Archive for the 'Bullshit' Category

Feb 04 2018

Junuary

You guys! It was 70 degrees yesterday! Above you see the magnificent magnolia in blossom outside the library on Friday afternoon, when it was a mere 65 degrees. Last night, I slept with the balcony door open. It is February, isn’t it?

I stopped at the post office on my way to work one day this week (I was also the wino fairy, dropping off the unopened giant jug of cheapo red wine someone brought to Christmas dinner outside the Gro, undoubtedly to someone’s delight) and discovered that they had just installed a bank of new parcel lockers next to the old one. But apparently not for me, since I found two yellow slips inside my post office box.

The delivery problem is especially annoying since Amazon refused to ship to my PO box in the first place, forcing me to use the street address where I do not receive mail. Last weekend, my landlord Mark turned up with a letter marked “extremely urgent” and a postmark of over a year ago. This is why I have a PO box. Often things that are directed to the street address end up at the PO anyway, like these packages.

I expected one of the packages to contain a DVD among more mundane things, which although mundane, are not readily available in our little corner of the world. When I finally got my hard-won packages, I was displeased to note that it did not include the DVD, though everything else was present and accounted for.

Looking up my account on Amazon, I discovered that I had, in fact, failed to order the DVD along with everything else. So its absence was entirely my fault, and you know how I hate it when I have no one to blame but myself.

I rectified my ordering error – and had the new package delivered to my PO box – and grumpily went to open the second package. Imagine my surprise to find it was a beautiful book sent from a dear friend (and wonderful writer) in Alaska, containing several of the articles he had written. My grumpy mood vanished as quickly as it came, and I have hours of happy reading ahead of me.

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day with the most delightful girls.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An avian intruder.

TEN YEARS AGO: The surreal water bill.

2 responses so far

Jan 06 2018

Stasis

Published by under Bullshit,Calamity Suzy

It’s a good thing I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions, since I have not done a thing this entire new year except Be Sick. Either I am really good at it, or really bad at it, since I have been plague-stricken for over a week now, with no signs of the malady’s departure.

So, yes, I was sick the entire time I was off work, and even when I returned to work, I failed to work one entire day all week, leaving early for two days and finally taking yesterday off in the desperate hope that I would be restored to humanity today, but once again my hopes were dashed by whatever the Plague is.

Despite my apparently eternal illness, at some point I will have to get out of bed and get on with the Saddest Day of the Year, when all the Christmas ornaments are stowed away and the bleak winter house is stripped of its temporary sparkle and finery, just when we need it most.

So far, not a great start to the new year.

A YEAR AGO: The power was out on the Saddest Day of the Year. Things can be worse!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Back home with the kitties.

2 responses so far

Dec 24 2017

Peter Panned

Published by under Bullshit,Car,Special Occasions

Yesterday Megan and I both enjoyed getting up after the sun did, putting the heat on in our frigid houses, and scampering back to bed with coffee and our neatly paired animal companions (two dogs for her; two cats for me) for more than an hour. How luxurious is that?

Eventually, we got up and got dressed. I headed over to Megan’s place and we then made our way to our brother’s place with a bag of mesquite, the Christmas ham, stockings for him and Rio to stuff, and a mason jar of Jack Daniel’s, an integral part of Jonathan’s masterful ham glaze.

We had a brief discussion about Wednesday’s ailments, and had independently arrived at the conclusion that he should buy the expensive parts and fix the non threatening emissions issue, on the grounds that one day the ever-on engine light might mean something is really wrong and I would ignore it, thinking it wasn’t, until Something Bad happened, like permanent stoppage of said car. So he will order the parts and we’ll get that particular show on the road. Wish Santa shopped at Napa.

After that, Megan turned her little red car toward the magical south coast. As we wended our way past the lavender ocean and the wind-twisted trees, we talked about how we hadn’t seen Lichen in ages. For both of us, the most recent interaction was texts on his birthday last month. Passing through Elk, Megan spied Lichen himself at the side of the road, with his sweet dog, Keeper. She stopped immediately and raced across the road shouting his birth name so he’d know he was in trouble. By the time I caught up, we were hugging and laughing and being introduced to the guy with him.

This town being as minute as it is, the guy turned out to be a neighbor of my friend Alison, who I had just met for a drink this week (and said drink was interrupted by the appearance of my old boss, my current boss, the event coordinator from work, and others). He was supposed to look after Alison’s dog over the holidays, but she got the flu and her plans changed at the last minute.

As for Lichen, he has been training as a massage therapist and now has his own little studio! So that’s what he’s been up to instead of hanging out with us. It was good to catch up with him, but we had a schedule to keep, so we continued south.

Arriving in Point Arena, we went straight for Franny’s, as any right-thinking person does, where we equipped ourselves with delicacies before going even further south to acquire still more delicacies for dinner at Anchor Bay Thai.

We were worried about being late for the play, but we made it back to the theater in time to wade through throngs of kids and into balcony seats right by the wall, a decision we would come to regret in about 10 minutes.

The play was a production of “Peter Pan”, streamed from the National Theatre in London, and our Sleeping Beauty deprived hearts were looking forward to it. Our hopes were dashed almost immediately by the weirdness of the production, in which everyone looked about 45, Nana the dog was played by a guy wearing white ruffled pantalettes, and Tinker Bell by a squat gent with lights on his bicycle helmet and a speech impediment. Also there were songs, which we had not been warned about, and all the magic had been removed.

We wanted to remove ourselves, but were trapped at the wall end of the row. I was all for pushing past everyone and hightailing it out of there, but Megan thought it was too rude. I felt that it would be a momentary inconvenience for people we would never see again, but she won out and we spent the rest of our sentence wondering if we could get over the railing in front of us without undue damage to Self. When the welcome release of intermission finally arrived, I raced out of there so fast I forgot my coat (with my phone in the pocket), which Megan grabbed and then chased me down the stairs.

As we peeled out of the parking lot, I observed that we had finally found something that was not fun to do together. It took us a while, but we did it!

A YEAR AGO: Merry Christmas to us!

TEN YEARS AGO: A somewhat dizzy Christmas.

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Nov 21 2017

Cars & Turkeys

Published by under Bullshit,Car,Special Occasions

Unlike most people this time of year, I am more preoccupied with things automotive than things culinary. Outsourcing most of the T Day operations helps in this regard, a secret I learned long ago.

I’m afraid Erica and Jessica got the holiday shaft this year, committed to bringing a truffle-rich pie made of delicata squash; fennel and orange salad; and some kind of stuffing/dressing (call it what you will) which includes chestnuts (not peeled by Me) and I think Erica might have mentioned wild boar sausage. There may also be shrub. Jonathan is making a pie from the cherries we grew and there has been talk of a wild huckleberry pie, which may push us into pie-a-palooza territory at three pies.

Megan bought a 14 pound turkey and stashed it at Rio’s house. Rio has not only begun the defrosting process (per my Nana’s rule of 1 day for every 4 pounds), but has promised to deliver it on Thursday, which is Thanksgiving for the rest of you, but merely Thanksgiving Eve for us, due to Megan’s crazy work schedule*. As for me, I will be making cranberry-bourbon relish; garlic mashed potatoes from garlic and potatoes we grew; and maple-roasted harissa carrots using carrots we grew; and roasting the turkey.

Since we eat at a civilized hour, I won’t have to put it in the ovenette until noon or later. And though I have tried many fancy things over the years, dry brining and brining and so on, I do not think that any of them were any better than the way Nana did it: rub the turkey with butter, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and sage, and roast, basting occasionally. I am planning to let Erica and/or Jonathan make the gravy.

So all I really have to do around the house is tidy up, get the silver out of its velvet-lined chest, check the weather forecast and get some wood ready for the outdoor fire if it doesn’t rain. It’s been a rainy week so far and 128, the road to the city, is already closed, so I am hoping that the chance of rain forecast for Friday is so slight as to barely exist. I have more than a dozen bottles of wine on hand, always the most important part of any dinner menu.

So I’m not all that worried about the great day itself, though it is hampering the lengthy repair process. Of course I get car problems right before Thanksgiving, just like I needed a crownright before the 4th of July.

Jonathan located the part we need. The good news is that it is at the lower, $200 end of the scale, and that Jonathan can install it. The bad news is that it will take 4-5 business days to reach us, and adding in the Thursday holiday and the possible Friday holiday, that could possibly mean “not until late next week”.

The car keys have to be programmed to match the car’s new brain, or new brain module, or it will refuse to go in the belief that it is being stolen. Wednesday is a very paranoid individual, what with that and the auto lock feature which I have been unable to disable. I had thought that I could Fed Ex the car keys to the brain trust and have them program the keys to match Wednesday’s shiny new intellect, but they do not provide that service. So far, I have been not been able to find anyone locally who does. The place that *may* be able to do it is closed until Monday. The holiday strikes again! If they can’t do it, I’m not sure where that leaves me, other than permanently in Park.

*Made even crazier this week by an 8 hour advanced cardio-vascular life support class on Sunday and again on Monday. After the 8 hour class on Monday, she stopped in at the clinic to work for a couple of hours before that night’s 12 hour shift, which would be followed by three more. She will wake up sometime on Friday afternoon after working 48 hours and taking 16 hours of classes in one week. She is my hero, though she may in fact be insane.

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Nov 19 2017

Not Great

Published by under Bullshit,Car

Well, it’s been a less than stellar week in SuzyLand. An unlovely combination of work bullshit and car problems have combined forces to make my outlook bleaker than ever.

I was partway to work when the wrench light came on. I made it to work, where I texted my brother, knowing that he would be heading home from work that morning and could take a look at it. He did, and couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with it, but recommended that Wednesday be swapped out for the back up beater, which we did.

Of course, the back up car failed to start for me. There was no sound, other than the seatbelt light and its nagging bell, so I knew that the battery wasn’t at fault and getting a jump start wouldn’t help.

I called my brother, and he suggested that I put it in gear and back into park a couple of times. I did this without much hope a couple of times, but just when I had given up, it started. Jonathan told me to take it straight to his house and not to turn it off. All my things were still in the office, so I ran back, grabbed them, and texted my boss that I was leaving for the day.

I made it to Jonathan’s place, where Megan picked me up. She also lent me her car the next day, making me get to work late and leave early. The dream employee! My brother checked out both cars and test drove them. Much as your tooth stops hurting in the dentist’s waiting room, there appeared to be nothing wrong with the cars. The wrench light failed to light, Jonathan drove it at 70 on the highway and said it is the closest thing to a sports car our family has.

The next day, I put the car on to warm up while I gave the cats farewell treats, noting that the wrench light did not come on. By the time I got back in the car to go to work, the engine light was on. I turned it off and got into the Honda, which thankfully got me to work.

Jonathan took another look at the misbehaving Wednesday, and from my limited automative understanding, it appears that something is wrong with the computer brain that runs everything,. The dayI had trouble getting Wednesday up to speed it was apparently in “limp mode”. So is my bank account, since the part needed will cost something between $250-500. If I’m lucky, Jonathan can install it. If I’m not, I will have to pay a mechanic $80 an hour to do it. I still need to buy the brake pads, which Jonathan can install, another $100. And I just paid $200 for propane (still better than the $300 they were trying to get out of me).

Happy Thanksgiving?

A YEAR AGO: Regrets. I’ve had a few.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A new puppy for Jarrett and a new kitty for Jonathan!

One response so far

Nov 15 2017

Advent

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Weather

I seem to be reluctant to accept the inevitable advent of the winter/rainy season, even though it is spectacularly muddy at my house*, the Ridge is adorned with giant puddles and a whole new crop of potholes, and I saw my first robins and whales this week, always signs of winter. All we need is the chirp of frogs and the buzz of chainsaws to complete the hibernal symphony.

I also had the propane tank filled, and as usual the bill was wrong, necessitating a lengthy and annoying conversation with the propane purveyors as per usual. They overcharged me by about 50%, so the bill was a million billion dollars instead of just a billion dollars. As I alternately waited on hold and argued with them, I alternately thought of the long ago days in San Francisco when gas was the least part of my PG&E bill (maybe $10 a month) and the fact that I agreed to get my brake pads changed this week (maybe $200).

All these winter preparations are pricy. Yet I can’t seem to bring myself to do the free prep, which is filling buckets with water against the inevitable power outages. We already had one at work last week** – people differ on the cause of it, but it appears that a transformer blew, possibly because a bird flew into it – and we are slated to get a storm today with heavy rains and gusts of wind up to 50 miles an hour. There is a wind advisory for the entire county, which might as well be a power outage advisory.

Usually the bucket filling is the first thing I do. It’s so simple! But I seem to be suffering from some kind of psychic malaise that makes it impossible for me to deal with winter, the endless darkness, the horrors of the annual fundraiser and holiday party with my usual equanimity. A wise friend thinks it can all be traced back to the darkness which descended upon us a year ago and battle fatigue from getting through the past year, with a long road ahead. He could be right.

A YEAR AGO: My place of work includes some culinary surprises.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some additions to the garden.

*Yep, the trench project has ground to a halt yet again. The extra muddiness makes my daily greeting by Mark’s herd of dogs extra messy. Kovu, the puppy, while adorable, likes to jump up on me and my formerly clean work clothes. He has recently expanded his repertoire to jumping inside the car to muddy up the seats. It’s a good thing he is so cute.

**You know how the shortest measurable amount of time is not, as you might think, between a light turning green and someone honking their horn, but the time between the power going out and Mark firing up his generator? At work, it’s between the power going out and people asking me if they can go home.

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Nov 11 2017

Unimproved

Published by under Bullshit,Memories,San Francisco

It’s hard not to retain a certain amount of interest in the past, though sometimes it’s better not to look back, since you might not like what you see. A case in point is my old apartment in San Francisco, which is now unrecognizable.

For starters, someone decided that it would be a great idea to turn the kitchen into a bedroom, making it the first room you see as you enter. The new bedroom presumably uses the small, shallow former pantry space as a closet and has a door and window overlooking the back stairs, allowing its occupant to hear and see their fellow residents throwing their trash down the chute, not to mention the 5 am pick up by the enormous and enormously loud garbage truck.

The hand-made Italian tiles are gone, along with the charming ironing board cupboard in the wall where I stored spices, and, worst of all, the magnificent vintage Wedgewood stove and the quarter-sawn white oak countertops my brother made by hand. Here’s how it used to look:

Here’s how it looks now:

The same geniuses decided to put a generic new kitchen in the former dining room, sacrificing both space and style. It looks like every kitchen everywhere:

They also decided that painting long, windowless walls dark and depressing colors was a great idea:

whereas I painted it them a light color to reflect back the light from the bay windows at the end of the room.

I notice they kept the recessed lighting I put in, though. And they kept the most of the fixtures I put in the bathroom, including the vintage crystal doorknobs, though they painted the walls black and the antique, cast iron clawfoot tub that I had to charm workmen to drag up two flights of stairs black. Because why not make a room whose only natural light comes from an airshaft as dark and dismal as possible?

Here’s how it looked before:

And how it looks now:

It appears that they also closed off the door which led to the walk in closet in the bedroom, which was a wonderful convenience. It was very nice to be able to walk straight from the bathroom into the closet to dress, and vice versa.

I’m sure that adding the so-called bedroom added to the considerable value. Even though there is an apartment above and one below, so you get noise from both, and no parking space*, it is on the market for $1.25 million. We paid $190,000.

To me, what they did to my formerly charming former abode is symptomatic of what is wrong with San Francisco now. They made the place as generic as possible and added an additional “bedroom” to jack up the price and to appeal to the soulless wealthy who now inhabit this once-wonderful city. The beauty and charm of my apartment have vanished along with the charm and character of the city. Now it’s nothing but rich people and expensive stores that could be (and are) found in any city anywhere, instead of each neighborhood having its own special character and delights.

When I lived there, John’s barber brought his dog to work in the shop he owned with his father. The people who owned the grocery store where we shopped would ask you to watch the cash while they cut a watermelon in two for you in the back, and would joke with John about buying sandwiches while I was in England visiting Dad (“Bachin’ it again, eh?”) with a wink and a smile. An older Italian couple owned two neighboring businesses. He repaired shoes and she was a tailor. At lunch time, they would pull two chairs and a little table out to the sidewalk and have lunch together, greeting passersby as they ate. They are long gone, replaced by Starbucks and things of that nature. At least I still have the memories. And I won’t look back anymore.

*The difficulty in parking in that neighborhood, even 20 years ago and even with a permit, is why I ended up selling my beautiful, silver-blue Mustang, Josephine. I’m sure the parking situation has not improved.

A YEAR AGO: I hit a dog with the car. Fortunately, he is as good as new and I am meeting his owners for lunch in a couple of weeks.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Beautiful Day of the Dead art and other fun things.

One response so far

Sep 07 2017

Grilled

My (now older) brother’s birthday fell during the Worst Long Weekend Ever. His birthday, near or on Labor Day, (allegedly) ends the summer, and my sister’s, on or near Memorial Day, starts it, their birthdays bracketing the tourist season.

It was still about a zillion degrees as I headed to the family estate, driving really slowly so I could bask in Wednesday’s blasting air conditioning during the quarter mile drive. The canopies were up, but they were no match for the Evil Death Star. I packed my county fair straw hat with ice and put it on my head, but really, nothing could help.

As I write, it’s foggy but still not cool. Like 100+ degree temperatures, I have never experienced this before. I may have been scarred for life. I am still obsessively checking the weather forecast and am appalled to see that they are calling for highs of 76 on Sunday, which is probably code for 96. Why does it always have to be hot as hell on the weekends? And when is this heat going to go back to hell, where it belongs?

As for the party, it was well-attended, with its many guests spanning several generations. Even though it was his birthday, my brother still manned the grill, turning out turkey burgers, hamburgers, and sausages to go with garden salad:

Jessica and I took our plates to a shady spot, where we were joined by Scout, Jonathan’s mini cat:

You can gauge something of her diminutive size by comparing her to the folded napkin beside her. Here you see Jessica feeding Scout hamburger morsels, which may have had something to do with the world’s most skittish cat hanging out with us:

I also convinced Jessica to pose for a picture, wearing my ice-less hat:

I’m sure these days are rapidly coming to an end since she is 14, so we will have to enjoy them while we can.

While Jessica was visiting over the weekend, we hid in the relative cool of Megan’s house (it is so shaded by trees that it is always cool; nice during a heatwave, not so nice in the winter) and had a mini 80s movie festival, watching “Working Girl” and “Desperately Seeking Susan”. Jessica found the 80s fashions hilarious, though she loved Madonna’s style in “Susan” and pronounced her “super pretty”. I agree – that is my favorite era of Madonna’s looks. Jessica coveted the pyramid jacket while I still covet the skull hatbox/suitcase and the glittery boots. And we all sighed over Harrison Ford and Aidan Quinn.

All in all, it was a fun evening. Now if the weather would start behaving itself…

A YEAR AGO: At the circus.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The jobette moved uptown, among other things.

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Sep 04 2017

Worst Long Weekend Ever

Published by under Bullshit,Weather


Welcome to hell! You’ll hate it here!

I was rewarded for having the temerity to take two days off after working six days a week all summer by a heat tsunami. Nothing as benign as a heat wave – this is a heat tsunami, crushing everything in its path, including me.

I actually left the County on Thursday for the first time in ages, going to Santa Rosa, which involves one of my least favorite things: driving on freeways. However, the traffic was better than I expected and I completed my errands quickly despite (or because of) the bone-crushing 106 degree heat. I was home again about six hours after I left, making the unpleasant discovery that the hideous heat had hitched a ride with me.

Now, it’s not unusual for Santa Rosa to be 100 degrees or more. But when that happens, it is typically 75 to 80 on the coast. Not 100. And unlike Santa Rosans, our bodies and houses are not equipped to handle the heat. My house in particular. It’s uninsulated wood, covered with tar paper, and basically it’s like living in a tent. The upside down rowboat shape traps all the heat, and none of the windows open. As Jessica puts it, “Megan’s house is stupid, but your house is really stupid.”

Its deficiencies and stupidities became glaringly obvious as the glaring heat wore on and wore me out. Day after day of 100+ outside and 90+ inside. Even with all the curtains drawn and fans blasting, along with the swamp cooler, it only brought the indoor temperature down to 90F downstairs. I can’t imagine what it is upstairs, even with a box fan facing out to allegedly pull out the hot air, according to my former fire fighter brother. I wished I was in my air conditioned office instead of my overheated hippie hut as I took cold showers and repeatedly threw cold water on my face, arms and poitrine.

Megan persuaded me to go to the Village with her and Jessica, reasoning that it would be cooler at the coast. It was 90 or more. A scantily clad visitor was staring aghast at her phone and saying, “It say’s it 64! No way it’s 64!” I told her it always says it’s 64. It’s remarkably hard to get an accurate weather forecast for this part of the world*. Even though it never got any better, I kept obsessively checking the forecast over the past few days.

I feel like I’m under siege, hiding from the Evil Death Star. I am nauseous and drinking as much ice water as I can while feeling light-headed and weird. It’s too hot to do anything inside or outside of the house, though I did water the garden in the early morning hours the past two days. The fuchsias, those Suziest of flowers, being both shade-loving and flashy, looked like I felt, being wilted and perhaps partly dead. I fear that both of us may never completely recover. I actually wept with despair at one point during the hell of the last few days. If there was someone I could surrender to in order to make it stop, I would. I freely admit I can’t take it anymore. You win, Evil Death Star!

Guess when temperatures are going to return to normal? Yeah, you guessed it: my first day back at work after the Worst Long Weekend Ever.

*As Robin Williams put it in “Good Morning Vietnam”: “You got a window? Open it!” In fact, his entire weather report is sadly accurate. It is hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut.

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Jul 30 2017

Encore

Published by under Bullshit,Work

I (barely) survived the ordeal of the annual Hell Day Staff Day.

This year Staff Day Eve was very nearly as bad as Staff Day itself. It was certainly a longer one, clocking in at 13 fun-filled hours as technology rebelled and I honed my non-existent catering skills.

The Powers That Be decided that this year we would serve fruit for breakfast instead of the traditional bagels and cream cheese. Sounds like a good idea, right? Until you have to spend nearly three hours washing and cutting it up and finding things to store it in overnight and places in the refrigerators to jam it into. While I was slicing, dicing, and hating the Whos*, they drifted through the kitchen saying how great it smelled and snitching pieces of watermelon. To a (wo)man, they failed to offer to help. As you would expect.

Right before I started my fruit dissection, I was told that we would need 50 copies each of two different 60 page documents. I set them to print and headed to the kitchen in the naïve belief that they would be printing while I was chopping. Instead, my printer chose this exact moment to run out of toner and stop working completely. When I came to check on its progress, there was none.

I changed all of the toner cartridges and brought the dead ones to the junk room Facilities Guy’s office with a note asking him to order more (which has not happened – yet another detail to keep track of) and went to copy the finally printed documents.

The copier is of a snail-like slowness, yet equipped with a touch screen which gives you the gloomy prognostication of when the job will be finished. Its original estimate was 55 minutes for one of the double-sided 60 page documents. I left it unattended to attend to other matters, and was rewarded by the discovery that it, too, had stopped working, claiming that a part needed to be replaced.

I called the Facilities Guy, who said that you just have to take it out and put it back in. This turned out to be true. So I started the job again and went to copy the other 60 page document on the Medical Records copier. The deplorable quality of the copies was the least of my concerns, since it too stopped after making a couple of the 50 required copies, and it was so late that there was no-one around with superior copier experience to fix it.

On to Plan C, the Behavioral Health copier. I discovered after a couple of copies that it does not collate, instead presenting the hapless user with 50 copies of page 1. I might have expected that the copier there would have a personality disorder. So I cancelled that one and went back to the original copier, which was still slowly churning out the copies of Document One.

When I finally got home about 14 hours after I left it, I couldn’t even have an adult beverage, since I had to be at Starbucks at 6:30 am on the following day, which I was. Don’t even ask me about writing cheap dime store poetry and cutting out puzzle pieces.

The day itself flowed by in a nightmare of prep, clean-up, and running around as it always does. As per usual, the staff all took off around 3:00 or 3:30, leaving me to clean up the FEMA-worthy aftermath and contemplate the seemingly endless vista of these meetings, the annual fundraiser, and Board meetings for what remains of my life. But hey, it was only a 10 hour day!

You can see why working at the jobette on Saturdays doesn’t even seem like work!

*I was delighted, yet saddened, to learn that the same voice artist was Cindy Lou Who and Natasha Fatale after she passed away just short of her 100th birthday.

A YEAR AGO: You guessed it!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Those crazy kitties.

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Jul 22 2017

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life

It’s been a less than stellar week in SuzyWorld™. To be fair, I did bring some of it on myself*, like scheduling the masochistic extravaganza of a dental cleaning and a TB test performed on my unsuspecting skin by a needle novice on the same day. The dental cleaning was as unpleasant and make-up destroying as you would expect, and the disfigurement theme continued as the needle novice caused bleeding, followed by bruising which made reading the test results challenging. For some reason, we have to have these TB tests every year**, though TB seems like a malady of the past, like smallpox. Erica tells me that they have squirrels in her ‘hood who carry the bubonic plague, so maybe it’s just as well. Come to Mendocino County! We know how to party like it’s 1299!

Other unpleasant activities this week included triaging the shopping for the dreaded Staff Day, which will inflict its loathsome self on me on Tuesday. Let’s hope we don’t experience another terrible tragedy like last year’s running out of ranch dressing. You probably saw it on the cover of the New York Post and lists of lesser disasters like the Titanic and the Hindenburg. In their infinite wisdom, the Powers That Be have decided that having ice cream sundaes is the perfect end to the perfect day. Who am I to disagree? I am, however, the person shopping like a junkie at 6:30 am, getting flats of ice cream, cans of spray whipped cream, and family sized bottles of sprinkles. Other than the still shrink-wrapped ice cream, everything was nicely distributed on the immaculate Safeway parking lot when the bag holding them broke.

I hope it’s not a sign.

I ended the week with the delightful early morning discovery that the flash heater had suddenly gone on strike in the manner of a French public servant. I took a flashlight outside and tried to persuade it to wake up, even if I couldn’t, but it stubbornly refused. There may have been a couple of snores coming out of the box around the flash heater, which is located outside rather than inside, against all common sense and manufacturer’s specification. But why bother with such details?

I alerted Megan by text – she was still at work at 5:30 am – and she said she would get Rob to fix it at a more civilized hour. I packed up the car with faux adult attire and beautification equipment and headed to the Starr Center, oddly attired in my kitty pajamas, work shoes, and a sweater. There was no way I was getting dressed twice in one morning. It appears that the lack of hot water at my house is the only reason I ever go to the gym.

At least there were no birds or unexpected appliances in the house this week, so I’m still ahead of the game.

*I hate it when I have no-one to blame but myself.

**They always try to make us have flu shots every year, despite the fact that they have a less than 10% efficacy rate. They aren’t mandatory yet, though they are at the hospital where my sister works. I am mystified as to why they have chosen to take a stand on such an ineffective vaccine for a non-fatal illness. Ah, bureaucracy!

A YEAR AGO: A day of dates.

FIVE YEARS AGO: And an unexpected guest.

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Nov 30 2016

The Disappointment

Published by under Bullshit,TV

You would think that the Gilmore Girls revival would be a bright spot in this darkest of Novembers, but you’d be wrong.

Within five minutes of the first episode, it was obvious that the magic was missing, and it only went downhill from there. Where was the sparkling repartee, the witty cultural references that required their own liner notes in the DVD sets?

Wherever they were, they were not in the show. There was no magic, and no escapism.

  • Why did they make Rory an aimless loser with no home of her own, drifting from couch to couch and with no career after her promising send-off at the end of the show to cover the Obama campaign?

    And would the perfectionist maker of lists really have a boyfriend she couldn’t remember (oh my GOD that shtick got old fast!) for two years and continually forget to break up with? Not to mention having casual sex with Logan, who was a) engaged; 2) dumped Rory when she wouldn’t marry him.

  • OK, Lauren Graham has had a bunch of cosmetic surgery, and not in a good, Jane Fonda way. She is virtually unrecognizable. And why on earth are she and Luke (at least she and Luke are back together) talking about having kids when they are nearly 50? And are we truly to believe that they never talked about it in the decade that they have been together?
  • Twenty, count ’em 20, valuable minutes were hideously and tediously wasted on a musical (I was truly thankful for the inventor of the fast forward button on this Thanksgiving season). A musical, people! Other than Joss Whedon’s genius “Once More with Feeling” on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has there ever been a musical sequence in a TV show that was not gratuitous and painful in equal measure? This was no exception to the rule.
  • Why was Kirk in practically every scene? A little Kirk goes a long, long way. Especially when the writers erroneously consider that accessorizing him with a pig is cute or quaint or funny. It’s not.
  • Yes, it’s a dramedy, but we do not want or need extended scenes of Lorelai and Emily screaming at each other. We have both been there and done that. Nor do we need to be tortured by lengthy flashbacks to Richard’s funeral. While it’s important to acknowledge the huge, Richard-shaped hole in the show, stop rubbing our sobbing faces in it. Couldn’t you have just left it at the oversized portrait?
  • There was a teensy token appearance by Sookie, and somehow, some way, we managed not to learn the sex of the baby she was carrying at the end of the show. I thought I’d at least get to learn that.
  • Showing the oddly stilted and outdated cultural references that pepper the revival, Stars Hollow considers their first gay pride parade. Apparently the lack of gay residents is a hilarious problem, and one used to try and force Taylor to admit he’s gay so they will have more participants – while ignoring the fact that they continually refer to Michel’s invisible husband Frederick. Eventually they give up on the parade and Taylor stays in the closet. Or possibly armoire.
  • Speaking of invisible husbands, we get a glimpse of Mr. Kim! I always thought Mrs. Kim ate him after mating (once). Needless to say, he did not get a speaking role. It was almost a cameo, though.
  • As for those much-vaunted Last Four Words – the show creator has repeatedly said she always had them in mind – they would have been about a zillion times more effective if they had ended the original show, when Rory was 22, rather than when she was 32.

I had been looking forward to it for months, maybe even a year, and it could not have been more disappointing. Maybe you just can’t go home, or to Stars Hollow, again.

A YEAR AGO: A disappointment-free Thanksgiving.

5 responses so far

Sep 25 2016

Now & Then

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Work

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Saturday Morning

Alert the media, y’all! I slept in until it was sunny out on Saturday morning!

It is amazing how a good night’s sleep can improve a girl’s outlook. I slept badly during the recent audit ordeals, despite logging long hours under a lot of pressure, and I think it all finally caught up with me. Hopefully I am now back to new, or new-ish. There’s still a lot of clean-up to do in the wake of the audits, but there’s more time, too.

It was a successful morning of drinking coffee, cuddling with Clyde, and doing a little on line Christmas stocking shopping, because it’s never too early for that. Eventually, I faced the inevitable and did some cooking and laundry to prepare for the week that now looms ahead, but it was nice to enjoy cats, caffeine, and the sun in the garden.

Enquiring minds may wonder why I was not doing my modest preparations for the jobette, which do not include putting on make-up or dressy clothes. The answer is that I lost the jobette recently in an overthrow change of leadership.

The CEO who hired me years ago moved on to greener pastures, and a New Guy was recently hired. In his infinite wisdom, the New Guy has decided to close the office on Saturdays, which is when visitors are here and need information, and stop participating in First Friday, when shops are open late, art is displayed, and wine and nibbles are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. He also wants to eliminate selling souvenirs of any kind.

Both of the people hired since I left have also left, including one who quit with no notice on the day a new person was supposed to start. The golden days of the jobette are definitely over, when I used to feel like I was being paid to hang out with my friends and share my love of this beautiful corner of the world with the visitors.

My only regret is the money, which I currently have no way of replacing.

I see that a year ago, I thought that I was truly finished working at the jobette, though it turned out I was wrong about that, as I am about so many things. The person who was supposed to work Tuesday to Saturday never did, so I ended up filling in again this year. I wonder why I am the only person who doesn’t find working on Saturdays to be unconscionable?

It will be nice to have a little more time, even if it means less money.

3 responses so far

Jul 29 2016

Annual Ordeal

Published by under Bullshit,Work

I got up so early on Hell Day – I mean Staff Day – that Clyde just stayed in bed, like a sane person. Audrey of course bustled out to take on the world and show it who’s boss while I drank coffee and tried to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

I was saddened to note that I was already getting up in the dark again. Hello, darkness, my old enemy…

Picking up the bagels for breakfast, I found that instead of getting the 60 bagels I had ordered, I got a paltry 3 dozen. I had ordered them the week before and called the day before to confirm. This kind of set the tone for the whole day, as I would soon discover.

Arriving at the clinic, I saw that the ever-elusive Facilities Guy had failed to open the wall between the two conference rooms and to set it up, as we had discussed numerous times. The set up includes taking all the tables out and putting in as many rows of chairs as possible. Chairs from both reception areas are pressed into service, so after dropping off my inadequate bagel supply in the kitchen, I headed over to Medical to start dragging chairs to the conference room.

I texted Facilities Guy, and he said he’d be there in a few minutes. It took more minutes than there were bagels, giving me time to do most of the chair hauling. I was washing and displaying the breakfast fruit beside the bagel boxes and cream cheese by the time he arrived.

Other duties included meeting the caterer – we had yellow “caution” tape strung across the driveway to stop people from driving/meandering in – and helping her to set up the quite splendid salad bar, which included mixed greens, grilled chicken, sliced hard-boiled eggs, cheese, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, bacon, croutons, and five different kinds of dressing, along with focaccia rolls. There was water infused with watermelon and mint, lemonade, iced tea and iced green tea. All this was topped off with bite-sized cream puffs and lemon bars, including a small tray of gluten free versions.

You’d think they’d be happy with this, but you’d be wrong. There were complaints that the tea was sweetened, and worse than that, we ran out of ranch dressing. You probably already heard about this on CNN. “Horror in a small town!” Even though there were four other kinds of dressing, I was sent to the store to buy more ranch*. When I came back, I had barely gotten out of the car and triumphantly brought the ranch dressing to the masses before I was informed that we had run out of salad greens. Way to kill the buzz, peeps.

I called the caterer and she arrived on her mission of mercy, bearing additional salad greens. Needless to say, I never got to eat any of the lunch, though I did get to clean it up. The festivities concluded at about 3:30. Most people took off, but I left around 5:00 after – you guessed it – cleaning up after more than 100 people.

I went home hating the Whos and applied wine as an attitude adjustor. Now all I have to worry about is the new boss starting on Monday and the Open House on August 13.

Where’s that corkscrew?

*What the hell IS it, anyway?

A YEAR AGO: Ah, future dishes! You are still in my present.

2 responses so far

Jun 03 2016

Playing Post Office

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Dogs

I have to admit that I don’t check my post office box very often. People who send me things often ask if I have received them and I am embarrassed to tell them that I haven’t bothered to look. Mostly because no good ever comes of it.

This week, I was suitably punished for checking my mail by dental bill* and a 10 minute wait in line behind guy mailing fishing poles (yes, it can be done) and getting multiple money orders. I was trying to pick up a package, which was more easily said than done.

I knew that Darlene, the regular post office clerk, was on vacation, but I did not expect the guy filling in for her to ask me for ID before he would give me my package. Even though I was holding an armful of mail from my PO box with my name and address on it, and wearing my work ID badge which also, you guessed it, has my name on it.

My handbag, with the ID inside, was of course in my unlocked car outside the Gro. I was less than delighted to have to go and get it.

Maybe I should have locked it, since we are apparently in a high crime area. According to the local message boards, there are roving bands of Bernie Sanders sign thieves in the area. The person whose sign was liberated notified the sheriff’s office, so hopefully this crime wave will be nipped in the bud.

My resistance to checking my own mail is nothing compared to my reluctance to check the work post office box in the Big Town, though I arguably do it more often, about once a week**. In contrast to my Hooterville experience, I felt like the Queen of the Big Town Post Office. Roger, who used to be the mailman at the jobette but now has a desk job, stopped by to say hello while I waited in line. I told him he cleans up pretty nicely and might almost be mistaken for a responsible adult. He winked and said they’d be pretty far off the mark. While we were talking, Denice who used to be the Hooterville postmistress but is now the Big Town postmistress, stopped to give me a hug. I was pleased to hear that her dog Ginger, who was her faithful coworker at the post office and one of Hooterville’s most popular residents, was doing well, though she is now retired from post office duties. I used to go to the post office more often when Ginger was there to pet and play with. A girl needs the proper motivation, you know.

*Of the $99 charged for the filling touch up which was so minor that no anesthesia was required, $22 was covered. I have to say that insurance has been almost as huge a disappointment to me as painkillers were. I did not anticipate the giant deductible ($1,000, anyone?) you have to pay before the insurance people start paying for anything, which is of course in addition to the monthly payments to the very same insurance people. It’s kind of like not having insurance, only with the fun of paying for it every month.

**The main purpose is to get the weekly paper and check the obituaries so I can send condolence cards to the families of deceased patients. Other duties as assigned…

A YEAR AGO: The Evil Genius gave me a whopping vet bill on my birthday eve. Thanks, Audrey!

One response so far

Apr 24 2016

Cut Off

Published by under Bullshit,Technology

So, yeah. Still no internet at Suzy Manor as of Saturday morning.

The technician did not show up on my blog’s birthday/anniversary last week. I called them three times that day. The first time, they said that the technician would call me back in 15 minutes. He didn’t. The second time, they said they would call me back with an update. They didn’t. The third time, they told me that the appointment had been double booked somehow and the two appointments, like a double negative, had cancelled each other out.

This was despite the fact that I had called them the evening before to confirm the appointment and was told that it was a priority appointment since the internet had then been out for over a week.
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They made another appointment for that Friday. The same evening, I received a call from the local (or possibly local-ish) dispatch guy, who informed me that:

  • There was no technician in my area on Friday, so the Friday appointment was not going to happen.
  • The earliest a technician would/could be there was Tuesday the 26th.
  • The folks who answer the 800 number, which I called three times on the day of Appointment One, do not have the capability of contacting the technicians, so the technician was never going to call me that day. Nor was the Friday appointment ever going to happen. And they knew it.

That’s a lot of lying in a relatively short time frame. By the time service is restored – assuming it actually does happen on Appointment Three (three times the charm?) it will have been out for two weeks.

I will have to call them again at some point and ask that they prorate the bill, but I just can’t deal with it now. Also my faith that they will do so is hovering at about the same level as my belief that they will show up on Tuesday, which is to say, Not At All.

UPDATE: I am pleased to report that as of Tuesday afternoon, the internet is reportedly working at my hippie hovel! Apparently the problem was something to do with a connection problem inside the modem and a faulty cable. Or something. Insert Charlie Brown teacher voice here. It only took two weeks and six phone calls!

A YEAR AGO: A perfect day.

3 responses so far

Jan 16 2016

Ode to an Engine Light

Published by under Bullshit,Car,Country Life,Family,Work

I just wouldn’t be Me if there wasn’t something wrong with my car.

I was driving to work one morning, listening to Bobbie Gentry* and being blinded by oncoming traffic as usual when I noticed the bright orange engine light blink to life on the console. This did not console me. I still think that they should be little dollar signs instead of engines, maybe Michelin style with $ indicating a routine repair and $$$$ indicating one you have to mortgage your house for, or possibly your soul, assuming you have one.

I texted my brother Jonathan and asked him if I could stop by his place on my way home from work to avail myself of his unpaid mechanic services, and he said yes. He recently put up the car port that used to house my beautiful old Mustang Josephine:

josephine

and when he did, he poured a concrete foundation which included a mechanic’s pit so he can work on the family cars in relative comfort. He used to lie in a ditch to do this, so it’s a big step up. The car port also houses a solar powered washer and dryer along with a body-sized freezer. Just in case.

Jonathan read the code and then looked it up while I petted his mini cat Scout. She is about 2/3 the size of a regulation cat, but her purr is twice as loud as most cats’ and her fur is twice as soft.

The code means that the engine is not getting hot enough. Apparently this is not as bad as having your engine do the opposite, but it will have to be addressed. Jonathan checked the coolant level and the hoses and it seems they are not the cause of the excess coolness. I was once again chastised for not keeping a better eye on the gauges “They aren’t there just to be pretty, Suz”) and got into further trouble when it was revealed that I had failed to procure a Chilton repair manual.

In my defense, I thought I had, but when I went to look for it, it turned out that what I thought was the manual for the current car was the one for its predecessor** and of no use at all. I ordered a new one, which should be here soon, and the considered opinion of my unpaid mechanic is that all it will probably cost to make the engine light go out (for now, anyway – I’m sure it will rear its ugly head agin sometime in the future) is a $30 thermostat for the car and a batch of my world-famous cheese biscuits for the mechanic.

*She was gorgeous and the poignant song I was listening to, “Ode to Billie Joe”, knocked the Beatles out of first place on the charts in 1967. You know your life isn’t going well when you’re listening to a lot of country music. Some of my favorite lines recently are: “Tearstains on my pillow/bottles in the trash/I’m a little bit long on sorrow and a little bit short on cash.”

****Even though I have only ever owned Fords. If they were good enough for Clyde Barrow, they are good enough for me. You can read Clyde’s (alleged) letter to Mr. Ford here. And many other fascinating missives. You’re welcome.

A YEAR AGO: Visiting the ever-fabulous Erica and Jessica.

One response so far

Dec 19 2015

The Office Party

Published by under Bullshit,Calamity Suzy,Work

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It turns out hell is decorated quite nicely

Or “How I Learned More Than I Ever Needed to Know About Lottery Tickets”.

I should get a t-shirt that says “I survived the office holiday party”. Or maybe a medal…

Planning a party for more than 100 people is enough of an undertaking without the Powers that Be suddenly changing the date of said shindig to be a week earlier than planned. I had to unplan and replan everything that had already been planned.

I thought I had everything in place for the big day, but I was Foolish and Deluded, as Winnie the Pooh would say. The caterer emailed me that morning asking if it was OK if they brought the food an hour earlier than planned, since they had to get their van in the shop by 1:00. Did it matter if it wasn’t? And should I worry about the mechanically challenged van?

The holiday party was also the venue selected to distribute bonus checks. Four of the many employees have not worked long enough to get a bonus, and their manager was concerned that they would feel left out when everyone else got an envelope. Although the plan was known for weeks ahead of time, this manager waited until the morning of the party to freak about it and ask that these people get some kind of token gesture in envelope form.

It was decided to get lottery tickets. My boss said, “Get $20 worth” and said to put them on the store credit card. I dutifully went to the store and discovered that you need cash to buy lottery tickets. So I bought $20 worth with my own money.

Returning to work, I asked to be reimbursed, and while the accounting person was dealing with that, went to give the lottery tickets to my boss. She then told me that she meant $20 per person, not $20 total. I guess I should have known that “Get $20 worth” meant “Get $80 worth”. So silly of me.

I asked the accounting person to front me the money, and she gave me a $100 bill from the safe. Armed with this, I returned to the store, only to learn that not only do you need cash to buy lottery tickets, said cash cannot exceed $20 denominations.

Back to work to get the $100 bill changed into lottery-appropriate $20 bills, and then yet another trip to the store to buy said lottery tickets. “They’d better effin’ win something,” I said to the accounting person*.

The caterer’s van limped into the parking lot about then, and I helped them unload the giant insulated boxes of food. It soon became apparent that there were no chafing dishes to keep the food hot during the hour before the festivities began, although there were supposed to be. I called the party rental folks down the street, who happened to have some, and I went to the car for the fourth time in less than hour and headed to the rental place.

As I loaded the last minute chafing dishes into the car, I couldn’t help wondering how I had gone from managing millions of dollars of other people’s money to wrangling chafing dishes and buying other people lottery tickets. Clearly adulting is not one of my talents. Good job in the life department there, Suz.

Needless to say, I was too busy running around, cleaning up, and keeping dishes full to eat any of the food, though it got enthusiastic reviews. And no, I didn’t leave early, even though the halls were pretty much vacant by 3:30 in the afternoon.

I definitely didn’t win this lottery, even though I now know how to buy the tickets.

*They did; one person won $20 and another won $15.

A YEAR AGO: At home in a wine cask.

3 responses so far

Sep 24 2015

Darkness

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life

It seems strange that I had more to write about when spending more time at home in Hooterville than I do now I’m out in the world five or six days a week. It’s probably because I’m spending that time immured in work in my office, and who wants to read about that? Work has severely decreased my reading time as well, and I am at an all-time low for books read this year. Even someone as math-challenged as I am can figure out that + work = – fun.

It was a preview of coming attractions this morning. I left early to fit in some grocery shopping before work, and it was both dark and foggy, rendering high beams useless. The fog throws the light back at the car instead of lighting the dark road, so you have to drive along in an anemic puddle of light, hoping that a deer doesn’t suddenly loom up in the road. When it comes to hitting deer (and falling in the water when he, Megan, and Rob lived on boats at Pier 39 in San Francisco), my brother says there’s only two kinds of people: them that has, and them that will. I’m hoping to stay in the latter category as long as possible.

The familiar Ridge, which I have driven so many times, becomes a scary and unknown place in the dark, a likely setting for a horror novel, and speeds which seem moderate or even slow in daylight hours seem extremely speedy when deprived of daylight. There are no streetlights at all on the Ridge or on storied Highway One, so it’s like driving blind. Indeed, I am often blinded by traffic heading the other way. I squint more when driving in the dark than I ever do in the bright California sun, blasted by the headlights of oncoming traffic. The anemic puddle of light is pretty much my only option, since most traffic is heading south in the morning (also mysterious, since they are heading away from the Big Town, where the jobs are), and I’d just be turning the high beams on and off every five seconds.

Pretty soon, I will be driving in the dark both ways, especially after the twice-yearly madness of the time change. It has taken me a while to realize that the entire purpose of the time change is to make sure that you have to get up in the dark for 9 or 10 months of the year. As soon as there is a glimmer of hope in the pre-dawn hours, it is cruelly snatched away by the Powers That Be. I find it mysterious that we have not risen up and rebelled, especially since most of us have to rise when it’s still dark out, which just adds insult to injury. It’s still going to get dark sooner than most people would prefer, but that’s the time when you curl up with your cats and a book or a hockey game, maybe a glass of wine, and enjoy the comforts of home. It’s cozy. And it’s Nature! Deal with it!

/Rant

A YEAR AGO: My bathroom remodel is almost finished. Brought to me by Rob, using all found and reclaimed materials.

5 responses so far

Sep 15 2015

I Should Have Known Better*

Published by under Bullshit

Meanwhile, back in Absurd World™…
I foolishly checked the mail on Friday, even though I know no good ever comes of it**, and was greeted with a dental bill for more than $100. You may remember that I lost part of a filling recently, and had to visit the dentist to get a temporary fix (and pay for that) and then the real fix (and pay again). For some reason, I believed that having insurance after about 15 years of not having any would actually make it less expensive to visit the tooth doctor, but I should have known better than that.

I called the dental insurance folks, who informed me that my luxurious dental plan only covers up to amalgam (the old school style silver) fillings, and I had a resin one put in. I asked if the dental staff should not have told me that resin wasn’t covered and offered me the amalgam option instead, and the insurance person said that amalgam fillings are no longer done.

Me: “So it only covers up to a service that is no longer provided?”
Them: “Correct.” [Pause] “It’s your responsibility to know what’s covered.”

It seems I was better off, or at least no worse off, when I had no insurance. Now I’m paying into it every month, and when I have the temerity to use it, I still have to pay. I ended up paying $200 of the $238 bill for the filling. All in all, it doesn’t seem like a great system.

*Title inspired by little Miss Marina, the Beatlemaniac. 🙂

**To be fair, sometimes there are postcards and The New Yorker.

A YEAR AGO: Random updates.

6 responses so far

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