Archive for February, 2017

Feb 27 2017

Ceremonial

Published by under Special Occasions

I’m not known for my church-going. Having atheist parents will do that to you (and make you wish you had something to rebel against). I can’t remember the last time I was in a church, but it was likely a great cathedral in England with my father. For an atheist, he loved to visit cathedrals and churches in his native land, regarding them as part of his heritage and history. He also had an amazing ability to sing hymns without hymn books, since his school days started with hymns as mine did with the Pledge of Allegiance. Do kids still do that*?

I will, however, remember my most recent visit to a religious establishment.

One of the receptionists invited me to her baby’s baptism at St. Anthony’s in Mendocino. It is the oldest parish in the county, and the church is small, but charming:

I expected that the ceremony would be part of a Mass on Sunday, but unsurprisingly for one uneducated in the ways of organized religion, I was wrong about this. The baptism was held on a Saturday, in a stand-alone event.

I arrived a few minutes before the appointed hour, and was bemused to note that I seemed to be the only one there. I peeked into the church, and it was empty, as was the hall. I texted my boss, who was also invited, and she confirmed the place and time and added that she was on her way.

Eventually people started showing up, including the guest of honor in a long white dress and fetching bonnet. We took our places in the pews, where I admired the striking ocean mural behind the altar:

and the pretty stained glass windows:

The family of the baby to be baptized was also at the altar in all their finery, but the godparents were nowhere to be seen. The priest called out, “Where are the godparents?” When he got no response, he stormed down the aisle, robes flapping, fuming, “I’ll find them myself!”

He did, and the tone was set for the ceremony. He raced through it, not allowing anyone to answer presumably important questions like “Do you reject Satan?” before barreling on to the next rhetorical question. It was the same with the “pray for us” call and response with the audience. It was like the whole thing was choreographed by the Ramones.

At the end of the ceremony, he vanished out a side door, never to be seen again. I didn’t realize it was over at first.

I expected him to thank us for witnessing such a momentous occasion, and possibly shake our hands on the way out the door, but he was off to be grumpy somewhere else.

All in all, it was not the beautiful, spiritual event I had expected. But it was memorable.

A YEAR AGO: I was in beautiful Monterey, enjoying the Aquarium, the warmth, and the sandy beaches.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A ceremony of a different kind: a surprise wedding!

*My knowledge of kids and what they do is almost as extensive as my knowledge about churches and what people do in them. I realized recently that none of the people I still keep in touch with from high school have kids, and with delightful exceptions like Erica, most of my friends don’t, either. Hmmm…

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Feb 23 2017

Stormy Monday

Published by under Country Life,Weather

Monday was a holiday, and while it was nice to have a long weekend, it was (of course) a stormy one. The wind howled around the house, and watching the trees toss their heads, I told myself to accept the fact that the power was going to go out.

As usual, I ignored my well-meant advice, and neglected to fill the pot with water to boil the noodles for the spicy stir fried noodles I was planning to make for dinner and to do the dishes that had accumulated from the prep for said dinner. The power went out at 6:00 pm as the sky darkened for the evening*, and I sadly went to get the flashlight and lantern from Rob’s magnificent cabinet (I now have a box inside it with power outage equipment, making it easy to find in the darkness).

Cooking by flashlight was as problematic as you’d expect, though the recipe was delicious. I skipped the eggs and salt (isn’t soy sauce basically salt?) and will increase the amount of sauce next time. I will probably scatter some chopped scallions on top along with the peanuts.

Also as usual, Mark fired up his generator a split second after the blackness descended. I was still on the phone reporting the outage to our friends at PG&E when I heard the racket start. Conventional wisdom holds that the shortest amount of time is between the light turning green and someone honking, but I’m pretty sure it’s between the power going out and Mark starting up his generator.

Much like snoring, where the noise is deeply annoying to those trying to sleep, hearing the noise of a generator next door making sure they have heat and light when you have neither of these things is also unenjoyable, especially since it deprives you of your much-needed beauty sleep on a school night.
I soon realized that I could not sleep upstairs, with just the balcony door between me and the Dreadful Rauw, even with earplugs and a pillow over my head. I tossed bedding over the balcony where I once tossed myself, and went grumpily downstairs to sleep on the couch. There I had the door to the studio closed as well as the studio and its outside door to shield me against the Awful Dynne.

It was hard to sleep, what with the grumpitude, curious cats, and the storm raging all around the house. I tried not to think about trees falling on the house. When the power came back on, the house blazed to life, waking me up just a couple of hours before it was time to get up for good. Or bad.

The rain is taking a break today, which means that it’s really cold with no clouds to insulate us. I could hardly yank my car door open this morning since it was frozen, and it took a while to warm up as a sliver of moon smiled down at us.

*This week, I noticed that it is no longer pitch dark when I drive to work, which means that the time change can’t be far away. As soon as there is a glimmer of light and hope in the morning, it is snatched away. It took me a while to realize that the entire point of the time change is to make sure it’s dark in the morning and that there are only two or three months of the year that I don’t get up in utter blackness. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

A YEAR AGO: Flea-O-Rama! Again!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Audreyness of Audrey. Also? It was 65 degrees!

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Feb 19 2017

Cats and Dogs

Published by under Cats,Dogs

It’s still raining them. And the forecast is discouraging:

I thought that Clyde’s increase in naughtiness was a fairly recent thing, but my blog archives tell me that it has been nearly three years since he started his early morning wake up campaign. This is why it’s so useful to keep a journal. You can see when things actually happened instead of relying on your ever less reliable memory.

He no longer asks to go out first thing in the morning. He has been significantly less interested in the Wide World* since we lost Roscoe. Some days, he doesn’t go outside at all. He still sits on my desk and watches the woods, even if the door is open. It’s hard not to think that he is looking for his brother or remembering him. Audrey too has decreased outdoor interest, perhaps since she will be 10 this year. She still has extra outside privileges, but she no longer stays out for hours.

Clyde has recently expanded his naughtiness to eating Audrey’s food. I realized that his evil plan is to eat all of hers while hoarding his. Oddly, Audrey, who has no problem bossing around humans and dogs, is apparently reluctant to boot her miscreant little roommate out of her dish.

Audrey, like her namesake Miss Hepburn, is already sufficiently sylph-like, so this is a problem. I have been putting her dish up on Rob’s masterpiece so she can eat in peace, but of course Clyde knows it’s there and jumps up as soon as Audrey leaves. If I were at home all day, I’d put her food away and bring it out every couple of hours, but since I’m gone around 12 hours a day, that’s not possible. I guess I will just have to let Clyde be naughty and fill up Audrey’s dish whenever it looks empty, no matter who ate it.

On this rainy morning, they are both curled up on the untidy bed as I write, looking cute as buttons and innocent of any domestic infractions whatsoever.

As for the “dogs” portion of this post, the one I attempted to murder with my car three months ago is finally home, looking none the worse for wear:

though his owner’s wallet will take some time to recover from the $8,000 vet bill. The dog was in rehab in the Bay Area and staying with his owner’s mother while he recovered, so they had a joyful reunion. I am hoping to stop by and see them both soon.

Stopped at a red light, I saw the guy in the truck in front of me put his arm around his dog and drop a kiss on his head. When the light changed, he drove off with his arm still around the dog.

*I have to agree with the River Rat on this one. Now more than ever: “Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.”

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather. I’m sensing a theme here.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob finally won his disability case after four long years.

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Feb 15 2017

Flooded

Published by under Country Life,Friends,Weather

Guess what? It’s raining! Y’all can stop your rain dances or waltzes or twerking, we’re good for now, especially in Oroville, wherever that is. I was touched at the international concern for my safety following the news of the Oroville Dam overflow. I still don’t know where it is, but I do know that the only flooding around here is the usual suspects (the Road to Civilization and the car eating ditches that border the Ridge). Cheerful yellow “Flooded” signs are popping up, along with their cousins, “Slide”. It’s late winter in California!

Calla lilies are also popping up by the side of the road, along with drifts of sunshiny daffodils in the rain. Cherry trees are hazed with pink blossoms, always a sure sign of February. This morning, I noticed that the air smells different, more like spring and less like winter, and this week I realized that it was no longer night dark at 5:30 pm. 5:30 am should take its cue from 5:30 pm instead of doing such an excellent impersonation of 12:00 am.

Valentine’s Day saw my desk flooded with love:

Inside the bag is home-made salsa and sugar facial scrub, among other delights. More cupcakes and even orchids arrived after the photo opp, making up for the fact that it was an extremely unromantic 12 hour Valentine’s Day. When I finally got home, I had some of the delicious salsa on a take-out burrito and watched an episode of “Victoria” before collapsing into bed surrounded by kitties.

It wasn’t all work this week, though. I made time to meet a friend at the charming seaside bar where Megan and I first made the delightful acquaintance of the cerise noir. The lovely bartender remembered that was what I had last time and set about making another for me, since she had already made an impeccable Negroni for my friend.

She hails from England, near where my father grew up, and we enjoyed talking about some of our favo(u)rite places there. The bar’s owner chimed in about a recent visit there. He and his wife found it an enchanting place. I have to say that there are few things more beautiful than a perfect summer day in England.

Of course, sitting in a pretty room with your friends, drink in hand, watching the sun set over the ocean isn’t bad, either. Despite the week of rain and the slate grey skies and sea, the clouds thinned just enough to allow us a peek of radiant pink sky as the sun slipped away, a wonderful parting gift.

A YEAR AGO: Enjoying being chauffeured.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Remembering my grandfather. Love you and miss you, Hoho.

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Feb 11 2017

Stormy

Published by under Country Life,Weather,Work


Stormy Seas

On Fridays, it makes me happy to know that my siblings are happily asleep as I jolt workwards down the muddy driveway in the early morning darkness. The driveway is puddlier than ever thanks to the stormy visitors we have had lately. I am beginning to think that whoever did those rain dances to end the drought may have overdone it. The driveway is either dust or mud, depending on the time of year, and its muddiness has reached new heights (or depths, depending on how you look at it) this winter. I don’t think it’s ever been as potholed and puddled as it is now. I flinch for Wednesday as I am tossed around the car, even at less than five miles an hour.

Thursday’s storm was particularly intense, with heavy rains and high winds. We had already received five inches of rain this week before that storm. I hate to admit it, but I’m kind of done with the rain. At this point, everything is saturated and it’s just causing landslides and fallen trees, which in turn cause power outages.

We had a power outage at work this week. Oddly, it was calm and not raining when it happened, and it affected the entire Big Town and the Village while leaving Hooterville untouched for once. The generator kicked on to power the lights in the clinic area, and patients were still seen, using paper charts. The receptionists print out schedules ahead of time during stormy weeks. I used the time to catch up on my filing, which I had not done for a couple of months due to fundraiser madness and human nature’s* general dislike of filing.

I did enjoy the unaccustomed feeling of virtue, though, and the lights came back on shortly after I completed the filing so I could get back to work on computer-related tasks.

This morning dawned clear and bright. I was momentarily confused when I woke up and saw the moonlight, wondering what it was in my precaffeinated state. I will enjoy the lightness and brightness while it lasts. We are due to get more storms next week. The calm before the storm…

*Among my filing were some old personnel records, one of which included a resignation letter saying that working at the clinic had made this person grow as a professional and “a human been.”

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day with surfers, ballet and Thai food. What more could a girl want?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Poor Rob. And his pain in the neck.

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Feb 07 2017

Saturday

Published by under Cooking,Country Life,Friends

For some reason, I decided that this weekend was the perfect time to attempt this unnecessarily elaborate dish for Sunday dinner*. Despite my lack of religious upbringing**, and the fact that I try to dedicate as much of Sunday as I can to my personal favorite sin of sloth, I usually make something nicer than usual for Sunday dinner.

So I set it to marinate on Friday night, while I threw in a load of laundry*** and made an adult beverage, and on Saturday morning, I was at stage two of frying the garlic chips when someone walked into the house.

I fully expected it to be Rob, but it turned out to be an unknown teenage girl:

Girl: Is everyone asleep?
Me: Who are you?

She was a friend of one of Mark’s daughters, and had mistaken my house for theirs. This is the kind of thing that happens when you have five doors, none of which lock. That, and surprise appliances. She was more embarrassed than necessary, but that’s all part of the joy of being a teenager.

I put the roast into the slow cooker for stage three, and Megan and I headed to the Village to meet Erica and our favorite teenager at the bookstore overlooking the stormy ocean.
The Great Catsby looked down disdainfully from his perch, enjoying the distance from those ridiculous humans and their grubby paws:

not to mention their tiresome adulation. Jessica was cashing in her Christmas gift certificate, and Erica was torn between Advanced Style and do it yourself taxidermy. It was great to catch up with our favorite girls as we strolled the aisles. We are already planning this year’s Junapalooza celebration. Erica and I had considered Jellopalooza, using her collection of vintage Jell-O molds, but we decided that not even a coconut water and fresh blackberry gelatin confection would win over the picky eaters in our family, so Plan B is Pizzapalooza.

Erica thinks we can make a cobb pizza oven at Megan’s birthday celebration, which is conveniently located on the Memorial Day weekend, when we should have maximum free labor and time. Then we can use it for the Junapalooza celebration. If not, I am pretty sure that the evil geniuses of my brothers can come up with a grill-related solution so we can make our own pizzas.

After the bookstore, we browsed around the toy store, where I was charmed by felted whales and stuffed hedgehogs, though I resisted buying them. You are never too old to look through kaleidoscopes and try on Halloween hats, especially out of season.

Eventually, we parted ways, the girls to see “Hidden Figures” and Megan and I to run a few errands. It was great to see them. I love those girls!

*It was delicious, though labor-intensive.

**Being brought up by atheists can have its drawbacks.

***I’m addicted to this sea salt and neroli laundry soap thanks to Monica, who gave me a sample. The first one’s free…

A YEAR AGO: A look around the storm-tossed garden.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Darkness descended.

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Feb 03 2017

Surprise

Published by under House

I came home one day to find that I had a new refrigerator.

The appliance fairy had apparently come by while I was at work, leaving a gift that kept on giving.

The new refrigerator is bigger and blockier than the old one. It is unfortunately too tall to fit under the (admittedly makeshift) shelf on which I used to store frequently used items like salt, olive oil, and soy sauce:

So the shelf had to go, and I had to find alternative locations for its former residents. Some I consigned to the wilds of the pantry/laundry room/salle de bains des chats/flood zone, and some I squeezed in next to the bowls, etc. under the counter.

With the shelf went the (admittedly ugly) stove hood. I never used the fan, but I am surprised to note how much I miss the light over the stove, and not just for cooking. It had a friendly yellow light, and I had it on most winter evenings.

I am sorry to say that James’s (admittedly eccentric) electrical whimsy meant that Rob got zapped a couple of times during the stove hood removal process. Also that it disabled the outlet which formerly powered the microwave, so I now have a large orange extension cord leading to the bathroom outlet which takes up about 75% of the hallway/foyer and is almost guaranteed to precipitate an unfortunate Calamity Suzy episode in the middle of the night.

Having a giant, Giants orange extension cord sprawling all over is not a charming decorative motif, and neither is the shelfless kitchen at this stage:

Notice how the giant, Stalinesque lines of the new refrigerator dwarf the much more attractive, vintage Wedgewood stove. Oddly, the freezer capacity seems much less than the old refrigerator. And the manual which came with it warns that the new refrigerator may be “nosier” than the old one. So far, it seems to be as uninterested in my daily activities as the old one, but perhaps it is secretly taking notes or reading my emails after I go to sleep.

Rob is planning to make a new and prettier shelf. I believe he is planning to make it match the lovely shelving units he recently made. He also says that the hole you see above the stove can and will be made into an outlet for the microwave, so the extension cord will be banished. I am hoping it will be sooner rather than later.

A YEAR AGO: At the very fine (though very crowded) woodworking show.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Adventures in law enforcement.

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