Archive for the 'Family' Category

Sep 15 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family

It had been way too long since our last family dinner. I”m not even sure when it was, but it was before Rio and Jonathan’s epic Alaska adventure back in June/July. They had a wonderful time, and it was fascinating to hear about it. They are already thinking abut going back. I’d love to see Alaska sometime.

Before dinner, I picked more raspberries and tomatoes to take home:

We had some of Dad’s favorite Oyster Bay sauvignon blanc in Megan’s garden:

It always reminds me of walking around Dad’s garden in Wimbledon before dinner with a glass of wine in our hands.

Dinner was mostly home-grown or made from ingredients already on hand. Jarrett brought the chicken on his last visit, and it was taking up room in the freezer, so Jonathan barbecued it to perfection:

The Mississippi caviar was made from things on hand, and it was delicious:

Dad would have been happy that we were using up food. He went through rationing for most of his early life, so we were trained from Day One to not let food go to waste. I think he would also be proud of Megan and Jonathan for living off the grid, and all the work they have put into the infrastructure and the garden on the property. I wish he could have seen it.

A YEAR AGO: Getting on with it after the death of The Queen.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Coming to you from the depths of Dental Hell, a place to be avoided at all costs.

TEN YEARS AGO: Wrapping things up after the loss of our beloved Schatzi.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A long-ago memory.

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Aug 24 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

Does it ever happen to you that you wake up one day and you just have to have your hair cut? It was fine the day before, but that day, your hair is suddenly unacceptable. Well, that happened to me. I texted Angelika, and she was able to fit me in that week. Yay!

I left work early and headed to her little studio in the big woods. It was definitely time to get my hair cut, since I had last had it done in March.

This time, I just had it cut. I’ll save up to get the color done soon. In the meantime, Angelika told me about her trip to Germany to see her parents, and I met her friend Marion, who was visiting from Germany. They have been friends since they were three! There’s nothing like really good, long-term friends. And there’s nothing like a good haircut to cheer a girl up. I will spare you my terrible selfie attempts this time. You will just have to take my word for it that my hair looks great.


I left work early one Friday, went home and changed out of my faux adult armor, and Megan came by to pick me up. We headed to the Valley, enjoying the gorgeous scenery along the way: the ocean, the redwoods, the deep green of the vines over the rolling hills as harvest time approaches. We got a fabulous pizza at Offspring:

and headed back to the family estate, where we toasted the weekend with kir royales:

In the background, you can just about glimpse some of the sweet peas we grow for Dad every year.

Megan had somehow managed to find real creme de cassis from France, and the drinks were fabulous. We really enjoyed hanging out in the garden, enjoying our drinks in the sunshine and catching up. I am lucky to have a sister who is also my best friend.

A YEAR AGO: My annual peach pie.

TEN YEARS AGO: A recap of what was going on in and around my house.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Back in the City after a prolonged camping trip at my sister’s house to help take care of our dying mom.

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Aug 18 2023


Published by under Family,Memories

Well, it’s another sad year.

Some years, when the Evil Eighteenth rolls around, I am thinking of the many happy memories with Dad, both as a child and as an adult. Some years, I feel angry because of his senseless death, and all the years we didn’t get to share with him, and all the good he could have continued to do for the world and the environment.

I was sad last year on the 18th, and I’m sad again this year. Maybe part of it is the terrible, untimely loss of my dear friend Melanie so recently. And yesterday I learned of the death of another friend who was too young, claimed by ALS after a long, hard battle. Add in Megan’s cancer and ongoing health battles, and it’s not too surprising that I’m feeling sad about Dad.

The sweet peas we grow for Dad every year are flourishing at the family estate:

They were his favorites. We had them at his memorial service, and our dear friend Lu carried some in her bouquet and in her hair when she married her beloved Rik a few years ago, so we felt like he was there celebrating with us. He is always with us, in our hearts.

We love you, Dad.

A YEAR AGO: Missing Dad.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A long and dreary week.

TEN YEARS AGO: Always with us.

TWENTY YEAR AGO: Thinking about Dad.

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Jun 27 2023


Published by under Family

Time is working its magic, and Megan is feeling better. Her voice continues to improve, and I dare to hope that she will be bossing everyone around in the ER again soon. She is planning to go camping with her ER buddies after the Fourth of July, and I’m glad she has something to look forward to. I’m hoping she will be able to swim and enjoy hanging out with her friends in the sunshine. It will be healing, inside and out.

Jonathan and Rio have been on a road trip adventure. They drove to Alaska via British Columbia and the Yukon, camping in their van and generally having an amazing time exploring the wilderness and not so wilderness. Here’s Jonathan in the Alaskan tundra:

This what Jonathan described as a “sheet rainbow”:

Their ferry to Juneau was unexpectedly taken in for repairs, so that gave them an extra week in Alaska. Jonathan was able to get his work shifts covered (Rio is retired), and they had more time for Alaska adventures. He and Megan should both be home from their journeys at about the same time.

As for our heroine, the furthest abroad I have ventured is to go to work. I’m a girl whose passport has been expired for 20 years and who will likely never need one again. It’s funny how Megan and Jonathan love adventure and risk and I am just the opposite. My heart’s desire is always in my own backyard:

A YEAR AGO: Drinks with friends and shopping in the family garden.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The heat was hot and the cats were like cartoons.

TEN YEARS AGO: It was hot’n’heinous.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Terrifying wildfires.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: I’m noticing a theme here.

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Jun 21 2023


Published by under Family

Megan is slowly healing up from her surgery. The key word here, especially as far as Meg is concerned, is “slowly”. Definitely too slowly for her taste. I seem to recall that she was also disappointed in the healing speed when she had knee surgery, and was longing to get back to work.

The Friday after the surgery, I took the day off and headed over to Megan’s place. Usually, when we go places together, Meg is the driver, but she was forbidden to drive by her surgical team, so I was the chauffeur. This was the first time Megan had driven in my new-ish to me car, and she really liked it. We now have twin Mazdas, much closer in age than Megan and I are, though mine is a little fancier. It also has a rear window wiper, which Megan envies, and rightly so. I have wanted one of those for years. We both have sun roofs, which we love.

Megan basically sounded like her cat Harriet after she lost her voice. She could only whisper. I was torn between wanting to hear everything that happened and how she was feeling and not overextending her voice. Her voice is supposed to be much better within three weeks, and if there are still issues, there are things the doctors can do to help to make it better.

Just as I hadn’t realized that Megan would not have the use of her hands as she crutched about after her knee surgery, I failed to realize that swallowing would also be a problem for someone who had three hours of surgery in and around her throat. Finding something to eat that was easy to swallow was a real challenge. We settled on some soup (always a gamble if previously untasted: will it be good, or gross?) and some pudding and hoped for the best.

Despite the whispering and the recovering from being sliced open and sewed up again, we still had fun together. We always do.

A YEAR AGO: Jarrett and Kalli got engaged on the family property. The wedding was almost exactly a year later, at exactly the same place.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Minor local mysteries in law enforcement. OK, then.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The loss of my wonderful, unique, fearless, unforgettable stepmother, Margaret.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Taking care of Mom after a mini-stroke.

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Jun 15 2023


Published by under Calamity Suzy,Family

The 13th, though not a Friday, started out unlucky for our heroine, who stepped in cat poop in her bare feet on her way to the salle de bains. I suspect the 13 year old Clyde of thinking outside the box, having observed his merrily hopping outside the litter box while still in mid-poop, leaving a trail of calling cards behind him as heads off to the next adventure. I’m not sure if he’s too impatient to get on to the next thing or what. I also don’t understand why he comes in from the Outside, which, let’s face it, is a giant combined litter box and scratching post, and immediately goes to the litter box and scratches the carpet. Maybe he considers outdoor pooping to be as uncivilized as the help does.

It set the tone for the day, which turned out to be the kind where you drop your lip gloss and forget your lunch. At least my top wasn’t inside out, the way it was a couple of weeks ago when my co-worker (and healthcare provider) kindly pointed out that particular sartorial error. At least I had clothes on before I went to work.

Even though I was appropriately attired, I was unprepared for the call from the front desk telling me that the cops were at the front door. Also my boss.

For some reason, the police station was alerted that there was an alarm at the clinic, even though I had turned it off when I came in as usual. I later learned that a coworker had come in the delivery door about the same time I came in and that had confused the system. Or something. The police officer was really nice about it, and looked about 12 years old. It turned out he went to school with a colleague’s daughter, which upgraded him by about 10 years, but still perilously close to grandson age.

Given the inauspicious start to the day, I could be forgiven for worrying about Megan, who was headed for the operating room in San Francisco while I was chatting with Kindergarten Cop. But she came through the surgery like the star she is. She had the entire thyroid removed and I am hopeful she is cancer-free. Her incision is pretty big, and her vocal cords were stretched by the tumor, but the surgeon expects her to get her voice back.

Megan is home now, with Rob and the dogs, and just has the hard work of healing ahead of her. She has to sleep sitting up, like the Elephant Man (I remember how fun that was), and swallowing is painful, but she’s on the road to recovery. I hope it’s a short one.

A YEAR AGO: There’s no place like home.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My car and I were under the weather.

TEN YEARS AGO: File under miscellaneous.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Farewell to the Lovely Rita. I still miss her.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Airport (mis)adventures.

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May 28 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family,Garden

Megan and were planning to have a shared birthday celebration this year, but it was scheduled for a few days after Melanie’s death, so I was not feeling too festive and we cancelled the party. I did stop by the family estate that day to spend some time with my siblings. I told Jonathan I was sorry about Scout, and he told me he was sorry about Melanie. It’s still hard to believe they are gone, even though I know they are.

We took a look around the garden. It seems to me that things are not as far along as they usually are this time of year, but given that I’m always surprised by how early it starts getting dark in the fall, even though it happens every year, this could be a Suzy thing and not a seasonal thing. The apple trees were in blossom:

and the strawberries were berrying:

safely hidden from raccoons’ marauding paws and birds’ scavenging beaks under their netting.

The cherry tree was not so lucky. Its net cathedral was torn to shreds during the winter storms, and there was not enough time to rebuild it yet. So the birds will have cherries, if not strawberries.

In addition to the usual garden produce, flowers were being grown for Jarrett and Kalli’s upcoming wedding:

It seems there is always something happening in the garden.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A lovely Royal wedding.

TEN YEARS AGO: Finally got rid of the hot tub carcass in the back yard. Mostly.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: It is actually possible to be sick of shopping. You read it here first.

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May 12 2023


Published by under Cats,Family


I’m sorry to tell you all that little Scout, Jonathan’s beloved mini-cat, vanished into the same woods she emerged from, in late 2012. Somehow, it makes sense that her departure should be as sudden and unexpected as her arrival, but it doesn’t make us any less sad at losing her.

She was a constant presence, despite her innate skittishness. She remained semi-feral, very difficult to pet outside of the one safe space in the entire universe: Jonathan’s bed. There you could enjoy petting her silky soft fur and hear her enormous purr. She slept right next to Jonathan every night he was home, and he misses her so much.

She would observe barbecues and parties from a distance, sometimes allowing a pet or two, but that was a rare gift. Not long before she left us, she had started to make very welcome cameo appearances at Megan’s house, even venturing inside despite the presence of Stella and Millie. Somehow, that makes it harder that she is gone for good. Maybe she was finally feeling safer after her 11 years with us, and she might have spent more time with us. We’ll never know.

Despite her diminutive size (she remained the size of a 8 or 9 month old kitten), she had a huge personality, and her loss is deeply felt.

A YEAR AGO: A new (to me) computer. Not without snags, of course. Suzy and technology do not mix. At least, not well. Or easily.

TEN YEARS AGO: How to make an orchard.

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Mar 23 2023


Published by under Cooking,Family,Memories

Dad’s birthday fell on a Friday this year, so we all got together for a dinner in his honor at Rio’s house.

Megan had just acquired a car which is almost the twin of mine, much like we are almost twins, born 9 years and 9 days apart. They are both Mazda 3s, but mine is red and hers is white. Mine is the Grand Touring edition, so like me, it is fancier. I have a rear windshield wiper, which I have wanted for a long time, and hers doesn’t. They are about a year apart. Mine is newer but has more miles. But we are both driving Mazdas these days. This is the first time I have owned a car that was not a Ford. Sorry, America!

The trip to Rio’s for Dad’s birthday dinner was the first time I had been in Megan’s new (to her) car, and it was very nice. We both like driving these cars.

It only seemed appropriate that we cook Dad’s birthday dinner from his cookbook, complete with drawings he made:

We made chicken pilau, and served it with salad:

Megan made bruschetta as an appetizer, with peppers my siblings grew and preserved last summer. These were topped with fresh basil and Parmesan:

We had cider we pressed last fall. This batch had some of our home-grown raspberries in it:

We gave the traditional toast to Dad: “The old man wasn’t so bad!” with much love and happy memories.

Jonathan made a pie from raspberries grown at the family estate and frozen for occasions like this. It was a taste of summer in what still felt like winter:

It was a wonderful, home-grown celebration.

We love you and miss you, Dad. Always.

A YEAR AGO: It was much more spring-like than it is this year!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring was wintery. I always say, March is the secret winter month no-one talks about.

TEN YEARS AGO: The woes of country traffic.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Celebrating spring, Suzy-style.

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Jan 30 2023


Published by under Country Life,Family

I had a very social weekend. I met my friend Daphne for lunch on a Friday. We actually ate in a restaurant, which was a pleasant novelty after the Plague Years. It was great to catch up. We were in the throes of the annual fundraiser, and my friend Richard stopped by the office to drop off a couple of gift certificates. I took a little time to hear about his most recent adventures and just enjoy his positive presence. After work, I met my friend Alison for a drink at our favorite local watering hole. It was great to see everyone, and it had been far too long. I wonder if it’s too late to make a New Year’s Resolution to see my friends more often.

As I headed home that evening, I stopped to admire the view:

I am so lucky to live somewhere so beautiful.

The social whirl continued on Saturday. Megan picked me up and we headed to Boonville to pick up some fabulous pizza:

at Offspring:

The pizza had smokey tomato, charred onions, fior di latte mozzarella, pickled calabrian chilli, fermented garlic honey, and garden herbs. I know honey sounds weird on pizza, but it is utterly delicious.

We were disappointed to discover that both the pastry shop and the Mercantile next door were closed. We were dreaming of canelés and scented candles, but both shops were closed for the month of January. But we got our pizza!

We headed back to Megan’s place, where we had some fabulous kir royales:

We used local sparkling wine and French blackcurrant syrup, as well as blackcurrants soaked in crème de cassis. I even brought my rhinestone-studded champagne glasses for the occasion. Sometimes, we get fancy. And what better time than GirlNight(TM)?

A YEAR AGO: A magical encounter with a deer.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting some culture with the girls.

TEN YEARS AGO: Some updates.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Enjoying the Noir Festival.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A visit to Point Reyes.

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Dec 31 2022


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

It’s hard to think of 2022 as anything other than the year we lost The Queen. Three months after losing her calm, wise presence, it’s still hard to believe she is truly gone. She has been my Queen my whole life, and knowing her steady hand is no longer on the tiller makes me feel both unmoored and unnerved. It’s like living under a different sky.

I went to the City more this year (twice!) than I did in the last 10 years (once!). I think I’m done with it for the next little while, though I probably won’t wait for another decade to visit. It’s both familiar and strange at the same time.

I turned 60 this year, and Mom would have been 90. My blog turned 21. A lot of milestones this year. I found I was excited about turning 60. I feel like every day I wake up and I’m still breathing is a good one.

Books read: 110, more than last year’s 106. The most since 2017’s 111, and close to my personal best of 118 in 2010.

Here’s what happened in my world this year:

January: Happy New Year! Dodge lives up to his name. He is an Artful Dodger, indeed. Dental pain: not a good way to start the year. But a new baby is, especially when she is born on New Year’s Day. Especially when she’s Anna. In which we learn that Frank is a con man.

February: The Sex & the City reboot had its pluses and minuses. What should have been. Cheers to some unexpected nice weather! Getting my wisdom teeth out still had some glamor. And the whole thing went much better than I expected. Spending the night in style.

March: A delightful visit to the B. Bryan Preserve. The anniversary of losing our beloved Star. And our beloved father’s birthday. I will never stop missing either of them. Lilac time. And time to get a new computer, among other things.

April: My mom’s 90th birthday. First trip to the City in many years, to see a concert. Of course, I visited Swan’s while I was there. My blog turned 21. We both remain resolutely immature, and our grown-upness is quite faux. Don’t be fooled by the (somewhat alarming) numbers. A look around the family garden, and some updates on my beloved cats.

May: A super computer, after my old one became unusable. It’s how I roll. A guy actually tried to pick me up at the gas station, and Dodge hurt his paw. Happy birthday to Megan and me!

June: My second trip to the city in 6 week’s time. Making up for lost time! A look around the old neighborhood. The City was fun, but it was good to be home. It’s official: Jarrett and Kalli are engaged! Celebrating in style.

July: The Imperious Empress Audrey turned 15, outliving her mother Quince, who died just a few days before Audrey’s birthday. We estimate that Quince was about 9 months old when Audrey was born. Audrey is the only survivor of her litter, and has been for some time. Fleeing the usually beloved Circus. I hope next year’s performance is more fun and less painful. The delights of the Symphony. I got a beautiful new bed, put together with my family’s help.

August: Packing a lot of fun into one day. A delightful trip to the Valley. Marking 21 years since we lost Dad. I will never stop loving and missing him. My annual peach pie. Catfight! I am pleased to announce that Dodge was the winner, and also that there has not (to my knowledge) been an encore performance.

September: Uh oh. Car problems. In retrospect, I realize this was also the beginning of the end of Wednesday. The sudden and shocking loss of Her Majesty The Queen rocked my world and sent me into mourning for the rest of the year. But she would have wanted us to get on with it, and we did, working on wedding plans as a family. Tallying up the bridges I cross to get to work. Some early season rain.

October: Finally! Megan and I went to the County Fair. A visit to Point Arena, and a fabulous dinner at Gama. Another finally: we pressed cider together.

November: November came in like a lion. A lovely trip to the Valley. It’s beautiful at any time of year. The demise of my car was sudden and shocking. And Thanksgiving was modest.

December: Decorating for Christmas. Candlelit shopping was rained out for us, but we still found a way to have some fun. Finding new and unenjoyable ways to spend money. Christmas celebrations.

It’s a stormy end to the year. Trying not to think of it as an omen.

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Dec 23 2022


Published by under Country Life,Family,TV

On the eve of Christmas Eve, I left work early, and for the last time in 2022. I took the week off between Christmas and New Year’s, possibly for the first time since I started working at the clinic. Because of the way Christmas fell, I only had to take 4 days off to get 11 days off, counting weekends, which we all know are the most important part of the week. So I was unable to resist, not that I tried very hard.

With glorious days of freedom stretching before me, I headed homewards, stopping at Cafe Beaujolais to pick up pizza. When I got home, I took care of the cats (always the first order of business, whether it’s the beginning of the day or the end), changed out of my work clothes for the year, and texted Megan that I was ready to go.

Megan chauffeured the pizza and me to her place, where we had appletinis and watched season 3 of Emily in Paris. Warning: spoilers ahead! Avert your eyes if you haven’t already seen Season 3! We both agreed that this season was not as enjoyable as the earlier two, though it was still fun. Emily’s clothes were mostly weird, instead of mostly wonderful, as they were in the earlier seasons. But we got to spend more time with the inimitable Sylvie, which is fine with me. The most concerning thing was not Camille and Gabriel almost getting married, but the horrifying plot twist that Camille is pregnant. As we all know, babies are the kiss of death for any TV show, and the thought of Camille pregnant and then with an infant clinging to her is completely dreadful. I hope they can write their way out of this one and make Season 4 more fun and fashionable. We need the escapism.

Despite all that, we had a great evening together, and have already planned another Girl Night for January. It’s good to have things to look forward to, especially after the Saddest Day of the Year, which is speeding toward us all too fast.

A YEAR AGO: A solstice earthquake. Oddly, there was one about the same size in the same place on that date, too.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A chilly solstice.

TEN YEARS AGO: Some unexpected Christmas guests.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Baby Audrey breaks out of the Big House.

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Oct 28 2022


On a cool and sunny Sunday morning, I said goodbye to the cats and headed over to Rio’s place. It was Cider Day!

It had been so long since I went there that I was a little worried about getting lost. Fortunately, I did not get lost, and I was the first to arrive. Jonathan and Rio hugged me hello, and soon Megan and Rob arrived and production began.

We didn’t have as many apples this year, and some were set aside for the very worthy cause of becoming calvados. Jonathan made his own still out of copper, and has also acquired a small stainless steel keg with an oak inset on the face, which he will use to age the calvados instead of the previous method of aging in glass bottles with an oak twig. Nothing like a good process improvement!

We who are about to become cider salute you:

First, the apples have a bath, even though they are organic and grown in the family orchard:

The real process improvement was the new grinder:

Instead of having to cut up the apples, arguably the longest and most time-consuming part of the cider-making process, you just throw the whole apple in there, unless it’s too big for the chute, and it gets scrobbled with no human intervention required. Much easier (and faster) than cutting up the apples and grinding them by hand, the way we used to do it.

Here you see Jonathan and Rob decanting the ground apples into the press:

Here’s Jonathan pressing the cider:

Cider pouring out:

And in a handy to go container:

I can’t tell you how good it tasted. Or how good it was to all be together again, making cider like our ancestors.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A beautiful garden.

TEN YEARS AGO: Audrey and I had checkups.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A tip on how to raise kittens.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

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Oct 06 2022


It had been a long time since Megan and I went to the County Fair. Too long. We finally rectified this matter on a beautiful fall afternoon. I tried and failed to leave work early, but that did not deter us from heading Fairwards. Megan found one of her secret parking spots. The parking goddess usually smiles on Megan (I think it’s the country version of her uncanny city ability to get a cab anywhere, and in every weather), except when she frowns. Then she really scowls.

Fortunately, both the parking goddess and we were in good moods. It was so great to see the Fair signs stretching across the highway:

There wasn’t even a line to get in:

Our first stop was Gowan’s cider stand, where we each got a cup of cider to inspire us as we strolled around. Our first stop was the animals, where I admired the adorable bunnies:

and the fancy chickens:

The biggest pumpkin was not that big this year:

Maybe it was the drought and the water restrictions not allowing it to grow to epic proportions. It’s still pretty big, though.

This was my favorite garden exhibit:

We stayed late enough for the lights to come on, making the Fair look even more magical:

It was a really wonderful afternoon and evening.

A YEAR AGO: Oh, deer.

FIVE YEARS AGO: More message boards fun.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The secret lives of mailmen.

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Sep 15 2022


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

The Queen would want us to get on with it, and I have, but I continue to mourn her and wear mourning. My thoughts are with her. I will take the day off on September 19 to watch Her Majesty’s funeral and grieve along with the many millions who loved and admired her.

Even when a Queen dies, life goes on, and even in the darkness, there are bright spots. Jarrett and Kalli, grieving their own loss of their beloved dog Archimedes, came to visit and so some wedding planning. Did I tell you? I’m getting a wedding for my birthday next year.

I arranged with one of my coworkers to rent tables and chairs for 50-60 people. We will use the chairs for the ceremony and then bring them back to Megan and Rob’s place, where the tables will be set up. We need to look into getting a tent and a dance floor. There are so many things to think of, even for a small wedding.

Jonathan brought a bowl of garden-grown, home-made salsa to inspire us:

Also a bottle of garden-grown, home-made raspberry wine:

It was surprisingly not at all sweet, though it smells like summer. Really delicious. It took 5 pounds of raspberries to make that one bottle. That’s a lot of picking. We toasted The Queen and our gratitude for her long reign.

Jonathan said he was experimenting with plum brandy this year, and had also acquired a cider press that did not require cutting up the apples. Yay!

Jonathan grilled up some burgers for us:

Some were turkey, and some were local, grass-fed beef from right here in Hooterville. Jonathan had repaired a neighbor’s machinery and was paid in local beef. Gotta love that.

As the evening went on, the twinkle lights came on:

and the lanterns:

It was a happy time for all of us, especially knowing we have more to look forward to.

A YEAR AGO: Another happy family dinner.

FIVE YEARS AGO: When you have cats, you are not in charge.

TEN YEARS AGO: The loss of two much-loved dogs. And some naughtiness from my cats.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Spending some time in Devon.

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Aug 18 2022


Published by under Family,Memories

Dad and his beloved dog Jesse on Wimbledon Common

Today marks 21 years since Dad’s sudden death. Has my grief matured, at the ripe old age of 21? I would have to say no, much as I have not matured, at the ripe old age of 60. I still think of Dad every day, and I still miss him every day. While I am no longer throwing myself on the floor and howling or having strange experiences like not remembering what my name is when signing a check, or suddenly finding myself at Grace Cathedral with no memory of leaving my apartment, locking the door, and walking up Franklin Street and down California Street, I find I am very sad today.

I soon learned after Dad died that grief is not linear. I thought I would feel a little better each day, but it doesn’t work that way. At all. Some days, you feel OK, and the next day, you feel terrible. Just because today was an OK day doesn’t mean tomorrow will be, and this is also true of bad days. You have no control over this, and it’s scary. Some days you remember the happy memories, and some days you are really sad about your loss and the fact that your life will never be the same again. There’s before, and there’s after, and there’s no return to before or escape from after.

This year is a sad year, and I will just have to accept that and try to comfort myself with the knowledge that, much like in the picture above, Dad and Jesse are together and they always will be. Both of their ashes were scattered on Wimbledon Common, their favorite place to walk together. I like knowing they are keeping each other company. I hope they are watching over me, and I hope that Dad was wrong about their being no after life and that I can tell him so one day.

I love you, Dad. You are always loved, always missed. Thank you for being my best friend and confidant, and for always loving me, no matter what. I was lucky to have you in my life. I just wish we had you around a little longer.

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Aug 10 2022


Published by under Country Life,Family

Down in the Valley

Megan and I headed to the Valley on a beautiful summer weekend.

It was lovely to drive through the redwoods, with the sunlight flickering through the trees, and to emerge into the Valley, with the rolling hills covered with vineyards and deep pools of live oaks.

We went to the furthest point first, beautiful downtown Boonville:

We looked around the pretty shops. I loved a candle called Coastal Trail, lavender, geranium, lemongrass. It smelled amazing. I didn’t buy it, though, and of course, I regretted it on the way home. How could I forget the Suzy Rule that you only regret not buying things? I may have to make another excursion to Boonville…

We stopped in at the teeny patisserie, where I acquired some brownies, Canelés de Bordeaux, and a cone of orange-cardamom ice cream, which was fantastic. I love cardamom. Megan got an iced mocha, and we sat at a table outside and enjoyed the view and people watching along with our icy treats on a hot afternoon.

We headed back to Philo. I have wanted to try the cider tasting at Gowan’s, and so did Megan. It turned out this was the day to finally do it! It was delightful to try the cider under the very trees where the apples were grown:

We tried a flight of six or so, along with a bonus frozé made from the rosé cider. We decided to get a case and split it, six bottles each, and the cost of the tasting flight was refunded. What’s not to love?

We ended the happy day at our favorite seaside bar, with limoncello spritzers:

They are a lovely mix of limoncello, champagne, and a dash of lemon-lime soda. Summer in a glass!

A YEAR AGO: The quirks of my cats.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A loss. After all, August is the Official Month of Death.

TEN YEARS AGO: My 2,000th post.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Working for a living is just too much…work.

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Aug 04 2022


Published by under Country Life,Family,Friends

Have you been wondering how much fun one girl can pack into one summer Friday? Well, I’ll tell you: a lot.

My friend Richard picked me up in his fancy Tesla and chauffeured me to a lovely restaurant overlooking the river and harbor:

It was lovely to watch the boats come and go as we enjoyed our lunch and our conversation:

Richard is 77 years old, but he has not slowed down in the slightest. He is still working, but he lives to travel. Future plans include visits to Spain, Portugal, and South Africa. He is such a positive, life-affirming person.

And his car is so fancy. I can’t get over how quiet it is, not to mention delightful features like being able to set it to cool while we were still at the restaurant, to avoid having to get into an annoyingly hot car. Also, I love being chauffeured.

After work that day, I picked up a pizza from Cafe Beaujolais, discovering that you can get it half-baked to finish at home, and also some adult beverages. Megan and I had a craving for Appletinis, but alas, no apple schnapps were to be found, so we had to make do with vodka and raspberry lemonade, and a couple of cocktails at our favorite seaside bar:

We had the pizza with a side of Emily in Paris, which makes everything more delicious, and when it was time to go home, Rob drove me, so I was chauffeured for the second time in one day. Gotta love that.

A YEAR AGO: Acquiring a beautiful apple.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Finding a couple surprises on arriving home.

TEN YEARS AGO: A magical microclimate mystery tour.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A surprise visit from Jonathan and Jed the Wonder Dog. Note: Squat and Gobble is right where I left it 20 years ago. Still open after all these years! And Clayton still lives in/above the Garage Mahal.

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Jul 28 2022


Published by under Family,House

‘Memba the bed I unwillingly bought from Wal-Mart all those years ago? You know, in the bad old days in bad old Oakhampton? It had been growing steadily more and more unreliable over the years, being cheaply made, despite not being particularly cheaply priced, and moving from my old house to my new(ish) one did not improve matters. Some bits and pieces did not survive the move, and lately, the bed tended to sort of fall apart, which tended to be disturbing for its many occupants, including Me.

As usual, I basically waited until it irretrievably broke down or no longer worked, much as I do with computers and phones. It is the Suzy Way. This time, I ordered the bed online. It arrived sooner than I expected, and of course it was unexpectedly rainy and muddy that day, and the box was slightly damaged. It took about all I had to drag it into the house, where it reposed in front of the ancient grandfather clock.

I called in the cavalry in the form of Megan and Rob, and left work early one day to meet them at Chez Suzy. I had already removed the mattress and box spring when they arrived, and the slats, and the zippered bags from under the bed. While Rob took the old bed apart, Megan and I opened up the box with the new one and took the pieces upstairs. Then we took the old bed pieces downstairs.

I knew that Rob was about the handiest person around, but I was surprised by how good Megan was at putting things together with the aid of pictograms and without the aid of her reading glasses. She put the drawers together while Rob worked on the bed frame. I sort of helped.

It didn’t take long before the bed frame and the drawers were ready:

We decided I no longer needed the box spring, and somehow Megan and Rob managed to get it down the stairs despite the beams and slanting ceiling, and set it outside. I’m going to need someone with a truck to drag the box spring and the old bed bits to the dump, but I’ll Scarlett O’Hara that for now.

The new bed looks beautiful:

It’s upholstered in beige linen. I love how clean the upholstery looks (and it is, after I spot cleaned the parts that got muddied in transit), and the drawers will be a huge improvement over the zippered bags under the bed. No more bed skirt to try and hide them! Hooray! I am also pleased to report that it is super comfortable and I am really happy with it.

I don’t know what I would do without my family. I hope I never find out.

A YEAR AGO: Extra fun in an extra-long weekend.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A happy summer Saturday.

TEN YEARS AGO: Filling in various holes, inside and out.

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Jun 22 2022


You guys! Jarrett and Kalli are engaged!

While yes, they were already engaged, Jarrett had not yet given Kalli the ring. He spent a lot of time getting just the right ring, and he wanted to give it to her at the family estate, where they are planning to get married next year.

I wondered how he was going to surprise Kalli with the ring, and here’s how he did it. They decided to visit us from Eureka, where they live, to select just the right spot for the wedding. We knew it would be down where my siblings’ land partners, Dave and Jennifer, live, so we piled into the golf cart and headed down there, with Jarrett hiding the ring in his pocket.

Option A was what we call the Vista Viewpoint*, where there is a little fence and a slightly obstructed view over the redwoods towards the neighboring ridge. Option B was the place where Dave and Jennifer will eventually build their house. It has a sweeping view, flat land big enough for 50 or more chairs for wedding guests, and trees that create a natural altar for vow taking:

As soon as Kalli saw it, she said, “This is it! This is the place!”

She and Jarrett sealed their choice with a kiss, and then Jarrett got down on one knee and said:

“Kalli, I love you so much. You enrich my life, and every day that you’re with me, you inspire me to be a better man. I look so forward to living our lives together. Will you marry me?”

Kalli’s response: “Oh fuck yeah, I will! Get that ring on me!”

Here is the ring:

It’s a natural ruby, which is Kalli’s birthstone, adorned with champagne diamonds. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but the band looks like a twig. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and it suits Kalli perfectly.

We celebrated with champagne and a family barbecue followed by a pie Jonathan made from home-grown raspberries:

As the sun began to set and the twinkle lights came on:

I looked around at all the happy, beloved faces around me, the dogs playing together and laughter in the air as we celebrated the past, present, and future together.

*Always reminds me of the Vista Cruiser in “That 70s Show”.

A YEAR AGO: A flat tire is never good.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A camping party.

TEN YEARS AGO: Touring some local artists’ studios.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Mammograms are never fun.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A visit to the County Fair.

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