Off

There’s finally a nip in the air, and I no longer have the fan on in the bedroom at night. In fact, there was a frost warning for the coast and a hard freeze warning inland overnight. The warnings didn’t stop there. Our frenemies at PG&E once again announced that they were planning to cut off power again, just like they did around this time last year.

This time, just like the last time, there wasn’t a breath of wind on the coast and it was chilly, despite the forecast “wind event” and “extremely high temperatures”. At least this time, they only shut off some of the high risk inland areas instead of plunging our entire county into darkness. Even though we only have about 90,000 people, our county is the size of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, a large area. And the inland part is very different from the coast in weather and terrain. Fire risk is much higher inland, with its routine triple digit temperatures in the summer versus the coast’s typical 60-65 degrees.

With power at my disposal* over the weekend, I did some project cooking, which was like a little armchair (or ovenside) trip to distant and cosmopolitan Montreal. I made a tourti?re, using a recipe our beloved Ben (born and raised in Montreal) sent me:

And a batch of Montreal-style bagels. They look pretty convincing to me, despite hailing from 3,000 miles away, the wrong country, and not having a wood-fired brick oven:

My boss loves them, so it was nice to bring her some when I headed back to work.

I had originally planned to take a mini trip to Anderson Valley since the weather had finally cooled off, but when the time came, I found I really just wanted to enjoy the small pleasures at home, like sleeping in until it’s light out, drinking coffee in bed with all three cats, and doing some cooking. It was so fun that I’m planning to take this Friday off, too.

*Although it’s a gas oven, powered by platinum propane, it needs electricity to start. The same goes for the only source of heat for the house. See a theme (and a problem) here, in a place where it’s “when” not “if” the power will go out?

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Food Fairy stopped by, bearing a wide array of canned goods.

TEN YEARS AGO: Cold and rainy.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Interesting times in the building I lived in back then, a suitably seasonal Victorian coffin factory.

Kittens


Willow and her babies

Dear Reader,

I realize that I have been holding out on you. I have access to nearly unparalleled kitten cuteness, but yet have not shared it. I hope you can forgive this shocking oversight.

You may remember that when John and I were married, we disagreed slightly on the correct amount of cats for our household. My number was around the 2 range, and his was more like 8 is almost enough. We compromised at 4. Now that we have our own households, we have stayed true to our individual beliefs. I have three*, and he has…well, I’m not exactly sure, but I think it’s around the 6-8 mark. He takes excellent care of them and they are well and happy.

He also looks after the neighborhood strays, trapping them to get them spayed and neutered and finding homes (other than his) where possible, in addition to supplying food, water, and home-made shelters for the strays who live in a colony near the Home Depot in his city.

He recently came across a pregnant young cat, and earned her trust enough to catch her and take her home. She was examined by John’s vet, who opined that the babies would come along soon. John was always a bit envious that I was there when Buddy was born, saw his first breath (and his last – the whole wonderful journey), so he was pretty excited about seeing the kittens arrive, which two did in due course.

He was concerned about the mom cat, who he had named Willow, and correctly so, since Willow had two babies still inside her which hadn’t made it and had to be surgically removed. They spayed Willow while they were at it, and that tough little lady nursed her two beautiful little kittens despite her surgical scars, as you can see here. She is a good mother, and the vet estimates her to be about two years old, so this is likely not her first litter, though thankfully it is her last.

John decided to keep Willow, though he claims he is going to get the babies adopted when they are old enough. I named the dark, stripy one Daisy, and she seems to be the bolder of the two, and he named Peach, who is lighter in color and more playful. I pointed out that the names have a botanical theme, and that the kittens’ names are old-fashioned slang for cute and/or awesome.

So without further ado, here are some kitten movies and pictures to make your day.

John says Willow turns into “super protective demon Mom” when he changes the towels in the nest and is a formidable opponent:

Here’s Peach, playing for the first time.

And here’s Daisy sleeping while Peach plays. Daisy sleeping is quite possibly the cutest thing on earth.

*Can you blame me? You’ve seen how irresistible Dodge is!

A YEAR AGO: Marking a decade in Hooterville.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A BBQ with an old friend and up close and personal with my old friend the Moon.

TEN YEARS AGO: A less than stellar day.

Encore

Endless summer continues. I guess that’s what endless things do, and its key to endlessness that you keep on keeping on. It’s still around 70 at the ocean, 10-15 degrees warmer than it should be, and in the 80s at Chez Suzy, where I personally would prefer that it never went above 70, or 75 at the outside limit of endurance.

I realize this probably sounds pretty good to those of you who are already bundling up and staring down the barrel of six months or more of winter. You might be both surprised and envious that I had the air conditioning on in the car on the way home from work this week. It does cool off in the evenings and at night. It’s probably around 50 degrees when I head to the car to go to work, checking for signs of the Bear’s having paid me a secret overnight visit (and glad when he hasn’t, since those visits tend to be messy and more enjoyable for my ursine caller than for me). When I walk to the car in the mornings, everything is still but the crickets and sometimes a neighboring rooster. The stars and planets are blazing in the clear, dark, sky, and I have to stop and enjoy the stillness and the glory before getting on with my day.

One day last week included a visit to the dentist. It seems that a piece of my tooth came off – without my noticing – and an ancient silver filling was now exposed. Happily, it didn’t hurt, but unhappily, I am facing yet another coronation. One was enough for the Queen, but apparently three time’s the charm for me. I hope this is the last time I have to face this expensive and unenjoyable procedure. At least I don’t need a root canal this time (as far as I know). Apparently, they now put in the permanent crown the first time, instead of making you get a temporary and then come back for another appointment to get the permanent one. The downside of this is that the appointment will take an hour and a half, which I think we can all agree is a long time to sit in a place no-one ever wants to be.

That hour and a half will cost me around $700, even though I have insurance. I will be able to pay it off in three installments instead of all at once, which is a big help. I was so taken aback by the crown diagnosis that I forgot to ask them for what my stepmother used to refer to as “tablets”, her term for Valium and its soothing cousins. Last time after the root canal débâcle, I took a tablet before I went for the crown, but it had the unpleasant effect of making my brain (or its two remaining cells) foggy while my body remained super nervous. So I’m not sure if I really want to try that again, or if it will be much worse without it. I have a month to figure it out, since the fateful day is November 23, unless my injured tooth starts complaining.

In the meantime, I’ll do some complaining: Why can’t I have a tiara instead of a crown?

A YEAR AGO: Even buying a couch cushion can be a thrilling adventure if I’m involved.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Vertigo, and not the fun, Hitchcock kind, either.

TEN YEARS AGO: I was super helpful.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Wildlife, even in the heart of the city.

Visit

One good thing about seemingly endless summer – not, I hasten to add, the upcoming forecast* – and keep in mind, these are coastal temperatures, so add 15 degrees for my house:

– is that it does make it possible to sit outside, even with only two months of the year left and the current month being well past the autumn solstice. Trees are not bursting into color here, though the vines that escaped the fires are, and apples are ripe in the family orchard. That woodsmoke smell is more likely to be wildfires than keeping the home fires burning. We aren’t embracing the woolen wear and pumpkin spice that much of the country is. I personally am dreading yet another heat wave, with ominous threats of record-breaking heat. “Sweater weather” has a whole different meaning here.

But the unseasonable temperatures do mean that I could join my friend for a drink at her lovely little house. I hadn’t been there since she first moved in, so we were overdue for a visit. It is a charming home, probably built in the 1920s, with a sort of Craftsman cottage feel. It is likely all redwood, and old redwood at that, though much of it is painted, making everything lighter and brighter. The dining room still has the redwood paneling and built ins. There is an actual mud room, something that is common back east (like window screens and insulation), but not so common here in California. It makes sense to take off our muddy boots in the winter, especially when, as at my friend’s house, the washer and dryer are right there.

No boots or mud were to be seen that day. My friend M is an excellent hostess, bringing a tray of nibbles along with a bottle of chilled rosé out to her porch, where we spent a delightful couple of hours together. She lives in the Big Town, so there was the novelty of sidewalks, people walking down the street, and even street lights. Imagine!

On the way home. I stopped in at Luna Trattoria, where I was greeted by a very friendly young cat:

He was soft and even allowed me to pick him up after twining himself around my legs. He clearly lives nearby, since he looks quite healthy and well cared for.

I got some of their wonderful penne alla vodka to take home. I have tried unsuccessfully to reproduce it at home. I think part of this is due to the high quality, chunky pancetta and some of it because they make their own pasta. Sometimes it’s good to just stand back and let the experts take over.

All in all, it was a lovely evening, and one I hope to repeat soon.

*There seems to be as little accountability as a weather prognosticator as there is in the highest office in the land. When I was a kid, I thought the weather reporters ordered the weather, like food off a menu. “I’ll have some partly sunny skies with a side of early morning fog”. Maybe I was right about that, after all. And while I note that they are often incorrect when calling for rain, they are never, ever wrong when calling for excessive heat. Why is that?

A YEAR AGO: Adventures at the gas station. I’m sorry to say that the Bear is still around and making his/her presence known in a most unsanitary fashion.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spending an evening in town.

TEN YEARS AGO: The elusive Audrey.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: More songs about buildings and boobs.

Warmly

Summer has been holding on longer than I would like, even into October, when others are flaunting their sweater weather and flaming leaves, and here it’s still sweating weather and flaming forest fires. Even at the Coast, it’s been close to 10 degrees warmer than it should be, even on days that start out with heavy fog. Looking into the long-range forecast, I was disheartened to note an 80 degree forecast for later this week, which, let’s be clear, is the middle of October.

What better way to deal with unseasonable and unreasonable temperatures than a drink with your sister at your favorite seaside bar, where there’s always a breeze and it’s always civilized?

I may have had more than one as we sat on the deck and caught up with each other’s news.

Eventually, we went back to Megan and Rob’s place, where we had wine from her friend’s vineyard:

Appropriately enough, the wine was called Gemini, being a mix of Semillon, not commonly seen here, and sauvignon blanc. It was a smooth, slightly floral blend, and enjoyable to drink. The friend has been evacuated twice during the recent fires, and Megan and another friend made a flying visit to see her, bringing food and hugs. It’s good to have friends.

We sat under the shade sails, quite possibly one of the best investments Megan ever made:

as the sunset gave way to moonrise:

Maybe an endless summer isn’t so bad after all.

A YEAR AGO: My adult impersonation now includes giving speeches.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Hanging out with Lichen.

TEN YEARS AGO: A mini adventure for little Clyde.

After


Rob hard at work*

Decanting things from the Closet of Doom has led to the “just moved in” look for my living room, and you know how I love that.

Ignoring the chaos, Rob installed the shelving supports:

And then the shelves themselves:

I can now easily reach the light switch. Rob is planning to install some kind of light switch cover that will work with the new shelving concept, and also one more support for the slope-adjacent shelf.

Here’s a look back toward the awkward part of the closet:

I think I will still store the Christmas ornaments, my Dad’s letters, and my travel journals there, since they do not require frequent access. I have already put out the pumpkins a little early:

Now all I have to do is somehow vanquish the chaos and get everything neatly organized on the shelves. My inner laziness is battling my chaos hatred.

*Dodge is supervising from his favorite spot on the propane heater that looks like a wood stove.

A YEAR AGO: Wildlife invasions, from foxes to bears. Country living! The bear is back at my house.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A weird day, all the way around.