent and artistry in our little corner of the world.

A YEAR AGO: I was also hanging out with my sis.

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Jun 23 2016

How to Make an American Quilt

Published by under Family,Special Occasions

Gifts are not a big part of Junapalooza, but the gifts this year were definitely sentimental in nature.

Rio, whose birthday it was, asked Megan, Erica, and me to each choose a number from a little bag. Then she produced a basket lined with greenery and filled with delightful, locally produced things: candles, cider vinegar, jam, and chocolates. Rio gave the basket to Megan, who chose number 1, and she chose something from the basket. Then it was Erica’s turn, and then it was mine. We kept passing the basket around until all of the goodies were gone. So fun!

Erica had asked for a Spirograph. Apparently she had always wanted one. When it arrived, the giant box (why?) it came in was badly dented, and so was the tin the Spirograph was housed in. I brought this to the seller’s attention, and they shipped me a new one and said to keep the damaged one. Rob was delighted to get the dented one (needless to say, he has already undented the tin). Two for one Spirographs: what’s not to love?

Megan made Rio her very own Mouse. You may recall that Megan started making Mice when she was a very small child for our father to keep him safe on his many travels. Later she made Mice for Jonathan and for me. I carry mine every day I drive to the Big Town, and I only recently learned that Jonathan does, too. Our Mice have never failed any of us.

Rio is a native southern Californian, and most of her family lives there. The rest lives in Oregon, so she travels a lot. Megan thought Rio needed her own Mouse, both to keep her safe on her many journeys but also to let her know she is part of the family and that we love her very much.

It’s safe to say that mission was accomplished on all counts. She was delighted.

As for my gift…

A few months ago, Megan was cleaning out her bedroom and came across a fragile old quilt that our mother’s mother, Nana, had made. She showed it to me excitedly, and I’m sorry to say that I burst into tears, surprising both of us. Nearly 40 years after Nana’s death, seeing something of hers so unexpectedly affected me more strongly than I would have thought.

While this was not exactly the reaction Megan anticipated*, it gave her an idea.

She also found a quilt Nana had made but never backed. So Megan, Erica, and Jessica all worked together to find fabric, quilt it, and bind it to the nearly 80 year old quilt. They chose a black and white backing to be neutral:


compared to the bright pink quilt and its colorful pieces. I know that some of the fabric Nana used in it came from Mom’s baby/child clothes, some from Nana’s aprons, and some from Hoho’s (our grandfather’s) ties:


It took a superhuman effort not to cry in front of all of those people, but it was one of the most wonderful gifts I have ever received. I like to think of subsequent generations working on my grandmother’s quilt, and of her never-still hands stitching it, choosing which pieces to use in her pattern. I’m glad that it has finally been finished and restored and can be used again.
Thank you, Nana. And thank you to my sister, my chosen sister, and the daughter she had for me. I love you all.

*A few years after my grandparents died, I came home from college for Thanksgiving and took my grandmother’s hand crocheted tablecloth out of the sideboard to use for dinner. I was sobbing over it when Megan, who was about 12 at the time, walked by and snapped, “At least you have something to cry about.” She was 6 when they died and knows she missed out on something pretty great. Also? I did stop crying. Even at that early age, she had the skills that would stand her in good stead in the ER and on the ambulance.

A YEAR AGO: Remembering vacations past. Is there any other kind?

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Jun 20 2016

Summer Job

Published by under Cooking,Work

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and I’m back to my old tricks again, working at the jobette.

Like last year, I will be working six days a week this summer, until Labor Day or until I can’t take it anymore, whichever comes first.

So when I got home from work on Friday, I started making future food while Rob put in a load of Megan’s laundry. It seems that insanity runs in the family, since she is working as a medic at a festival* in Anderson Valley Saturday and part of Sunday, then heading home for her usual night shifts in the ER. It’s how we roll.

Future food for the week included all’amatriciana sauce and sweet and spicy grilled chicken breasts, which I rubbed with the spice mixture to let it sit overnight and made the dipping sauce.

After I delivered Megan’s laundry, I made a Moscow Mule (ginger beer; lime; vodka) in one of my fox glasses and sat back to watch The Americans, a TV show about Soviet spies posing as an American family in 1980s Washington DC. Theme night! I am pleased to report that it was a much more successful cocktail outing than the mint julep experiment on Derby Day, though I wished I had the traditional copper cup for the Mule. Maybe a pretty silver cup would have improved my julep?

*She texted me from the festival: “70 year old men should not wear skin tight marijuana printed bike shorts. Splattered brains don’t scare me as much!”

A YEAR AGO: Unexpected wildlife visitors, inside and out.

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Jun 17 2016

Junapalooza II

Jessica’s birthday card to Erica

Well, this year’s Junapalooza was awesome.

Erica decided long ago that she wanted it to be a fancy high tea. I had my doubts, because fanciness and high tea are not what you usually think about when you think about the family estate. But being Erica, she made it happen. When will I ever stop having doubts? Always trust the Erica.

Erica arrived dressed in a sassy little flowered dress, with a flowered clip in her hair and red Fluevogs on her feet. She wasted no time in covering the Waltons-sized picnic table with a length of sage green (washable) fabric and setting it with teapots, a wide variety of teas, and cake stands/plates. It was bring your own mug.

For those of us (like Self) who are not so tea inclined, Jonathan made some limeade (seen at the end of the panoply of delicacies):


Erica invited her friends Julie and Darius, who own the delightful café where we plotted Junapalooza over lunch, and whose daughter Bella is Jessica’s best friend. Being professional deliciousness purveyors, they brought little pasties filled with sausages, peas and potatoes, accompanied by a little pot of mustard, as well as tiny cucumber sandwiches (crustless, of course) and perfect little rhubarb and strawberry galettes:


Erica had made: miniature palmiers; asiago and scallion scones; lemon bars; sausage rolls sliced to look like spirals; mini chocolate bundt cakes brushed with coffee-rum syrup; and tartes Antoinette, which you may remember was the hit of Thanksgiving dinner last year. They are tarts filled with quince paste Erica made from her own fruit, topped with vanilla cream and then whipped cream. So Marie! And so delicious.

Add in my brother’s home-made cherry tarts and you have the high tea to ends all high teas on your hands.

Dave and Jennifer, my siblings’ land partners and our partners in ballet, were there, and Lichen also made an appearance with his sweet dog Keeper, who found a perfect spot in the wildflowers where she could rest and observe:


Jessica looked adorable:


An outfit of Jack Skellington t-shirt and a flowered bonnet pretty much sums Jessica up. I am hoping that she and Erica can join Megan and me for a sleepover/movie marathon this summer. I want Jessica to learn the joys of John Hughes movies and she wants me to learn the joys of Full Metal Alchemist. We’ll see how that works out!

As for Junapalooza, it was the best one ever. I’m already looking forward to next year!

A YEAR AGO: Doing wild, wild life.

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Jun 14 2016

Memorial Day Weekend

Published by under Cooking,Country Life,Friends

Bee swarm

Jonathan and Rob kicked off Memorial Day weekend by wrestling a muzzle of bees, as you can see above. Our bees had swarmed and were hanging out in a nearby tree, considering their options, when the boys made their decision for them. They cut the branch holding the bees so that most of them went into the bucket. Then they covered the bucket and took the swarm to its new home.

Unbeknownst to the bees, their new home was right next door to their old home. So far, they are staying put, which is great.

Once the bees were taken care of, we turned our attention to our guests for the weekend. Our friend Carrie had come up from Oakhampton with her teenage daughter and entourage of other people’s teenage daughters. I was afraid that they would be bored up here in Hooterville, but as it turned out, they gloried in the unaccustomed freedom. In Oakland, you can’t let your lovely, tall teenage daughter roam free, but in Hooterville, you can and do leave her and her friends at the pond and expect them to make their way home after swimming. They had a little taste of our childhood, when our parents wanted us to stay out of their hair and the ER as much as possible (pretty much in that order). The rest was up to us.

While the kids were playing in the woods, we started dinner. Jonathan grilled up chicken breasts, onions, and peppers, including a few jalapeños*. When they were ready, I put them into a plastic bag so the steam would help in removing the skins and then cut them up while Jonathan was cutting up the chicken. It all went into his giant, weapon-sized cast iron pan, which also housed the paella and Moroccan chicken at family dinners recently:


In the meantime, Megan was grilling raw tortillas left over from Rio’s daughter’s wedding the week before:


She married into a family with Native and Mexican heritage, and the older ladies in the family made these tortillas (and much, much more) for the wedding dinner. Jonathan said it was pretty obvious they had cooked for crowds many times before and made it look so easy. I had never had fresh tortillas before, and I have to say they were a revelation compared to the store bought ones: flaky, light, blistered.

We stuffed the tortillas with the chicken mixture and salsa verde made last fall from ingredients grown in the family estate, as well as estate-grown black beans. While we stuffed ourselves, Jonathan told us the provenance of the giant cast iron pan.

Long ago and far away, he worked on historic ships in San Francisco. He has often deplored how these great sailing vessels were treated and (not) preserved versus the way they are cared for on the east coast in places like Mystic. In this particular case, parts of the ship and her equipment were stowed in leaking warehouses, which led to their inevitable decay, destruction and discarding. One day, he noticed this pan and decided to salvage it, rather than waiting for it to rust and be thrown away. So the pan holding our dinner was doing what it had done for more than a century. It was fun to know that, and good to know that it didn’t end up in landfill somewhere, unknown and unappreciated. Perhaps it could be considered a small act of piracy, but I don’t think anyone would make him walk the plank over it.

*Wiser people than I would wear gloves for that part. The jalapenos stayed in my skin for a couple of days despite repeated handwashing and showers.

A YEAR AGO: The first, but not the last, Junapalooza! A tradition is born.

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Jun 09 2016

Birthday Boy

Published by under Cats,Schatzi

My Baby Boy

I am pleased to say that Clyde’s birthday yesterday was also (mostly) uneventful. The same day my little guy turned 6 years old, I came home to find a mostly intact but decidedly ex baby bird on the carpet.

As I disposed sobbily of the sad little unfledged body (to be fair, he likely fell from the nest and Clyde just delivered him to the house) in the woods, it occurred to me that the body count has dropped severely since Roscoe disappeared. It’s been months since I came home to a deconstructed bird or a former squirrel, or was woken up by a midnight mouse chase.

I would happily clean up bodies with the regularity of a Manhattan morgue worker if it meant I got Roscoe back. Clyde’s birthday will always be bittersweet since Roscoe is no longer here to share it with him.

Six months after losing the Mysterious Mr. Roscoe, I still miss his stealthy but remarkable presence in my life. Slinking through the house, always taking the route under the stairs. Sleeping on my pillow. The unique and delicious scent of his rough, yet soft fur: cold woods, a touch of pine resin, fresh air and warm Roscoe. How he had a white heart pattern on his chest and loved to stretch out extravagantly and have his narrow little belly rubbed, the only undignified thing he ever did.

It does make me realize though that Roscoe had a wilder nature than Clyde. He spent a lot of time in the woods and his love of hunting probably led to his loss, but perhaps he died the way he lived, much like our beloved Schatzi when she decided to leave us.

As for the birthday boy, he too has been changed by the loss of his brother. He spends more time at home and needs more cuddling than ever. He can often be found sitting on my desk, staring off into the woods, even when the doors are wide open and he could go into the woods himself. I believe he saw what happened to Roscoe or somehow knows. At a minimum, he misses the twin he shared the first five years of his life with.

I am thankful that Clyde is staying closer to home, and thankful for his sweetness to balance Audrey’s spiciness. He will always be my baby boy.

A YEAR AGO: I was limpy.

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Jun 06 2016

Uneventful Birthday

Published by under Cats,Weather

I am pleased to announce that my birthday this year was uneventful. Maybe it’s getting older, or maybe it’s because my birthdays have been on the disastrous side over the last few years (a roadside fire; a power outage; losing the Beautiful June Bug). No news is definitely good news.

I was gifted with the welcome sight of silvery fog misting through the redwoods on my birthday morning after a week of miserable 80+ degree days. The tent-like inside of my house being 84 degrees or more every day when I got home from work made me sad. Especially when it cooled down outside and stayed resolutely hot and blanketless inside. I am already sick of summer, and it’s barely June.

In addition to the loveliness of fog, I enjoyed the sight of a Steller’s Jay flicking its electric blue plumage on the fan palm in the backyard, as well as the astonishing sight of Clyde and Audrey actually sitting near each other on purpose! While awake!


Here’s another view of the astonishing détente:


I don’t think I have ever seen this before. Audrey mostly ignores Clyde, or swipes at him casually in passing, mostly because she’s Audrey. Oddly, Audrey will absolutely not come in the house if Clyde is anywhere near the door. Since Audrey’s return home often heralds the arrival of treats, Clyde is eager for her to come in and hovers anxiously by the door, much as he hovers under my feet at feeding time. So I have to pick him up in order for Her Majesty to deign to come in. I think we all know who is in charge at my house, and it ain’t Me.

Clyde turns 6 this week, and next month marks the 9th year of Audrey’s reign. I wish many happy returns for all of us, all together.

A YEAR AGO: Not the best birthday ever.

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Jun 03 2016

Playing Post Office

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Dogs

I have to admit that I don’t check my post office box very often. People who send me things often ask if I have received them and I am embarrassed to tell them that I haven’t bothered to look. Mostly because no good ever comes of it.

This week, I was suitably punished for checking my mail by dental bill* and a 10 minute wait in line behind guy mailing fishing poles (yes, it can be done) and getting multiple money orders. I was trying to pick up a package, which was more easily said than done.

I knew that Darlene, the regular post office clerk, was on vacation, but I did not expect the guy filling in for her to ask me for ID before he would give me my package. Even though I was holding an armful of mail from my PO box with my name and address on it, and wearing my work ID badge which also, you guessed it, has my name on it.

My handbag, with the ID inside, was of course in my unlocked car outside the Gro. I was less than delighted to have to go and get it.

Maybe I should have locked it, since we are apparently in a high crime area. According to the local message boards, there are roving bands of Bernie Sanders sign thieves in the area. The person whose sign was liberated notified the sheriff’s office, so hopefully this crime wave will be nipped in the bud.

My resistance to checking my own mail is nothing compared to my reluctance to check the work post office box in the Big Town, though I arguably do it more often, about once a week**. In contrast to my Hooterville experience, I felt like the Queen of the Big Town Post Office. Roger, who used to be the mailman at the jobette but now has a desk job, stopped by to say hello while I waited in line. I told him he cleans up pretty nicely and might almost be mistaken for a responsible adult. He winked and said they’d be pretty far off the mark. While we were talking, Denice who used to be the Hooterville postmistress but is now the Big Town postmistress, stopped to give me a hug. I was pleased to hear that her dog Ginger, who was her faithful coworker at the post office and one of Hooterville’s most popular residents, was doing well, though she is now retired from post office duties. I used to go to the post office more often when Ginger was there to pet and play with. A girl needs the proper motivation, you know.

*Of the $99 charged for the filling touch up which was so minor that no anesthesia was required, $22 was covered. I have to say that insurance has been almost as huge a disappointment to me as painkillers were. I did not anticipate the giant deductible ($1,000, anyone?) you have to pay before the insurance people start paying for anything, which is of course in addition to the monthly payments to the very same insurance people. It’s kind of like not having insurance, only with the fun of paying for it every month.

**The main purpose is to get the weekly paper and check the obituaries so I can send condolence cards to the families of deceased patients. Other duties as assigned…

A YEAR AGO: The Evil Genius gave me a whopping vet bill on my birthday eve. Thanks, Audrey!

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