It appears that I was determined to pack as much fun as I could into my long weekend. If that was indeed my goal, I definitely succeeded.

On Saturday night, I attended a concert which was part of the Mendocino Music Festival. It was held in the lovely Cotton Auditorium, which was built in the 1938 as a Public Works Administration project during the “New Deal” and named after then-Principal Joel Cotton:

It seemed like a long time since I last saw the Symphony there. This was the first time I sat in the balcony, and much like sitting in the balcony at the Arena Theater, where Megan and I see ballets and plays live-streamed, I am now a convert to balcony seating at Cotton Auditorium as well. You can see the stage and appreciate the playing so much better from that height:

The program was short, at just an hour, but there was no tedious intermission (yay!), and the program was wonderful: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3; Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major; and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The playing and conducting were amazing, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

A YEAR AGO: The adventures of Dodge.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of the annual staff meeting.

TEN YEARS AGO: Farewell to our beloved Erica and Jessica, who moved to Portland.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Prettying up the already Lovely Rita.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Seen and heard around town.


The Glamorous Flamingo Resort

It didn’t take long to drive from the “Birds” schoolhouse to the thriving metropolis of Santa Rosa. A sleepy small town when the Maestro filmed “Shadow of a Doubt” there in the 1940s, it is now a bustling city of about 180,000 people, and probably best known as the home of the late “Peanuts” cartoonist, Charles Schulz.

I was there on non-cartoon and non-Hitchcock related business, however. For many years, at least since I lived in San Francisco, I have wanted to stay at the fabulous Flamingo Resort. Originally built in the mid-1950s, it is quite striking:

It was recently renovated, with a glamorous new lobby:

In the (g)olden days, it hosted luminaries like Jayne Mansfield and Frankie Avalon. It’s hard to imagine anything more glamorous than Jayne at the Flamingo:

The room was small, but charmingly furnished:

I am now longing for a platform bed with a bench at its foot and built in bedside tables and lamps. I love the mint green phone and the floor lamp:

I enjoyed ordering Indian food, something not available in Hooterville or its immediate environs, and having that for dinner. I did not enjoy the piercing voices of the kids in the room across the hall. Either the remodel did not pay sufficient attention to sound-proofing, or the kids’ voices were unstoppable. Not for the first time, I considered the unreasonableness of the three day waiting period to buy a gun and how wise I was to not reproduce. Also how unused I was to having strangers’ conversations inflicted on me.

It’s probably not surprising that I didn’t sleep well. The bed was harder than I’m used to – I like my bed to feel like I’m sleeping on a cloud – and I am no longer used to ambient city noise, even when armed with earplugs and my pillow with its silk pillowcase. I was saddened to discover that there was only instant coffee – organic, but still instant – and only a teeny sachet, which I knew would be like drinking a brown crayon dipped in hot water. This is one time I was sorry to be proven right. Just when I really needed the caffeine!

I stopped by the iconic pool, quiet in the early morning, on my way out:

I then went to the Asian market to pick up things not readily obtainable in the country, including fresh lychees and dark soy sauce, and then went to get dim sum from the Santa Rosa outpost of Hang Ah:

I used to go to the original Hang Ah when I lived in San Francisco, and it is the oldest dim sum restaurant not only in San Francisco, but in the country. Their dim sum is fabulous. The har gao is my favorite.

Suitably armed with delicacies, I made my way to the freeway, which was somewhat daunting after years of driving the two lane blacktop of Highway One. I have truly become a bumpkin, my friends, unable to cope with crowds of humans or cars.

I was glad to get back home to the kitties, and the peace and quiet of my country life.

A YEAR AGO: Admiring Rob’s amazing art.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful visit to the botanical gardens with Star and Stella. It was a great day. We miss you, Star!

TEN YEARS AGO: Erica and Jessica were getting ready to move. Sigh. I miss them, too.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Rita and I were feeling naughty. In keeping with today’s theme, I will add that I still miss the Lovely Rita, too.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Sweetness in the City.


I took a couple of days off and decided to leave the County for the first time in four years. I am no longer the jet-setter I once was, when I used to fly to Europe at least once, and often twice a year, venturing as far afield as Russia. Now, I can’t remember the last time I went to San Francisco. This formerly urban girl has become a total bumpkin. This only became more clear to me as the trip went on.

The first stop was Bodega Bay, in neighboring Sonoma County. We used to go there for Christmas when Dad came for Christmas. He and Margaret would rent a house there, since it was partway between San Francisco (where I lived then) and Mendocino (where my brother and sister lived then and now), and we could wake up together on Christmas morning.

The last time I was there was in 1999, the last time Dad spent Christmas and New Year with us. But I used to drive north from San Francisco, almost as glamorous as Tippi Hedren in my 1966 silver-blue Mustang convertible. This was the first time I had driven south to Bodega Bay, along the scenic, though sometimes alarming Highway One. The highway runs along the ocean, and climbs precipitously, descends steeply, and winds like a snake while doing it. For extra fun, long stretches of this narrow two-lane blacktop have no guard rails on the ocean side, allowing one’s imagination to run wild with what could happen if a girl was insufficiently careful.

Fortunately, my worries were for naught, even though I would play for America if worrying were an Olympic sport (and why isn’t it? Everything else is), and I made it to Bodega in one rather relieved piece. Perhaps not surprisingly, there were many more houses than there were the last time I was there, though I did recognize many landmarks. The view was unchanged:

I was a little surprised by how emotional it was, being there. My intent was really to visit the few remaining landmarks from “The Birds” rather than to reminisce over the past, but it was impossible not to think about Dad and all those long-ago holidays. I’m glad we had that time together as adults. Also that I made a point of visiting him at least once as year. It amazes me that he has been gone for 20 years. And that I survived that loss. At least on the outside.

I headed inland toward the even smaller town of Bodega, putting the past behind me. In a short time, I arrived at the schoolhouse that featured in the movie:

It is now a private residence, and it must be quite tiresome for the residents to have people like me showing up and taking pictures of their home. It was built in 1883 and was a schoolhouse for many years:

It is unchanged from the movie, as far as I can tell, and you can see a little peek at the church which also had a bit part in the movie just to the side of the house.

After that, I headed further to east to Santa Rosa, which was also the place I went the last time I left the County, four years ago. But this time, I was staying overnight, and in a splendid resort, too.

A YEAR AGO: Not a tech fan.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Power was out at work, and the fabulous Predicta made its first appearance in our lives. We are overdue for a Predicta evening!

TEN YEARS AGO: Home improvement. Considerable improvement!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Who needs Dear Abby when you have Dear Suzy?

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Whistler’s secret?


All American Apples

Once again in the name of research, I sallied forth to the beautiful Valley on a bright summer day. My destination this time was not Gowan’s venerable fruit stand, but rather, their cider tasting room, just a curve or two away down highway 128, the wine road through the Valley.

Arriving at the tasting area, I was warmly greeted by helpful, friendly staff, who could tell me everything I could ever need to know about Gowan’s award-winning ciders. They are gaining a prestigious reputation throughout California and even the entire country, winning countless awards. For a reasonable $15, you can taste 6 ciders, ranging from dry to sweet and light to rich. Alas, I was driving, so I just admired them in the bottles, but they certainly looked fabulous. Needless to say, I was particularly taken with the rosé. Champagne (or, OK, sparkling wine) and hard cider are both more delightful when they are my signature color.

It’s hard to imagine a more idyllic setting for cider tasting than an orchard of century-old apple trees. You can drink Gowan’s cider under the very trees where the apples were grown. Wooden tables are dotted throughout the orchard, with umbrellas for shade under the sunny summer skies:

In the rainy season, the tastings move to a charming, rustic barn on the property, stacked with vintage wooden apple crates and antique cider pressing equipment.

It was quite delightful to see. There can’t be many places where you can sit in an orchard and sip the cider made from the trees you’re sitting under. Well, I guess I can do it at the family estate, but most people can’t.

Since I was so close by, I stopped in at the landmark farm stand:

and picked up some raspberries, cherry tomatoes, and the first corn of the season, before heading back to the cool breezes of the coast.

A YEAR AGO: The welcome appearance of the shade sails at Megan’s place. We are still enjoying them!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Family dinner with a couple of guest stars.

TEN YEARS AGO: Hooray for recoveries all around!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Welcome to the Female Jungle!

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Peaches seem to be my madeleines.


30 Years!

Megan and Rob tend not to make a fuss about things like birthdays and anniversaries, but this year marked not only Megan’s 50th birthday, but Megan and Rob’s 30th wedding anniversary. Our schedules didn’t match up to have a celebration of Megan’s first birthday in the 50s and mine, the last of the 50s, but we made sure to celebrate Megan and Rob’s milestone anniversary.

I’m sure this is a common experience for those of us barely hanging onto our 50s, but it amazes me that someone whose diapers I used to change (sorry, Megan!*) is now half a century old. And married for three decades of those 5 decades.

Even the most math-challenged among us can see that Megan married young. She had only been 20 for a few weeks when she took the leap to marry Rob, who at that point was not in a happy place in his life. I will be honest and tell y’all that I was not happy about it. But I will also add here that Rob won me over pretty quickly and I have stayed that way ever since. And whatever my misgivings were in July of 1991, Megan and Rob have proved me wrong. I am long divorced, and they have gone the distance. Megan always says that whatever life throws at them, they just take each other’s hands and walk through it. I think all of the joys and challenges they have faced together over the years have brought them closer together, and that they love each other more deeply and truly now than they did on their wedding day.

Being Megan, she ended up planning and making most of the dinner, though Jonathan and I did help where we could. Jonathan is always the grill master, and you can see why:

After the chicken was barbecued to perfection, it was sliced up and dressed with lemon slices that had also been grilled, and a mix of fresh lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil, as well as green olives. It was delicious. There was also a couscous salad, made with mint and arugula from the property and Parmesan instead of the feat the recipe called for (none of us are feta fans). For dessert, we had the first cherries of the season from Jonathan’s Awesome Cherry Tree**:

With dinner, we had some sparkling local wine to go with our sparkling conversation. After Jonathan headed back to his place, just a short walk away, Megan and I shared some limoncello, so I was lucky that Rob had volunteered to be my chauffeur, especially now that it’s a 20 minute drive to my place, instead of 2 minute drive. It was a happy celebration of a very happy occasion. Here’s to the next 30 years!

*Megan hates it when I talk about her babyhood and childhood. Interestingly, Jessica always enjoyed those stories about herself.

**When Megan finally nagged convinced Jonathan that they should add a cherry tree to the orchard, it was decided that if the cherry tree worked out (apparently cherry trees do not play well with other trees and have to be netted to keep the birds at bay, so they are a lot of work – ours lives in its own little netted cathedral in the corner of the garden), it would be Jonathan’s Awesome Cherry Tree, but if not, it would be Megan’s Stupid Idea. So far, it has been all Awesome, all the time.

A YEAR AGO: Getting shady.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Lu and Rik’s wonderful wedding.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: An interesting weekend.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Visiting the farmers’ market at the Ferry Building. I’d love to do that again one of these days.


It’s that magical time of year when Flynn Creek Circus’ striped tent makes its appearance in the Village.

I bought tickets to their new show, Fairytale, as soon as they went on sale on May 2. I enjoyed the anticipation over the next couple of months, even more when I heard that all the shows were sold out.

Megan came by to pick me up around 12:30, to give us time to get to the Village and find parking among the maddening hordes of tourists who have descended upon us in their annual plague. Of course, the parking goddesses smiled on Megan as they usually do, and we found a spot under a tree not far from the circus tent. We arrived at the door at 1:07, and learned that the show did not start at 1:30, as I had thought, but rather, at 1:00. So I was glad that we had given ourselves lots of time and arrived (allegedly) early. I gave a moment’s thought to how awful it would be if we had missed an entire half hour of the magic before settling in to enjoy it.

Every show Flynn Creek Circus does is different each year, but they are all magical and gravity-defying. I enjoyed the fairy tale theme, with a sparkly fairy as our MC:

She is Tinkerbell’s slightly disgruntled older sister, who calls her famous sibling “Stinkerbell” and eventually gets to duke (or duchess) it out with the family star later in the show. She explained the mythical storyline, which involved unicorns, fairies, Prince Charming, and ravens:

Whatever the story line, the acrobatics and aerials:

were as amazing as ever. An artiste did the splits on what seemed like a teeny piece of string, people somersaulted and leapt through hula hoops, and juggled 6 or 8 pins at a time while jumping through hoops, sometimes backwards. I think my favorite thing about seeing Flynn Creek Circus is how it gives me a sense of awe and wonder that brings me back to childhood. And you are really living in the moment when you are at the Circus. Each moment is more enchanting than the last.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A busy week for our heroine.

TEN YEARS AGO: A look around the neighborhood. I now live on the same road as the former stagecoach stop, and the restaurant is the location of our favorite seaside bar.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some feminine musings.


Orange is the new pink at my house!

Of course, there’s also pink. It is my signature color, after all. But I love the pop of color of the orange with the white walls and the woodwork in my house:

It all started when I noticed how much the cats had shredded the old chair, so I decided to replace it with something a little more claw-proof. I settled on a lovely orange leather chair:

It reminded me that I still had the beautiful orange vase made by the beautiful Aaron back in the coffin factory days, so I fished that out and put it next to the TV, as you can see above. I later added the little orange porcelain chrysanthemum I picked up while I was in the Valley recently:

I replaced the pink rug with a multi-colored one that I think pulls together the cushion collection on the couch:

Of course, now I’m thinking that the couch looks rather dreary and worn, so I will have to start saving my pennies for a new one. My dear friend A thinks tangerine velvet would be a good and cat-proof choice. Apparently cats, unlike Suzys, do not enjoy velvet. Maybe it feels unpleasant on their paws or something.

I was unlucky and then lucky with the carpet, because it got lost en route and they sent out another one. I eventually received both of them. I notified the place I bought them/it from, and they declined to take the second one back, so I basically got a free carpet, or two for the price of one. I think having the second one does define the living areas quite nicely:

Sometimes change can be good. And colorful.

FIVE YEARS AGO: All the kitty news that’s fit to print.

TEN YEARS AGO: Audrey’s birthday was not exactly festive.