Encore

I (barely) survived the ordeal of the annual Hell Day Staff Day.

This year Staff Day Eve was very nearly as bad as Staff Day itself. It was certainly a longer one, clocking in at 13 fun-filled hours as technology rebelled and I honed my non-existent catering skills.

The Powers That Be decided that this year we would serve fruit for breakfast instead of the traditional bagels and cream cheese. Sounds like a good idea, right? Until you have to spend nearly three hours washing and cutting it up and finding things to store it in overnight and places in the refrigerators to jam it into. While I was slicing, dicing, and hating the Whos*, they drifted through the kitchen saying how great it smelled and snitching pieces of watermelon. To a (wo)man, they failed to offer to help. As you would expect.

Right before I started my fruit dissection, I was told that we would need 50 copies each of two different 60 page documents. I set them to print and headed to the kitchen in the naïve belief that they would be printing while I was chopping. Instead, my printer chose this exact moment to run out of toner and stop working completely. When I came to check on its progress, there was none.

I changed all of the toner cartridges and brought the dead ones to the junk room Facilities Guy’s office with a note asking him to order more (which has not happened – yet another detail to keep track of) and went to copy the finally printed documents.

The copier is of a snail-like slowness, yet equipped with a touch screen which gives you the gloomy prognostication of when the job will be finished. Its original estimate was 55 minutes for one of the double-sided 60 page documents. I left it unattended to attend to other matters, and was rewarded by the discovery that it, too, had stopped working, claiming that a part needed to be replaced.

I called the Facilities Guy, who said that you just have to take it out and put it back in. This turned out to be true. So I started the job again and went to copy the other 60 page document on the Medical Records copier. The deplorable quality of the copies was the least of my concerns, since it too stopped after making a couple of the 50 required copies, and it was so late that there was no-one around with superior copier experience to fix it.

On to Plan C, the Behavioral Health copier. I discovered after a couple of copies that it does not collate, instead presenting the hapless user with 50 copies of page 1. I might have expected that the copier there would have a personality disorder. So I cancelled that one and went back to the original copier, which was still slowly churning out the copies of Document One.

When I finally got home about 14 hours after I left it, I couldn’t even have an adult beverage, since I had to be at Starbucks at 6:30 am on the following day, which I was. Don’t even ask me about writing cheap dime store poetry and cutting out puzzle pieces.

The day itself flowed by in a nightmare of prep, clean-up, and running around as it always does. As per usual, the staff all took off around 3:00 or 3:30, leaving me to clean up the FEMA-worthy aftermath and contemplate the seemingly endless vista of these meetings, the annual fundraiser, and Board meetings for what remains of my life. But hey, it was only a 10 hour day!

You can see why working at the jobette on Saturdays doesn’t even seem like work!

*I was delighted, yet saddened, to learn that the same voice artist was Cindy Lou Who and Natasha Fatale after she passed away just short of her 100th birthday.

A YEAR AGO: You guessed it!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Those crazy kitties.

Summer Saturday

Megan drove me to work on Saturday. As you know, I love being chauffeured or chauffeused, and it was nice to relax in Megan’s little red car while she steered us toward the Big Town in the summer traffic. As we drove, she told me that one of her coworkers was stuck in a long line of cars driving 25 mph behind someone who refused to pull over for most of the duration of Highway 20. The drivers stranded behind him were honking, flashing their lights, and throwing garbage at the miscreant, who blithely ignored these signs of his fellow motorists’ displeasure.

Fortunately, no honking or trash throwing was involved in our commute, though there may have been a little trash talking. As Megan dropped me off at the jobette, I noticed a guy standing in the street singing, and I thought, I hope he isn’t crazy and he leaves me alone. This wish was granted.

Megan headed off to the clinic to work on her second job, while I unlocked the doors to start on my own second job.

Our plan was that she would pick me up and we’d go to the library, stop by Monica’s shop, and then meet Rob in the Village to see a woodworking exhibit and walk the dogs on the headlands, but we were only partially successful.

We did make it to the library, where my haul included the sequel to the book Jessica lent me at our sleepover. I was reminded of going to the library on Saturdays when I was a girl, with Miss Opal the librarian telling us tales of the past, and in the splendid library in Maine, the librarians always let us take out extra book since we were lab kids. Library expeditions were usually followed by a trip to the Victory Market (New York) or the Shop’n’Save (Maine). I now wonder why Dad dragged us all along on these Saturday expeditions, but years later, Megan and I are keeping up the tradition.

We had so much fun talking with Monica that we lost track of the time, and before we knew it, it was time for her to close the shop and we had missed the woodworking show. Megan texted Rob to let him know, and we headed home, where we took a bottle of wine outside in my garden and chatted some more, watching Clyde and Audrey play. It was a good day. Sometimes it’s nice when things don’t go according to plan.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

It’s been a less than stellar week in SuzyWorld™. To be fair, I did bring some of it on myself*, like scheduling the masochistic extravaganza of a dental cleaning and a TB test performed on my unsuspecting skin by a needle novice on the same day. The dental cleaning was as unpleasant and make-up destroying as you would expect, and the disfigurement theme continued as the needle novice caused bleeding, followed by bruising which made reading the test results challenging. For some reason, we have to have these TB tests every year**, though TB seems like a malady of the past, like smallpox. Erica tells me that they have squirrels in her ‘hood who carry the bubonic plague, so maybe it’s just as well. Come to Mendocino County! We know how to party like it’s 1299!

Other unpleasant activities this week included triaging the shopping for the dreaded Staff Day, which will inflict its loathsome self on me on Tuesday. Let’s hope we don’t experience another terrible tragedy like last year’s running out of ranch dressing. You probably saw it on the cover of the New York Post and lists of lesser disasters like the Titanic and the Hindenburg. In their infinite wisdom, the Powers That Be have decided that having ice cream sundaes is the perfect end to the perfect day. Who am I to disagree? I am, however, the person shopping like a junkie at 6:30 am, getting flats of ice cream, cans of spray whipped cream, and family sized bottles of sprinkles. Other than the still shrink-wrapped ice cream, everything was nicely distributed on the immaculate Safeway parking lot when the bag holding them broke.

I hope it’s not a sign.

I ended the week with the delightful early morning discovery that the flash heater had suddenly gone on strike in the manner of a French public servant. I took a flashlight outside and tried to persuade it to wake up, even if I couldn’t, but it stubbornly refused. There may have been a couple of snores coming out of the box around the flash heater, which is located outside rather than inside, against all common sense and manufacturer’s specification. But why bother with such details?

I alerted Megan by text – she was still at work at 5:30 am – and she said she would get Rob to fix it at a more civilized hour. I packed up the car with faux adult attire and beautification equipment and headed to the Starr Center, oddly attired in my kitty pajamas, work shoes, and a sweater. There was no way I was getting dressed twice in one morning. It appears that the lack of hot water at my house is the only reason I ever go to the gym.

At least there were no birds or unexpected appliances in the house this week, so I’m still ahead of the game.

*I hate it when I have no-one to blame but myself.

**They always try to make us have flu shots every year, despite the fact that they have a less than 10% efficacy rate. They aren’t mandatory yet, though they are at the hospital where my sister works. I am mystified as to why they have chosen to take a stand on such an ineffective vaccine for a non-fatal illness. Ah, bureaucracy!

A YEAR AGO: A day of dates.

FIVE YEARS AGO: And an unexpected guest.

Rob the Artist

Rob has been taking a ceramics class lately, and I love his new creations.

He treats assignments creatively. For example, the assignment was to make a teapot. Here’s what Rob made:

It’s a man, with a bird and a tree. It’s kind of an abstract idea of a teapot.

He also made this wonderfully textured tile:

It reminds me of MC Escher*.

This might be my favorite: Rob’s hand rising out of leaves which remind me of an Elizabethan ruff:

I may well be the most influential collector of his work, which is as useful as it is beautiful. I keep my car keys and iPod in this dish, which he patterned with a cabbage leaf:

This scalloped dish holds necessary beautifiers in the bathroom:

And at work, this holds paperclips:

He recently stopped by with a ceramic copy of the license plate from his 1960 Ford Falcon**:

It has to be the best license plate ever. And words to live by!

A YEAR AGO: A beautiful day at the Gardens.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Whole lotta movin’ going on.

*My friend Alice mentioned recently that her husband hails from the same village as Escher, and his father bought four drawings from Escher for about $50 when Escher was still unknown. He sold the drawings before Escher reached his pinnacle of fame, and they would be worth a lot of money now. At least they still have a handwritten letter from the artist.

**I have noticed a deplorable trend lately of new cars with the old black California license plates on them. It just seems wrong. They don’t belong on new cars, and they haven’t earned the right to use a 50 year old plate. I think Mammy said it best.

The Intruder

When I go to work in the morning, I leave the doors open, since I am not available to be the cat doorperson while I’m out making money to keep my feline masters in fancy, grain-free cat food and Pretty Litter*. Where’s Carlton when you need him?

Sometimes this open door policy results in finding surprise presents on the kitchen table, and sometimes it has less delightful consequences, like the recent appearance of the giant, Stalinesque refrigerator which caused an impromptu kitchen redesign. My ideal refrigerator would look something like this:

To be fair, although I still hate the look and utility of the new and unimproved appliance, it did result in a much nicer shelf over the ugly refrigerator, thanks to my ever-resourceful brother-in-law. He must consider his wife’s overly adjacent sister the “for worse” part of the vows he took 26 years ago this month.

This week, I came home from a 13 hour day to find that my open door policy had once again resulted in something unexpected.

The kitties were waiting anxiously for treats, and then supper. At stately Suzy Manor, the cats get dessert before dinner. As I distributed the treats, I glanced up at the sleeping loft and saw a large bird clinging to the screen door.

I was surprised both by the avian intruder and the fact that the cats were uninterested in its presence. They trotted off to eat dinner as I went upstairs to deal with the uninvited guest.

I expected that it would fly away from me to a place where I couldn’t reach it, but it turned out that Mr. Woodpecker was stuck in the screen door to the balcony. I had never been so close to a woodpecker before. He seemed to be stunned or scared enough to let me detach him from the opened door, and once released, he rocketed away into the trees to the relief of all concerned.

After cleaning up the miscellaneous feathers and bird poop he left behind, I went back downstairs to start my own dinner and stepped in a mini mountain of ClydeBarf™.

Welcome home!

*I am a convert to this stuff. It’s very light, mailed right to your house, and makes your house scentless.

A YEAR AGO: Meeting Rio’s daughter and having a nice dinner at the family estate.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Home at last after surviving the horrible ordeal of the Grand Jury.

A Bowl of Cherries

I stopped by the family property on my way home from work on Saturday. I found Jonathan working on a ham radio project and Megan chatting with an old friend of ours who had recently moved back to Hooterville after a stint in Willits, home of heat and Seabiscuit. It was nice to catch up with her. She is also a good friend of Lichen, who has been scarce lately, so we could catch up on news of him as well. Two for one! And all this while eating cherries:

just picked from our very own tree that very day:

Megan had just returned from a camping trip to faraway Mount Lassen with our friends Rik and Lu. Mount Lassen is an active volcano and one of the two to erupt in the Lower 48 in the 20th century, the other being Mount St. Helens. Despite this, it looks quite serene, reflected in the lake at their campsite:

It also gets the most snow of any place in California, averaging about 600 inches, or 50 feet, a year. Yes, you read that right. 50 feet. Guess I should stop complaining about the 70 inches of rain we got this season. And all that snow explains why it’s there year-round, as seen here:

Hard to believe that was taken in early July, especially when sitting in the garden on a very warm day. Jonathan said that the swamp cooler which was my Junapalooza gift was still en route, and he was somewhat annoyed given that Rio had ordered it through Amazon Prime and it should have been here by now.

When I got home, I rather regretted that it wasn’t, since it was 84F in the house, and it was still 80F when I went to bed with fans ablazing. It will be interesting to see how well the swamp cooler works when it gets here.

A YEAR AGO: Lu and Rik’s wonderful wedding.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A long, horrible trip to testify in front of the Grand Jury. Still not sure if the journey there or the testifying was the worst part.

Sleepover

It was time at last for the (too) long deferred sleepover with Jessica!

In keeping with my usual principle of scruffy entertaining (it turns out I was ahead of my time on this one), preparations for our gala soirée consisted of buying fizzy, watermelon and raspberry flavored water and various munchies. I did sweep the floor and serve the fizzy H2O in champagne flutes, however.

My minimal hostessing efforts were rewarded with what might possibly be the best hostess gift ever:

It is an almost Alexander McQueen clutch. It looks so much more real than faux! I adore it. Erica said it was meant for me so she made it happen. Jessica said, “Why aren’t you rich?” Pause. “The universe must have hiccupped.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Our glamorous movie festival kicked off with Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette”. Jessica and I were enchanted with the clothes, hair, and sets. I can picture myself in that gold leaf bed, though the embroidered initials on my satin headboard would have to change:

Jessica immediately understood the modern music and the Converse and Vans being interspersed with the period slippers in the scene where the Queen and her ladies are trying on the latest fashions. Jessica also observed that Marie’s indulgence in fashion and gambling were her way of dealing with her fears over not producing an heir, her mother’s nagging about it, and her worry about her precarious position at court, and I have to agree with her.

Up next was the thoroughly politically incorrect and delightful “How to Marry a Millionaire”, which introduced a smitten Jessica to the many charms of the one and only Marilyn Monroe. Jessica is now a fan, pronouncing Marilyn to be “a really good actress – and so cute!” I always love a movie with a fashion show in it, and I have to admit that I kind of long for the days when you could wear fur coats and not feel guilty about it. Jessica said it would be fun to live in the past for a little while, only with modern amenities, like internet, and once again I agree with her on this point.

We wrapped up the night with “Auntie Mame”, starring the inimitable Rosalind Russell. No matter how depressed you might be, “Auntie Mame”, like “Legally Blonde”, will cheer you up. We had both seen it before, but it was more fun to see it together, reveling in the gorgeous sets (once again, I could just see myself in Mame’s elegant bedroom, which would really be the perfect setting for a sleepover with Jessica):

wonderful clothes, and delightful humor. I sighed over the devastatingly handsome Roger Smith, who played grown-up Patrick in the movie and was married to the stunning Ann-Margret for more than half a century in real life. The world got less beautiful when we lost him a couple of weeks ago.

Jessica slept on the couch under my grandmother’s ancient quilt, and the next day, we headed out to meet Erica about halfway between our mutual houses, at the Navarro Store.

It turns out that the Navarro Store is famed for their open flame BBQ grill and grillmaster, who Erica has, of course, known since he was seven years old. We placed our order and went inside to get drinks, which were not up to Erica’s high standards. Fortunately, she also knows the owner and was able to provide him with a shopping list.

We enjoyed lunch together under the trees, following it up with Mexican paletas for dessert, the perfect summer finish to any meal. Then we hugged goodbye and went our separate ways. I hope we can have another sleepover soon. I am already thinking of movies…

A YEAR AGO: A busy, happy week.

FIVE YEARS AGO: On my way to testify in front of the Grand Jury. I hope that never happens again.

Jubilee


The One and Only

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Audrey’s less than benevolent reign over my household. An entire decade of being bossed around by a fuzzy, seven pound Force of Nature! Despite her diminutive size, Audrey has an outsized personality of extreme bossiness, and what she says goes.

Her hobbies include terrorizing the neighborhood dogs, sometimes accomplished by standing up on her back feet like a grizzly bear and swatting at their appalled faces, sometimes by drive by swats of disgust, and other times by the power of her Glare of Death, which is intimidating to most mortals.

She still demands to be let out in the early morning darkness, having earned the right long ago as the undisputed winner of Survivor: Hooterville, but she doesn’t stay out as long as she used to and spends more time on beauty sleep these days:

which is why she is so beautiful, of course.

She also deigns to sit on my lap when I am reading in bed at night, though she makes her displeasure known (and sometimes felt) when I relocate her in order to get my own beauty sleep. I love my grumpy Audrey, who is so perfectly balanced by my cuddly Clyde:

Today also marks the birthday of the beautiful Kalli, seen here with the handsome Jarrett:

Such a gorgeous couple! And speaking of gorgeous, today also marks the first anniversary of Rik and Lu’s glorious wedding. After 18 years together, they can finally wish each other “happy anniversary.” Here’s to many, many more!

Yesterday was Canada’s 150th anniversary and Megan and Rob’s 26th anniversary, so all in all, there’s a lot to celebrate these days.

A YEAR AGO: The kitty report.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Brightening up.