Bed

‘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.

Home

Much as I enjoyed visiting the past in San Francisco, I was glad to get back to the present in Hooterville.

It’s interesting that I love living in the country so much. When I lived in San Francisco, I loved it. I loved living in Pacific Heights, I loved the beauty and diversity of the City, its characteristic sights and sounds. But a lot has changed since those halcyon days, and the City I knew and loved is mostly gone. Even if money were no object – and it’s more like a massive, immovable one – I can’t imagine moving back there. I am much happier in my little wooden water tower, surrounded by towering redwoods, with the only sounds the wind in the trees and the birds singing. OK, and the occasional meow.

It was good to get back home. This is the view from the back porch:

And from the front door:

Clyde and Dodge still hang out on the heater in the living room in the evenings and early mornings before they head out to play for the day:

I love how they are such close companions.

Before I go to work in the morning, I always take one last look before I leave. These days, one of my small pleasures is the light-up Chrysler Building that was one of my birthday presents. I have it on in the evening and leave it on so I can enjoy its glow when I get up in the morning:

I love it out of all proportion to what it is, for some reason.

I guess it’s true what they say: There’s no place like home.

FIVE YEARS AGO: When worlds collide.

TEN YEARS AGO: The birth of a garden.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A midnight dog rescue.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Candi and Brian came to visit!

Miscellaneous

It’s the last day of March. The month flew by quickly, and spring is making its presence known. Somehow, the bear-attracting apple tree has blossomed without my noticing the bud stage at all:

and the trees in the long curves at Caspar and Little River are misted with leaves of that heart-breaking, almost electric green that they only have when newborn.

******

When I leave for work in the morning, I give the cats treats to distract them, and before I go out the door, I always take a look back at the house:

It always seems like the most beautiful place when I’m about to venture out into the Wide World. And we all know no good ever comes of doing that.

******

I’m getting a new computer. My current model is from 2012. The trackpad no longer works, and the black plastic connecting the screen to the rest of it is badly frayed and missing entirely in some places.

I had trackpad problems a couple of years ago, which were expensively resolved. Or resolved-ish, since they have reared their ugly heads again. I brought the ailing laptop to someone else this time, and he said the battery was swollen and had to be replaced, and that the swelling was what made the trackpad refuse to click. He relieved me of $150 for taking the battery out of another laptop and putting it in mine.

When I got home, I discovered that not only did it not click, I couldn’t drag anything. I thought about getting another technician to look at it, but it’s 10 years old and I have already put more than enough money into it. It’s time to get a new to me laptop. And ask if I can give back the battery and get a refund.

******

I stopped at the post office on my way to work this morning, my usual time for this chore. I came across a young homeless guy in there, and he asked me if I knew what time it was. I didn’t, because I had left my phone in the car*, but I gave him my best guess, based on when I left the house. He said, “Thank you, sweetheart”. He was probably in his 20s, so I found it unusual that he would call me that, though I enjoyed it as much as I always do. He also asked me when the Gro opened, which I could tell him, and as I left the post office, he said cheerfully, “Have a good day, sweetheart!” It was a nice start to the day.

I seem to be encountering homeless guys a fair bit recently. There is one who often sleeps under the tent at work where we do COVID shots and testing. I say hello to him in the morning if he’s awake, and try not to wake him up if he’s not. He works at McDonalds, but still doesn’t have a place to live. I think we both like seeing each other in the morning. I’m hoping he can get back on his feet soon.

*My cute pink iPod died a few weeks ago, so I’m now using Apple Music. Still figuring it out. It has a lot of drawbacks compared to the iPod. I really am not a fan of change, especially in technology.

A YEAR AGO: My brother was off on an adventure

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying the ballet.

TEN YEARS AGO: A surprise gift.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some coincidences.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My favorite flowers bring back some happy memories.

2021

This was a year of milestones. Jessica turned 18; Jarrett turned 40; my blog turned 20; Megan turned 50; she and Rob celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary, and we mourned the 20th anniversary of our father’s death.

We also mourned the devastating loss of Megan and Rob’s beloved dog, Star. We knew she was sick, but the end was sudden. She has left a huge hole in their household, and we still miss her. But a new dog, Millie, brought joy to our lives in late summer, especially to Stella, who was missing Star much more than we expected. Stella and Millie love playing together, and it’s heart-warming to see how happy they are together.

I read 110 books this year, an improvement over last year’s paltry 86 (assuming my record-keeping was accurate that year), but falling short of the record high of 118 in 2010. I seem to have developed a love for Canadian graphic novels. I devoured all of “Clyde Fans” and every Michel Rabagliati book I could get my hands on.

This was also a year of successful culinary experimentation, in which I learned how to make my own Canelés de Bordeaux, Chinese BBQ pork, lemon chicken, har gao (shrimp dumplings), and pork and chive crystal dumplings.

Here’s all the news I saw fit to print this year:

January: The New Year begins. Come along on my commute. It’s a pretty one. I stepped down from my high office (or possibly my high horse) as the library board Chair, though I remain on the Board. High office is not for the likes of me. Also, it was completely perk-free, as far as I could see. I might be persuaded to try it again if a tiara and a limo were involved. Getting to work was an adventure. Swooning over Frank from afar, and remembering the inimitable Buddy, my first cat love. Frank is still doing well and is his fighty and adorable self. A magical encounter on my way to work. A friend told me that she thinks it was Dad checking in with me. I hope she’s right. And I hope he’s wrong and I see him again one day.

February: John’s rescued kittens. My proudest achievement. Thinking about love. Such an unusual thing to do around Valentine’s Day! A fun trip to the South Coast. I always love it there.

March: The heart-breaking news of our beloved Star’s terminal illness. Jonathan and Rio were off having adventures. When I heard how long they were going to be gone, I knew they would not be here to say goodbye to Star. Unfortunately, I was correct in this. Despite knowing she was ill, her death was sudden, merciful for our darling Star, but hard for those she left behind, including Stella. I still miss our beautiful Star. Megan’s place is not the same without her. I had not realized that she was the heart of their household until she was gone. Dad’s 90th birthday came on the heels of Star’s death.

April: Kitty updates. Getting my hair done and getting an Easter basket cheered me up. My blog turned 20! Can you believe it? And Jessica turned 18! Can you believe that, too? Remembering a wonderful visit with my beloved friend A at her home in Amsterdam in 1994. This month’s theme seems to be the swift passage of time and what we lose along the way.

May: Things were a little too exciting for Dodge. But it didn’t stop him from enjoying his 5th birthday. Making Tourtière from a friend’s family recipe. The joys of a beautiful spring. Megan turned 50, a reason to celebrate! A lot of milestones this year.

June: Enjoying some time off. An excellent birthday, including getting my hair cut and colored and a little trip to the beautiful South Coast. I looked around the small, but scenic, cemetery while I was in Anchor Bay. Summer crowds were out in force in the Village. An expensive flat tire. A lovely, but hot, trip to the beautiful Valley.

July: Orange is the new pink at my house. I love my house. The always amazing Flynn Creek Circus. Another milestone on this milestone-studded year: Megan and Rob’s 30th anniversary! A visit to the Valley, where you can taste cider under the very trees the cider apples grew on. A trip to Bodega Bay, to scope out locations from “The Birds” and remember family Christmases there with Dad. A glamorous stay at the Flamingo in Santa Rosa. The joy of a concert at the Music Festival.

August: My first attempt at making Canelés de Bordeaux was surprisingly successful. I fell i love with a giant ceramic apple (yes, you read that right!) and bought it for the garden. I love it. Some extreme (and extreemly delicious) take-out. Conventional wisdom seems to be wrong when it comes to my unconventional cats. A new deck and a new dog at Megan and Rob’s place! Remembering our much-loved father 20 years after his sudden and untimely death. I will never stop loving and missing him. Ever. Getting contact lenses again. Checking out some beautiful artwork around town.

September: Another successful cooking experiment: Chinese BBQ pork. Meet Millie, Megan and Rob’s new dog! She and Stella are so happy together! I seem to have been out of control with the make your own delicacies. This time: dim sum! A really fun family dinner in the garden. A horrifying (and horrifying expensive) root canal. Just one little thing can make a big difference in a room.

October: I admit it. I’m a scented candle addict. Rainy day baking. Some mid-week sparkles with a friend, and end of week Eggs Benedict at the amazing Queenie’s. Some small-town crimes, a little too close to home for comfort. And in the miscellaneous department…

November: John stepped up his rescue activities with caring for a batch of abandoned, newborn kittens. He had to get up every two hours to feed them for weeks. I am pleased to say they all made it and were safely given to a local rescue for adoption. Yay, John! He’s my hero. Redbeard was finally caught! And Suzy’s Dim Sum Palace was open for business. Yet another crown for my collection, and not the fun, sparkly kind, either. A drink with a side of view. A quietly thankful Thanksgiving.

December: A quiet, but delicious Thanksgiving dinner. The incredible sparkly beauty of the Festival of Lights. In which I learn to make my own lemon chicken while the Chinese restaurant is closed, and enjoy a drink or two with my sister at our local bar. Finally tackling the Closet of Doom. Putting up the Christmas tree. An unnerving earthquake on Solstice Eve. A pretty Christmas Eve and a quiet Christmas Day. Having fun watching Emily in Paris with my sister.

I have no idea what next year will bring, but as this year ends, I am grateful for my family, my friends, my cats, my health, my lovely house, my meaningful work, the beautiful place I live, and the small, special moments in life that are there every day.

A YEAR AGO: A look back at 2020.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Reviewing 2016.

TEN YEARS AGO: What happened in 2011.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The year of the dog.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The last day of the last year of my father’s life.

Tree

I didn’t wait for the first Saturday in December to put up my Christmas tree. I did it the first Friday in December as soon as I got home. I didn’t remove any of the faux adult armor or anything first. I excavated the tree and the lone box of ornaments and got to work.

I was sorry to discover that the colored lights no longer worked and were destined for the dump, where they are undoubtedly being entertained by the comic stylings of the attendant there. My Plan B was a string of clear lights, which work well with the glass icicles and clear plastic snowflakes. Not to mention the glittery white glass birds in honor of Dad:

and the mercury glass acorns, including the giant one displayed in the middle of the tree:

and a beautiful apple:

I also have sparkly glass mushrooms clipped to the ersatz branches, and a glittery star at the top of the tree:

It looks really pretty:

Somewhat surprisingly, the cats, who never agree on anything else other than the fact that feeding times are too late too far between, and there is a distressingly permanent treat drought, are united in ignoring the tree so far. The only post-tree change in their behavior is that Dodge has taken up his winter position on the dining room chair in front of the heater:

In this location, he’s in the direct line of any warmth coming out of the heater. He certainly looks cozy. The rest of the year, he lounges on top of the heater, where he can enjoy the warmth of the pilot light. He’s not just handsome, he’s smart, too.

A YEAR AGO: How Dodge won Clyde’s heart. They are still the best of friends.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Decorating for the season at the old house.

TEN YEARS AGO: You guessed it.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A little less than jolly.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The pros and cons of buying a carport. Fun fact: the carport I bought then is still in use over at the family estate, where it houses a mechanic’s pit, the washer and dryer, the body freezer, and other essentials of life. It turned out to be a good investment.

Organizing

I was surprised that the drink consumption, especially merrily mixing varieties of alcohol, did not result in a head-crushing hangover the next day. In fact, I actually felt well enough to tackle the Closet of Doom! Alert the media!

It’s a little embarrassing to admit that more than a year after Rob installed shelves in the Closet of Doom, it remained a chaotic and overwhelming mess. You know how it is. You look at the mess, it’s horrifying, and you think, “I’ll just deal with it later.”

Later finally arrived, though in the mysterious way of all huge cleaning projects, it caused more mess on the way to cleaning up. I hauled a lot of stuff out of the Closet of Doom, leading to that coveted “just moved in” look for the rest of the house. I threw some stuff out, and grouped things together: teas; canned goods; baking supplies; Asian cooking ingredients; pasta; cat supplies, etc.

At least I can actually walk in there now:

There is more work to do, of course. I still need to haul stuff out from under the stair part of the closet and assess what’s there and will end up being stored there. I’m thinking things like my Dad’s letters and the box of family photos could go near the back, since I don’t need to access them all the time. I need to find good places for things like the vacuum cleaner and the power outage box, which I (sadly) need to access more often. I’m planning to group things like cleaning supplies, automotive supplies, laundry supplies, etc., and put them in trays on the floor under the bottom shelves. Hopefully it won’t take me another year to get those things done!

A YEAR AGO: Lights in the darkness.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The delights of Candlelight Shopping.

TEN YEARS AGO: Roadside assistance.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Glimpses of city life.

Cocktail

Sadly for the fabulousness level of our little corner of the world, Monica is closing her shop of eternal cuteness and selling the building that all too briefly housed it. She has not yet decided on her next adventure, but whatever it is, I know it will be creative and fabulous, like Monica herself. Though excited for Monica, I am sad for Self and all of us who enjoyed shopping in her civilized oasis of adorableness. On the bright side, it allowed me to acquire some fantastic things at a serious discount, including this Camp Cocktail kit:

This pretty Mason jar was the clever idea of someone who wanted to be able to enjoy cocktails while camping. You add alcohol and let it steep for a few days. If you are the kit’s creator, you then strap on your boots, put it in your backpack, and stride mightily off into the wilderness. If you’re Me, you put on your kitty PJ’s and mix it with San Pellegrino pomegranate and black currant* flavored water in a glass accented with rhinestones:

Because you can never have too much sparkle, inside or outside your glass.

I also got some delicious scented candles from Chez Monica, including City of Night. I didn’t know what the scent was at first; all I knew was it smelled mysterious and delightful. I later learned that it was inspired by Jim Morrison and included notes of cypress, fir, charred vetiver and black pepper. I am now hopelessly addicted to having a scented candle burning in the evening. Another favorite is the locally made Hearth, which pretty much smells the way it sounds and is my total favorite. I find it really comforting to have that flickering light as the evening darkness falls.

*Black currant is one of my all-time favorite flavors. It is sadly underrepresented in the Land of the Free, though readily available all over Europe the last time I looked. I personally have enjoyed black currant flavored codeine throat pastilles, bought over the counter in Paris, where I also acquired penicillin throat spray without the need of a prescription. Throat spray was resolutely unflavored, though that was its only drawback.

A YEAR AGO: Rob’s shelves for the Closet of Doom. You will be amazed to hear that the closet remains totally disorganized. One of these days…

FIVE YEARS AGO A look around the garden at the old house. I still miss it there.

TEN YEARS AGO Cars are an expensive habit.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Cuteness.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A late, but beautiful start to the day.

Fluff

Sometimes a small thing can make a big difference. In this case, the “small” thing is 9 feet long, though it’s a positively svelte 2 feet wide:

It is not just beautiful, it’s so soft! It’s a pleasure to walk on in bare feet, especially in the middle of the night. I love how the pattern ties together the other patterns in the bathroom, on the shower curtain and laundry hamper and bath mat. Here’s a close up of the pattern:

There is a pop of color in the room in the form of a very large, orange poster for the Hitchcock masterpiece “Vertigo”:

And of course there’s my pink electric toothbrush and the scalloped turquoise tray Rob made me. Sometimes, it really is just the little things that mean a lot.

A YEAR AGO: The Closet of Doom began a much-needed makeover.

FIVE YEARS AGO A lovely evening.

TEN YEARS AGO It takes a family to deal with my car problems!

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A visit with my family.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A different kind of movie criticism.

Color

Orange is the new pink at my house!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes change can be good. And colorful.

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

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

Trickle

I’m no plumbing expert, or, as you know, even remotely handy, but it was obvious even to me that having a merry little stream rippling out from your kitchen tap was not a good idea.

Rather than try to explain the little brook that had suddenly sprung up, I took a little video of Suzy’s Creek in action and texted it to my landlord, who until she got my text was enjoying a relaxing (and crowd-free) rest at her Hawaiian home.

Being a five hour plane ride away from here did not hinder Danielle’s remarkable efficiency. The next day, she had someone come and inspect it. It was his considered opinion that it needed to be replaced, and when I came home from work the day after that, he was almost done replacing the old with the new.

Being Danielle, the replacement was much nicer than the original. It is now a lovely brushed metal, with matching sprayer.

A pleasant side effect of the upgrade is not having a leak under the sink. The old, leaking tap spilled over behind the sink and then trickled into the cabinet below, making everything wet and probably, at some point, leading to mold and mildew and other undesirable roommates.

Danielle’s fixer guy is planning to come by soon to seal the new tap and sprayer with silicone, and will also seal around the edge of the sink to make sure that is sealed up, too.

I feel really lucky that Danielle is such a great landlord and takes care of things so quickly and efficiently, even when she is more than 2,000 miles away. Sometimes I still can’t believe I live in such a beautiful house.

A YEAR AGO: The ever-amusing local message boards.

TEN YEARS AGO: My beloved Clyde and his brother, the late, lamented Roscoe, turned 6 months old. Five years after losing Roscoe, it still hurts.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Feeling festive. The picture links still work in this post!

Goldilocks


The Battlefield

I kept hearing about how weighted blankets are comforting and help one to sleep better. Who doesn’t need more comfort and better sleep? So I decided to get one.

Blanket One weighed 15 pounds. It felt pretty heavy just wrestling it from the PO box to the car and from the car to the house. Not to mention up the stairs. I was a bit disconcerted to discover that it was much smaller than expected, barely covering my queen size bed when the blanket was placed sideways. Hm.

Once under the covers, it felt a little heavier than I expected. I wondered if I just had to get used to it. Later, I felt too warm and pushed it off, even though it was supposedly “cooling” as well as weighted. I ended up sleeping under just the comforter. I tried it a few more nights, and it was still too warm and too heavy. So I returned it to sender and exchanged it for…

Blanket Two, which weighed a slightly more svelte 10 pounds, and upon being unfolded from its case, was much more size-appropriate. It was nice that it was less heavy, but it was still warmer than I found comfortable. Let’s just say that I dragged out the fan I thought I had put away for the winter. I wanted to try to get the feeling of being hugged and the better sleep. But as you know, we are a family of bad sleepers, and I didn’t get the magic of a much better night’s sleep, as reported by most people. Also, I am bad at relationships, so maybe the hugged all night thing isn’t for me, either. In my single days, I always went to the guy’s house so I could escape. Also, they would not know where I lived and turn up at unexpected and inconvenient times hoping for a rematch. Presumably those who enjoyed the all night hugging feeling planned things to facilitate more hugging rather than less.

Long ago when I moved to California, I was mystified by why no one believed in insulation or window screens. It gets cold (and hot) here, and there are bugs. At the old house, it was basically like sleeping in a tent, and was around 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature overnight in the winter. It was pretty common to see my breath when I woke up on winter mornings, especially since I was too cheap to have the heat on overnight after Henry Etta died. But at the new house, it is so well insulated that I can hardly hear the rain even when it’s storming out, and the house does a pretty good job of keeping the heat in during the winter and the heat out during the summer. Imagine!

There are even screens in the windows, but they are not Dodge-proof, like the metal screen door on the balcony at the old house. So no opening the windows to cool down the room and facilitate the great weighted blanket experiment. Even when it was 32F/0C outside overnight, it was too hot and I kept pushing the weighted blanket off, even the 10 pound one. I looked into getting a 5 pound one, but they only come in kids’/twin bed size, so that’s out. At that point, I gave up on the weighted blanket concept and moved on to Blanket Three, the cooling bamboo blanket.

It appears that the third time is the charm, since the cooling bamboo blanket with my lightweight comforter is just about perfect. I feel like Goldilocks (Suzilocks?) and the three blankets. This one’s too heavy. This one’s too hot. This one’s just right. At least the bear (or bears) in my story stay outside the house.

A YEAR AGO: A fun and silly Girl Night with my sister (and extremely tolerant brother-in-law).

FIVE YEARS AGO: A crazy, happy Thanksgiving.

TEN YEARS AGO: Working on Christmas cards. Which I am also doing now.

Heat

The only source of heat in – I guess I shouldn’t call it the new house after more than a year and a half of living here, but I lived in the old one for a decade, so the new one still feels, well, new – my current abode is a heater impersonating a wood stove. It has faux logs and is powered by the ever-expensive propane. It also needs electricity to work, just like the cooking stove, rendering it completely useless during the inevitable power outages. You may recall that I pretty much froze my butt off during the extended outage inflicted on us with apparent impunity by the dictators at PG&E.

When I first moved in, it was late May, but there were a couple of chilly days. I could not get the heater to light, and since Rob is now 20 minutes instead of 2 minutes away, I had to resort to asking my landlord for help. To be fair, I did count on Rob for help with things that my actual landlord should have handled, but Rob tended to be more responsive and have better solutions to my problems. So in my relatively Rob-less, relatively new house, I have to call on Danielle.

She came by, and before investigating the situation, asked, “You aren’t very handy, are you?” This was before she used about a hundred matches trying to light it and finally contacted the repair guy. Of course, it was the Memorial Day weekend, so he wasn’t immediately available. I think she was a bit embarrassed. While it’s true that I’m not handy, this was not really proof of that fact, since she also could not get the heater to light, and when the repair guy appeared, he couldn’t, either. He had to order a part and then come and install it. After that, it worked fine all winter.

Our seemingly endless summer has seemingly ended, and with a hard frost warning and cold winds blowing around the house, it was time to turn on the heater. But it refused, sitting there dark and cold and stubborn. I had failed to notice that the pilot light was out on the heater until I wanted to actually use it. I should have noticed, since the pilot light keeps the top of the heater pretty toasty, and it’s Dodge’s favorite place to hang out unless it’s very hot outside. He hadn’t been lying there lately, now that I thought of it, so the pilot light had probably been out for months without my realizing it.

Another call to Danielle. Despite her handiness – she milled the wood for the house and built it – she could not get the heater to light, though this time she refrained from editorializing on my (quite genuine) lack of handitude. Once again, she had to call a repair guy. This repair guy talked to himself as a sort of running commentary, so I never knew if he was talking to me or not. He basically dismantled the whole thing and was doing a lot of clangy things. When he took the top of the heater off, there was a mat of Dodge hair, like dryer lint. My contribution to the repair process was to remove the mat and dispose of it.

Eventually, he had it going again. He did say that if it continued to go on strike, Danielle was planning to buy a new heater, which would have to be located against an outside wall. This was a little alarming to me, since it would have to be placed to one side or the other of the back door, this ruining the room’s symmetry, though another option would be next to Rob’s bookcase, below Saffron’s glorious paintings:

which would look better, but would be less efficient, since it would be in a corner. The current heater is about 25 years old and apparently heater technology has improved during that time. But I’m hoping we can just keep it going for now, especially since winter is here.

A YEAR AGO: The horror of the PSPS. I hope that never happens again.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A foggy Halloween.

TEN YEARS AGO: A beautiful way to remember lost loved ones.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: What to do with that pesky leftover wedding jewelry.

After


Rob hard at work*

Decanting things from the Closet of Doom has led to the “just moved in” look for my living room, and you know how I love that.

Ignoring the chaos, Rob installed the shelving supports:

And then the shelves themselves:

I can now easily reach the light switch. Rob is planning to install some kind of light switch cover that will work with the new shelving concept, and also one more support for the slope-adjacent shelf.

Here’s a look back toward the awkward part of the closet:

I think I will still store the Christmas ornaments, my Dad’s letters, and my travel journals there, since they do not require frequent access. I have already put out the pumpkins a little early:

Now all I have to do is somehow vanquish the chaos and get everything neatly organized on the shelves. My inner laziness is battling my chaos hatred.

*Dodge is supervising from his favorite spot on the propane heater that looks like a wood stove.

A YEAR AGO: Wildlife invasions, from foxes to bears. Country living! The bear is back at my house.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A weird day, all the way around.

Before

I’m pleased to announce that Wednesday and I have been reunited.

I picked up a new battery at the car parts store – well, the nice man at the car parts store picked it up and carefully placed it in the loaner car – and a new headlight, and headed home.

Rob came by and replaced the headlight pretty easily. While the new battery had a handle, facilitating getting its extreme heaviness out of one car and into the other, it was also a bit smaller than the old, handle-less one. Rob looked around and found some wood to hold it firmly in place, and so far, so good.

His quest to make my life better continued a few days later. Rob arrived one Sunday afternoon, armed with tools and shelves for the Closet of Doom. I had kind of thought it would be a few weeks before anything happened. I wasn’t expecting an instant installation.

Here it is in all its Doomish glory:

As you can see, it’s a really awkward space, with one side the slope-y part under the stairs, cut off by the propane heater vent pipe, which makes it impossible to walk back into the slope-y part:

The other side is mostly occupied with the washer and dryer:

The washer takes about 5,000 years to wash anything, and the dryer only allows one to choose between low and lowest, so each load of laundry takes at least three tries to dry. When I moved in, Danielle made it clear that she was not responsible for the quirks of the washer and dryer, so there you (and I) have it. At least I don’t have to trek 25 miles each way to the closest laundromat*.

Rob and I removed all the things and stuff from the closet, and then the existing shelf, which also blocked the light switch so I had to reach behind it to turn the light on and off. Why it’s not conventionally located by the door, I don’t know. All part of the Doom experience!

Up next: After!

*Long ago when I was young and living in the big city, my bijou apartment did not have laundry facilities, so I used to drag my laundry a couple of blocks to the laundromat. Sometimes, I’d go to a nearby strip club to wait for the wash cycle to be finished, since each dance took about the same amount of time.

A YEAR AGO: Car problems were making Wednesday and me a little less than happy.

FIVE YEARS AGO: My last day of working at the jobette. I’d still be doing it if I could. So much has changed.

TEN YEARS AGO: New tile in Megan’s bathroom and new carpet for my sleeping loft.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Bettie Page on the TV and a naked man on the fire scape watching a fire on the building’s roof. You know, the usual.

Improvement

You know I have had a long and tempestuous relationship with appliances, from coffee makers to microwaves. They can be temperamental, working sometimes and not others. They can give up on me completely, at the worst possible time. They can be unpredictable, working for other people, but not for me. I feel that I have gone through more appliances than should be necessary at this stage of my life, and I wonder if I am like those people whose magnetic fields mess up watches, whatever the appliance equivalent would be.

The microwave I brought from the old house did give me notice, sputtering to a halt from time and time and generally hinting that the day was not far off when it would break up with me completely. Despite my appliance-destroying track record, I remained optimistic that this would not happen, or at least that it wouldn’t happen soon.

As usual, I was wrong, and one day, it simply refused to work, sitting on the counter silently and stubbornly.

Fortunately for me, the house had come equipped with a much smaller microwave, which I had placed in the Closet of Doom under the stairs. In my uncharacteristic optimism, I thought I wouldn’t need it in the immediate future and placed it in the far reaches of the closet, out of reach. I made a path through the boxes and clambered ungracefully over the propane heater pipe that inconveniently bisects the closet, thankful that the heater wasn’t on.

I retrieved the microwave and brought it over to the kitchen, where it occurred to me that I could now rearrange things. The old microwave was too large to fit on the small counter to the left of the stove, but the smaller one did fit there. I relocated the coffee maker and its accoutrements to the right of the stove, under the cupboards, which gave me extra work space.

Here’s how it looked before:

And here’s how it looks now:

Here’s a close up of the ceramic pear on the counter. It is a set of measuring cups, and I use it quite often. Each measuring cup is a different color inside.

Next to it is a jam jar from Maine:

which is probably 50 years old and which is also a prized possession, reminding me of those long ago summers. Lately I have noticed that when I think about childhood, I think more about Maine, where I spent three or four months a year, than New York state, where I spent the rest of the year. I have been remembering those days a lot lately. Of course, I have always loved the past. It’s my favorite place.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A fun outing with the girls.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Thinking about mortality.

Sunny


No Change In Sight

We have had a long string of sunny days, with temperatures in the 50s, and even dipping a hesitant toe into the 60s. It’s a little eerie. We have only had about 20 inches of rain this season, and at this point, I can’t believe we are going to get anything significant.

On the bright side, the endless brightness means that Megan and Jonathan can do laundry and vacuum whenever they want, since they rely on sun power for all their power. When the sun is not sunny, they can’t do power-intensive things like laundry and vacuuming, since such activities deplete the batteries too quickly. An excellent excuse to avoid housework!

The weather also makes for ideal driving conditions: dry roads with few tourists. It’s a little too early for visitors who drive fifteen to twenty miles under the speed limit in their shiny, clean, expensive cars, so I can zip to work in the dark mornings and drive home in the still light evenings with a minimum of frustration.

The fact that it’s usually light when I get home means that the madness (and maddeningness) of the time change can’t be far away. I wish the politicians would hurry up and ratify the time change stoppage that Californians overwhelmingly voted for last year, but then I wish politicians would do a lot of things.

Speaking of home, there has been progress on the septic system surgery, as I can see:

I’m not sure what is going on there, but something is. Whatever needs to be done to keep the sewage going in the right direction and firmly diverted away from my kitchen sink is fine with me. It seems that the septic surgeons don’t need access to my house to do whatever they need to do, and they are only here when I’m not, so that’s about all the information I have for now.

Back in the house, I have added a new element to the decor. I fell in love with this shiny object:

I think it looks perfect with the mid century-ish decor:

So far none of the cats have knocked it off the table, which is a plus. After all, if the world was flat, cats would have pushed everything off it by now.

Unromantic

It was an unromantic and unenjoyable Valentine’s Day at Chez Suzy.

Once again, my sinks were full of sewage (but empty of dishes). Once again my landlord Danielle came to the rescue, helping to clean up and, perhaps more importantly, calling the septic surgeon and pleading with him to come and operate on the wayward septic system.

It’s pretty hard to say no to Danielle, and the septic wizard was no exception to this rule. It’s reassuring to know there are some things in this crazy world that a girl can count on. Whatever the septic wizard did, it fixed the situation, and he apparently needs to come back and do something to clear the roots out for good. With my limited understanding of this subject, it sounds like the issue is partly that my house is far away from the septic tank and leach field, located near Danielle’s house, and partly that the redwood trees, while beautiful and majestic, have serious roots which are seriously encroaching on the pipe leading from my house to the septic tank. So the experts will have to ream it out somehow. It sounds both icky and expensive. What’s not to hate? I’m just happy I can flush the toilet again.

It’s the little things in life.

While cleaning up the aftermath, the power went out, despite the clear skies and complete lack of wind or anything else that usually leads to power outages. It was either someone driving into a pole, which seemed unlikely, given how far down the road I live and how lightly populated it is at this point (at least by humans), or inept tree fellers employed by our frenemies at PG&E, which seemed more likely. In an attempt to restore their popularity after inflicting the days-long power outage on us, they are starting to cut back trees and do the work they should have done years ago. And in order to do this, they have been hiring people who are not as skilled as they should be.

I discovered that 30 people were affected by the outage, which made me feel really special. Later I learned the pole in question was just outside my gate. Fortunately, heat and light were restored before darkness fell, and it was high time for some sparkling pink wine. Here’s to working plumbing and electricity!

A YEAR AGO: The seemingly endless loop of being sick and the power going out.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Farewell to the jobette.

TEN YERAS AGO: The many joys of the Citrus Fair with Megan, Lu, and Jessica. Jessica was so little! And I miss her so much.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some Florida lessons.

Saga

So…I have a confession to make.

When I applied for this house, I was a little inexact about the exact cat population at Chez Suzy. I felt – correctly, as it turned out – that if I admitted to having three cats, I would be immediately disqualified as a potential tenant. Three cats seemed perilously close to Crazy Cat Lady territory, not a neighborhood considered desirable by most (or any) landlords. So I only admitted to the existence of Audrey, in the belief that she was the most likely to be seen by the landlord.

In my defense, it is almost impossible to find a place that allows any form of pet, and I had been looking for almost a year before I found this place, which also is lovelier than my wildest dreams. I assumed I would just move into another eccentric hippie house. Imagine my surprise when I saw this place, not to mention my desperate wish to live here.

Needless to say, after I moved in, I was constantly worried that my landlord would find out the cats were a trio, rather than a solo act, and of course, it happened. She came in one day when I wasn’t home to check on the septic system. She didn’t call or text or otherwise let me know ahead of time, and I was at work, as she could clearly see, since my car was gone. She knew quite well I wasn’t home.

Of course, she discovered the unauthorized cats and freaked out, which in turn freaked me out, fearing that I would end up either homeless or catless. I discovered this in a series of agitated texts while I was in a library board meeting. I called her after the meeting and she basically said I had to rehome two of the cats.

I called the free legal service provided by my work, and was amazed to discover that I didn’t have a leg (or a paw) to stand on. All you hear is how tenants have all the rights and it’s so hard to get rid of them and everything is in their favor, but the polar opposite is true. I thought my landlord had committed a crime by deliberately entering my rented premises when I wasn’t there and without my permission. Apparently this is only a problem if it’s “a pattern”. The real problem is that I broke my lease by having two unauthorized cats. Oh, and because I’ve lived there less than a year, my landlord only has to give me 30 days’ notice to move out, and take my legal and illegal felines with me.

I sent my landlord an email, apologizing sincerely and basically begging to keep my beloved cats. She was willing to listen, and there was a back and forth between us. She said she would need another $500 pet deposit, which I was glad to agree to (though I had no idea how I would come up with the money), and she wanted to check the premises monthly, which I also agreed to.

The inspection finally happened this past Sunday. I think it was good that we talked face to face. I again apologized and she said her issue was really with trust, not with the cats, and I totally understand that. She told me some personal things, which I took to be working towards rebuilding our trust, and went through the house. She remarked on how nice it looked, which made me feel good, and though she pointed out some scratches on a couple of the redwood beams, I truly believe they are old and not caused by my cats. I said I wished we had done this before I moved in, and she agreed. She took photos of everything.

Audrey is 13, Clyde is 10, and Dodge is 3. As they pass away, I’m not planning to replace them, and will end up with just one cat, and I let her know that.

We chatted a bit when she left, and as she walked toward her house she said, “I’ll get you the paperwork,” which I hope means that everything is all right. I will always be honest with her going forward, and I hope that we can mend our relationship and be good neighbors for years to come.

A YEAR AGO: It was snowing! And I was under the weather.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A gigantic, scary, power-removing storm. I’d rather have snow, thank you.

TEN YEARS AGO: An illustrious former neighbor.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Getting lost is one of my special talents. They are all pretty much useless.

Ugh

As soon as the power came back on, I ran around hiding all the signs that it was ever out, madly washing dishes and putting away the lanterns. More than a week after the whole thing ended, I am still recovering from it emotionally. It’s not at all like losing power because of a storm, which is nature and an expected part of each winter. Having it wrested away from you for an extended period of time because of greed and negligence and having absolutely no recourse is not. And it’s super upsetting.

So it was in a state of emotional fragility that I woke up last Saturday morning and went downstairs to make coffee only to find both of the kitchen sinks full of raw sewage. Yes, the power was back on, but the septic system was on strike.

I let my landlord Danielle know, and while I was waiting for her arrival, discovered that the seepage was also in the closet where the washer and dryer are. I pulled everything out of there, and Danielle arrived with cloths to sop up the closet, along with a very long snake and an industrial Shop Vac to deal with the septic situation. Her son Alex, who lives in the house next to me, joined her on this mucky and unpleasant operation. They were both remarkably cheerful about it.

It took a while to deal with it, and Danielle told me that the issue is that the septic was put in many years ago, and now the redwood roots are beginning to encroach on it. Eventually it will need an overhaul, but hopefully not in the immediate future.

Once everything was done, Danielle scattered a lot of wood ash outside and I started bleaching and cleaning inside. I was very thankful that there were no dishes in or even near the sink. Everything was thoroughly cleaned and scrubbed. By that time, I was both hungry and disinclined to cook anything, so I jumped in the car and headed for Queenie’s, where I had a wonderful grilled Reuben sandwich on rye bread made just for Queenie’s. It was everything a Reuben should be.

The clocks went back an hour that night, just adding to the weekend’s weirdness. And making my sister, who had the bad luck to be working that night, have to work an extra hour.

A YEAR AGO: The state was burning up. It was scary.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of looking for a job.

TEN YEARS AGO: My deer neighbor.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Viva Las Vegas!

Cushion

It might surprise you that a girl who is as much of a sparkly princess as I am doesn’t live in a Jayne Mansfield style glory of pink and glitter. My décor is actually quite neutral. I mentioned to my long-time friend A, whose hobbies include interior design and restaurant reviewing, that the cats* were taking their toll on the beige linen upholstery on the living room chair, and she suggested that I switch out both the couch and the chair for blush velvet ones. She says blush velvet can read as neutral with the right accessories and would provide a welcome note of luxe in my country abode. Also that cats do not enjoy clawing velvet.

A did a lot of research on couches and chairs, and we narrowed down her selection to the dream couch and chair, but they will have to remain a dream for the moment, since I recently made a major investment in car repairs and have no budget for furniture or other frivolities at the moment.

So while I wait for my ever-tenuous finances to recover – if they do – I have been adding new cushions to the couch, which will be compatible with pink velvet if it ever occurs. A gave me the beautiful vintage hand-made suzani which is draped over the back of the couch, and also the hand-embroidered turquoise cushion on the left. I added the white, purple and pink embroidered cushion on the right. Allergy sufferers, beware: all the pillows in my house are feather.

My plan was to replace the dark, beaded pillows on the ends. I still like them, but they don’t work so well with the new color scheme. I’m planning to see if Megan wants them, since she has no couch cushions and a nice, dark leather couch.

I consulted with A and we chose a pretty cushion on line, thinking that if I liked it enough, I’d get another one to match it. I ordered it two weeks ago and it has yet to arrive. The tracking number said it had arrived last Monday. I checked my post office box on Tuesday on my way to work. I picked up a box, which upon opening, revealed itself to be full of little bottles**, which I had not ordered. A look at the mailing label revealed that it was addressed to my brother, who has a PO box he shares with our sister. Megan checked their PO box in case my package was delivered there instead. Nope.

I checked with the shipper, who told me to wait a couple of days in case it turned up. I did and it didn’t. I contacted them again and they traced the package. Apparently, it was delivered to my old street address. Note that this does not mean it went to my old house. Deliveries to the old address went to a sort of decaying shed at the front of the property. Sometimes, they went to the front door of the rarely occupied front house. I am guessing this is what happened on this occasion. Fed Ex told me that the driver went to see what happened to the package and whoever is currently living in the front house kept screaming at him that she was not me and he should get out of there, which he eventually did. I’m guessing the screamer kept the cushion.

Fed Ex said it was their fault for not verifying my address. I pointed out that the shipper should not have allowed me to enter a PO box address if they were planning to ship by Fed Ex. Fed Ex also said that I might be surprised by the amount of fraud that goes on around missing packages. She gave an example of someone who said she never received her treadmill. When Fed Ex said they would have to send the sheriff around to investigate, she “found” it in her garage.

Anyway, it’s been a lot of fuss for a $20 cushion and I hope I love it if/when it ever gets here.

*To be fair, none of them goes outside anymore. But even when they did, they tended to claw indoor items or the house itself rather than the giant outdoor scratching posts, which you and I refer to as “trees” or “the woods”.

[Update: It never arrived. I got a refund and have officially given up on ordering from those people ever again.]

**For home-made hot sauce, made from the peppers they grew this summer.

A YEAR AGO: A wonderful sleepover with the wonderful Jessica!

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful evening with Megan and Lu.

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting ready to leave Oakhampton. And not a moment too soon.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A few updates.