Off

I gave myself the gift of an extra long weekend by taking the Friday and Tuesday off around Labor Day. Five glorious days of not getting up in the dark and driving to work in the glare of oncoming traffic (I’m already tired of it, and it’s barely September) or putting on faux adult armor. Yess!

I slept in until after daybreak on Friday, aided in my slothitude by the cats, who are always up for a day of underachieving. Dodge slept against my legs – he always has to be touching me when he sleeps – Clyde was cuddled up to me, and Audrey was glaring from my pillows, hating the Whos from the top of Mount Crumpet.

I realized that I would be able to attend the Farmers’ Market in the Village, which is only open for a couple of hours and only on Fridays in the summer. I took an unnecessarily long shower, enjoying the rain shower showerhead and the lack of hurry. I did not apply makeup or hair products or blow dry my hair, and left the house with my hair wet, heedless of who I might meet in my unadorned state (spoiler alert: I actually did not meet anyone I knew. Bonus!).

It was a beautiful day, bright with sunshine but not hot, even at my house, and with a nice little breeze. Arriving at the Village, I found a parking spot just steps from the market:

One thing about my siblings having such an epic garden is that they basically already grow everything you can buy in a local farmers’ market. But it was nice to wander in the sunshine, taste olive oil, and other people’s fruit and vegetables. I did buy some sausage and plum jam with cardamom from Petit Teton, located in beautiful Anderson Valley:

as well as some lemongrass cocktail mix for later.

Conveniently for me, the two hours the market was open coincided neatly with the three hours the wood-fired brick oven pizza place is open:

There were some interesting choices:

but this time, I had to try the spicy salami. It was fantastic:

Megan and I are plotting a girl night starring that pizza, some wine, and silly movies if/when our schedules ever allow.

Back home, I made some delightful cocktails with the lemongrass cocktail mix and some sparkling pink wine:

Here’s to an extra-long weekend!

A YEAR AGO: Welcome home, little Dodge! What did we ever do without you?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shopping for doorknobs.

TEN YEARS AGO: I sold my incredible diamond ring. I regret this now. I imagine the people who bought the house I was renting then high and sold it low regret that now, too, especially since it’s now worth $200,000 more than they sold it for.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Yup. I still feel the exact same way about the Olympics and politics.

Cooking

Sometimes when I actually get around to cooking on the weekends, I begin to feel that I may have been overly ambitious in formulating my culinary plans.

Sitting in bed with a cup of coffee and the kitties in various relaxing attitudes, getting up, getting dressed, and starting to cook doesn’t seem all that appealing. Cats are very demotivating.

Most of the time, they just stay in bed while I start cooking and tidying up. Cats quite rightly despise housework and avoid at all costs, wisely leaving it the help.

This weekend, I had the delusion that I could make my own Montreal bagels, despite not having a wood-fired oven and being about 3,000 miles away from Montreal. As I started to assemble the ingredients – one of the drawbacks of my house is that the food is stored in a separate area from the kitchenette – it occurred to me that I could use up some leftover mint and some cucumber by making spa water:

I often have mint left over, and this turned out to be a delicious and refreshing way to use the leftovers.

With spa water at hand and kitties snoring upstairs, I started the bagel construction process. It is lengthy and, to be honest with you, something of a hassle. I used this recipe from the New York Times, and the irony was not lost on me, since Montreal bagels are a very different style from the bready New York ones. They are mostly hole, resembling a bracelet, and are chewy and slightly sweet from being boiled in honey water, just one part of the lengthy process.

My oven is an overachiever – faithful readers may recall how I inadvertently quick roasted a turkey one Thanksgiving – so I overcooked the bagels a bit. Still, not bad for a first attempt:

The oven was quite busy that day, cooking apple crumble to use up the four or five aging apples in the fruit bowl and my Dad’s honey-mustard chicken. Maybe my underachieving is really overachieving!

A YEAR AGO: Dodge joined the family! I am pleased to report that he is now 100% plush and 100% happy.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Hanging out on the couch.

TEN YEARS AGO: Hating the heat. I always have, and I always will.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A little on the sleepy side.

Drinks

After a week like that, it was time for an adult beverage or two. Or maybe more!

Our friend Monica joined Megan and me at our favorite seaside bar, where we were greeted by the amazing bartender. She had some fresh apricots on hand, so she invented a sort of apricot kamikaze, muddling fresh apricots with lime juice, vodka, and peach schnapps, and shaking it with ice. It tasted as good as it looked:

Having the drinks in hand softened the blow when she told us that she is moving inland. She will still be bartending here on the coast, but only on Wednesday nights, so we will have to adjust our schedules accordingly. I am really going to miss her. I think she makes that bar and is an integral part of how fun it is to go there.

As usual, it was very busy with a diverse crowd of people. Some clearly visitors, some dressed up for a special occasion dinner, some clearly locals. Everyone from the oldest to the youngest was having a good time.

After the apricot libations, we moved on to the classic cerise noire, where brandy soaked cherries meet black cherry vodka and sparkling wine:

What’s not to love?

The sun slipped toward the ocean as we chatted and caught up. Monica recently won an award for her store window designs, and also has adopted a new dog called Sugar, so there was happy news to toast along with our annual toast to Dad on the eve of the day we lost him, eighteen years ago. Sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday, and sometimes it seems like a million years ago. One thing that never changes is how much I love him and miss him.

ONE YEAR AGO: Much to celebrate on the Evil Eighteenth. And Dad would have enjoyed all of it.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Fate might truly be inescapable.

TEN YEARS AGO: Considering moving to the country. One of the best decisions I ever made. I still love my old house, flaws and all. Isn’t that what love is all about?

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Brought to you by the letter O.

Dark

The Naked Ladies are flaunting their pink, leafless blooms by the side of the road, and you know what that means: high beams have made their unwelcome return to my morning commute. I need a flashlight to get to the car, and I am extra vigilant looking for the wildlife hanging out or meandering on the Ridge in the early morning darkness.

This morning, I wondered what that mysterious light through the trees was. It turned out to be the nearly full moon once I emerged from the redwoods. The moon kept me beaming company all the way down the Ridge and yet was also hanging over the pastel ocean once I arrived there.

It reminded me of when I was a young girl and my mother’s father, the inimitable (and much missed) HoHo, had me convinced that he put the moon up every night, using a long ladder. Once the moon landing happened, I asked him what he did about the astronauts, those men on the moon. He explained that he used a catapult for that. Remembering this half a century later still made me smile as I drove down the beautifully empty highway. Is there anything lovelier than a two lane highway beside the ocean with no other cars in sight on a clear summer morning?

Work has been a crazy thing lately. Or crazier than usual. I worked 35 hours in three days this week, as the Feds examined the operations at the clinic where I work. Weeks of planning, data gathering, and fretting were involved, and there was of course a last minute scramble for documentation, and you know how I love that. In the end, we got 88 out of 93, and have a certain amount of time to fix the 5 things we did not pass. The graders themselves said it was “excellent”, but somehow I just feel let down and not all celebratory like my boss and my coworkers. Maybe because the fix involves having yet another board meeting this month, which means yet another twelve hour day for me.

I have to admit that I’m a bit worn down. I feel like I have been running a marathon. First the move in June, then the dreaded annual staff day and 25th anniversary party in one week in July, then the Feds in August, and now the annual audit is looming in September. I also have to find time to help set up the library’s annual book sale, since I am now the board president, and have been knee deep in dealing with contracts for the library expansion, a thing I know nothing about. Not that this has ever stopped me.

In other library news, yet another board member has passed away, making a total of three this year. To be fair, she was 94, but it’s still a sad loss. She was much loved by the community and still very active on the board. So I am attending her funeral next week and hoping that I will not find myself shoveling dirt onto a coffin again.

I keep thinking, “Once this is over, I can relax”, but it doesn’t seem to work that way.

A YEAR AGO: Yup, the darkness was coming back in. And the new normal does seem to be the norm, since I am sleeping with fans again and can’t remember the last time I didn’t. I miss having the screen door open in the bedroom at the old house. If I have the windows open here, Dodge pushes the screens out.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Under construction!

TEN YEARS AGO: The sudden, unheralded appearance of my landlords. Yet another good reason to move.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Summering in the Hamptons, darling!

Movie

It’s been a long time since I went to the movies. I wanted to see Rocketman, but unless it’s a Harry Potter movie or a blockbuster action movie, movies are only at the local theater for a week, and it’s often hard to fit it into my schedule, what with meetings at work and the library and other obligations. So I missed that one, but I was determined to see the new Tarantino movie.

I planned carefully and was able to escape work in time to attend the 4:30 showing of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, along with maybe a dozen other people. Because this town is so small, I knew at least one of them, and had in fact recently given her a ride home when she locked her keys in her car at the gas station so she could pick up her spare set of keys, and then drove her back to the gas station. I waited to make sure that her car started and she drove off before I headed back to work that day.

I enjoyed the movie very much. It looked beautiful, wonderful shots of vintage Los Angeles (inside and out) and car porn galore. I loved the relationship between Brad Pitt and Leonardo Di Caprio. I also enjoyed how they made fun of themselves and did not take themselves seriously despite their remarkable beauty.

Speaking of beauty, Margot Robbie did not look like Sharon Tate, and indeed when you see footage of a film with the actual Sharon Tate within this movie, you are amazed by how exquisite (and funny) she was. To be fair, she was one of the most beautiful women who ever lived, so it’s a pretty high bar for any actress.

I liked Tarantino’s willingness to subvert expectations, though many have objected to this. And yes, there is gore and violence, because it is, after all, a Tarantino movie. My one objection is the depiction of Pitt’s pit bull as a deadly attack dog. I am the proud aunt of two pit bulls and know that theirs is a loving breed, the polar opposite of how they are depicted in the media, including this movie, and it concerns me that it may give uneducated viewers the belief that these are dangerous dogs. Having said that, I’m glad that the dog survived, since most dogs in movies do not, no matter what their breed is. All in all, I enjoyed it very much and I hope you do, too.

A YEAR AGO: Working on Megan and Rob’s move.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob the handyman strikes again.

TEN YEARS AGO: The horrors of summer. Some things never change…

Neighborly

I had a fun Sunday without ever leaving Hooterville. I drove down my current Ridge a few miles to the Grange, where there is a pancake breakfast once a month. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful setting:

Inside, it was packed with neighbors, some known to me (Doug from the good old days at the Gro – he does not miss the store – and the lady who does wildlife rescue) and others unknown (pretty much everyone else). I noticed that all ages were well represented at the long tables in the hall, though the servers and cooks were definitely what the French call “of a certain age”. I have to wonder if succeeding generations will be as interested in community service as this generation is, and if this kind of community event will eventually become a thing of the past.

I pulled up a chair and was served with a Dixie cup (They still make Dixie cups! Who knew?) of orange juice and gave my order to the genial, aproned waitress. I could have had coffee, but as you all know, I only have my one cup a day and always before I leave the house. I am mystified by people who can get themselves together and dressed and actually drive to their workplace without benefit of caffeine.

I had fluffy pancakes with homemade berry syrup:

And they were delicious! I could also have had ham and eggs with it, and all of it was all you can eat. For $8! The proceeds go to help the local volunteer fire department, which was another plus in a series of pluses. It was like stepping back in time there, and I really enjoyed that feeling. It may have been my first visit to the Grange, but it won’t be the last.

Back at home, I was watching the Blue Jays game when I got a text from Dave and Jennifer, inviting me to a BBQ that evening. Even though it was a school night, I was happy to say yes and head over to the family estate.

This time, I kept going, all the way down to Dave and Jennifer’s place at the very end, making sure to close the gate behind me so the horses and ponies could not escape. It had been a while since I was there, and there were improvements to see, such as solar panels and an outdoor shower. Now that Dave has retired from his job working for the City of San Francisco, they are going to start building their house. They are also planning to sell their house in Grass Valley, so they have a lot on their plates.

We all had a lot on our plates: Dave barbecued marinated pork and salmon he and Jennifer had just caught, and served it up with salad, garlic bread, grilled vegetables, and wild rice. All this was topped off with tarts my brother made from raspberries he had picked that day. Joining us for dinner were our good friend Lu, Megan, Rob, Jonathan, Rio, and Dave and Jennifer’s former neighbors from Grass Valley, Stephanie and Peter. Stephanie and Peter originally hailed from Manchester, but have lived in many places. Peter was in television engineering and holds several patents, while Stephanie was a nurse, mostly in the ER, giving her lots in common with Lu and Megan. We had such a good time talking that I got to bed much later than I intended, but it was a day full of happiness.

A YEAR AGO: Megan and Rob moved onto the property. It was never the same without them, and eventually I moved too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A day full of surprises.

TEN YEARS AGO: No matter who the kitties are, they are always naughty. Audrey’s fondness for chicken has no diminished over the past decade. I found her nibbling on a cooked chicken breast cooling on the counter this week.