Early Morning Rain

Hi! It’s 4:30 am! Want to take one guess why I’m up at this ridiculous hour?

You’re right. Of course it’s Audrey.

I tried to ignore her relentless pounding at the balcony door and the scritch of her claws against the glass of the sliding doors downstairs, but eventually, as she knew I would, I got up, put the outside lights on (go away, monsters!) and let her out in the storm that’s been battering the house since yesterday*, hoping that her stripy, featherweight body wouldn’t blow away. Possibly the wind wouldn’t dare to mess with her, though.

As I turned on the coffeemaker and the heater, I was thankful for the power still being on, a bet I would have lost. The winds were furious and the rain was slashing yesterday afternoon and into the evening. My friend and neighbor Jim said that one of his inside doors had slammed shut because of wind blasting through a dog door. Yikes.

So I went to bed resigned to waking up in the cold and dark, which I did, but not in the way I expected.

Um…thanks for the extra-long Sunday, Audrey?

There’s still a chance of a power outage as another storm is set to rage through here today, but I hope not. March has come in like a lion!

ocean
Stormy Ocean

My house has sprung a couple of new leaks, which I will have to tell Mark about. One upstairs, and one downstairs. The exact location of leaks can be complicated by the curved walls/roof.

Outside, the orchid has begun to bloom:

orchids

We are a little concerned about the orchard over at the family estate, though. There are blossoms on all the trees, so if the rain and wind blow them off, there will be a lot less fruit this summer. Hopefully our bees have been busy pollinating.

*Just emptied four inches of rain out of the gauge!

A YEAR AGO: March madness, in the hated form of Daylight Savings Time. Maybe all my complaining is finally paying off, because a San Jose assemblyman is planning to introduce a bill to Congress to end the madness. As the Beach Boys would say, wouldn’t it be nice?

Home Again

My culinary errands were not 100% successful. I found myself unable to face the line at Swan’s. Even at 10:30 am, the line was a block long and my patience wasn’t. I also struck out at Bob’s Doughnuts, where they were sold out of old fashioneds, so I settled for two cinnamon cake doughnuts. Of course Victor’s never lets me down, and I bought a surprise pizza for Megan and Rob to thank them for their cat sitting while I was away.

It was a bright, sunny day as I left the city, the Bridge gleaming International Orange in the sun, the white sails of boats dotting the blue Bay and the pastel houses tumbling down the hills. The hills closer to home were the deep green of winter, but starred with California poppies, daffodils, and calla lilies. The vineyards slept, but around them trees were hazed with green leaves and clouds of pink and white blossoms. Weeping willows dipped their long fronds into rivers that are rivers again instead of trickles.

Through the tall, dark, and handsome redwoods and out to the ocean, which was showing off for me. For the first time in three years, I missed my brother’s Polar Plunge, where he jumps in the freezing water to benefit Special Olympics, usually after singing a song while in costume. This year, it was “Under the Sea” from “The Little Mermaid”, and Megan was there to cheer him on and send me this photo of our merman after the jump:

JD

I am so proud of him!

Arriving home, I was greeted by Luna and Lupe, wagging their tails and jumping for joy as I petted them, and Megan, who happened to arrive home at the same time. Megan was much more helpful at unloading the car than the dogs were. Pets, I have noticed, never feel that they need to lend a paw with the housework.

Megan’s delight at the unexpected pizza delighted me. And it was nice to have unloading help. As we worked, we caught up on what had happened during my short absence.

Clyde came running to me, meowing his distinctive ClydeSound(TM), and I picked him up and cuddled him while he purred and pressed his head against me. Audrey, of course, does not permit such indignities as Being Picked Up, and she kept swatting me every time I passed her. I’m not sure if she was asking for attention or letting me know how annoyed she was at my absence, but hey – it’s Audrey. She also chased Lupe and Luna away with her tail all puffed up and giant.

My house seems amazingly quiet after Monterey and San Francisco, with their traffic and sirens and people yelling and honking. All I can hear are frogs peeping and cats purring. I’m really glad that I listened to Megan’s advice and came home on Saturday, so I have all of Sunday to relax and get ready to jump back on the hamster wheel on Monday.

Road Trip

You guys! I actually left the County after a year and a half. Alert the media!

I’m coming to you from Monterey, where it’s warm enough to have the door of my motel room open at 7:30 pm as I await the delivery of Chinese food.

While I love food delivery as much as – well, probably more than – the next girl, and suffer from slothitude in about the same way, in my defense, I left the house at 10:00 am and got here at 4:30.

Granted, it’s 260 miles, including a long stretch of winding, narrow country roads, and I stopped for lunch in San Francisco, but still. Traffic was pretty bad in some parts, especially for a for a girl whose idea of “traffic” is waiting for two trucks to turn onto the highway or being stuck behind tourists driving 15 miles below the speed limit. I amused myself by watching people desperately switching between the two available lanes on this highway, as if this would make any difference whatsoever. Glacially paced traffic is glacially paced traffic, my friend, especially when it stretches as far as the eye can see. It was that mystery traffic, too, where there’s no accident and no particular reason for the slowness, or for it picking up the pace again.

It was a little daunting to see the arrival time on the GPS keeping getting later and later, and I mentally revised my plan of doing some shopping on arrival to having an adult beverage and calling for delivery food after unpacking.

At least I know everything is fine back home. Rob came by before I left this morning, so I could give him last minute instructions and he could tell me about his latest woodworking endeavor which he will be working on in my absence, ingeniously combining cat sitting and home improvement.

The shelves he recently built for me were such a success:

shelves

that he is going to build more for me. Maybe with a cabinet underneath with sliding doors. We’ll see! I am looking forward to it.

It was also good that he came by when he did, because Clyde had thrown up on the quilt, so I had to wash it. I did not want to leave it wet, or leave it in the propane dryer with its scary open flame, so it was good knowing Rob was there to keep an eye on it. Also to pet the kitties. Clyde has never been without both Roscoe and me at the same time, and Audrey is not exactly cuddly, so I know he will need pets and fussing from Rob. Even Audrey likes it when Rob pets her, so I imagine they will all keep each other company.

Dinner’s ready, and tomorrow is another day. I am planning to visit the famous Aquarium. I believe I can walk my traffic free way there. Stay tuned…

A YEAR AGO: I seem to be living my very own Groundhog Day. A year ago Rob was working on my house, and I was battling Audrey’s fleas a year ago, just like I am now. Hmmm…

Weekend Update

And in the “some things never change” department…

I spent most of Saturday in a concerted effort to get rid of a secret flea invasion which has made Audrey scabalicious once again. Clyde and I are bite-less, but the delicious Audrey is apparently the French Laundry for fleas, being a destination location for discerning siphonaptera.

Or else one or two of them sneezed on her or walked by, since her intolerance for the presence of fleas is about the same as her intolerance for everything else, from canine passers-by to being kept inside against her will.

I am always surprised that there is a flea siege in the dead of winter, but a perusal of my blog shows that there was one the same time last year, so I am a little slow on the uptake.

The day was spent in washing all the bedding, sprinkling diatomaceous earth on the carpets, working it in with a broom, and vacuuming it up after it sat for a while, as well as applying Revolution to the napes of my annoyed cats’s necks. Unfortunately, it comes in packs of three, and not having to use the third one reduced me to tears.

After a long day of lachrymose housework, it was good to have dinner with Lu and Megan before going to a reading at the theater.

I had never been to a reading before, and didn’t know what to expect. I thought the actors would sit on stools and read from scripts, but there were sets (who knew you could do so much with a folding screen?), props, and costumes, and some of my favorite actors. The reading was a trio of reimagined Grimm fairytales, each grimmer than the last (a stepmother kills her troublesome stepchild and feeds his stewed body to his father; a father is forced to chop off his daughter’s hands by a devil). Despite the gruesomeness, we all enjoyed the acting and it was a great evening. I hope they do this again during the new season.

A YEAR AGO: Fighting the flea fight. Again.

Friends

The kitties and I were yanked out of our (in my case) much-needed beauty sleep last night by a wild and crazy storm. At times like this, I wish my house was not quite so well equipped with acres of glass and skylights, since I felt like I was right in the middle of the storm, with the thunder shaking the house, rain and hail blasting the roof/walls and lightning flashing every which where. The ocean was pretty active this morning, dashing itself spectacularly against the rocks, so I don’t think we’re out of the woods (or storms) just yet.

It’s a dramatic change from the past few days, when it’s been close to 70 degrees F (around 20C), warm enough to leave the doors open. Cherry and pear trees are in full bloom, and there are drifts of calla lilies* and daffodils on the side of the road. Spring has definitely begun to spring.

I went to pick up some work from my old friends at the jobette (they have had a difficult time successfully replacing me, so I have picked up some of my old duties on the side), and as I was heading back to my car, I heard a voice call out, “Is that my friend?” It was Monica, heading home from work with Stella’s son Joey sitting in the passenger seat, his distinctive and ever-comic ears streaming happily in the wind as they drove past.

On my way home, I stopped by Erin’s house to admire her plush new carpet and have a glass of wine (which I managed not to spill on the new carpet). It was great to catch up with her and her family. Her son is learning to play the piano, so he provided some music as well as making me an origami Yoda. He also gave me the mistletoe this past Christmas.

As I headed home, I thought of how lucky I am to live here, surrounded by friends and family and, well, love.

*For some reason, I associate calla lilies with funerals. Also carnations. Calla lilies grow like weeds here.

A YEAR AGO: Laying Megan and Rob’s sweet kitty Ramona to rest under the pet tree. She is resting in peace in very good company.

These Magic Moments

Good morning! It’s a rainy one, and I’m trying to ignore the wind chimes. Yellow Dog just walked by, on his endless quest for his old friend and playmate, Schatzi. I know how he feels. Part of me is still convinced I might, just might, find my Roscoe waiting for me when I get home from work, even though most of me knows it will never happen. My heart is slow in catching up with my head.

I arrived at work on Monday to find that an admirer had left me a beautiful orchid (“to celebrate your beautiful heart and spirit”) and that Monica had left me a beautiful Christmas present, which was revealed to be two exquisite wine glasses with a peacock feather pattern and a handmade rosemary scented soap:

IMG_2267

I was delighted and told her that she made my day. Monica replied that each day has a “perfect moment” and we should share them with each other, so we have been doing that ever since. Here are a couple of mine from this week:

My perfect moment today was an iridescent, emerald green hummingbird resting in a stray ray of golden afternoon sunshine. Just for a moment.

Crossing the Hooterville Bridge, the last wooden bridge left on historic Highway One, with an empty road ahead of me ending in a glimpe of pink sunset peeking between the clouds, with a skein of black birds wheeling overhead.

As I drove down the muddy driveway, I noticed the thinnest crescent of moon glowing in the sky with Venus glittering nearby. The sky was the unearthly enameled blue of Italian Renaissance paintings.

Yesterday it was the incredible Technicolor sky as I arrived at work:

IMG_2272

On my way home from work on Friday, I stopped in to say hello to my brother, in keeping with my New Year’s resolution. He was making soup and his mini cat Scout was curled up napping, though she deigned to be petted. She’s about 2/3 of regulation cat size and is super soft.

It was nice to catch up with Jonathan. He is plotting to get the grandfather clock at my house running again this year, and I’m hoping we will have dinner together soon. As I drove home, I thought how lucky I am to have such wonderful, inspiring people in my life.

A YEAR AGO: The madness of Covered California. You can’t make this up.

Shiny New Year

2015
Goodbye, 2015

The last day of the old year and the first day of the new one both dawned bright and beautiful. I ended the year on an industrious note. First I applied expensive toxins to my remaining cats, earning the patented Glare of Death from Audrey and making Clyde cringe under the stairs, which made me cringe, both because I knew he was upset and because it reminded me of his lost brother Roscoe, who always slunk in and out of the room under the stairs.

I find it mystifying that the cats have fleas in the depths of winter, when you’d think the cold and rain would have eliminated them, but Audrey is scabby and crabby, so there are at least one or two, either in residence or in passing, since in keeping with her general intolerance of everything, she is spectacularly intolerant of fleas.

De-fleaing (or hoping to de-flea) the cats led to washing all the bedding (four fun-filled loads) and vacuuming, and while I was at it, I cleaned up my desk:

desk

so the house ended the year clean and shiny, ready for the shiny new year.

I headed to the Gro for a couple of items so I could make faux pho for dinner, stopping by my brother’s place on the way for the last hug of the year. The Ridge was white with frost, and the sun burning it off made a thin mist in the air, like smoke against the blue sky. Down at the store, I picked up a couple of late breaking Christmas cards and ran into our friend who made the epic family garden possible as well as the necessary groceries.

Last night, on the last night of the old year, Clyde cuddled next to me and the Evil Genius purred on my lap. All was forgiven. As I sipped local sparkling wine by the sparkling Christmas tree and indulged in the final season of “Downton Abbey”, I felt a spark of hope for the new year. May it be kinder and gentler than its predecessor.

Happy new year to all of you from all of us!

A YEAR AGO: A frosty new year.

Christmas Morning

amaryllis

Merry Christmas, everyone! The amaryllis greeted the day with brand-new holiday blooms.

Here in Hooterville, it dawned bright and sunny, and you know what that means: it’s cold! Clyde and I are sitting by the heater and watching the Queen’s Speech together. I always find it inspiring, but this year I was particularly touched by her saying, “Christmas is a good time to be thankful for for all that brings light to our lives.”

Last night’s festivities were delightful. I can’t tell you how it gladdened my heart to see our old friend Clayton coming through my door with his beautiful smile and his friend John in tow. John also lives in San Francisco, but he hails from Birmingham, and he is a total hoot. It was nice to have an English voice at our celebrations again after all these years.

Clyde took one look at the visitors and fled, like Roscoe used to do, and hid in the studio until the evening was over, also like Roscoe. He used to be the life of the party, strolling among the guests for pets and admiration. Audrey joined him there and they both only emerged when the coast was finally clear. Maybe my cats are no longer party animals.

Everyone else was, though, and more wine was drunk and food was eaten than I expected, and a good time was had by all.

As for today, I will make cheese biscuits and get the garlic mashed potatoes ready to go. The salad and dressing are ready, and Jonathan is in charge of the ham. Megan is going to take Clayton and John for a walk with the dogs somewhere scenic, and Erica is going to take them mushroom hunting in the early afternoon. One of the many prizes she won at the County Fair this year was for wool dyed with mushrooms she foraged on the family property.

And that means…I will have an afternoon with Jessica! When she returned from her most recent visit with her deadbeat dad, she told Erica, “Thank you for saving me from the gaping maw of normalcy.” Is it any wonder she is my favorite kid on the planet?

Merry Christmas to all of you from all of us!

Getting Ready

The day after I got home from my mini break, I put the stockings together (at least, the ones I’m responsible for) with the soundtrack from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to inspire me.

Everyone gets a quarter and a clementine in the toe of their stocking and a candy cane* at the top, because that’s how my parents did it and it’s nice to have that tradition still.

Last year, I started wrapping the “present-y” things in the stockings, so it makes opening them more fun. It’s a drag when you’re doing it, especially for the wrapping challenged like me, but it’s so worth it when the stockings are opened.

Clyde supervised, much as he supervised Rob during the bathroom renovation. He has a talent for this. He has changed since we lost his brother. He rarely goes outside now. I don’t know if it’s because of the rain (though that never stopped him before), or because he saw what happened to Roscoe or knows on some deeper level, or because he’s sad. He sleeps on my head again, like he did when was a baby, and is a lot more vocal about needing attention and following me around.

He sits on my desk and stares outside, but when I open the door, he won’t go outside. Is he looking for Roscoe? It reminds me of how Yellow Dog still comes around looking for his friend and playmate Schatzi two years after she too vanished into the woods. I would love to know what goes on in their minds.

*In “classic flavor”, per Jessica’s preference. This year I put a roll of SweeTarts in hers and Erica’s. Erica was bemoaning her lack of romantic success recently, and I said it was because she’s like a five pound bag of SweeTarts. She loved this so much that she posted about it on Facebook, so I think she’ll get a kick out of it.

Mini Break

I took a break from my Roscoe-less house and spent a night in the Big Town.

First, I left work early (!) and went to meet Angelika at a lovely, hidden away salon (hidden away in the Big Town rather than the Big Woods). She works there one day a week now, so it will be easier for me to pop in and get beautified now that I work in the Big Town so much.

Angelika greeted me with a warm hug as always. She has such a joyful yet restful presence, the perfect thing at any time but especially for a girl who is fighting the tide of sadness at the holidays. She cut about three inches off my hair and, as always, made it look better than I ever thought possible, while simultaneously lifting my spirits and making me feel hopeful again.

After my glamification, I did a little shopping in the heart of downtown and picked up dinner from the ever-crowded and ever-delicious Piaci’s Pizza, and then headed to the hotel.

From my days at the jobette, I still have many friends in the lodging industry, so I was able to get a lovely room at an equally lovely price. The room looked over a creek and estuary, where ducks met and played in the sunset water:

estuary

Looking to the right, there was a peek of ocean past the trestle bridge and historic Highway One. I watched the streetlights and house lights wink on as the pink sunset light faded into darkness.

I took a glass of wine and repaired to the enormous soaking tub with bath salts and bath gel thoughtfully provided:

tub

As I floated in the embrace of the warm water, I felt myself relaxing. I tried to look my Roscoe feelings right in the face, acknowledge them, and let them go, at least for now. I decided: he had an ideal cat life, he was never sick a day in his life, was always loved. I was lucky to have had him at all. And we all know it’s never long enough.

I had dinner while enjoying a “Gilmore Girls” marathon on the thoughtfully provided DVD player, and slept a dreamless sleep. In the morning, I had coffee on the balcony overlooking the estuary, enjoying the view and the playing birds. I went out for breakfast, ran a couple of errands, stopped at the post office to find a boxful of Christmas cards (many of them glittery, which I love) and came home to find Audrey and Clyde waiting for me.

It was a nice little break.

Let There Be Lights

You’d think being heartbroken over losing Roscoe would mean no Christmas decorations, but you’d be wrong. Part of my survival strategy is squeezing every little bit of joy out of every little thing, whether it’s Fred the hummingbird hovering like a jewel outside my office window or cuddling with Clyde before the alarm goes off in the morning darkness.

I decided more light and sparkle were needed, so I hauled out the aged Christmas tree:

tree

and twined lights up the driftwood banister:

stairs

I put the wreath on the door:

wreath

The mistletoe in the middle is a gift from an 8 year old admirer, “So you’ll get lots of Christmas kisses.”

I realize I never did show you the lights on the tree in the outdoor living room:

lights

So the house is cheerful and sparkly on the rare occasions when the power stays on. It’s been a wild and stormy couple of weeks, in more ways than one.

A YEAR AGO: The horror of interviewing for what would turn out to be the hell job. Ignorance can be bliss, and interviews can be better than the actual jobs.

The Final Mystery

roscoepoleRoscoe

Roscoe is gone.

I came home one evening, when it was still light out, and found that Roscoe wasn’t in the house. I called him to no avail. Since it was a rainy and windy night, I thought he’d be home soon, but he wasn’t. I was up most of the night, calling his name with increasing desperation in the stormy darkness, but he never came home.

Roscoe was the most skittish cat I have ever met, reacting instantly to the slightest noise. He was smart, fast, athletic – he could climb trees in seconds, and do a mouse drive by in less time than that – and invisible in the darkness in his inky black fur. He grew up here in these woods. It seems all the odds were in his favor, and I never thought this would happen to him.

Rob helped me search all the sheds and outbuildings, as well as the logging road and the Ridge. He told me that the logging companies have been working on the haul roads around here, and between that and the drought, it has flushed out many creatures like foxes and wildcats, who probably took my beloved boy.

Rob told me that you have to feel your feelings and take it a day at a time. It is amazing what a huge hole one feather-light, stealthy cat can leave in your heart and your house, which suddenly seems empty with only two cats in it.

It’s especially painful since Roscoe really blossomed over the past few months, sitting on my lap every morning and often in the evening as well. He maintained his Mysterious Mr. Roscoe way of slinking around the house and being super skittish, but he was more openly affectionate than ever. He slept with me every night, and one of my greatest pleasures was smelling his strangely rough, yet soft fur, which had a unique scent of piney woods and warm Roscoe. He had an inherent dignity in everything he did, and I always felt like it was an honor to be part of his world. His loss is almost unbearable, and I’m spending a lot of time crying in the car and coaching myself to keep it together at work, at least on the outside.

I don’t know how to get through this. And I don’t know how to live with the new and terrifying knowledge that something terrible can happen to my few remaining cats in the daytime. When the Beautiful June Bug vanished on the night of my birthday several years ago, I naturally assumed it was the monsters in the darkness that stole her away, and if I kept the remaining cats inside during darkness, they would be fine. Since that is not true, or is no longer true, I don’t know how to find peace with the knowledge that when I pet them goodbye in the morning, I may be petting them goodbye forever. How do cops’ wives do it?

I also feel like I failed June and Roscoe and that I am a terrible pet parent. My cats’ survival rate is 50% at this point. Not getting any more cats after Clyde and Audrey leave my life (may those horrible events be many years away and be peaceful, please) would be a solution, but a catless life is a sad thing to contemplate. As usual in life and death, there are no good answers.

And now there’s no Roscoe, either.

A YEAR AGO: I had all three cats. The Christmas tree was up and there was some weather coming.

Cattitude

Roscoe has really stepped up his hunting skills lately. He brought home two dead squirrels* last week, and I rescued a chipmunk from his jaws of death on the weekend. It ran away while I laughed evilly and Roscoe ran up a tree in about a split second. I was pretty impressed with his athleticism.

Barely a week goes by without an exploded bird on the carpet or bloodstains on the floor, and Roscoe has also busied himself with ridding the house of mice which I didn’t know existed. There was one behind the microwave, which his patient lying in wait:

IMG_2064

eventually unearthed.

I’m not sure why he’s become such a prolific serial killer lately, but I can’t say it’s a happy development. I especially hate it when the cats kill birds, though I have stopped crying as I dispose of their feather-light, feathery corpses.

Oddly, Roscoe has become more cuddly at the same time as he has become the terror of the local bird and rodent population. He sits on my lap every morning when I have coffee, which he hasn’t done since he was a kitten, and sleeps with me almost every night, at least part of it. I guess you have to take the good with the bad.

The other kitties are pretty much the way they always have been. Clyde is his cuddly, mama’s boy self. His other main interests in life are food, napping (he snores!) and treats, not necessarily in that order. Audrey is still terrorizing the neighbor dogs, perfecting the Glare of Death, and controlling me with the force of her mind, the way it should be.

*Preferable to the undead variety. Zombie animals are the worst. ~shudder~

A YEAR AGO: Last Halloween. Little did I know it would be our last Halloween as Jessica’s auntourage, though I really should have suspected those days were numbered once the double digits made their appearance.

Manic Monday

Well, the week started out with a bang that made me whimper.

When my boss arrived on Monday, she flooded my desk with a tsunami of hand-written paper, all of which had to be typed up or made into charts:

paper

While I was still assessing the damage and estimating the girl hours to get it done, she asked me to come into her office and close the door.

I immediately felt like I was being called to the principal’s office, and started mentally going through the things I could have done, followed by the things I could have been caught doing, and pretty much came up blank, since all I ever do is work.

My boss then told me that she is retiring at the end of the year, aka two months from now. An internal person has agreed to take the job, and she does not have an assistant, so I’m assuming I still have a job. But it will be different, and I kind of feel like I’ve had enough new jobs and bosses over the past few months. I tried not to take it personally that she’s leaving six months after I arrived. Maybe it will be a good thing. I will almost certainly be typing fewer hand-written pieces of paper.

Later, as I sat at my desk packaging up the remains of my boss’ lunch for her to take home to her dogs (a literal doggie bag!), I thought of how weird my job is, and that was before I got the call from the woman in Hawaii who is looking to adopt and would like us to give her a heads up if any patients tell us they would like to give up their child.

When I got home, I found deconstructed bird all over the lovely living room carpet:

floor

Deconstructed birds are much more delightful in high end restaurants than on my floor. It was the perfect end to the perfect nine and a half hour day. After I vacuumed, I had a dose or two of Vitamin V, which always improves my outlook.

A YEAR AGO: Things were even worse. I lost my job, which I still miss every single day. And the jobette was in mortal peril. I still miss the jobette every single day, too.

Pick Up on Mouse Street

roscoe

Above you see a rare photo of the Mysterious Mr. Roscoe in his native habitat. Unlike his little brother Clyde (I think of Roscoe as being the big brother even though they are litter mates and the exact same age), Roscoe tends to go out and stay out all day, unless the weather isn’t up to his high standards. You know how native Californians are.

So I often don’t see him when I’m home, which makes it all the more surprising that I was an observer of his superhero antics yesterday. He came around the corner into the kitchen, leapt gracefully onto the kitchen counter, snatched a mouse from behind (or possibly on top of) the microwave, and then jumped onto the floor, mouse in mouth, and vanished into the woods.

All this happened much faster than the time it took me to write it or you to read it, and there was no time for me to intervene in the mouse’s interests (sorry, mouse!). The casualness and the athleticism were equally impressive.

Makes me wonder what else I miss when I’m not home.

Day Off

Megan and I pass each other in our cars most days. One of us is on her way to work, and the other one is on her way home. I always look for her, much as I used to listen for her coming home at night when she lived with me as a teenager, and it always makes me happy to see her and exchange waves. Even in the brief time I see her, I have some idea of how her night shift went. If we meet up closer to town, she left late, and if her windows are open all the way, she’s tired and the cool air is helping to keep her alert on the long drive home.

On Friday, I was delighted by the sight of a fawn so young that she still had her spots. So Bambi! She was in the company of another young deer, and as I waited for them to cross the highway – they had chosen a deeply curved area with a 15 mph speed limit – Megan came around the curve just in time to see them and be delighted in turn. I enjoyed sharing that special moment with her, even in passing, though as she observed later, we both hoped they found a better place to hang out than the highway.

We decided that we had to stop meeting like this, so we took Saturday off from chores and work and everything else, even (gasp!) dog walking, and headed to the Big Town for a plant sale. We brought along treats for the nursery owner’s dog, Rusty, who expects such things from us. Rusty had just had a bath and was super soft and fluffy, as well as super appreciative of the treats.

We enjoyed browsing the real flowers and the faux ones:

flowers

If I could afford it, I’d have a grove of these faux ones. No drought guilt, and they are fabulous!

I bought a few plants for home and one for my office, which is slowly undergoing a beautification project. On our way home, we stopped off in the Village, which was packed with visitors. I swear this has been the busiest summer for tourists since I moved here.

Traffic was heavy in the oceanfront bookstore, exhausting Catsby, the bookstore cat, who napped on one of the many cushioned window seats after an overdose of attention:

kitty

It was fun to browse, even though cat petting was out of the question, and I even picked up a couple of early stocking stuffers for Jessica which were too cute to resist and made me feel efficient, an unaccustomed, yet delightful emotion.

Arriving back at Megan’s house, we made nachos and watched GirlTV™. It was a lovely end to a lovely day.

A YEAR AGO: Coincidentally, I was at the very same bookstore!

Wild, Wild Life

Audrey was not my favorite cat when she woke me up before the alarm clock yesterday morning, but the Evil Genius doesn’t worry her stripy little head about such mundane things. Audrey always keeps her big, green eyes on the prize: whatever she happens to want at the moment. Letting Her Majesty out the balcony door, I noticed that the sky was an amazing confection of pink and lavender, much like the Pink Drinks we had at Junapalooza:

sunrise

I told Erica we should call the magical pink cocktails “Garden Parties”, and this inspired her to start plotting a high tea for next year’s Junapalooza, though we may do it sooner. As the Beach Boys put it, we can’t wait for June.

Meanwhile, Clyde spent his morning catching a squirrel which was almost as big as he was. He dragged it into the house and up the stairs to show me, which horrified me in so many ways, not least of which is the fact that squirrels, while cute in Beatrix Potter drawings, should really stay there. They are undeniably rodential, and their tails are quite rat-like under the fluff. Also they never have waistcoats or gowns like they do in Beatrix Potter tales. This one was completely devoid of accessories.

I induced Clyde to drop the uninvited guest, who wasted no time in heading for the same balcony I let Audrey onto earlier that day, but unfortunately for all of us, the screen door was closed. The squirrel promptly jumped onto the banister, where he found an attentive audience consisting of three extremely focused cats sitting below him. I opened the balcony door, shooed away the would-be predators, and the squirrel made a break for it, racing onto the balcony and out of sight.

Later that day, Rose’s daughter Citlali called me to alert me to the fact that she had just seen a bear lumbering across the Ridge at our driveway. I had arrived home a few minutes before, so I was surprised that I missed this exciting event (in fact, I have yet to see a bear in real life, which is just fine with me. I can stay a bear virgin for the rest of my life as far as I’m concerned). I’m pretty sure that bears are vegetarians, but I wasted no time in getting the cats inside anyway.

About midnight, I woke to a strange scratching sound. I checked to see if one of the cats had closed themselves into a drawer or the armoire, but that wasn’t it. The sound seemed to be coming from downstairs, so I went to investigate. It seemed to be under the stairs, where the box of my Dad’s letters has reposed since Rob started the great bathroom adventure last summer. Audrey sometimes wedges herself in there, but she was asleep upstairs, and I wondered if the squirrel had somehow squirreled himself away in there.

Moments like these are when you realize you’re a grown up. No one else is going to open up the box which may contain a fugitive rodent, or retrieve the pearl earring you dropped in the toilet. I gingerly opened a flap, but it was a rodent-free zone. It turned out that the culprit was the Mysterious Mr. Roscoe, clawing enigmatically at the box for reasons which are unfathomable to me but perfectly logical to a cat. Being Cat Staff can be a little challenging – and sleep depriving.

A YEAR AGO: Cars and dogs – what else is there?

Get Back

flowersFlowers Outside My Office Door

It’s been so long since it rained that when the pattering on the roof woke me up last night, I was unable to identify the sound at first. Eventually, my sleep-fogged mind realized it was a light shower. By the time the alarm went off, the showers had departed, leaving confused yet happy birds and frogs behind. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough to really water the garden or do any good, though it made the cats curious.

Speaking of cats, the boys turned 5 on Monday! Audrey is slated to turn 8 next month, and has recovered completely from her vet adventures, though my wallet may never recover. As for me, my back is still unhappy and not shy about letting me know. The irony is not lost on me that I’m limping around a medical facility like Igor, though there really isn’t anything anyone can do about it except stone me out on drugs, which a) I hate; and 2) would make it impossible for me to work. And work I have: I worked an eleven and a half hour day on Tuesday and so far this week have packed more than 30 hours into three days.

Today I finally had the sense to bring the small feather pillow from my couch as well as the heating pad to work, so I was able to sit in relative comfort at my sunny desk* during my long day. I tried to do as much as possible when trekking to the other side of the building – making it count! I still have no idea what I did to displease my dorsal region, and am displeased in turn that it’s still bothering me so much. Hopefully it will be better in time for Saturday’s celebration of Erica’s and my birthdays, so I can perch on a hay bale in reasonable comfort and sip gin cocktails. I may really need Jessica to escort me to my car that evening!

*My office has a window overlooking a courtyard landscaped with plants and flowers, like the one you see above. It’s a nice view. I usually don’t need artificial light, which is great.

A YEAR AGO: More car madness. You know, the usual.

Bad Birthday

I was not too impressed with my birthday week this year. It kicked off with a pricy vet visit (is there any other kind?) and ended with a pricy tire change (is there any other kind?). I also worked on my birthday for the first time in decades, thus violating one of my few principles: Never Work on Your Birthday.

On Thursday, I wasted a perfectly good birthday by working for 11 hours and getting the front two tires replaced on Wednesday (Jessica named my car for her favorite Addams Family character). Between the tires and the alignment, it was close to another $500, which begs the question of why I can come up with $1,000 for vet bills and tires, but not for, say, a trip to Hawaii.

There was a fire south of the scenic cemetery in Little River on my birthday afternoon, and even close to 7 pm, it was a one lane road with a line of cars inching along. When I finally got home, I found a check from the jobette and a bill for my car registration, which exactly canceled each other out.

I woke up on Saturday morning with spasming lower back pain that continues to torture me even as I write, while giving me a preview of the old age I am rapidly hurtling toward. Talk about adding injury to insult!

There’s always next year.

A YEAR AGO: The birthday disaster last year was an out of season power outage.

Ailing Audrey

audreybed
The Evil Genius Recovering

Maybe I should have put a camera on Audrey. She came home on Saturday hopping like a bunny, not using her back left leg. It didn’t seem broken or dislocated, but she was definitely in pain. She kept growling, even when sitting on my lap. She was no better on Sunday, so on Monday, Megan took Audrey to the vet.

As you know, Audrey does not take kindly to the indignity of the cat carrier or the curviness of the road, so she pooped, threw up, and howled the entire way. As usual, we delivered a foamy furious feline to the unsuspecting vet staff. They x-rayed her leg and took blood tests, and all looked fine. It seemed the problem was one of her toes, though there was no puncture wound or cut or anything.

Dr. Carl gave her shots for pain, nausea, and inflammation, and I wish he could have given them to me, too, because the bill was almost $500. Audrey is back to her old self today, able to walk on all fours and demanding whatever it is she happens to want at the time. Dr. Carl called her “a fierce little woman” , and that about sums it up.

Megan multi-tasked by taking her dogs for a walk while Audrey was being treated, and took the patient home as well, where she closed her inside for a nap. I worried that I overreacted in sending Audrey to the vet, but Dr. Carl said that if your animal can’t walk to 24 hours, he or she needs to be seen. I’m just glad that Audrey is OK and that I have a sister who is kind enough to be a cat taxi.

A YEAR AGO: Car problems instead of cat problems. Why not?