Hot Times

If it’s Saturday, it must be scorching…

The last two Saturdays in a row have been hot’n’heinous, reaching 90 in my bijou residence. And that’s downstairs, where the propane heater gives a readout of the room temperature. It was still 86 downstairs when I went to bed upstairs in the sleeping loft, cursing James’ genius idea of having the balcony door face west, where it can get as much sun for as long as possible, especially during the hottest part of the day. What else would you expect from the guy who put in light switches that say NO when you turn them on?

My survival plan now includes hanging a dark sheet up on the balcony door, white-trash style, in the hopes that it will give a little shade and maybe help with the heat party, with the hot air rising up to the pointy ceiling and hanging out there:

I am also leaving the sliding glass doors downstairs open with the screen closed to keep the kitties in but allow the mythical cross breeze to come in once I take the trashy sheet down at night.

Do I have to move to Alaska? Look out, Tim, you may have a new neighbor!

When I was a kid, Saturdays were for cartoons. Our parents severely limited our TV time, but I seem to remember being allowed to watch cartoons. Mom slept in, and Dad drank his black coffee, read the papers, and did some writing for work while the electronic babysitter kept us out of his thinning hair. I now realize that I pretty much do the same thing on weekends that Dad used to do, drinking my black coffee while reading and writing, awake but not doing anything yet, not wanting to talk to anyone as I slowly wake up.

Now I don’t watch cartoons, but sometimes the cartoons come to me, mostly courtesy of Clyde the little outlaw.

One weekend, he brought a bird into the house. I hate it when the cats* catch birds, and always interfere if I’m home. As always, he carried his prey up to sleeping loft (why?) and before I could get up the stairs, the bird managed to escape the jaws of death. Unfortunately for the bird, it flew into the wall above the kitchen sink, which it then fell into. Fortunately, it flew out of the sink and into the great outdoors, hotly pursued by Clyde as it vanished into the sky.

It really seemed like a cartoon: Zoom! Bang! Plop! Whir! And it all happened in seconds.

Moving up the food chain and out of season for Easter, Clyde’s next weekend import was a bunny. I managed to get the bunny away from Clyde, who I banished to the bathroom (aka the only room in the house with a door) while the bunny ran under the couch.

I had a hard time persuading the intruder to leave, possibly because Audrey was present, though she was completely uninterested in the whole thing, other than thinking that Clyde should always be shut in the bathroom. Eventually, the bunny hopped out from under the couch and out of the door, but he was much slower than I thought, which probably explains why Clyde was able to catch him in the first place.

Once again, it seemed like something out of a carton, and it all happened much more quickly than it took to tell you about it. Never a dull moment out here, I tell you!

As Audrey approaches her 11th birthday (!) next week, I realize that she no longer really hunts. I can’t remember the last time she imported wildlife into the house. Maybe it’s getting older, or maybe it’s just beneath her considerable dignity.

A YEAR AGO: Junapalooza! I miss you!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting divorced. I see it was hot then, too. Maybe the climate changed a long time ago and I didn’t notice?

TEN YEARS AGO: The horror of wildfires. And knowing my brother was out there fighting them.

Minor Mysteries

Early one morning, on my way to work, I turned onto the Ridge from the dusty, potholed driveway* and was astonished to see a highway patrol car stopped just a few feet away. I could see a guy beyond the car. I stopped to ask the officer what the problem was, and he claimed there was no problem. OK, then.

I went around the stopped CHP car and the guy I had noticed earlier waved me down. He said he needed a ride to his friend’s house since his car had run out of gas and the CHP officer was supposedly threatening to tow it. I was driving the Heap that day, so I looked even less rob-worthy than usual. According to my unexpected passenger, the CHP guy was there because a tree had fallen further down the Ridge. This made no sense to me, since a fallen tree would need CalTrans and maybe PG&E, but not the CHP. Nor did I see any sign of the out of gas car. I dropped him off at the place he requested, but I still kind of wonder what was going on there.

I will file it away in the dusty funhouse attic of my mind along with a couple of other recent Ridge-related mysteries.

Another morning, I was again making my semi-virtuous way to work when I passed a fully loaded logging truck headed east on the Ridge. For those not familiar with the inner workings of Hooterville back roads, the Ridge runs east (inland) to west (the ocean and the road to Civilization and the Big Town). The Ridge is about 10 miles long and it does end, so it’s not a through road. It would have made sense if the truck was headed that way empty, to load up with logs, say at the haul road behind my house. Or if it was headed west, toward the big lumber mill in Cloverdale. But as it was, it made no sense, at least to me.

Our friends at CalFire use prisoner crews to clear brush and do other fairly simple, safety-enhancing tasks outside. Before you start thinking about Cool Hand Luke style chain gangs, I will just say that it is a coveted assignment among prisoners, which I know from a former convict. It shows that they are responsible and gets them out in the fresh air. So I am always glad to see them. But other than this one mysterious occasion, they are unanimously heading back to prison at 4:30 in the afternoon, not heading east on the Ridge to nowhere. I followed them as far as my driveway, where I turned and they carried on further toward the end of the road.

There you have it: some small and local mysteries.

*Tis the season. Winter is muddy with giant holes.

A YEAR AGO: Rob the artist strikes again. What would I do without him?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Surprise intruders: hummingbirds and rain.

TEN YEARS AGO: The loss of my beloved and wonderful stepmother, the love of Dad’s life. She made his final years the happiest of his life.

Grateful

Despite the recent minor health and car problems, I have been trying to focus on the many things I have to be grateful for. My sister coming to my rescue with cold remedies; my brothers coming to my rescue with car remedies; a few minutes to cuddle with Clyde before the alarm goes off; an empty stretch of highway; the golden morning light on the hills as they make their seasonal change from green to gold; the deep lavender of a fog bank floating over a slate-blue sea; Mark’s dogs running up to joyfully greet me as I arrive home from work.

Since the tragedies occurred last month, I have been more thankful than ever for the little surprise gifts from my co-workers. One colleague brought me a beautiful beaded bracelet from Mexico:

She told me that she had it blessed in a little chapel in her home town, and that it would protect me when I wore it, as I often do. I was touched that she thought of me when she was so far away.

One of the doctors used to be a professional chef (How’s that for a career change? Though perhaps the late, great Anthony Bourdain would not be surprised), and one day, she brought me a generous helping of a new recipe she had tried in her Instant Pot, which was both delicious and enough for two dinners which I did not have to make, which happens to be my favorite kind.

Another co-worker brought me a stunning little arrangement of a flower from her garden called Mock Orange, a new one on me.

It was so pretty and lasted all week, reminding me of how lucky I am to work with such kind people. Whether they knew it or not, they helped me through that dark time and I am grateful for that.

A YEAR AGO: Sorbet, cracksicles, camping, and sculpture. All in Hooterville!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some wonderful quilts.

TEN YEARS AGO: The fate of my former home. Their fates are never good.

Ailments

I’m sorry to say that after more than a week, The Crud still has me in its unpleasant grip. Repeated daily applications of Sudafed and Afrin seem to do little in the way of loosening its claws, and if I buy shares in Kleenex now, that would be perilously close to insider trading.

Maybe I need to take time off from work and follow a Victorian style regime of daily doses of champagne and perhaps a trip to Egypt or the French Riviera. It’s medicinal, you know.

I’m also sorry to report that Wednesday, too, is ailing slightly. I pulled up at my bijou residence one evening to discover that I could not open the car door despite repeated efforts. I rolled down the window and opened it from the outside, then rolled up the window again. Effective, but slightly annoying. The annoyingness, like many things, seems to increase the more I have to do it.

Another development is that the driver’s side door no longer locks. This is not a problem in Hooterville, but makes me uncomfortable when leaving Wednesday for many hours in the parking lot at work, which is sometimes frequented by sketchy characters, some of whom seem to live in the bushes surrounding it. When I left work after a 12 hour day this week, I actually looked in the back seat before I drove off in case someone was napping and/or had taken up (hopefully temporary) residence there. Fortunately, my neuroses and I were the only ones in the car. I have ordered a new door handle, which should arrive soon, and when the boys install it, that should take care of all of the car problems at once. If only there was as effective a remedy for whatever ails me…

Update: Rob very kindly installed the new door handle while I was at work. Hooray! Yay for Rob, door handles that open on the inside and outside of the car, and the Heap for getting me to work and back today.

Megan told me that when she woke up this morning, Rob was sleeping with his arm around Stella, who was wagging her tail in her sleep. How’s that for happy?

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day at Navarro-By-The-Sea.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An out of season power outage and an annoying day at the jobette.

TEN YEARS AGO: It was hard to say goodbye to the Lovely Rita. I will always love and miss you, darling girl.

Hidden Treasures

I’m finally beginning to feel human again, though the Time Off Malaise made me miss a delightful BBQ with our friend Lu and the last ballet of the season. Of course I am well enough to go to work. But I’m also well enough to finally get around to recording more of our recent-ish adventures.

Rumor had it that the elegant Café Beaujolais, widely considered one of the best – or possibly the best – restaurants in the Village was selling wood-fired pizzas on certain days at certain times. Fortunately for Megan and me, we found ourselves in the Village at one of the designated times.

It took a little searching, but we finally found the pizza purveyors:

nestled in a lovely garden:

They were friendly and charming, and we were glad to wait for our pizzas in the beautiful garden. They were worth the wait:

Beautifully blistered, airy crust, topped with fennel sausage, red onions, fresh oregano, brine-cured olives, and Marzano tomatoes. Yum!

We stowed them in Megan’s little red car and then made our way to the beautiful Kelley House. I have never seen the Village so crowded. So many cars and so many zombies meandering all over the streets without looking for cars. Megan wisely drove behind the Kelley House, rightly guessing that there would be nowhere to park for blocks in front of the house.

The latest exhibit was of treasures found in the Kelley House pond when it was drained and restored. There were many beautiful bottles:

This one says “My Wife’s Salad Dressing, Chicago” on it:

The items included several small china dolls known as Frozen Charlottes (left):

Apparently a modish young lady refused to cover her elegant gown when driving to town for a New Year’s dance with her beau, and was DOA at the dance. I found it a little weird that this legend caused a doll craze instead of creeping everyone out. But then a lot of fairytales are creepy and horrifying.

We both enjoyed the exhibit and some new local history. Not to mention the pizza!

A YEAR AGO: A perfect day.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Birthday love

FIVE YEARS AGO: Henry and I get closer. I still miss that tough little kitty.

Math

Despite spending much of my working life in finance, math and I are not close friends. And you will not be surprised to hear that logic and I are but distant acquaintances. However, no matter how slow on the uptake I may be and the fact that I still don’t know all my times tables (and at this point, I think it’s safe to say I never will), it has become abundantly clear to me that:

Suzy takes time off = Something bad happens

Let’s review, shall we?

The last time I took time off and had the temerity to venture over the county line, I got the flu from hell which took forever to recover from.

The time before that, it was the Worst Long Weekend Ever, with day after day of blistering temperatures, inside and out, after a summer of working six days a week.

This time, I took two days off in honor of my birthday and ended up with the flu. At least it’s not as bad as last time, but come on! That was a mere six months ago.

I felt so horrible I couldn’t sleep, and texted with Megan, who is up and on duty at 2 am. She stopped by on her way home from work with Pringles, ginger ale, Sudafed, and Afrin. I spent the day on the couch and hopefully tomorrow will be back at work. I wish I didn’t feel so guilty about missing work and letting my boss down. Maybe it really is three strikes and you’re out, and next time I take time off it will actually be fun.

Un-Birthday

With all the tragedies lately, I am not feeling it for my birthday this year. Yesterday was the memorial service for Erica’s mother, which she handled with grace and fabulous make-up. Arriving home from the service, I discovered I had lost my diamond bracelet, which I really liked. I must have fastened the clasp incorrectly.

It’s Erica’s birthday tomorrow, and she too is planning to skip it, much like Megan did. There will be no Junapalooza this year.

No birthday cards so far, and it’s hotter than I’d like, but at least I took today and tomorrow off. Plans are to drink pink champagne and watch the hockey play-offs tonight and hopefully hang out with the kitties.

UPDATE: Megan found my bracelet:

And as if that weren’t enough, she gave me a sparkly pair of earrings I admired during our tour of village shops a couple of months ago but considered too expensive:

So things are looking up, and they’re also looking sparkly.

A YEAR AGO: Things were much more festive.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Heading to San Francisco for a birthday baseball game, among other things.

TEN YEARS AGO: The curse of the coffee maker.