Archive for January, 2021

Deer

Thursday, January 28th, 2021

This morning, I had a magical moment while driving to work in the early morning darkness. As I reached the intersection of the highway and the old Ridge, I saw a magnificent stag standing calmly in the turning lane. He was unafraid of my car lights, and merely inclined his majestic head as I passed, bathed in golden light.

Usually, I worry about hitting a deer while driving, but not this time. It was like I somehow saw a private moment in that deer’s life, and something about the way he was standing in the middle of the road in the darkness made me certain that he would continue on his way, unhurt, wise to the ways of humans.

I am always on the lookout for deer, and am secretly convinced that hitting one with the car is much the same thing as when my siblings lived at Pier 39 and used to say of falling in the water, “There’s them that has and them that will”. In both cases, I remain in the “them that will” category, and in both cases, I fervently hope I remain there.

And much like I was darkly warned about mice years ago. There’s Never Just One. So if a deer meanders across the road, or appears in the headlights, or is hanging out on the side of the road, it’s wise to wait and see if he brought some friends, because the chances are pretty good that he has.

My siblings have a less romantic view of deer than I do. They consider them relentless garden destroyers and have fenced accordingly. I do have a fence around what passes for my garden, but I’m not always conscientious about closing the gate, and my geraniums paid the price. The deer ate all the leaves off of two of them – deer’s lack of temperance when nibbling on the landscape is one of my siblings’ objections to them – and though they are now recovering, I am trying to do better at keeping the gate closed.

The possibly apple or possibly crab apple trees next my house are almost as popular with deer as they are with the Bear. I have seen them leaping up gracefully to capture a piece of fruit, which they then eat daintily. They also have the added virtue of leaving the garbage alone, a trait for which I am grateful.

So I will continue to enjoy the sight of deer wandering down the driveway, and keep an eye out for them when I’m on the road, hopeful that I will never be “one that has.”

A YEAR AGO: Some cancelled plans.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Adventures in cooking.

TEN YEARS AGO: The horror of my longest-time friend’s near-fatal mystery illness. Still so grateful she survived.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Even zombies need credit cards.

Frank

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

They always say that no one is as zealous as a convert, and I think in my ex-husband’s case, that is true.

When we first met, he told me that he did not like cats. My view was that he would have to get used to my cat, Buddy, who was already the man in my life. I happened to be there when Buddy was born, and I fell hopelessly in love with him from his first breath, despite his then somewhat alarming appearance. He later became majestic and regal:

Basically, it was love me, love my cat.

So John, being the nice guy he still is, decided to he would have to endure Buddy’s presence. Little did he suspect that Buddy would become the gateway cat. The first one’s free!

It didn’t take long before John’s disdain for cats turned to love for Buddy in particular, and eventually, to all cat-kind in general. Our opinions diverged on this road at about the 4 cat mark. Despite currently having three cats, I still believe two is the right number. John believes it’s more like a dozen. Since he’s on his own and can please himself, I suspect the number of felines currently residing with him is higher than I would like. He also looks after neighborhood strays.

The most recent stray to cross his path is this charmer, seen here with a grain of rice on his adorable nose after John fed him:

It was pretty much love at first sight for me when John sent me Frank’s photo. John calls him Frank, “because he’s old and has blue eyes”, and despite my earlier stated opinion, I would love to have him join my cat family. Perhaps it’s best for all concerned that this is not possible, but I would dearly love to cuddle Frank and kiss his beautiful scarred ears and head. I have to settle for loving him from afar, but John sends me photos and videos so I can see his progress.

Much like Henry, he seems to have had a tough life and is slow to trust. But I am hopeful that food and affection will make him at least trust John and make his life a little happier.

A YEAR AGO: Good times with good friends.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Salon adventures

TEN YEARS AGO: A happy day, with a cameo from Miss Jessica. I miss her!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Excuses for my absence.

Adventure

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

I had a bit of an adventure getting to work today. As I approached Dark Gulch (a long, yet sharp curve which many drivers underestimate and which is deeply shadowed by tall trees, hence the name), I saw a brightly lit scene with firemen – never a good sign at 6:15 am, or anytime, really. It was my considered opinion that whatever was happening down there was not going to be fixed in time for me to get to work on time.

I turned Wednesday around and hailed the fireman who was controlling the as-yet nonexistent traffic, asking him what was going on. He said a big rig overturned and was leaking fuel. It seemed my original assessment was correct and it would be a while, so I headed back the way I came, toward the Road to Rio’s, just north of the Hooterville Bridge.I realized that I had probably not gone to Rio’s house all of last year. It had definitely been a while. One good thing about driving in the dark that early in the morning is that you can drive down the middle of the narrow, winding, steep road with impunity. If there’s oncoming traffic, the headlights will warn you.

The road seemed much longer than I remembered, and since it was unfamiliar, with trees looming over it, it felt a little creepy, too, like the setting of Stephen King story. Little did our heroine suspect that an unexpected detour would send her face to face with…murder! Of course it didn’t, but I was glad to see the lights of the Little River airport (it’s very small and only for private planes), knowing that I could soon turn left at the Y in the road and start following it to where the road meets the highway at the scenic cemetery.

I felt like I had spent a long time driving over the river and through the woods, but I still made it to work by 7:00 am. A small victory!

A YEAR AGO: Enjoying a play and other delights.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Things were in flux at work.

TEN YEARS AGO: Who doesn’t need a Hello Kitty bag?

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A delightful visit to my beloved friend K’s gracious oasis. Those were the days!

Virtually

Friday, January 15th, 2021

The library board’s annual meeting falls on the second Saturday in January. I’m not sure how or why this was decided, but presumably the decision was made by persons who do not live in Hooterville, do not work full time in the Big Town and do not drive 250 miles a week to do so. Pretty much the last thing I want to do on any given Saturday is get in the car and trek to the Big Town, especially if I am required to give a speech, which I am at the annual meeting.

Others may not agree with me, but I was glad to do the annual meeting by Zoom, since I didn’t need to leave home. Despite having to appear on camera – it is basically impossible to run a meeting by phone – I didn’t bother with make-up, and I wore regular weekend clothes. The library board is used to seeing me in full faux adult armor, since I either go to the meeting from work or Zoom from my office.

No one commented on my relaxed look – I did brush my hair! – and I did the Zoom meeting outside on the deck in the full glare of the sun that day, since the boys were doing something noisy inside. The only outlet on the back porch is located in a place where I had to sit facing the sun. I was so suffused with sunlight that my features were basically indistinguishable, which was fine with me.

After two years as the board president, I decided it was time to step down from my lofty office. They had never had a board president who worked full time before, and I’m here to say there’s a reason for that. It was too much responsibility on top of my demanding job, which has only grown more demanding lately*. I also think two years is a long enough term, though there are no term limits. A project for this year is revising and updating the bylaws, and perhaps this is one of the items that could be included.

I felt that I left on a high note. We had finally gotten the decrepit house next door torn down to make way for eventual expansion of the library. The demolition included salvage of some first growth redwood which can be used in the new building, and the project was handled sensitively and well by a local craftsman. On the last day of the old year, I received word that the library was the beneficiary of a patron’s estate to the astonishing tune of $470,000, a wonderful way to end the old year and start the new.

I will stay on the board but will be glad of the reduced time and duties needed. As when reading a good book, I am looking forward to what happens next.

*The finance person at work recently told me that I worked more hours last year than any other hourly employee, so I’m not imagining this.

A YEAR AGO: An in person annual meeting at the library.

FIVE YEARS AGO: I wouldn’t be Me if I weren’t having car trouble.

TEN YEARS AGO: A beautiful day.

Visitor

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Lately Danielle’s cat Kiki has been around more, often in the early morning darkness, which does a creditable job of impersonating midnight. Her white fur shows up against the darkness as she slinks around from the front door to the side deck off the kitchen to the back door.

I’m not sure if her visits are because Danielle is in Hawaii and she is lonely, but I always wish I could pet her. I don’t want to encourage her visits, since I’m always afraid that one of my cats will get into a fight with Kiki. After persuading Danielle to let me keep my cats, it might be hard to get her forgiveness if one of my cats scratched her cat. The time that Audrey escaped, I narrowly averted a catfight by removing Audrey from the scene. My next-door neighbor (and Danielle’s son) Alex told me that Dodge had wandered over the last time he got out and Alex shooed him away to avoid a fight.

I think Dodge is still interested in the fight, though. Whenever Kiki appears, he is the first to run to the door where she is. This morning, they were growling and at each other and basically fighting through the glass. They fought through the kitchen window screen so much that the screen was destroyed (Rob just hauled the sad remains to the dump last weekend). At some point, I will have to replace it. I am hoping that Rob’s Robness will come up with window screens that are Dodge and Kiki proof. It would be great if so. I’d love to be able to open the bedroom windows on summer nights once things have cooled down, knowing that Dodge could not tear the screen out and jump down. It may be a lot to ask, even for Rob.

I wonder if Dodge is just more territorial from living on the mean streets of the Big Town. Or maybe it’s just his youth and nature? I’ll never know, but I will have to be extra careful to keep him as far away from Kiki as possible, even when she stops by for a visit.

A YEAR AGO: Assuming office is not without its challenges.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lots of travel for Megan and Rob. So far, he has managed to avoid more surgery.

TEN YEARS AGO: There’s always something blooming in and around Hooterville.

Drive

Thursday, January 7th, 2021

Most of the year, I set off for work in the darkness. There might be three months or so when this is not the case. If you don’t live in the country, it will be hard for you to understand how very dark the darkness is. There is no ambient light, so the stars, moon, and planets blaze in the black sky. If there’s no fog and a full moon, when I arrive at the junction of work (the highway) and home (the Ridge), where I first see the ocean, there is a glorious silver trail of moonlight across the dark water, a sight I never get tired of seeing.

Between the reflective paint and the cats’ eyes on the highway, the first of the nine bridges I cross to get to work looks like an airport runway. I am always surprised by how much traffic is heading south, away from the Big Town. Where are they going? To Santa Rosa? To the City? I am often the only car heading to the Big Town in the morning, sometimes until I reach the outskirts of the Village or even the town itself. To be fair, I leave the house somewhere around 6 am on work days.

Crossing the Big River bridge, with its long curve, I always breathe in and try to take in its special energy. There’s something magical about that place, an estuary where the river meets the ocean. It’s so beautiful.

As I approach the Village, I can see the flash of the lighthouse at Point Cabrillo, site of the wreck of the Frolic in 1850, which led to the settlement of the area as scavengers searched for the ship’s rich cargo, but discovered redwoods instead, the beginning of the area’s settlement and the beginning of the lumber business that is still economically important. The lighthouse was later immortalized in the delightful movie The Majestic. You can still tour the lighthouse’s magnificent Fresnel lens a couple of times a year, and the lighthouse pretty much any day. It’s worth a visit.

Recently, I realized that going to work in the darkness isn’t really anything new for me. When I lived in the City, I worked market hours, which meant getting to work when the New York Stock Exchange opened, at 6 am Pacific time. I walked from my Jazz Age condo in Pacific Heights to my sky high office building in the Financial District. To get there, I walked through the Tenderloin, which is still, in this age of gentrification, a little on the sketchy side.

In those days, and at that time of day, night met day like the river meets the sea at Big River, though with perhaps a little less magic and poetry. I’d see people making their way home after a night of serious partying, or heading home after a one night stand while others, like me, were on their way to work. Sex workers were out in full force, and I was surprised by how much business there was at that time of day. It seemed odd to me then and odd to me now that men on their way to work would pick up a hooker instead of (or perhaps in addition to) a coffee. Sex is pretty much the last thing on my mind on my way to work and at work, but then, I am not of the male persuasion.

Now, instead of worrying about homeless people or being grabbed on my way to work, I worry about hitting a deer or maybe driving off the Ridge in the fog. You never know what you’ll find in the dark, whether you live in the country or the city.

A YEAR AGO: Not much rain then, either. Maybe it’s not all that surprising I ran out of water.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Noticing the magic moments in everyday life.

TEN YEARS AGO: Beginning to feel a little better.

New

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021


Welcome rain

I ignored the arrival of the New Year and the departure of the old one, even though I was equally happy to see the old one leave and the new one arrive. I hope my being a bad hostess doesn’t mean that 2021 will be worse than 2020. The sequel is so often worse than the original.

The new year did bring us some much-needed rain. We are at about half of what we should have for this time of year. Although I live in a water tower and my landlord Danielle assured me that they had never run out of water on this property, even in a drought, that is what happened recently.

Danielle is in Hawaii, so that left her son and my neighbor Alex to deal with the water issue. He primed the pump and did other things that are beyond my extremely limited ability to understand, and although I needed to use bottled water for one day, the water did come back. It never occurred to me to have buckets at the ready, like I used to at the old house, and hopefully it will still not be necessary. I’m glad I had the bottled water leftover from the nightmare of the PSPS, though.

As I drove across the Salmon Creek bridge on New Year’s Day, I saw a rainbow hovering above the old Ridge, and I like to think that was a good omen for the year ahead. I got the vaccine on the first working day of the year, and that seemed like a good omen, too. I hardly felt its application, and have suffered no ill effects so far. I have not turned into a pumpkin or a werewolf, and my arm doesn’t even hurt, as I had been warned.

Here’s hoping that the New Year is kinder to all of us. Or, as a wise friend put it, “Happier New Year to you.”

A YEAR AGO: Welcoming the new year. Little did I know.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Starting the year with a power outage.

TEN YEARS AGO: Putting away the decorations for another year.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Recapping 2005.