Birthday

It wasn’t just moving day, it was Megan’s birthday. So I left the cats and The Mess behind to go and celebrate at the family estate. After a long day of moving all my worldly goods, my brother was making burgers and Rio was making salad. Jonathan had already made a lemon tart the day before, so everything was ready to celebrate. When we all had a glass of our homemade cider in hand, I made a toast:

“Forty-eight years ago today, I was called down to the office at school. When I got to the office, the principal told me I had a little sister. I skipped back to my classroom and announced, “I have a little sister!” All the girls went, “Yay!” and all the boys went “Boo!!”

Our brother laughed, saying that he wasn’t happy at the time to have yet another sister, but he certainly doesn’t feel that way now. I am nine years and nine days older than my sister, who was supposed to be born on my birthday. Instead, she came home from the hospital on my birthday. She’s still the best present I ever had. Here’s a picture of us the year I turned 21 and she turned 12:

After dinner, we took a look around the garden. The late rains did not seem to harm the orchard, where pies are in progress:

There are tons of cherries on the tree in the carefully netted cathedral, more than we’ve ever had before:

It should be a good pie year.

There’s a new Meyer lemon tree in the greenhouse (far right):

We’ll see how that does. It would be great if we can make it happy there. I love Meyer lemons.

It was a long day, but a good one. And I am thankful for my family and friends, even more than I usually am.

Move

Moving day – which also happened to be Megan’s birthday – dawned bright and clear. As I took a last carload of things and stuff over to the new place, I noticed what an idyllic morning it was. The ocean was turquoise, the meadows drifted with wildflowers and dotted with glossy horses and cows. I drove past farms and through groves of redwoods, across a narrow one lane bridge that I always worry about meeting someone else on, and arrived at the new house.

After everything was decanted, I went back to the old house. I imprisoned Audrey in the bathroom with her fuzzy bed and the boys in their bachelor pad, which is also known more prosaically as a metal dog crate filled with a comfy quilt.

Jonathan, Rio, and Rob soon appeared, and together we took a trailer load of junk to the dump before starting to load up the furniture. Back at the house, Rob started to construct the box for the grandfather clock to travel in. Then the boys carefully loaded it and wedged it firmly in place with Styrofoam (sorry, planet!) before placing a final sheet of Styrofoam over the glass front of the face.

The first load was the box springs and mattress, with the clock coffin riding on top. We got some strange looks as we drove at a majestic pace down the curvy country roads and briefly on the highway.

The next load included Rob’s beautiful bookshelves and the deconstructed bed. When my brother went to reconstruct the bed, we discovered that some crucial hardware had been lost in the process. I tried at the small Hooterville hardware store, but as expected, they didn’t have it. Of course all the other hardware stores were closed for the Memorial Day holiday, so I have just been sleeping on the box springs and mattress on the floor.

I was saddened to learn that I could not take my fan palms, Japanese maple, or camellias with me. I admit that I cried over them in the privacy of my car on my way to the new house after getting that news.

The last but most important load was the kitties. The boys shared a carrier, since they are always happier together, while Audrey had her own, since she is always happier alone. Happy is relative, however. She howled the entire 11 miles, while the boys didn’t make a sound.

I had been expecting that Audrey would poop in her carrier, since that is her usual MO when going to the vet. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while she had peed, that was it. I was less delighted to discover that the boys had reacted the same way, so they were all running around with pee paws on the beautiful fir floors.

Clyde did not want to leave the carrier. I expected him to bolt out of it. I upended the carrier, and he was ejected by gravity, but immediately tried to climb back in, even though I was still holding the case upside down. He went and hid behind boxes. Audrey also vanished, while Dodge was Adventure Boy, leaping from box to box.

Here’s a peek at The Mess on Day One:

Impressive, isn’t it? You might be able to guess what my weekend plans were!

Limbo

I am neither here nor there.

Yesterday, the boys moved the couch and sundry other things to the new house, leaving the bed and the ancient heirloom grandfather clock in what is now the old place. So I’m kind of camping at the old place since my unpaid movers are not available today.

Supposedly AT&T is going to install the landline at the new place today. I know landlines seem retro these days, but the cell service at the new house is exponentially worse than it is at the old one, where the cell phone never rings in the house. It is impossible to make a call on my cell at the new place, and texts may or may not go through.

I’m hoping the technician will actually show up, since I’ve been stood up more this month than in my entire dating life. My landlord didn’t make it to meet me there a couple of weeks ago, and the Further Reach internet guy didn’t show up this week, even though I waited for him for two hours. Fortunately, I had the fascinating The Five to keep me company.

While I was waiting, I took a couple more photos of the new place:

The Further Reach guy claims he will appear in person on Wednesday. This visit, if it happens, is only to assess the viability of the trees at the property as a location for the internet receptor. Then I will have to hire a tree climber to put it in. I have no idea how long all this will take, but I’m guessing that it will be a while, so I will be incommunicado in the meantime. If I have to resort to satellite internet again, which is both crappy and expensive (my favorite!), I will be sad. I have Further Reach now, and although pricy, it is excellent.

I’m hoping that the move will be finished on Saturday. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A one-two punch of tragedy. I still can’t believe this really happened.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Also a tragic time with lots of loss, including my wonderful friend Joel. He is missed.

TEN YEARS AGO: A lazy day. There aren’t enough of those.

Past

It seems to be a universal truth that we all have more things and stuff than we think we do, and we find out how very wrong we were about that when the time comes to move. I thought I had a few boxes in the storage loft over the bathroom, along with the battered old white Christmas tree and sundry decorations. Imagine my horror when I discovered that there were TWENTY ONE – count ‘em, 21 – fun-filled boxes up there.

Going through them was a dust-filled extravaganza that brought up a lot of memories and not a few tears. I got rid of most of the books, including complete sets of the Dr. Dolittle books and Mary Poppins books, as well as all of my Miss Read. I sacrificed the complete collection of Trollopes when I left Oakhampton and I still regret that. I kept one box, which included my father’s childhood book Outdoorland and the Bible my grandfather carried with him when he went to fight in WWI. I also kept his letters home during the War.

I sobbingly threw out countless letters, cards, and postcards from family and friends, though I kept all of my father’s letters. I threw out so many photographs of people I didn’t know. I think they were friends of my grandparents’, but since I didn’t know who they were, off they went. The thought occurred to me that a few years down the road Jarrett or Jessica will be doing the same with the photos I saved.

I kept some color photos of my parents’ wedding, which I had never seen before, and a wonderful photo of my mother’s parents a couple of weeks after their wedding, marked with my grandfather’s hand, “US 8-24-’24”:

Also a breathtaking photo of my grandmother in the full flower of her youth and considerable beauty:

And a photo of my dear friend Alice* and me in her house in Amsterdam, just a couple of years after she stopped modeling. When I shared the photo with her, she noted that she was wearing Jean-Paul Gaulthier:

It brought back so many happy memories of the wonderful times we had together.

I ended up throwing out the old Christmas tree and only keeping my very favorite ornaments (I still miss the one Clyde broke). New house, new tree. I wonder if I had known this past Christmas was going to be the last one in this house if I would have decorated and celebrated instead of ignoring it. I guess a new house calls for a new tree and new traditions.

But for some reason, I was unable to part with the keys to my now million+ dollar apartment in San Francisco.

I told a coworker who moved here from New York about my travails, and she said that after clearing out two attics and a basement, she swore she would never put another thing in her attic. So far her attic remains empty, and houses here don’t have basements. Hopefully I can follow her example and not accumulate more things and stuff after I move. It’s hard to let go of the past, but maybe it can be liberating, too.

**We have been friends for 40 years now. We still email each other nearly every day. I am still thankful every day that she is still with us after that scare a few years ago.

Water

When I first started the lengthy and horrifying moving process, I thought, “At least it won’t be raining”, but apparently I was wrong about that, as I am about so many things. It has been pouring since yesterday and rain is supposed to continue on and off until WEDNESDAY. I can’t remember when we have gotten this much rain this late. The radio cheerfully informed me that it will also be windy, with gusts up to 50 miles an hour, so I am just waiting for the power to go out. The fact that I was unable to close up my battered umbrella once I got to the office makes me fear even more bad luck as it drips into the carpet.

Also for the leaks to start in my house, which has been on the damp side anyway lately. Rob came over last weekend to remove some artwork, including the amazing vintage Toronto streetcar sign which I am selling on eBay*:

This required a large and heavy extension ladder, probably suitable for fighting fires, since the ceilings are so high. It was a lengthy and delicate procedure. When it was finally over, I asked Rob what was the strange hissing noise was that I could hear in the kitchen.

Rob’s opinion was that it was a water leak. He investigated under the house and under the kitchen cabinets, but finally had to cut a hole in the sheetrock under the sink, where it was revealed that due to the cheapness of the pipes James put in, there was a split in the pipes.

The bathroom, which is about 7 feet by 5 feet, promptly flooded as I watched in horror. Rob went to turn off the water to the house, while I grabbed a broom and swept the water out of the bathroom door which leads to the back porch. It was not the first time I was grateful for that odd, but useful feature. Then I mopped up the floor with towels and called Mark.

He got someone to come and fix it, but they came accompanied by dogs which they allowed to run into my house without asking me first, terrifying both me and the boys. I put the boys in the bachelor pad and banished the dogs. The fixers were notably Not Rob, since they were not only hillbilly looking, but took three trips to the store to buy parts and spent all day working on it. They still have to come back and replace the sheetrock.

As Rob said, I have picked a good time to move.

*A really nice guy who lives in the Annex area of Toronto bought it. Nice to know it’s heading back home!>

Wild

It was a wildlife extravaganza on the Ridge on Friday morning. Bunnies, quail, deer – you name it! Fortunately, both they and Wednesday remained unscathed. I can’t say the same for a sizable mountain lion who I came across unexpectedly last week on my way to work one morning.

I had just crossed the sweep of the Big River bridge, enjoying as always the beauty of the river meeting the sea, and was surprised to see a mountain lion sitting by the side of the highway. Across the road were two men on phones, standing by a truck and somehow looking vaguely official. They waved me onwards, and I later learned that the lion had been hit by a car, which explains why he was just sitting there. I wonder what the officials in charge of such things do with wounded mountain lions.

Of course, seeing it made me think of my beloved Roscoe. I have always thought that it was a mountain lion that killed him. Illogically, it makes me sad that I will be leaving him behind when I move, even though I don’t know where his bones are. But being rational has never been one of my few talents.

The wildlife at home definitely know that something is up, as their house fills with boxes and various things are hauled away. It is total chaos, and you know how I love that. I realized today that when things stop being a mess at my current house, they will start being a mess at the new one. I can conservatively expect another month or two of chaos.

Clyde in particular is perturbed by the change in routine. He is underfoot even more than usual, as he tries to stay close to me at all times. He has started sleeping on my head again, like he did when he was a kitten. He also looks beseechingly into my face, looking for answers. And he has been very hungry. Do cats eat emotionally?

Little Dodge, whose birthday was yesterday – I gave him my much-loved American grandfather’s birthday, May 11 – is enjoying the mess very much, thank you. For Dodge, it’s a great opportunity to play with paper, jump into boxes, and explore shelves and corners revealed by things being moved. Having said that, Dodge has started sleeping on my pillow at night, like my wonderful old cat Buddy used to do, so maybe he needs some comforting too.

Audrey has taken to sitting on the very top shelf in the studio. I have put a folded up blanket there for her, and she loves it. It’s the perfect place to sit and despise everyone and all the manual labor going on. Her food and water are on the shelf below, so she can avoid the boys. She appears to be completely unmoved by the whole thing. To be fair, she has moved a couple of times in her life, so she is a veteran at this.

I am hoping to give the new landlord a check on Monday and get an official move date. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A little garden-inspired road trip.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The beginning of the great bathroom remodel adventure.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ah, the annual optical adjustment from hockey to baseball.

BBQ

I was so busy packing and throwing things out on Saturday that I completely forgot about the Kentucky Derby. Can you believe it? Proof, if any were needed, that the stress and manual labor of moving prep has completely taken over both of my brain cells. It’s the first time I have missed it in years. Not only did I miss seeing what Dannielynn was wearing in her tenth year on the red carpet, I also missed the first time the first horse to cross the finish line was disqualified, apparently due to “interference” on the home stretch. This historic decision cleared the way for the winner Country House, whose odds of winning were 65 to 1. Some nice payoffs there*.

By the time I emerged from my dusty and depressing moving frenzy, it was time to head over to Rio’s place for the first BBQ of the season. It seemed a bit overdue, considering it was already May.

Arriving at Rio’s place, I found our dear friend Clayton, painter at large and fellow cider presser, along with our dear Lu, my siblings and Jonathan’s buddy Rich with his wife and daughter. Clayton was lending an expert hand converting part of the cider making shed into a guest room. Rio has four children and three grandchildren so far, so company is definitely a consideration.

Jonathan manned the grill expertly, while grousing humorously about those of us who preferred turkey burgers to “real” burgers. His view is that it should be real burgers or nothing. Fortunately he decided to overlook our unreasonableness this time.

The burgers were accompanied by a lovely salad:

And followed by angel food cake with sliced strawberries, accompanied by pacheco berry and strawberry sorbets:

Both sorbets were made by my brother from fruit we picked and froze last summer. Pacheco berries are also called ground cherries and are a member of the tomatillo family. They taste something like cantaloupe, but with a vegetal undertone. We all loved it.

Lu said that she has a big truck and a big cart like the one my brother has, which is five feet by 7 feet. She also has a hand truck to help haul things. Having two carts and an extra set of hands will be a real help. I am so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends!

The longest odds winner was Donerail, ridden by the delightfully named jockey Roscoe Goose in 1913 at 91 to 1 odds. Of course I have a soft spot for all Roscoes.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner with the girls. One of us is a grandmother now! (Hint: It’s not Me.)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shopping for the garden, accompanied by the very popular Stella.

TEN YEARS AGO: Adventures in making dinner.

Change

It’s not exactly official! I’m moving!

I have been looking for a new place since last August. There’s not a lot of houses for rent around here, and my specifications (not in town, no visible neighbors, preferably Hooterville, not in the fog) winnowed the short supply down even further. I found the new house on the local message boards. The rent is about the same as my current house, but the house is newer and nicer. It also has character and architectural details, being a working water tower:

and having beams made of old growth redwood:

There is a kitchen with more than three feet of counter space:

And a spacious bathroom with an actual bathtub! Lush, here I come!

The bedroom is lovely and has – get ready, folks – a closet! No more storing my clothes under the bed!

It is located on a different ridge in Hooterville, also about five miles inland. The landlord has owned the property for about 30 years. She and her son also live on the property, but I can’t see their houses from my new house. She built my new house herself, even milling the wood herself. She owns a business in the Village and works 6 days a week, so it’s been challenging to catch up with her and figure out the formalities, like getting something signed (if there is something to sign), giving her a check, and figuring out when I can move in.

It was hard to tell Mark I am leaving after ten years, but it hasn’t been the same since he left and there has also been too much weirdness. It will be the first time a member of my family hasn’t lived on the property in 25 years! We have had a lot of joyful times here, and I love my quirky old house. But it’s time for a new chapter.

A YEAR AGO: Let tourist season begin! Again!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of Covered California. Just thinking about how expensive and crappy it was still makes my blood boil.

TEN YEARS AGO: the many joys of old movies.