Drive

It was a beautiful day, and it had been a long time since I had ventured down to the south coast. It seemed like a good idea to head that way.

I tried not to think about how little rain we have had so far this season: only about 16 inches. It should have been more like 50 at this point in the year. I am afraid that there is a drought and a bad fire season in our future. But I pushed those thoughts aside as I headed down the Ridge, passing the wild turkey family hanging out together by the side of the road.

The ocean was feeling pretty that day, turquoise with foamy, lacy white waves and whitecaps. There were merry drifts of yellow daffodils, waxy white calla lilies, and billows of pink flowering cherries in the fields beside the highway. The afternoon light was golden on the rolling hills and the windswept cypress trees arching over the road. I love those tree bowers.

I have wanted to take some pictures of the signs on the trees approaching Point Arena, and this was finally the day:

I love them and how they tell everyone, as Springsteen put it, “who we are, what we’ll do, and what we won’t”. The signs have also thanked fire fighters and first responders.

I ordered Thai food from Anchor Bay and then headed down the road to Gualala while they cooked it for me. I grabbed a BLT and an Orangina* in the Surf Market and had a little picnic overlooking the ocean. It was windy, but beautiful. I get the feeling that winter is nearly over, though I could be wrong about that.

I picked up my dinner to go, and went back the way I had come, past the fields of cows, hills glowing as the sun began to sink into the ocean. I still got home before it was dark, though dinner was later than the cats would have liked. I enjoyed the Thai food with a glass of pink sparkling wine and Pacific Heights, a movie set in (though not filmed in) my old ‘hood, and which I hadn’t seen since I actually lived there. It was a fun end to a good day.

*I first had Orangina 40 years ago, when I was an au pair in Nice, on the beautiful French Riviera. It was love at first taste. I still love it, though I don’t have it very often. When I do, it always brings me right back to those long-ago summer days.

A YEAR AGO: A lovely dinner with my brother and his girlfriend.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Goodbye to beautiful Monterey.

TEN YEARS AGO: The excitement of snow!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Musings on education.

Miscellaneous

There Is not much to report from my little corner of the world these days. It’s been more hamster wheel-ish than usual, long days at work then falling into bed, often without bothering to eat, then getting up and doing it all over again. On the weekends, my sloth is pretty much out of control. Sometimes I just stay in my PJs and sit in bed all day, answering my fan mail and reading. The cats are all for this, and contribute to the general lack of activity by staying with me, napping and looking outrageously cozy as only sleeping cats can.

Somewhere along the line, I seem to have lost my cooking mojo, as well as my interest in eating. I can’t imagine actually doing project cooking, like tourti?re or making bagels. I can’t even be bothered to make (or eat) dinner half the time.

Despite my lack of interest in utilizing my teeth these days, I found that I needed yet another crown. This is the fourth one, which seems excessive to me. I wonder if this is a sign that I am falling apart and/or getting old. They seem to be coming thick and fast these days. I hadn’t even finished paying for the third one when I had the fourth one installed. The bills are almost as painful as the shots needed for successful crown installation, and are big enough that there should be at least some jewels involved.

Meanwhile, over the family estate, there is actual internet that actually works! They were subjected to the horrors of satellite internet. Faithful readers may recall how little I enjoyed satellite internet. It’s very expensive and the service is horrible. Now that Megan is working at home for Stanford, she exceeded the teeny data limits and got slapped into internet prison. Much like regular prison, you can pay your way out, but that doesn’t always stop you from ending up back there.

A new service called Starlink came along (no relation to the actual Star), and it works at least as well as the internet at my house, maybe even better. So Megan can get her work done with impunity. She is hoping that the projects she is working on for Stanford will lead to other work like that that she can do at home. I hope so, too.

A YEAR AGO: It was eerily sunny then, too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Stormy weather.

TEN YEARS AGO: Baking cookies is not one of my talents.

Love

My good friend A was born on Valentine’s Day, an unfortunate date for a dedicated foodie like her, one of the top restaurant reviewers in London on Zomato. On Valentine’s Day, restaurants are full of amateur eaters, there is scarcely a reservation to be found, and you are likely to be presented with a “special” menu instead of the regular one. I’m sure she also receives the dreaded combo gift, much like those who are unlucky enough to be born anywhere close to Christmas. All right-thinking people know that a birthday gift is separate from a Christmas gift. I am lucky that my birthday is situated six months from Christmas, for optimal gift-giving. I have always found my birthday to be completely satisfactory.

On these Valentine-adjacent days, I look back and realize that Love is not something I am particularly good at. I was never one of those bridey girls, with wedding fantasies and dreams of gowns and bridesmaids. I never wanted to get married. I believe that you should be with someone until you don’t want to be, and that involving the state and/or church and/or everyone you know with unrealistic promises of forever is setting yourself up to fail. So it’s probably not all that surprising that I ended up getting divorced, though it may be surprising that I stayed married for 14 years or so.

I don’t consider that a failure. John and I had many happy years together, and he is a very special person. I am still his emergency contact, and if he called me in the middle of the night and needed me, I would not question it as I grabbed my keys and ran out the door. I will always love him in my own way. I have no idea how he feels about me, since we don’t talk about that kind of thing, even though we are in regular email touch, especially since he keeps me updated on my new love Frank and the happily flourishing kittens.

When I was young, A, who has been my best friend since we were about 17, was a model, so I was around a lot of guys who liked hanging around models. I was never intimidated by the models. I knew what they looked like without the makeup and lighting, and also I just enjoyed them, like flowers or pretty scenery. I still got a lot of male attention in those days, and my general strategy was to go to the guy’s place so he did not know where I lived, in order to avoid his showing up again. I rarely, if ever, spent the night.

I did have a couple of guys who stalked me, one of them showing up at my job when I wouldn’t call him back and the other one not only doing that, but standing outside my house and also telling me places he had seen me. Unfortunately, Guy Two and I had crazy chemistry together, so that drama went on longer than it should have*. He stood me up one Valentine’s Day, and my next-door neighbor at the time, who happened to be A’s ex-boyfriend (her way of breaking up with him was to move to Europe. Neither of us were good at ending relationships) came by with a heart-shaped piece of coke to cheer me up. Hey, it was the 80s!

Looking back at my extremely checkered (to the point of being tartan) past, it’s clear that relationships are not my forte. We can’t all be good at that kind of thing. At least I had the sense not to have kids. Can you imagine?

*He also got into a fist fight with one of the vice presidents at my office Christmas party once. I don’t know if it’s more amazing that I didn’t get fired or that I didn’t break up with him then.

A YEAR AGO: A power outage and a sink full of sewage. How romantic is that?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Driving around with boys.

TEN YEARS AGO: The excitement of snow! Probably not exciting to those of you where it’s a regular occurrence.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Walking the lovely Rita in the park. I miss her.

Wintry?

I noticed this morning that I could actually see the ocean as I drove past Van Damme, so the madness of the twice-yearly time change can’t be that far off. It took me a while to realize that the entire goal of said time change is to plunge me back into morning darkness at the first sign of a ray of hope of morning light.

It also makes me realize that despite what the Groundhog says about the winter (maybe his predictions only apply to his neighborhood), there isn’t that much left, and our rain opportunities are running out. Cherry trees are in full pink bloom, calla lilies have begun to unfurl their waxy white blossoms by the side of the road, and spiky iris leaves have joined the happy yellow daffodils.

So far, we have only received about 14 inches of rain this season. Some of the fields have not completely changed from their “golden” summer coast to their green winter wear. Not that I’m complaining, but we haven’t had any power outages so far this season, since there haven’t really been any storms. I am not in the correct mental state to face a power outage – that PSPS seems to have scarred me for life – but I am also worried about the lack of rain and what it means for the upcoming fire season. We should get more like 50 inches of rain in a winter, and I don’t think we are going to make it up in what remains of the winter, even if the Groundhog is right in his predictions.

A YEAR AGO: A confession.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful day in Point Arena with good friends.

TEN YEARS AGO: The first week at the jobette.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: You have been warned.

Past


My Proudest Achievement

I have noticed that when I tell people stories about my childhood which I think are funny, they often get a horrified, yet struggling to be polite, look on their faces. It’s only at this fairly advanced stage in my life that I realize that what I considered benign neglect by my parents is considered just plain neglect by others. Also that their abandonment of their parental duties is not the way most people do things.

When my sister Megan was born, I was about a week away from turning 9. She came home on my birthday – in those long-ago days, a recovering mother was allowed to, well, recover a bit and enjoy the assistance of trained nursing staff after the ordeal of giving birth. In 1971, it was not as common as it is today to have a baby in your 40s, so Mom had a lot to recover from, including her second Caesarean section.

Even by the standards of the time, I was a naïve child, and I never wondered how the baby came about or how she arrived. Nor did I really think about my mother’s increasing size. I think I thought we got her at the hospital. When Mom came home, she went to bed and stayed there for the rest of the summer, about three months. I thought that was just what happened when you had a baby. Now I understand that she had very serious post-partum depression and never received the help she needed.

So there I was, 9 years old, giving the baby her bottles (soy milk; Megan had a lot of allergies), changing her and dealing with her cloth diapers, and doing the laundry. I even did the ironing, having been taught by my Victorian English grandmother the correct way to do this, including Dad’s shirts (when I was in college, he would save them for me to iron when I came home to visit). I remember thinking that Megan was the smallest person in the family, but had the most clothes.

When Megan entered her teen years, Dad and Mom had separated. Dad moved back to his native England, and Mom’s mental health issues made it impossible for her to parent Megan. So I moved from one city, where I had a good job and was very happy, to another, in order to take care of Megan. I was lucky that my job not only allowed me to move and keep my job, but even paid my moving expenses.

I had a hard time persuading Dad to give me money for rent and food. I would not have rented a two-bedroom apartment if I weren’t taking care of his child, and that child needed to eat. Eventually he agreed to this logic. He should have been grateful that he didn’t have to deal with birth control and parent-teacher interviews like I did. Whenever I went to the meetings at the school, I was struck by how it smelled the same as when I was in high school, along with an irrational fear that they would discover I wasn’t a real grown up and make me go back to school again.

I did my best, and I think Megan turned out pretty well. I am really proud of her. Whenever I get asked in job interviews what achievement I am proudest of, I always think (but don’t say), that it was raising Megan to be the amazing person she is.

Someone to whom I told this story recently pointed out that while I am not technically a parent – and at this point, I never will be – I have had some of the experience of being one, from caring for Megan as a baby and then as a teen. I had never thought about it that way before.

FIVE YEARS AGO: It seemed more like spring.

TEN YEARS AGO: My first day at the jobette.

Kittens


Peach and Willow

John’s kittens are growing by leaps and bounds and purrs, as kittens do. Their personalities are still emerging, but it seems that “my” kitten, Daisy (I named her and secretly feel like she is mine in some way) is, like me, a little nervous about life in general, preferring to stay on the safe side, whereas her sister, Peach, is bold and adventurous. As John puts it, Peach is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Given time I’m pretty sure she could escape from Alcatraz.

John described this photo as follows: Here’s Peach trying to break out of the big house once again this morning, with a dirty screw watching her every move:

As most girls eventually do, Peach and Daisy have a crush on an older guy. In their case, it’s Ash, who is not just handsome, but tolerant of their affections. He may even enjoy it, while being too cool to admit that he does. Here’s Ash tolerating Daisy’s hero worship:

John also says, When the kittens wake up now (either in the morning or after a nap) they go utterly bananas, running and playing and making huge messes. It’s hard to believe when you see how cute they look like this:

I’ll let John have the last word. A final note – Peach smells like Pez candy.

A YEAR AGO: Surprise! A new phone!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying the beauty of the fine woodworking show.

TEN YEARS AGO: My beloved friend A was finally (more or less) out of the woods. And I was starting work at the jobette!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Shopping at the 99 cent store. Not even the dollar store.