Just look at me!

Mostly, you know, Dodge is like a little angel. He is super affectionate, jumping against my legs asking to be petted – I am so glad he kept that endearing quirk – or pushing his head against me, purring loudly. If you have hands, you should be using them to pet him, is his general view.

He loves to play with Clyde, and Clyde is always glad to cuddle with Dodge or play with him. They enjoy lounging in the sunshine together.

And of course, he is incredibly beautiful. The Medical Director at work often stops by my office to ask how Dodge is.

Pretty much everyone loves Dodge except Audrey, and she has good reason to hate this handsome young interloper.

Dodge has an unfortunate penchant for chasing Audrey. The kindest interpretation of this is that he wants her to play with him, but I suspect he is just messing with her. Maybe because she’s old and more fragile than he is, or maybe he wants to stake a claim on his territory. Who knows?

Whatever his motivation, I am continually shooing him away from her. And for Audrey’s part, she growls whenever she sees him. If she is sitting next to me on the bed and he is at the foot of it, she keeps up a low-grade growl, letting everyone know of her displeasure with his existence.

Not that it deters Dodge any.

So lately I have let her outside on the rare occasions I am home, to give her a break from her hated roommate. Mostly, she sits on the porch and enjoys being in a Dodge-free zone. But on Sunday, I heard the unmistakable noise of an impending cat fight. Audrey and my landlord’s cat Kiki were squaring off on the driveway.

The last thing I need is for one of my cats to injure Danielle’s cat, especially after all the drama we went through, so I scooped Audrey up and brought her inside, where the growling did not abate. I was lucky I could catch her and hold her. Although she is feather light, she is strong and determined.

So, I’m thinking no more outside for Audrey, though it will undoubtedly be a battle of wills. I almost never win those when it comes to Audrey.

A YEAR AGO: Getting to know my new neighborhood.

FIVE YEARS AGO: How to manage working six days a week. I did that for a long time.

TEN YEARS AGO: Watching lots of girl movies while my sister recovered from knee surgery.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Remembering Nana on her birthday.


Sometimes you just want someone else to cook for you. And more importantly, clean up after both the cooking and the eating. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather cook three meals than clean up after one. This may have something to do with the fact that the only dishwasher I have ever had was Me.

When John and I were selling our apartment in San Francisco, the girl who ended up buying it complained bitterly that there was no dishwasher. I seem to remember she also complained that the height of the 1920s-era counters were not high enough to install one, either*.

When I was a kid, dishwashing also included drying and putting away, in addition to wiping off counters, putting away placemats and napkins, and wiping the table. Now, I tend to leave the dishes in the drainer, though I do all the other things, despite telling myself that when I grew up, I would do none of those things. My childhood self might also be appalled and annoyed to learn that I still make my bed before going to work and lay out my clothes the night before, since I also decided I would not do that when I was (allegedly) a grown up and could (allegedly) do whatever I wanted.

Little did child Suzy know…

But one thing the present day Suzy could do was go to Queenie’s for a breakfast made by, and fit for, a queen. Not to mention cleaned up by the queen’s courtiers. I sat outside on the wooden deck and enjoyed the view:

while breakfast was being made. It was worth the wait:

That’s freshly-squeezed orange juice, a waffle, real maple syrup (accept no substitutes!) and chicken-apple sausage from Roundman’s Smokehouse. It was so nice to have breakfast across the street from the ocean, sitting in the sunshine.

And no dishes to do afterwards.

*She solved this “problem” by making the kitchen into a second bedroom and part of the living/dining room into a boring stainless steel kitchen. Undoubtedly, there is a dishwasher in my old living room now.

A YEAR AGO: Vanquishing the mess from the move. Things look pretty much the same, though I did get a bigger area rug. I still love this house and can still hardly believe I live here.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Kalli’s birthday camping party. So fun!

TEN YEARS AGO: Marilyn’s house was up for sale.


When Megan and Rob first moved onto the family estate, I thought the space they had marked out for their backyard was huge. How could they need all that space? And it all had to be fenced, which is not an inexpensive undertaking, especially if you do It in a way to deter most deer and rabbits.

Fortunately, fencing, like the installation of the shade sails, is a one-time expense. And it’s worth it to keep some animals out and others in. For example, Megan and Rob recently had to go to the county seat, which takes most of a day, and they left their door open and the garden gate closed, so Star and Stella could hang out inside on the couch or outside on their special beds, sunning and shading to their hearts’ content in total safety. Much better than being stuck in the car all day, especially since it was over 100 that day in the county seat and probably about 80 at home.

Over time, they have added to the space, with plants like Erica’s beautiful rose:

And more recently, the shade sails, a necessity when you live on the Sunstroke Savanna.

Rob has made his mark on the place, with his beautiful artwork. I love the swallows:

And the tentacles of a creature apparently living below the earth:

Not to mention the gigantic lizard:

I remember Megan telling me that there was a lizard taking up most of her table earlier this year, and I can see why.

Rob also created a kinetic sculpture on the gate, because that’s how he rolls:

I said it was something like a weathervane, and Rob attempted to explain to me why it wasn’t, but my two brain cells were not up to the science-y challenge. They rarely are.

It’s been fun to watch the evolution of the place as it becomes more and more like home for Megan and Rob.

A YEAR AGO: I was pretty busy.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The graceful and athletic Roscoe. I will never stop missing him.

TEN YEARS AGO: A visit from Jessica. I will never stop missing her, either, though she is alive and well and thriving in Portland with her mother.

TEN YEARS AGO: Dog fights and car thieves. You know, the usual.


I tend to be technology resistant.

The polar opposite of the people who wait in line overnight for the latest iPhone, I tend to use things until they no longer work. I view software updates with suspicion, knowing that good rarely (if ever) comes of them. I used my old iPhone 5S until it no longer held a charge and exasperated my sister so much that she bought me a refurbished 7, along with screen protector and case. I am writing this on a MacBook Pro hailing from 2012, and the iPod I listen to during my daily commute is more than 10 years old:

I think it’s really cute, and I dread the day it gives up the iGhost and I have to buy a new one, since they are so hideous and giant now. It seems all you can get is the “Touch” ones. I just want the tiny, sparkly, jewel-like one I have, which only plays music and looks cute doing it. Is that too much to ask?

So you probably won’t be surprised that I didn’t embrace the Kindle’s appearance in my life. I named it Ethel, a nice, old-fashioned name for a 21st century device, and wasted no time in getting rid of the obnoxious and ubiquitous ads, which were not less annoying because they were in black and white.

Over time, I began to appreciate Ethel’s good qualities, like her lightness in my handbag so I could read at lunch time, and her lit screen so I could read in bed without the light on. A lot of the books I wanted from the library were not available in Ethel format, though.

One day this week, one of the receptionists at work called me to say someone had dropped something off for me. I was delighted by this mini mystery, especially since it arrived in a plain brown bag. Inside, I found two library books, including the excellent Eight Perfect Mysteries, delivered by the kind-hearted local librarian. Finally: a perk of being the library board president!

Just a couple of days later, My good friend Erin dropped off a couple of books for me which she had really enjoyed. Desk side book delivery, twice in one week! You have to love that.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A South Coast adventure.

TEN YEARS AGO: Knee surgery for my brave little sis.


I often call the family estate The Sunstroke Savanna. There is basically no shade, and it’s hotter than that it was at my old house (a mere quarter mile away) or my new one (about 12 miles away, but still in Hooterville). As is the California way, it is also significantly colder there in the winter than it is or was at either of my houses. I would often go over there in the winter to find a hard frost or ice when there was none at my house.

Megan and Rob decided that they needed some shade at their place. They bought some shade sails to go in their capacious back yard:

Megan said that when she ordered the shade sails, he didn’t think about how she would hang them up. The answer was that Rob cemented in poles and strung the sails on wires. In fact, he was shopping for these supplies when his car broke down and he needed rescuing a couple of weeks ago. So everything is built Rob tough. Of course the sails will come down for the winter.

Megan is hoping to put in some plants that will twine around the poles and make them look prettier, especially when the sails are down. Plans are also afoot to put up fairy lights and add some movable curtains on the west side to shield us from the hottest rays of the sun on the hottest days.

There are already lounge chairs for humans, and more importantly, lounge beds for Star and Stella. Things are looking beautiful and everyone is enjoying the shade, from the dogs to the humans (and back again).

FIVE YEARS AGO: A surprise shower.

TEN YEARS AGO: Painting the old house.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some random wit.


July 1 marked Megan and Rob’s 29th anniversary! Here they are on the big day, with a beaming Dad:

I realize that Dad was around the same age then as I am now. How did that happen?

Megan and Rob were married at our godparents’ house in San Francisco by a Justice of the Peace. Dad and I both had concerns about Megan getting married so young. She turned 20 just a few weeks before the wedding, and Rob was seven years older. Rob has been our brother’s best friend since they were nine years old, so Megan knew him most of her life. But your baby sister or youngest child getting married when barely out of her teens would give many people pause.

Megan has always known her own mind, ever since she was a baby, so it shouldn’t really be a surprise that she and Rob are still married.

At the time they were married, they lived on a little sailboat at Pier 39. Then they moved to their teeny house in Hooterville, and finally to the family estate, where they and Jonathan live. When they still lived in the teeny house, they had our dying mother living with them for several years, including stints with her hospital bed taking up most of the living room. Rob made changes to the house to make Mom more comfortable, and visited her in the hospital. He never complained about having his admittedly difficult and very ill mother-in-law living with him for so long in such a small space.

Megan and Rob have been through a lot over the nearly three decades they have
been married. Megan says that when things get hard, she and Rob just take each other’s hands and walk through it together. I would say they probably love each other more deeply and truly today than they did on the starry-eyed day when they took their vows. I am so glad they found each other and stayed together all these years. Here’s to the next 29 years and all the adventures still ahead!

A YEAR AGO: The wonders of Flynn Creek Circus.

FIVE YEARS AGO: What do mysterious runes and my handwriting have in common? And is Erica a magician?

TEN YEARS AGO: Unfortunately, some things never change.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: In case you ever wondered, hospitals are not at all like spas.


Happy Fourth!

My English father used to say that England should really the be one to celebrate the Fourth of July. After all, they were finally free of America and all its problems, which have not diminished in the two centuries since we became independent. I often wonder what Dad would think of the things that have happened in this country in the nearly 20 (!) years since we lost him.

My American mother’s ancestors arrived in Massachusetts more than a century before this was a country, building a house in 1641 which still stands today as the oldest wooden frame house in the country. Perhaps it’s fitting that the land where my childhood home was built was given to a Revolutionary War soldier in compensation for his service.

My brother is named Jonathan, for the first Fairbanks to land in what would one day be America. Both the original Jonathan and the current one have enjoyed making trouble in their own ways. Rumor has it that Original got in trouble for wearing silver buckles on his shoes, something frowned on by his Puritan neighbors. Current once motorized our sister’s tricycle and encouraged her to ride it. She and the enhanced form of transportation both ended up in the neighbor’s pool. The neighbors, who had to drain and clean their pool, took it better than our parents did. Megan, the one-time tricycle driver without a license, has Fairbanks as her middle name. So the legacy lives on.

Today I celebrate both sides of my heritage. Happy Independence Day!

A YEAR AGO: Earthquakes and foxes.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An alarming and mysterious smell at Stately Suzy Manor. I am afraid to tell you what the belatedly discovered cause was.

TEN YEARS AGO: File under miscellaneous.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: I always love tales from the ambulance.