Perfect Day (Part II)

We hopped back into Megan’s little red car and continued south on Highway One, past meadows of wildflowers dotted with cows, sheep, and horses, tall, rolling hills, tunnels of windswept cypresses, and always, the blue Pacific, its waves crashing against the rocky shore.

We drove through Point Arena, where we will hopefully be seeing more ballets and plays this winter, and as we approached the little campground at Anchor Bay, Megan suggested that we stop in and check it out. Every time we drive by it, we think of doing this, and today was the day!

It’s a charming little campground, with some permanent residents:

And other spaces for RVs and tents. There is a little store, showers, and even a fish/abalone cleaning station. The very helpful gentleman in the office told us that it has been there since 1925. He also let us go and look at the beach without paying for a day pass, and it turned out to the most beautiful beach in the county:

It looks like a southern California beach! Beaches here tend to be rocky rather than sandy. It was a delightful discovery and we will definitely go back.

Just down the road, we picked up Thai food at the ever-delicious Thai Kitchen, now with extra sparkle:

After stowing our dinners in the trunk, we picked up sandwiches and ate them at a little picnic table. Then we headed back north to Manchester State Beach.

Their website says dogs are allowed on leash, but when we got there, we discovered signs showing that they are not allowed at all. Being the only people there, we decided to ignore the signs and plead ignorance if a park ranger turned up and yelled at us.

We took a sandy path:

Past wild lupines and California poppies, to find the sea:

And a huge, unpopulated beach:

It is supposed to be four miles long, and I can believe it. Continuing our scofflaw ways, we let the dogs off their leashes, and it was a pleasure to watch them racing joyfully around the beach in the sunshine, their coats gleaming and ears flying. I love seeing them so happy.

We made our way back to the car through the tall wildflowers and headed home for Thai food and champagne. It was a perfect day, and the perfect way to spend my birthday.

A YEAR AGO: My little guy turned six.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A surprise trip to Willits!

Perfect Day (Part 1)

The great lead up to the great day culminated in a perfect birthday.

It dawned bright and shiny, as seen from my balcony:

I Marilyned* my morning by lounging in bed with the kitties, drinking coffee, reading birthday emails, and feeling blonde all over. Eventually, I got up and headed over to Megan’s house, where Rob presented me with a hanging planter he had made for me. He is looking for a drapy kind of plant to put in it and copper wire to hang it by, so stay tuned.

No one is ever as happy to see me as Star, and Stella has decided that if Star is excited to see me, she should be, too, so I felt pretty special as they jumped around me for joy.

Star always wants to drive, but Megan never lets her.

We headed for the beautiful south coast, and it was a postcard day. The sky and ocean were dazzling blue, and it was warm, but not hot. The rolling hillsides were just beginning to turn from winter’s green to summer’s “gold”, and the wildflowers have reached new depths and heights from all the rain we got this season.

On our many south coast excursions, we have always wanted to check out the cemetery in Elk, where Druids mingle with Catholics:

I suggested that it should be our first stop, which Megan found humorous. “You want to go to a cemetery? On your birthday?” To which I replied, “I’m not there yet.” Those who are there have a stunning view for all eternity:

No matter which way you looked:

We noticed that many of the gravestones noted the owner’s origins, from England, Ireland, Italy, as far away as Australia (imagine getting here in the 1800s from Australia!) and as relatively close as New York:

Many of them also commemorated the months and days of the occupant’s life span, which we didn’t remember seeing before for adults. There were beautiful stones that still looked new after more than a century’s weather:

Hands were a recurring motif:

It is just a beautiful place, almost certainly the loveliest cemetery I have ever seen. It is still in use, with some recent burials, and I noticed that someone had placed flags on all the veterans’ graves for Memorial Day, which was nice to see.

On the way back to the car, I noticed this valiant little flower growing in a gnarled old cypress tree:

There is unexpected beauty everywhere.

Up next: Beaches and Thai food!

A YEAR AGO: A happily uneventful birthday with a surprising détente.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A wonderful milestone birthday with my friends at the jobette. Those were the days!

*Marilyn once confided her daily routine, including this: “I hate to do things in a hurried, tense atmosphere, and it is virtually impossible for me to spring out of bed in the morning. On Sunday, which is my one day of total leisure, I sometimes take two hours to wake up, luxuriating in every last moment of drowsiness.”

The Star Patient


The patient in happier times (last week, in the garden)

I was just settling down to watch some playoff hockey* and eat dinner when the phone rang. It was Megan, telling me that Star had had a seizure and she wanted me to meet her at the vet’s office.

I changed out of my PJs and into a strange combo of work and play clothes, shoving my bare feet into a random pair of shoes (later I would regret not putting on a better pair after hours of standing) and set off for the Village.

On the way, I wondered why she had called me, since dealing with emergencies is her specialty and falling apart at emergencies is mine. I always say, Megan is the Schatzi (brave and bold) and I am the Star (worried and pretty sure the worst is going to happen).

Arriving at the vet’s office, I saw Megan’s little red car with the back door wide open, but no sign of dog or humans. I eventually located Megan, Dr. Karen, and Star in the surgery. They seemed to have it all pretty much in hand. They had shaved Star’s forepaw and inserted a catheter, through which they dosed her with enough drugs to drop a horse.

But Star’s Star-ness did not allow her to give into the drugs, so while being doped to the ears, she still fought it and was twitchy. If it comes to fight or flight, Star is going to fight to the death. I suggested that her inherent Star-ness would not allow her to give in to the drugs while still in an environment that made her fearful even with Megan there, but Dr. Karen and her assistant wanted to wait and see how she was doing. They ran every blood test, all of which came back normal. The general consensus seems to be that she ate something to cause the seizure, though the property has been investigated three times by Megan, Rob, and Jonathan without turning up the culprit.

After about three hours of doping and testing and IV hydration (them) and standing around (me), they rolled the patient up in a blanket and put her in Megan’s car to be transported home, along with a goodie bag of injectable drugs. Of course it was pitch black by then and so foggy that constant windshield wiping was required, just for extra fun.

I followed Megan and Star home, with the understanding that if something went wrong, she would pull over. We drove slowly, partly because of Star and partly because of the weather, and I stayed a respectful distance behind so my headlights wouldn’t bother Megan. Driving in the dark is the only time I dislike having a car behind me more than I dislike having one ahead of me.

Star was very glad to get home, and as I expected, she crashed and burned upon arrival in her safe place. She was probably exhausted from the seizure itself and the subsequent twitching, as well as the boatload of drugs, so she slept a lot the rest of that night and into the following day. She now seems to be just about back to normal, to the relief of all concerned. Let’s hope it stays that way. I still don’t think that I really helped or added much to the occasion, but Megan says she was glad I was there, and that’s all that really matters, besides Star being well again.

*I’m sorry to say Ottawa won. At this point, the best case scenario is Pittsburgh winning the Cup.

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday in style.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A really lousy birthday for my wonderful sis.

Serendipity

All in all, it was a pretty good day.

‘Memba the giant bottle of cheap red wine that appeared at Thanksgiving? I used some of it to make black bean soup, but that barely put a dent in the ocean of inferior oenological product. I decided to leave it at the Gro, where I imagine some of the habitués (the kind Star doesn’t like) would greet it with enthusiasm, like an Easter bunny for winos. My good deed was rewarded by a snack-size bottle of good sparkling wine appearing on my desk that same morning, a reward from my wonderful boss for doing what I thought was just my job but was apparently a little above and beyond.

Also bringing some sparkle to my day was taking a break to meet Monica at the coastal trail for a walk and chat. She was accompanied by Stella’s son Joey, who has the most expressive ears. The only thing Stella about him is his joie de vivre and his enthusiasm for greeting me. Otherwise he looks like a German Shepherd with really long legs and goofy ears. If I didn’t know for a fact that Stella was his mother, I would never believe it. He doesn’t look a thing like her.

While Joey bounded around and sniffed things on his leash, Monica and I talked about my writing a blog for her store and working on a website for it, which I think will be a fun project. She wants to pay me for it, which makes me feel a little weird, but she says my time is valuable. We’ll see how it goes. It will be fun to start something new.

On my way home, a car pulled out from the Main Street exit of the village. I was pretty sure it was Erica, and closer inspection (of her One Bad Apple bumper sticker) showed that it was. I waved, but she was too busy driving, so as we approached the steep descent to the state beach, I honked and waved. She pulled over in the capacious turnout which is sadly underutilized by visitors who happen to be in my way, and I parked behind her.

Erica and Jessica (wearing, I was pleased to note, the Totoro shirt we gave her for her birthday last year) jumped out of their car and much hugging and squee-ing ensued. They were on their way to visit the yarn store, which apparently now resides in the quaint, family-owned inn where I have been known to enjoy the view and an adult beverage. Who knew?

They had been to Glass Beach that day and were taken aback by the number of tourists there, especially mid week. It seems a little early for the annual influx. As Jessica wondered, “If it’s tourist season, why can’t I shoot them?” I have often thought the same thing while creeping along behind the dreaded out of state plate.

Jessica’s birthday* – every April 15, as you know – falls conveniently on a Saturday, so she requested to spend it over at the family estate. We are still trying to come up with a theme for this year’s Junapalooza. We have had a cocktail party and a high tea. Jessica suggested that we set up a group board in Pinterest to find awesome party ideas. If nothing else, it will be fun. I think Erica is hoping to sneak in some Jell-O somewhere, probably spiked. And we are also plotting for another girl movie night this summer. So there’s a lot to look forward to.

We parted with hugs and I smiled the rest of the way home. I passed Megan as I neared our driveway, and we exchanged waves, which always makes me happy. Reaching the driveway, I was delighted to find that Mark had applied a layer of gravel over the enormous potholes and gigantic mud swamp the driveway had become this winter. Jonathan, who has 25 years’ worth of experience with this particular driveway, said he has never seen it in worse shape. Driving it at literally 2 miles an hour, I was still tossed around my car. So I was thrilled to whiz along serenely at a speedy 5 miles an hour.

*Megan and I were equally horrified to realize that Jessica is turning 14 this year. How is this possible?

A YEAR AGO: Getting the old grandfather clock running again.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A look around the garden. I see I was tired of the rain then, too. March really is the secret winter month no one talks about.

Cats and Dogs

It’s still raining them. And the forecast is discouraging:

I thought that Clyde’s increase in naughtiness was a fairly recent thing, but my blog archives tell me that it has been nearly three years since he started his early morning wake up campaign. This is why it’s so useful to keep a journal. You can see when things actually happened instead of relying on your ever less reliable memory.

He no longer asks to go out first thing in the morning. He has been significantly less interested in the Wide World* since we lost Roscoe. Some days, he doesn’t go outside at all. He still sits on my desk and watches the woods, even if the door is open. It’s hard not to think that he is looking for his brother or remembering him. Audrey too has decreased outdoor interest, perhaps since she will be 10 this year. She still has extra outside privileges, but she no longer stays out for hours.

Clyde has recently expanded his naughtiness to eating Audrey’s food. I realized that his evil plan is to eat all of hers while hoarding his. Oddly, Audrey, who has no problem bossing around humans and dogs, is apparently reluctant to boot her miscreant little roommate out of her dish.

Audrey, like her namesake Miss Hepburn, is already sufficiently sylph-like, so this is a problem. I have been putting her dish up on Rob’s masterpiece so she can eat in peace, but of course Clyde knows it’s there and jumps up as soon as Audrey leaves. If I were at home all day, I’d put her food away and bring it out every couple of hours, but since I’m gone around 12 hours a day, that’s not possible. I guess I will just have to let Clyde be naughty and fill up Audrey’s dish whenever it looks empty, no matter who ate it.

On this rainy morning, they are both curled up on the untidy bed as I write, looking cute as buttons and innocent of any domestic infractions whatsoever.

As for the “dogs” portion of this post, the one I attempted to murder with my car three months ago is finally home, looking none the worse for wear:

though his owner’s wallet will take some time to recover from the $8,000 vet bill. The dog was in rehab in the Bay Area and staying with his owner’s mother while he recovered, so they had a joyful reunion. I am hoping to stop by and see them both soon.

Stopped at a red light, I saw the guy in the truck in front of me put his arm around his dog and drop a kiss on his head. When the light changed, he drove off with his arm still around the dog.

*I have to agree with the River Rat on this one. Now more than ever: “Beyond the Wild Wood comes the Wide World,” said the Rat. “And that’s something that doesn’t matter, either to you or me. I’ve never been there, and I’m never going, nor you either, if you’ve got any sense at all.”

A YEAR AGO: Stormy weather. I’m sensing a theme here.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob finally won his disability case after four long years.

…To the Redwoods

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The Ancient Trees

Instead of taking the left turn off the bridge which connects Highways 1 and 128, we went right, toward Anderson Valley, where the vines were sleeping their winter sleep and the surrounding hills were just beginning to turn green from their summer gold:

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Our first stop was our beloved Libby’s, to pick up our last supper:

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In keeping with our frequent Libby’s experience, they were sold out of our favorite al pastor, but at least they weren’t unexpectedly closed. The parking lot was so full that we had to park almost a block away, and the modest dining room was full. We sat at the bar for the last time, waiting for our orders and remembering the many happy times and delightful dinners we had had there:

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Libby’s closed forever on December 10, when Libby and her husband started their well-deserved retirement. I’m glad for them, but sad for us.

With our Libby’s delicacies safely stowed, we once again turned our attention to some fun for the girls, who had been patiently waiting in the car. We made our way to Hendy Woods, a grove of old growth redwoods in the Valley. Some of the trees are more than 300 feet tall, and it is estimated that many are 1,000 years old. It has never been logged.

We headed into the woods with the curious dogs. The woods were hushed and mysterious:

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There were fields of clover and fountains of ferns under the green canopy. As always when I am in the redwoods, I feel a kind of awe, and also that I would not be surprised to see a dinosaur come lumbering out of the ancient woods. Or some kind of magical creature. The trees’ presence is both peaceful and powerful.

Look up. Way up:

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Some of the fallen trees’ trunks look like sculptures:

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It was wonderful to walk the quiet trails with the happy dogs. The trail ended at the Navarro River, fringed with weeping willows:

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As Megan observed, we are so lucky to live where we can go from the beach to the redwoods to the river, all in one day!

A YEAR AGO: A wild storm and power outages for everyone!

From the Beach…

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It was a beautiful day in Elk

Here it is this weekend, and I still haven’t written about last weekend!

In my defense, though, I had to stage the giant office Christmas End of Year Celebration and clean it up, along with myriad other meetings and drama. The week ended with a birthday party for my boss and a scary drive home in the stormy late night darkness, but I survived it all!

It is still raining hard this morning, making me feel that we are going to have to cancel or at least postpone our plans for going to the Festival of Lights at the Botanical Gardens, followed by the Candlelight Shopping Night in the Village with Erica and Jessica. It is not good weather for strolling around outside, though it seems to be good weather for Clyde to lounge on my shoulder and impede my typing to the best of his fuzzy ability.

Last weekend was a completely different story, though. It was sunny and beautiful. Megan and I hopped in her little red car along with Star and Stella and headed for the little town of Elk. Our first stop was the ever-delicious Queenie’s:

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It had been years since I was there – a search of the dusty archives shows my last visit was three years ago! – so it was long overdue. We sat at a table by the window and ordered. The fact that there were only about 6 other patrons gave us hope that the wait for delicacies would not be as long as usual, but this hope turned out to be in vain. It took about 40 minutes to get our lovely breakfast, prompting Megan to wonder whether they were growing the potatoes.

Still, it was up to the usual high standard when it finally arrived at our table, and, as always, worth the wait. There are worse things than chatting with your sister while waiting for someone else to cook for you, not to mention clean it up afterwards.

Our next stop was the community center, where our dear friend Lichen was showing his beautiful cement casts of leaves. It was a Christmas craft fair, and to my (possibly biased) eye, Lichen’s work really stood out among the gnomes and tree decorations:

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He had already sold four of them by the time we got there! Despite the holiday atmosphere, Lichen was as undelighted by the prospect of Christmas as ever, so it’s unlikely that he will show up this year. You never know, though!

At this point, we decided that it was time that the dogs had some fun, having been marooned in the car all day so far. We took them to Greenwood State Beach.

It took us a while to climb down to it (and even longer to climb back up – there may have been some complaining by some of us), but the ocean was spectacular when we got there:

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Despite the wind, we didn’t really need our jackets. It was hard to believe it was December! The dogs played happily on the beach while we admired the scenery. Here you see the girls posing on the beach in their cheerful bandannas:

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Some of us think it’s an invasive weed, but I think pampas grass is pretty, with its lovely plumes:

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I also like dandelions, though, and most people think they’re an invasive weed, too.

After our arduous (to me) trek, we stopped in at the Elk Store for black cherry limeade to refresh us for Part Two of our day, which took us to Anderson Valley, the redwoods, and the river.

A YEAR AGO: Heartbreak.

Crash

Little did I know that running screaming hand-in-hand with Jessica through the Haunted Hall of Horrors on Halloween would be the least scary thing that happened to me all that week.

I have always expected to hit a deer at some point on my lengthy commute, especially since the length of my work days cause more driving in the dark than I would prefer. I did not expect to hit a dog in broad daylight on the highway.

He came running out of nowhere, as they say. I slammed on the brakes, but not before I heard a yelp that lives in my nightmares and a flash of his belly as he rolled over. By the time I was able to get across the road, he had already run into his house. His owner came out and was super nice. She blamed herself for not leashing him and the dog for running into the street.

Needless to say, I blamed myself and still feel like a monster. The good news is that the dog is a) alive and 2) “only” has a broken leg. He does not have a mark on him. However, he was surgically repaired in Santa Rosa at vast expense, so it’s lucky for me that the owner absolved me of all blame and even gave me a big hug. We have been texting daily and it seems we both have a new friend. So maybe something good came out of something horrible.

It was a long drive home after that. When I was about half a mile from my house, a stripy kitty streaked across the Ridge in front of my car. Harmlessly, I am pleased to report.

A YEAR AGO: Just in time for Veterans’ Day, a visit from two veterans, telling war stories. Love you guys. And thank you to all veterans for your service.

Garden Girls

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Enjoying the View

Saturday was a postcard day, one to gladden the hearts of tourists from anywhere – and they are from anywhere and everywhere. On my way to work that day, I saw plates from Alaska, Utah, Texas, Maine and Wisconsin, as well as the usual Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. There was even a lumbering RV from Ontario, which, my (un)usually polite Canadian friends, I’m sorry to tell you failed to pull over.

Megan picked me up from the jobette, and together we locked up the shop and then jumped into her little red car, where I was instantly swarmed by Star and Stella. Stella never gets too excited about anything, except food, glorious food, but she has seen Star go crazy over me so many times that she has decided that she should, too. There must be a reason for it if Star does it*. Just like if Star smells something carefully, Stella must also investigate it. And since no one is ever as happy to see me as Star is, there was a lot of wagging and petting and trying to climb into the front seat before we could set off to the beautiful Botanical Gardens.

I happened to have two free tickets, so we went right in and headed for the café, where they very kindly give canine visitors a spoonful of locally made ice cream. This policy was greeted with an enthusiastic two paws up from both dogs. When they had finished their ice cream – it’s always treats first in my world – we started down the path, admiring the dahlias:

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And the gate that Rob would love:

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We crossed a little stream:

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which wends past my late friend Joel’s memorial bench. Among his many talents, Joel was a Master Gardener and spent a lot of time in these Gardens. I helped his widower Jim choose the site for the bench after Joel’s sudden death, and I intended to take a picture of it, but we found that an older couple was resting on it with their dog at their feet, so I didn’t. But this is exactly what Jim and I hoped would happen, and I am looking forward to telling him about it when I see him next.

We meandered through the woods:

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and arrived at the ocean, which was looking its best that day:

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At the jobette, I was always told that our Gardens were one of two in the entire country that had ocean access. I don’t know what the other one is, but I am glad this one is here. One of the nice things about the jobette is that the visitors remind me of what a beautiful and magical place I live in. Why, it even has a dragon:

There's even a dragon.

Though you aren’t allowed to sit on the dragon, you can pet him:

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As we made our way back to the car, we promised each other that we would visit again soon. The dogs agreed.

A YEAR AGO: Sigh.

*I was charmed to see that at one point when Stella was sniffing something, she lifted her right paw daintily and held it there, just like Schatzi used to. Star copied Schatzi and Stella copied her, and it’s nice to see that Schatzi still lives on in that way, at least.

Playing Post Office

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!

Spring Staycation

It’s 9:00 am and I have already done two loads of laundry and put them away; made pizza dough; washed a load of dishes; swept the stairs and floor; and finally filed paperwork on my desk and put the files in Rob’s amazing cabinet.

I also unpacked a box of books, including classics like The Poky Little Puppy, which used to be my favorite book as a child. My Dad read it to me so often that he used to read it with the pages facing me, his eyes closed. I never got tired of it. Other discoveries included a book on Queen Mary’s Dollhouse (as fascinating to me now as it was then) and a story John wrote about our cat Jack when she was still a kitten. She is the only surviving cat we had together and I don’t want to think about how old she is now.

While unpacking the books, I discovered a fairly sizable scorpion. Its claws freaked me out, but I swept it into the dustpan and then into the woods, where I hope it stays.

I rewarded this industriousness by going with Megan to the farmers’ market in the Village. I picked up some rhubarb and a fresh baguette:

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Later, we took the dogs for a stroll in the Village. As usual, Megan took Star and I took Stella, or Stella took me. I discovered that we had many shared interests in common, since she bounded joyfully into a bar as if she were Norm on “Cheers” and went there every day, then into the ocean view bookstore, and then a jewelry store. It was challenging to remove her from these places, and the attention she got from total strangers didn’t help. Stella clearly preferred running a tab, shopping, and petting to walking on the boring sidewalk, and I can’t say I blamed her.

A YEAR AGO: Megan’s giant birthday BBQ, and Erica’s best prank ever!

It’s a Beautiful Day

The sun came out after some late season showers. As usual, the ocean was especially pretty after the storm had passed:

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It was the perfect day to stroll along the headlands with Megan and the dogs. Megan took Star and I took Stella. Stella and I like to watch the ocean and the birds surfing the thermals, whereas Megan and Star like to get on with their walk. But we had a good time together.

The wildflowers are out in force, from field of irises to the ice plants clinging to the cliffs and drifts of buttery California poppies.

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After our walk, we went to see an exhibit of local quilts in a historic building in the Village. It never ceases to surprise me how many talented people live in this small community. I believe the beautiful surroundings both draw artists to the area and continue to inspire them.

This quilt had hand-sewn crystals to represent the bubbles around the fish:

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And this one is a kelp forest:

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This one is an embroidery rather than a quilt, but it may have been my favorite piece in the exhibit:

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It represents Montgomery Woods, where the some of the tallest redwoods in the County can be found. To me, it really captures the magic of that place.

Of course, we couldn’t pass up the chance to wander around the bookstore under the watchful eye of the Great Catsby:

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He likes this perch, since it gives him a panoramic view of his kingdom and the ability to avoid the more annoying attentions of his perhaps overly devoted public. A king has his dignity, you know.

Drive My Car

One day last week, I picked Rob up from Lu and Rik’s house on my way home from work. Lu and Rik just got engaged after 17 years together, and the wedding is planned for July 2, so there was a lot to talk about before Rob and I loaded ourselves and the dogs into the car.

I waste no opportunity to be chauffeured, so Rob took the wheel. Megan said later how gangsta my black car with its deeply tinted windows looked with Stella the pitbull stereotype in it. The fact that Rob and I are about the whitest people on the planet undoubtedly spoiled the effect.

As we drove along listening to the late, great David Bowie and chatting about this and that (I will never cease to be entertained by the way Rob thinks), Stella slowly but surely oozed her 65 pound self onto my lap. She did this by first peeking her giant head between the seats as if she was just admiring the view* through the windshield, then putting one paw on my leg, then another paw. To be fair, her back legs remained on the back seat with Star, who was curled up neatly, so she wasn’t totally in the front seat.

I had such a great time with Rob and the dogs that I wish I could do this more often. It was the high point of the week.

Later in the week, I picked up Michael, the older gentleman who I am happy to chauffeur whenever I see him and he needs a ride. He usually rides his bike, but he had made a trek to the Big Town that day, which meant walking three miles to the Gro to get the one bus that goes there each day and then getting home from the Gro when the bus dropped him off.

I couldn’t find a place to stop and pick him up when I first saw him, so I drove until I could turn around and go back to where he was. Maneuvering Wednesday’s short turn radius meant that I took up most of both lanes of the Ridge, inconveniencing some neighbors so I could help another. They all took it well, though.

Michael is adjusting to his new-ish place. As he observed, everything has its positives and negatives and it’s more positive not to focus on the negative. I set him down at his little cottage and we parted with a hug and a smile.

When I got home, I found Rob hard at work in the vintage trailer where Rose used to store her pottery equipment. I store non-pottery related things and stuff in there that are damp resistant, and Rob uses it as a workshop from time to time, like he did when working on the bathroom door.

This time, he is working on a beautiful shelving unit to house some still boxed up books in the studio:

workshop

Being Rob, there is a cornice on top, the edges of the shelves are beveled, and there are little feet, so it’s more like furniture than just a bookshelf. He even cut out little wood circles to fill in the screw holes so they wouldn’t show. It’s going to look great.

*To be fair, Stella does like to admire the view. She often sits and watches the ocean or observes birds for a long time. I have never known another dog to do this.

A YEAR AGO: Farewell to my friends at the jobette. ~Sob~

Haircuts and Kitchens

Megan and I hopped in her little red car and headed over to Lichen’s place on the magical South Coast.

It was a postcard day, without a cloud in the sky, the ocean impossibly blue with waves crashing against the wild, rocky coastline with its dark, windswept trees. After a short and pretty drive, we arrived at Camp Lichen, where Marley was joined by a pretty, stripy cat named Mouser:

mouser

who is visiting indefinitely while his owner is off doing other things, much like the Lovely Rita and me so many years ago.

When Lichen isn’t creating beautiful landscapes at other people’s houses (and his own) or training wayward pets or cutting people’s hair (the ostensible reason for the visit was a haircut for Megan), he is making leaves out of cement:

leaves

Sometimes they’re painted and sometime they’re not, but either way, they make amazing art, whether in the garden or inside the house. He is so talented.

Megan perched on a wooden stool on the deck overlooking the garden and the ocean:

view

while Lichen cut her hair. Megan inherited Mom’s glossy, thick, wavy hair, and Lichen actually has to thin it out. Mom never lost her hair, even with years of chemo and radiation. She just got regular density hair, and it never really went grey, either.

After the haircut, we finally got a look at the kitchen:

kitchen

You may remember that when Lichen moved in last winter, there was no kitchen and his landlords kindly allowed him to design one from Ikea and had it installed. I was worried that it would look too dark, but it looks great, though my photo is a little glare-y due to the sun being so sunny that day. You know how it is.

Before we left, Lichen loaded us up with pumpkins. If the Great Pumpkin really is looking for the most sincere pumpkin patch, I know where he’ll be on Halloween:

pumpkins

We set off homewards with hugs and waves. We are so lucky to have such great friends.

A YEAR AGO: Another visit to the South Coast. Must be the time of the season.

A Day in the Life

Saturday was my last day of working at the jobette. For real-real, as Jessica used to say in her long-ago youth. They have hired someone to work from Tuesday through Saturday, so they will only need me on Saturdays to fill in for her if she has to work an event or something.

I walked slowly through the familiar shop after I turned out the lights, and turned the sign to “Closed”, feeling a little sad. It was just a summer job, but it kept me connected to my former work family and the visitors. I guess it’s always hard to say goodbye.

Fortunately, my brother and sister decided to have an impromptu BBQ that evening for no particular reason, so I headed over there after I went home and changed out of my work clothes and corralled the kitties.

Our good friend Lichen was there:

lichen

Here’s a view of the canopy Rob picked up at the mall. You can see some of the Waltons-sized picnic table my brother built out of redwood a couple of years ago:

canopy

In case you’re wondering who the mystery dog is in the picture, it’s Marley. Marley is at Camp Lichen for a few days, learning valuable lessons like how not to whine his ass off when temporarily left in the car by his owner. Lichen is an excellent dog trainer, being both gentle and intolerant of nonsense.

Jonathan grilled up a simple dinner of sausages, and I thought that it won’t be long until he is manning the ‘cue for the traditional Christmas ham. This year the equally traditional split pea soup will be made of beans from the garden. I have heard rumors that I should resurrect making parsnip vichyssoise for Christmas Eve from the garden’s parsnips. And that there are plans afoot to make hard cider from all those apples.

Later, the moon rose over the garden:

moon

I suck at taking moon pictures, y’all. Even though the moon and I are pretty close after the mystical experience we shared a couple of years ago, I have never been able to take a good photo of her. Maybe she needs to start considering selfies and stop letting Kim Kardashian have all the fun.

A YEAR AGO: Bugs and fairies. You know, the usual.

Fairy Godmother

I came home from a long day at work (is there any other kind?) to find that the Bowflex fairy had stopped by my house:

bowflex

The BF had thoughtfully adorned the machine with a sparkly purple bow, so you know who it was: Erica, who knows my love of all things sparkly. I was delighted by its arrival and sorry that I had missed the Dynamic Duo and their fabulousness. They were unable to attend Kalli’s annual birthday party in July, so it’s been far too long since I have seen them. I must remedy this soon. Look how gorgeous they are:

ej

Erica also provided a manual, so Megan and I are going to help each other figure it out. We can Bowflex on Sundays, which will change things up from my working week routine of using the treadmill while watching “Bewitched” with Mark’s dog Lupe:

lupelou

Everyone needs a workout buddy.

A YEAR AGO: Back home from a trip to the City.

Party Time

Kalli’s birthday camping party has become an annual tradition, and a delightful one, too.

Kalli, Jarrett, and an entourage of their many friends convened at the family property on a recent Saturday. Megan and I were a little concerned about the head count of 30 or more, but we needn’t have worried. They arrived with a keg of beer and coolers full of food. Jonathan made 10 pounds of pulled pork, and I made a more modest quantity of chicken filling for the evening’s taco dinner.

We were lucky to have any chicken filling at all. I got up early on Saturday, did a few loads of laundry, and set the chicken to cook in the slow cooker. A couple of hours later, I went to check on it and discovered that it was ice cold. As in, the chicken was still frozen. I tried unplugging the slow cooker and plugging it back in again – pretty much the limits of my expertise with any form of technology – and it still didn’t work.

I took the whole thing, chicken and all, over my brother’s place. We put the chicken into our friend Lu’s crockpot, which she had lent to him a couple of weeks earlier, and I took it back to my place while Jonathan dismantled mine. Spoiler alert: the heating element had met an untimely demise, taking the rest of the slow cooker with it. So much for that. The good news is that I managed to get the chicken filling done on time.

Meanwhile, tents were merrily growing in the garden:

tents

And the tents’ occupants were playing beer pong. They soon discovered that the drinking part of the game didn’t work so well in the pygmy puff dust, so it became more of a game of skill while drinking the beer in your hand.

We had some visiting dogs, including a darling little spotted brother and sister rescued from under a house a couple of months earlier. Lucky, the sister, was a little unsure about all the unknown people and found a safe spot:

lucky

I’m not usually one for small dogs, but they were so cute and really warmed up to the attention as the party went on. Another of Jarrett’s friends had recently traded in a problematic girlfriend for the adorable Atticus:

atticus

Definitely an upgrade.

Kalli thoughtfully provided Party Survival Kits:

bags

These included provisions like Band-Aids, sunscreen, a toothbrush, condoms, gum, disinfectant wipes, and other things you might need when camping in the middle of nowhere with some of your best friends.

We had a great BBQ despite the near kitchen emergency, and in the morning Jarrett made bacon, eggs, and home fries on the outdoor gas stove (if you can call it that – it’s two rings hooked up to a small tank of propane, last seen in Erica’s al fresco samosa frying at Junapalooza). Then the visitors set off home, with more happy memories and plans for next year.

A YEAR AGO: The joys of faux pho. And the sadness of memory.

Birthday BBQ

On Saturday, I made a special appearance at the jobette. It was Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial opening of the summer tourist season, and I decided to go in and help out, partly because I’m still on probation at the new job, so I didn’t get paid for Memorial Day, and partly to help out my former work family.

It was good to be back. I took down all the expired event postings in the lobby, refreshed the supply of visitor guides and other tourism materials, added up all the sales and visitor sheets, balanced the cash, updated the database, took out the trash, watered the inside and outside plants (which I suspect has not been done since I left), and washed the dishes. Oh, and turned off the heat, which was blasting when I arrived.

I had a great time chatting with the visitors, and sold $160 worth of art. I imagine my former employers were pleased when they arrived at the office on Tuesday.

I went home and collected the al pastor which I had put in the slow cooker on Friday night. It was my first attempt at making this, and I think from now on I will just leave it to Libby’s, even if they are almost never open. It turned out to be atomically spicy, despite the fact that I only added a teeny can of chipotles in adobo sauce to a 5 pound roast, along with an entire pineapple, a bottle of beer, some red onion, and a couple of tablespoons of chili powder.

To be fair, I have a low spiciness tolerance and believe that food should come in hot, medium, mild and Suzy. But still. I texted Erica in a panic, and she suggested that I drain off the sauce and put in a can of tomato sauce. I didn’t have any tomato sauce – all I had was an extremely unhelpful jar of spicy red pepper sauce – so I went over to Megan’s, even though it was early, since I had to deal with it before heading to the jobette.

Fortunately, she had a can, so I swapped the sauces, and I think it worked just fine. Rob helped me to load the giant slow cooker into the car and we headed over to the family property, where Megan’s birthday BBQ was in full swing:

party

Erica and Jessica were there, as well as Jarrett and Kalli and Dave and Jennifer. Jarrett had invited his dog Archi’s brother (and his owners), and I couldn’t get over how alike they look:

dogs

Lichen also came, bearing rose lemonade for Jessica, and all together, there were nearly 20 people. Erica fried up samosas she had made in a special pot outside by the Waltons-sized picnic table:

samosas

They were, of course, delicious.

Erica had also brought a giant, industrial sized jar of mayonnaise:

mayo

It turned out to be an elaborate practical joke. Megan hates mayonnaise (we are a family of picky eaters), but Erica bet her that she would be digging into this one. Megan was horrified until she discovered that the jar actually contained vanilla bean-bourbon vanilla pudding, chocolate espresso cookie crumbs, and sea salted caramel sauce, all made from scratch by Erica the Evil Genius. It was insanely delicious.

Erica said it was the hardest dessert she had ever made, since she had to hide the cookie crumbs and sauce inside the pudding, so it still looked convincingly like mayonnaise. Only Erica!

Meanwhile, I was discussing designers with Jessica, saying that I love it that she actually knows who Charles James, Schiaparelli, Claire McCardell, and Madame Grès are (she has all these and more on her Pinterest boards). She said that sometimes it seems like designers are playing a practical joke to see if people will actually wear their crazy clothes. “It’s like, ‘Go home, fashion, you’re drunk!’” Jessica said, referring to some of the more outrageous confections at Fashion Week.

jess2015

When it was time to go home, Jessica once again offered her arm and asked if she could escort “Fair Suzy” to her car. I love this tradition!

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday, of course!

It’s Official

starstella
Star & Stella

Megan pointed out a shocking oversight in my blog: I never told you that she and Rob officially adopted Stella!

You may remember that Stella came into our lives at the puppy tail end of 2013, when Monica heroically agreed to find homes for two year old Stella and her 11 (yes, 11) puppies. Being Monica, she somehow managed to finagle a free room at one of the loveliest resorts on the coast as a nursery, and also found homes for all of the babies.

Megan and Rob agreed to take Stella on a trial basis, partly because Star is, as Megan puts it, “dog selective”, and partly because their hearts were still broken over the loss of their beloved Schatzi. It turns out that Stella and Star are a great match, and it’s good for Star to have another dog around again. Star, like me, can be nervous and unsure, but Stella just barges right into life fearlessly. Nothing bothers her, and she does everything 110%, 110% of the time, whether it’s sleeping, eating, or playing.

The other day, Megan stopped by to see me at work while Rob was at a doctor’s appointment, and brought the dogs with her. Stella was almost as happy to see me as Star, and I’m convinced that I have extra credit with Star because I was there with Megan when Star was rescued from her bad old life. Stella is definitely part of the family now, and it just goes to show that dogs choose us, not the other way around.

Star turned seven on Cinco de Mayo this year, marking her fifth year with Megan and Rob. I bet she doesn’t even remember the bad old days, and it’s so nice to see her cuddle up with Stella, two happy dogs in a happy home.

A YEAR AGO: A field trip with Megan and Stella.

Animal Magnetism

While I was getting ready for work one morning this week, I was abruptly jolted from my makeup routine by the distinctive sound of a cat fight in progress. I knew the boys were inside (they like to eat some breakfast and then go back to bed lately), so I figured it was Audrey defending her realm.

I ran out the bathroom door, lip gloss in hand, and chased away a large white cat. Audrey appeared unharmed, but she wouldn’t come in the house so I could see up close and personal. But even my Worrier self knew that a cat who is the terror of the neighborhood dogs can take of herself. And after all, she is something of an evil genius. I was still glad to see Mark’s dog Luna on patrol as I left for work. I really think having Luna and Lupe around keeps us all safer, and I’m pretty sure they also keep the garden eating deer at bay.

In addition to their security duties, Lupe and Luna always come to meet me when I get home from home, merrily wagging their tails and enjoying the pets and attention. Nothing makes you feel more appreciated than a dog who is happy to see you. The other day, I saw Clyde messing around in the bushes near Megan’s house as I drove past, and as soon as he saw me, he scampered homewards, meeting me at the same time as the dogs.

Lupe has also taken to overseeing my jaunts on Mark’s treadmill. I try to get over there most mornings, and lately Lupe has been joining me. The treadmill is in a little building Mark originally intended to be his office, but has been taken over by his teenaged daughters as a hanging out spot, though not early in the morning.

While I hop on the treadmill, Lupe curls up on the floor and goes to sleep while I walk and read, reminding of the way Schatzi used to curl up on the bathmat when I took a bath while she visited me in the city, long ago. When I’m done, she follows me out of the building and then trots home to get on with her day while I get on with mine.

A YEAR AGO: the madness that is Covered California.