The Arts

As winter (allegedly) comes to a close and (allegedly) makes way for spring*, so does the ballet season. Megan and I headed to the beautiful South Coast on a grey and overcast day. At least it wasn’t raining and none of the roads were closed or had closing potential, as they did the weekend we couldn’t get to see Sleeping Beauty, a regret that continues to haunt both of us.

As usual, our first stop was Anchor Bay Thai, where we were served by the charming owner. After the one disappointing dinner we had there, the owners have been especially solicitous when we come in, which is nice. I don’t know if I ever told you that the person who was responsible for the disappointing dinner was fired. I hasten to add that it wasn’t just because of my complaint. There has been several, and he also apparently had anger issues to the point that he fought with the owners about being fired. Ever since his departure, the food has been up to its exquisite standard, and I am pleased to report that this dinner was no exception.

With dinner stowed in the car, we headed to the Surf Market to pick up lunch. First things first. I always forget how to get into the market’s parking lot, and also how long it takes to get a sandwich there. This time, I noticed that you can text your order ahead, so assuming I can get service, I will try it next time.

After lunch, we went back to Point Arena, home of the historic Arena Theater which shows the ballets, and Franny’s Cup & Saucer, which is resolutely closed on Sundays, when the ballet is shown. We noticed that Franny produces a monthly brunch and dinner at the restaurant next door, so we will keep an eye open for those.

We were horrified to read in the program that the ballets are losing money and there may not be another season. Before the ballet started, a gentleman spoke to the audience and said they need help to keep the program going. The financial shortfall is a relatively modest $200-300, and they also need someone to choose the ballets! After I got home, I exchanged emails with the person in charge, offering to help. So Megan and I may be choosing the ballets later this year. Sleeping Beauty, here we come!

As for this last ballet of the season, it was too modern for our tastes. One of them was about insects and the other about the seasons, but I couldn’t tell what was going on or what they were supposed to be. We still enjoyed the artistry and strength of the dancers, though. It will be interesting to see what the next season brings – especially if it’s produced by us!

I still say March is the secret winter month no-one talks about. It may have the first day of spring in it, but it still looks (and feels) like winter, whatever coast you’re on.

A YEAR AGO: A day in town, featuring CPR, a bride, and a new (to Megan) stove. I see I have been at my “new” job for two years this week.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Screwing up in ways major and minor.

Serendipity

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

‘Memba the giant bottle of cheap red wine that appeared at Thanksgiving? I used some of it to make black bean soup, but that barely put a dent in the ocean of inferior oenological product. I decided to leave it at the Gro, where I imagine some of the habitués (the kind Star doesn’t like) would greet it with enthusiasm, like an Easter bunny for winos. My good deed was rewarded by a snack-size bottle of good sparkling wine appearing on my desk that same morning, a reward from my wonderful boss for doing what I thought was just my job but was apparently a little above and beyond.

Also bringing some sparkle to my day was taking a break to meet Monica at the coastal trail for a walk and chat. She was accompanied by Stella’s son Joey, who has the most expressive ears. The only thing Stella about him is his joie de vivre and his enthusiasm for greeting me. Otherwise he looks like a German Shepherd with really long legs and goofy ears. If I didn’t know for a fact that Stella was his mother, I would never believe it. He doesn’t look a thing like her.

While Joey bounded around and sniffed things on his leash, Monica and I talked about my writing a blog for her store and working on a website for it, which I think will be a fun project. She wants to pay me for it, which makes me feel a little weird, but she says my time is valuable. We’ll see how it goes. It will be fun to start something new.

On my way home, a car pulled out from the Main Street exit of the village. I was pretty sure it was Erica, and closer inspection (of her One Bad Apple bumper sticker) showed that it was. I waved, but she was too busy driving, so as we approached the steep descent to the state beach, I honked and waved. She pulled over in the capacious turnout which is sadly underutilized by visitors who happen to be in my way, and I parked behind her.

Erica and Jessica (wearing, I was pleased to note, the Totoro shirt we gave her for her birthday last year) jumped out of their car and much hugging and squee-ing ensued. They were on their way to visit the yarn store, which apparently now resides in the quaint, family-owned inn where I have been known to enjoy the view and an adult beverage. Who knew?

They had been to Glass Beach that day and were taken aback by the number of tourists there, especially mid week. It seems a little early for the annual influx. As Jessica wondered, “If it’s tourist season, why can’t I shoot them?” I have often thought the same thing while creeping along behind the dreaded out of state plate.

Jessica’s birthday* – every April 15, as you know – falls conveniently on a Saturday, so she requested to spend it over at the family estate. We are still trying to come up with a theme for this year’s Junapalooza. We have had a cocktail party and a high tea. Jessica suggested that we set up a group board in Pinterest to find awesome party ideas. If nothing else, it will be fun. I think Erica is hoping to sneak in some Jell-O somewhere, probably spiked. And we are also plotting for another girl movie night this summer. So there’s a lot to look forward to.

We parted with hugs and I smiled the rest of the way home. I passed Megan as I neared our driveway, and we exchanged waves, which always makes me happy. Reaching the driveway, I was delighted to find that Mark had applied a layer of gravel over the enormous potholes and gigantic mud swamp the driveway had become this winter. Jonathan, who has 25 years’ worth of experience with this particular driveway, said he has never seen it in worse shape. Driving it at literally 2 miles an hour, I was still tossed around my car. So I was thrilled to whiz along serenely at a speedy 5 miles an hour.

*Megan and I were equally horrified to realize that Jessica is turning 14 this year. How is this possible?

A YEAR AGO: Getting the old grandfather clock running again.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A look around the garden. I see I was tired of the rain then, too. March really is the secret winter month no one talks about.

86

Dad’s birthday dawned sunny and beautiful, but it was a sad one for me this year. Some years I am filled with how lucky I was to have such a wonderful father and friend, and other years it just makes me so sad he is gone. This was one of those years.

To make things worse, I ran over a dead deer on my way to work in the evil darkness that morning. I had no choice, since there was too much oncoming traffic for me to go around it by driving in the other lane of the two lane highway, and there was no shoulder of the road, either. I felt like a monster, since humans had already killed the poor creature and now I was desecrating its body.

I was relieved to notice that someone had removed the evidence of my callousness on my way home from work that day. I got changed and ready to go out again, since Megan and I had plans, but I was not feeling festive. I went out one door as she came in another, but we found each other and laughed. We jumped in her little red car and set off for the Village, passing the eternal Christmas tree where Dad’s bird ornament winked in the sun.

Unlike me, Megan was having a good Dad’s birthday. She had worked in the garden that day, honoring Dad’s legacy as an excellent gardener, restoring the sweetpeas we plant for him every year as well as fertilizing the fruit trees and caring for the lavender. And she was looking forward to our plans to celebrate Dad that evening.

The bookstore in the Village was having a sale, and that seemed like a perfect way to honor the man who read to us and gave us our love of reading. You can see the Great Catsby in his favorite spot:

Megan bought two instant pot cookbooks, even though she did not actually have an instant pot (she rectified this later by ordering one on her phone at my house, since she does not have internet at hers). I weirdly ended up getting deeply discounted but sparkly Christmas cards as well as some stocking stuffers. I got something for Erica’s stocking last month. I am unable to explain this extremely premature holiday shopping.

We then headed to the beautiful Ledford House, where the view was wonderful:

We toasted Dad with Red Queens, a divine concoction made of gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and cranberry, garnished with a sugar rim with hibiscus and dark chocolate:

and swapped some of our favorite Dad stories over dinner. I think he would have liked that, and also approved of our choices, both of us ordering according to his rule of getting something you would not (or could not) make at home. Megan had incredibly light gnocchi with Gorgonzola and walnuts:

and I had petrale sole with passionfruit beurre blanc, served with mashed potatoes and asparagus with infused herb oil:

It was a good way to celebrate our father, and by the time we headed back home, I just felt glad we had him in our lives. He will always be in our hearts. We love you, Dad.

A YEAR AGO: Not a great start to the day.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A date with my family.

Random Notes

I avoid the news now like the plague it is, but I keep abreast of important matters on the local message boards. We have had an avian theme lately:

Predators have reduced our small flock to one lonely hen. Anyone in a similar situation? You take my 2 year old hen into your flock, or I’ll adopt one or two hens you no longer want to keep her company?

There was a great deal of concern over an injured owl:

The Great Horned Owl reported by X was picked up by Fish & Wildlife and arrived at Woodlands Wildlife. A quick assessment shows no obvious broken wings or legs. It is semi-alert if disturbed, but quickly sits down and lapses into unconsciousness. Probably a concussion–which can cause the brain to swell for up to 48 hours, so the next few days are critical. He is very thin, so he will be force fed.

Normally, I do not go out and get things. Almost 100% of the time when I have done that in the past, the animal or bird has already left the scene, or the directions are wrong. It’s actually where the expression “wild goose chase” came from (hunters chasing after an injured but not dead goose). I’m at an age where I don’t go romping through meadows or clambering down rocky hillsides chasing things.

I am pleased to report that the owl recovered and was released back to the wild in the area he was found, flying off “strongly” as the sun set.

A resident pigeon was in a piteous plight:

I have a rock dove (aka Pigeon) that needs a better home than I can currently provide. I found him as a little pink squab in a construction site, and raised him to maturity by hand. I care for him deeply however since moving here I have to work everyday for long hours. I feel it isn’t fair to keep him caged up for that long. Before we moved here he was able to free fly and we had a suitable outdoor roost that he began to live in when he became mature. I really want better for my little friend. If anyone has a flock, or experience with bird keeping, or knows anyone who does please contact me!!!!

You will be relieved to hear that even the lowly pigeon found a happier life:

Woodlands Wildlife can prepare your pigeon for freedom and life as a normal bird. We would put it in a large aviary so it could exercise and build up its flight muscles, teach it what its normal food in the wild should be, and release it near other pigeons.

There’s a risk that it might not be able to learn all that, in which case we have a local man who has a large (40 feet) aviary of various pigeon types, and we often place non-releasable birds with him for long term care. I’ll be in the office after 10 tomorrow if you want to call and we can discuss it.

A newcomer to our community experienced a disastrous loss:

I lost approx $550 cash (mostly $100 bills) after registering my car at DMV around 2:40pm today. It’s my social security money my son and I need to live on this month. If found, please call R at [telephone number]. Offering $50 reward, plus a free conscience, if the cash is returned.

The cash wasn’t returned, but our community sprang into action, contributing small amounts until we raised enough to cover the missing money. Here is the response from the guy who lost the money:

Aloha and Mahalo to the Coast community- You have made us whole….and so much more!
We share a love of the ‘aina which connects us all to each other. *E ho‘omaika‘i ana no ke aloha kekahi i kekahi* – E and I are grateful for the love the members of this community have for one another.

I love our town.

A YEAR AGO: Victorian ziplining. Who knew?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Wild weather. And wildlife.

Whether

“I’m the Whether Man, not the Weather Man, for after all it’s more important to know whether there will be weather than what the weather will be.” — The Whether Man, “The Phantom Tollbooth”

Well, our whether has varied widely over the past week.

Last weekend, it hailed up a storm – about half a dozen of them on the same day. Inside the house, the light had that eerie whiteness I associate with snowfalls back east, and I had the heater on all day (despite the horror of the $355 bill to fill the propane tank just days before). The cats were fascinated by the sound of it against the roof/walls, and I was fascinated by the look of it against the glass ceiling of the back “porch”:

dusting the scenic path to the compost pile:

and piled up in the potted plants by the side of the house:

It was almost as exciting as when it snowed a few years ago. When I went to bed that night, it was still piled up in the terra cotta pot.

Whereas this weekend, I have all the doors open in my little house and the sun is shining. The cats are scarce. I did a cursory inspection of the garden, and both the orchids and the tulips are budding, but not in bloom. Once again my tulip efforts can be rated a fail. I promise myself that I will plant them again in November to get flowers in February. Usually the orchids start blooming in February, so I have no idea why they are such slackers. Same goes for the camellias, which have steadfastly refused to bloom at all.

I will enjoy the sunshine and the break from the seemingly endless rain and try not to think about the horror of the time change. It was nice driving to work in the light while it lasted.

A YEAR AGO: A delightful bee-themed event at my friend Monica’s delightful shop.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful visit from my friend and neighbor, Jim.

More Cats & Dogs

One of the side effects of the mystery ailment is a certain grumpiness and intolerance for nonsense, especially kitty-based nonsense. Unfortunately for me, Clyde’s interest in naughtiness remains unabated, and he has also decided that now is the perfect time for him to up his meowing game. I disagree with him strongly on this point, which he blithely disregards in the way all felines do. Silly humans!

In other cat related news, Jonathan’s mini cat Scout turns out to have Audrey’s intolerance for fleas. She also has Audrey’s intolerance for the vet, and then some.

Jonathan is convinced that if he ever takes Scout to the vet, it will destroy her trust in him forever. This is why it took a village to get her spayed, and why Megan went home after her third night shift and went over to scrobble Scout without sleeping or collecting $200.

Catching Scout and shoving her in a box is no easy feat, despite her diminutive size (less than 7 pounds!). There’s a reason she survived out there in the mean woods of Albion. Megan’s arms and hands were covered with battle scars as she carried her unwilling prey to Dr. Karen’s.

Interestingly, once she actually got there, Scout gave up and stopped fighting anything. It was like she was resigned to her inevitable doom. Dr. Karen agreed that an extended prescription was in order to prevent further Megan-filleting vet visits, and everyone went home. Jonathan reported that Scout was ultra suspicious, peering anxiously out of the windows and making sure her escape hatch had been restored to open mode before she settled down. She is recovering well from the trauma of the vet and the fleas, possibly in that order.

And speaking of pets, my landlord and neighbor Mark has a new puppy! Her name is Blue and she is cute as a button:

How’s that for a new neighbor?

A YEAR AGO: In keeping with our cat theme, Audrey gifted me with an extra-long Sunday. Thank you?

FIVE YEARS AGO: File under miscellaneous.

Marooned

I am coming to you from the couch, where I am ensconced with several feather pillows (did I ever mention my pillow addiction? I think the usual number residing on my bed is around eight. It’s less than half that on the couch, though they are beaded and/or velvet to make up for it), and my grandmother’s 80 year old quilt of love. Not only is it pink, but it is made of my mother’s baby clothes, my grandfather’s ties, and some of its creator’s aprons. Not to mention the fact that it was restored by Erica and Megan.

Keeping me company is a mug of chamomile tea (the mug with my initial was one of my favorite Christmas gifts), tiny bottles of Schweppes ginger ale, the creepy-poetic Lincoln in the Bardo, a cheery little read about the recently deceased young son of the great President, and some pills. The cats, as you may have noted, are conspicuous by their absence, when they should be keeping me company in my time of need. I’m pretty sure that’s in the contract. Audrey was busy creating a Dada work of art by removing the toilet paper from its roll. There have been several interested calls from New York and San Francisco galleries. Of course Audrey was just concerned that I had become bourgeois and complacent.

Clyde was up in his no girls allowed club house, aka the storage loft over the bathroom. His stealthy brother also enjoyed hanging out in that difficult to access location, but Audrey never goes up there and I usually enlist the services of a passing boy to get the Christmas decorations in and out of it.

So I am alone on the couch, listening to the rain on the roof/walls, which I no longer find soothing after 61 fun-filled inches of rain. I still enjoy the rain-induced frog song, though. I am marooned here because of an intestinal upset that makes trailing up and down the stairs from the sleeping loft to the bathroom an impracticality and annoyance in my (hopefully temporarily) weakened condition,

I am always shocked and annoyed when I’m ill, feeling that the system has let me down and should be more reliable. In this case, it is extra annoying since I was unable to accomplish any cooking or other house-related activities this weekend, and I was also unable to attend family dinner at Rio’s, where chicken enchiladas and Perry Mason* on the Predicta were on the menu. So I will have to face another week of work with no cooking done and no fun behind me.

Of course, Dr. Megan paid a house call, telling me that not eating for two days was “working against me”, despite the nausea, and prescribed toast, rice, apples, and whatever the pills are. What would I do without her?

*Some fun facts about the show are in this link.

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather, inside and out. Can I stop worrying about the drought for now?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob was working around the house, while I was leaving the housework undone. Each according to his ability…

Chilly

I missed the Polar Plunge last year since I was in Monterey, being dazzled by the amazing Aquarium and delighting in the sandy beaches and farmstands. So I made sure to be there this year.

It was a cold and windy day as Megan and I pulled up behind the ambulance. Our good friend Lu was standing next to the ambulance with her work partner. I had never met him before, so I’m pretty sure the enthusiastic hug he gave me was mostly due to the fact that I had just gotten out of Megan’s toasty car.

Lu usually works on the beautiful South Coast, but she fills in on the ambulance in the Big Town from time to time, and this was one of those times. She was in good company with the whole emergency team:

including some in wetsuits with jet skis waiting in case something untoward happened. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. But it’s always good to know that EMS is on hand and ready. There were so many emergency workers at Lu and Rik’s wedding that they outnumbered the potential patients. I had to laugh when I arrived that summer day last year, seeing all the EMS stickers on the guests’ cars.

Every year, my brother’s team comes up with a concept and a song to sing before leaping into the frigid waters. One year it was the Soggy Bottom Boys from “Oh Brother, Where Are Thou?” and another year it was dressing as rubber duckies while singing the Rubber Duckie song from Sesame Street. This year, it was Yellow Submarine:

I am amazed to report that Rio drew the submarine freehand on three different pieces of cardboard before coloring it in. This is probably a talent that comes in useful when you have four children and a growing collection of grandchildren. I think it looks great. Their singing the song was a hoot. Jonathan was a ham as usual. I love my brother.

He was coming down with a cold, which made his jumping into the freezing water inadvisable, but Rio had no such qualms as she bravely dashed into the chilly river’s embrace:

She even ducked her head under and swam a little. She is my hero. I didn’t even want to take my coat off, let alone my clothes! I held her towel as is our Polar Plunge tradition, and Megan and I both hugged her to help her dry off and warm up when she was back on soggy land.

Lu had never been to a Polar Plunge before, but she had so much fun that she will join us next year, whether she is on the ambulance or not. It’s nice to know all the money raised is going to support Special Olympics, right here on the Coast.

A YEAR AGO: The eccentricities of the local message boards.

FIVE YEARS AGO: I was sick, the house was a mess, and Rob was fixing things. You know, the usual.