Ironically, after posting that last entry about how much I hate driving, I went to the DMV yesterday.

Ever since I got my license, I have renewed it by mail, but this year, I got a notice saying that I had to go in person. I couldn’t help wondering if it was because I’m about to be really old in a couple of weeks. After all, Jessica had observed a couple of years ago that I no longer look as youthful as the Self pictured on my license, and I imagine that the sands of time have not started rolling backwards in the meantime.

Not for the first time, I find it incredible that our only two options are old age and death. Isn’t there a nicer “none of the above”, where a girl can retain her cuteness and vigor?

Such deep thoughts occupied my shallow mind as I walked the two blocks to the DMV from the jobette. Already the Big Town DMV was ahead of the Oaktown DMV, which had to be driven to in a dismal area of town. Arriving at the office, there were two people sitting quietly reading the paper, instead of the disgruntled hordes in Oaktown.

I had an appointment, so I was able to jump the modest queue. I did an eye test, had my right thumb scanned (twice), and was relieved of $31 before having my picture taken. The photo part made me realize that I probably should have worn my contacts, but DMV pictures are notoriously bad and I am notoriously unphotogenic, besides already looking ancient to six year olds.

I was given a paper license, which looked a lot like my original permit, and was told that I could expect my new and unimproved license in the mail in a week or two.

The whole thing took about ten minutes, and nothing was stolen. Big Town: 1. Oaktown: 0.


Sorry to scare you all with the tale of things that go bump in the night. If we’re not worried, you shouldn’t be! There are still no locks on any of our doors, and so far, we haven’t had any more late night visitors. I still feel about a zillion times safer here than when I lived in Oakhampton. I have yet to come home to police cars in front of the house, or neighbors holding them off with a rifle, as I did there.

Not that it’s a cop-free zone. When I arrived at the jobette on Wednesday, one of my coworkers had just had a close encounter. As he pulled up in front of the office, two cop cars were upon him, blazing with lights and sirens, to inform him that one of his brake lights was out. Oh, the humanity!

It also turned out that his registration had lapsed the day before, so that lengthened the ordeal. As he sat, marooned in his car by a third of the local police force, our co-worker slunk by, pretending not to know him. After all, why get involved? Especially when there was no-one else to answer the phones.

He tried to pay the ticket and registration at lunch, only to be told they weren’t in the system yet. After he went through the metal detector and waited in line. Even small towns are not immune from bureaucracy.

My sister and I encountered the highway patrol and the fire department on our way home from the movies* on Sunday evening. We were in the truck, bumpkins that we are, and we were a little worried about running out of gas, since we were so busy talking about the movie that we completely forgot to get gas when we were in town, and the local store was closed.

We were stopped by guys with signs and flares in the road about a mile from the turnoff to the Ridge. It turned out that some guy had driven off the road – the curve there is sharper than it appears, as are many around here – and when passing motorists tried to help him, he repaid their Good Samaritan-ness by punching them and yelling at them.

He told the officers who responded to the call that men in fiber optic suits had jumped on his car, causing him to drive off the road. Oh, and he hadn’t slept in 30 hours. The car itself was so stuffed with things and stuff that there was barely enough room for the guy to sit in there and drive.

He was wearing a backpack with $20,000 in it.

He was released and sent on his way. The gas held out and we made it home. All’s well that ends well.

*It was “One for the Money”, based on the first Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich. Megan introduced me to them. They are fun fluff about a bounty hunter in New Jersey. I was concerned about Katherine Heigl playing Stephanie, but she was great and the movie was really fun.


I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled fluff to express my profound disappointment with yesterday’s verdict in the Johannes Meserle trial.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the case, Johannes Meserle killed Oscar Grant, an unarmed man, on the platform of my former BART station last New Year’s Day. Mr. Grant was on his stomach, helpless and handcuffed, when Mr. Meserle, then a BART policeman, shot him in the back.

Mr. Meserle has claimed that he thought he was Tasering Mr. Grant. Mr. Meserle is right-handed, and the gun was holstered on his right, the Taser on the left. And a trained police officer who can’t tell a Taser from a gun, especially when discharging the weapon, should not be on the force.

The whole incident was caught on tape, just like the Rodney King beating almost twenty years ago. And in both cases, the jurors seemed to be unable to come up with a verdict which served justice.

I guess the fact that Mr. Meserle was convicted of anything is a small victory. But it’s too small. He will be sentenced next month to five to fifteen years for “involuntary manslaughter”, though I agree with the District Attorney that his actions were nothing less than second degree murder. I find it especially heinous that it was an officer of the law committing this crime, and I also believe that there was a racial element at play, Mr. Meserle being white and Mr. Grant being African American. Racial epithets were used and caught on tape, as well as heard by eyewitnesses.

There were no African American jurors.

The justice system, like many things, mystifies me. How could Aaron Vargas, of whom I wrote recently in another break from fluffiness, been handed a sentence of nine years in San Quentin for killing the man who had sexually and emotionally abused and terrorized him since he was a young boy, while Mr. Meserle may serve as little as three years? It’s pretty clear which of these two men is a menace to society.

False Alarm

The same afternoon Rob put the flyers up at the store and the post office, I had a call from a woman who said she’d seen June.

My heart leaped.

“Where?” I asked excitedly.

“In the long grass by the field where the bull is.”

“Near the store?”


Now, the store is more than five miles away, and June has never been known to venture as far as Mark’s house, but I raced to the car and jounced down the driveway like a bat out of hell. I made it to the field in record time. Shaking a bag of treats (and shaking), I called for June through all the long grass, to the bull’s curiosity and that of drivers-by, but to no avail.

I saw a cat run down a side road and chased it, only to discover it was the wrong cat.

I went to the two houses across the road from the field. No-one was home at one, and at the other, an elderly lady answered the door. She was sympathetic and asked what June looked like, since there was a black cat with white paws (the one I had chased) and a multi-colored one who were often seen around there.

My heart fell as I realized that the caller had seen that cat, not June.

I gave the lady my name and number just in case, and drove slowly home, checking the ditches.

A couple of days later, another woman called just to say she was sorry and was keeping an eye out for June. Like many locals, she had tales of cats who went missing for a month, five months, a year, and turned up one day as if nothing had happened.

As I hung up the phone, I thought how nice it is to live in a small town, where a total stranger will call you up just to try and make you feel better. I remembered when I lived in Oakland and had left the keys in my car door in the driveway. An African-American gentleman had noticed this on his way to church and came to the front door to tell me. When I answered the door, he had his hands up before I said a word.

Heavy Petting

Henry hangs out

Here’s a first: Henry was more interested in being petted than eating this morning. He came running to greet me as usual, with his gruff yet muted meows, but after I put the food in his dish, he followed me when I went to put the measuring cup back into the food container. I petted him, and he pushed his head against my hand, and when I went to leave, he followed me again. I petted him more, and led him back to his dish, where I petted him until he started eating. I have to say it made me really happy, even though the girls were glaring furiously from the porch at this disgusting PDA.

In other news, it appears that the Mexicans have moved out, taking their incessantly yappy dogs with them. A moving truck appeared on Saturday, and yesterday, they seemed to be packing up the last of their things, including the aforementioned yappers. They actually swept up the poo from the ce-ment back yard, so it must be official. And the quiet was blissful! I hadn’t realized how hard the constant barking was on my nerves until it was gone.

It’s strange having the house next door dark and empty. It reminds me of the eerie stillness following a power outage, the background hum of appliances suddenly extinguished.

They cut every single flower from their garden before they left.

Survival Modish

Whew. That’s over, at least for now. I was thrilled to wake this morning to the welcome sight of the fabulous fog wrapping the palm trees in glamorous glory. The girls are no less delighted than I am, and are racing around the house instead of wilting furrily by the door, gasping for any errant wisp of air. If panting wasn’t so undignified, they would have been doing it right along with me.

When you have a few days of intense heat in a row, it seems to accumulate like compound interest. By yesterday afternoon, it was suffocating in my house. I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe, like I was drowning in hot air. It’s a horrible feeling. Fortunately, by late evening, the sea breeze started up, and overnight the fog fairy granted my wish.

My cheapness won out over my love of luxury, and I didn’t flee to a motel after all. Instead, I watched How to Marry a Millionaire, especially enjoying Betty Grable’s befurred insouciance as she visits a snowy Maine lodge with a grumpy older man, under the misapprehension that the lodge in question will be full of Elks rather than surrounded by, well, elks. Fortunately for Betty, the lodge is accessorized with a handsome forest ranger*. Meanwhile, back in New York, Marilyn Monroe is a sight for sore eyes while trying to hide her near-sightedness in the belief that “men aren’t attentive to girls who wear glasses”. Honey, believe me: you could be wearing Coke bottle specs and they’d all still be at your feet. Especially in that red number.

I was amused to note that Lauren Bacall’s character is named Schatzi! I’ve seen the film many times, but never made the connection between the Park Avenue princess and the canine one. I wonder why that is?

My favorite scene is still the fashion show, where all three girls model clothes for Schatzi’s would-be beau, who Schatzi is convinced is poor, while in fact he is a billionaire. It was a great way to take a girl’s mind off current circumstances: beautiful cast, gorgeous costumes, and New York, New York!

*I love that old TV show, The Forest Rangers. It’s so charming.


Yesterday afternoon, I was eating hummus and watching a re-run of Monk when my landlords appeared at the front door. Since the doorbell doesn’t work, they actually said, “Knock, knock”, though I failed to ask who was there, being fully occupied by being totally surprised.

They had come to operate on the poor, sickly lawn. They brought a sprinkler with a timer and a bunch of seed, so I guess the already insane water bill will go up. Hopefully the transfusion will help the grass regain its youth and vigor. Plastic surgery is never cheap.

I was completely taken aback by their sudden appearance. I also had to admit to them that I had inadvertently killed the hose for the front lawn by mowing it, but they didn’t seem to mind and just used the hose from the back yard instead. I imagine Henry fled the scene of such unaccustomed industriousness, especially in the afternoon heat. The girls were fascinated, running to the back porch to see what they were doing in the back yard, then racing to the front door to try and see what they were up to there. Guard cats!

It just figures that they decided to fix the lawn now, when I’m probably moving. I felt weird talking to them, like I was cheating on them or something, and guilty for not watering the lawn more or enough or whatever.

Garbage Wars

Though not suffering from a lengthy (and, I’m sure, in the hot’n’humid east coast summer) stinky strike like my friends in Toronto, there has been a certain level of garbage-related weirdness around here lately.

A bunch of kids play at the cul de sac end of my short street. Sometimes they play basketball – the hoop stays there all year round – sometimes it’s baseball, and often it’s skateboarding. It’s nice to see and hear the kids having so much fun, and I’ve gotten to know them enough that we greet each other as they run past. The day Michael Jackson* died, I saw one of these kids sitting on his basketball across the street with his head in his hands. I went over and asked if he was okay. He lifted his tear-stained young face to me and said, “Michael, man. Michael.” He bowed his head again and I respectfully left him to mourn his fallen idol.

A few days ago, a broken skateboard was left on the lawn of the people next door, the ones with the constantly barking dogs. I didn’t think anything of it until it appeared on my lawn, right next to the garbage can, which was sitting at the curb awaiting collection. I put it into the can and wondered what that was all about.

Last night, a woman was parked outside my house, casually dropping trash out of her windows. Fast food wrappers, bags, huge soda cups, a half-drunk Frappucino, and other detritus. There must have been a couple of pounds of it. I asked her what she thought she was doing, and she started yelling at me that she could do whatever she wanted and who did I think I was. I asked if she’d like it if someone threw garbage all over her street, and she got even angrier.

I gave up on the whole thing and walked back into the house, hearing her continued ranting behind me, including calling me a racist (she was African-American). She left soon after, but I actually worried for a couple of hours that she might come back with an irate boyfriend to continue the argument. Nothing happened, but it was pretty depressing. The truth is that I would have said the same thing to anyone who did that, regardless of race, but I guess you can never disregard race in America. I wonder if that day will ever come.

Not surprisingly, I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. I tossed and turned, finally giving in to the inevitable and reading Sag Harbor (in which race relations also play a role) into the cold light of dawn. As I finally drifted off to sleep, the garbage trucks began to roar up my street.

*I was intrigued by a quote in Joan Acocella’s recent essay in the “New Yorker”, where the great Fred Astaire, having been taught the Moonwalk by Michael Jackson, told the young star that they both danced out of anger.

Home Again

The kittens’ mother, Quince

I couldn’t resist posting this photo of Quince yawning.

The girls were glad to see me when I got home. I could hear them galloping to the door when I put the key in the lock. They sniffed me and my baggage suspiciously, possibly smelling Other Cats, or just the country smells. Hours of fun! And an excuse not to unpack.

Before I hopped in a cold shower and enjoyed my new Lush gifts, I went out to see Henry. Usually, he’s grumpy when I get back – actually, he’s pretty much a grumpy old man all the time – but this time, he came running to see me, and even bumped his head against my hand when I bent down to pet him. Progress!

While I was away, I only checked my email once, when I ran that report for my boss. Like most people who take a break from the online world, I found I didn’t miss it at all, though I spend a lot of time in that realm when I’m at home. When I did check my email, I found a message from my landlords, saying they’d be by on Sunday to check on the lawn, though they didn’t say when.

You may recall that I’ve been trying to get them to do something about the grass corpse for several months. I was hoping we could talk about it and maybe get some native grasses or something more drought-tolerant than a resource-hogging lawn, but they either didn’t show up, or did an examination without me. Now I just have to wait for the diagnosis and prescription.

Sunday was the day of no-shows: my boss was also supposed to drop by, and he didn’t call or appear, either. I’m beginning to feel unpopular, even though I smell simply mahvellous.


The last of the backyard plums, June 24.

Wow, guys. I can’t believe that not one of you wanted to trade with me, even for a weekend. And here I was, thinking I might have missed my calling by not becoming a professional writer of real estate ads.

See if this* changes your mind!

In the meantime, I’m going to visit my brother and sister for a few days, where the dogs don’t bark, the doors don’t lock, and you leave your car keys in the ignition, so you know where they are. It will be a budget adventure, since I’m catching a ride with one friend on the way up and one with Jessica and her mother on the way back. Plans include walking dogs at the local shelter and visiting the farmer’s market.

Maybe we’ll get lucky on the way up. When i think of how many times I’ve driven that stretch of road…

*I did find the pronunciation of “Oakland” pretty funny. Also it’s totally true about Zachary’s. People go nuts about it, yet I personally found it to be on the icky side. Actually, the whole movie is pretty much true – I laughed out loud when I watched it.

Life Swap

Since a summer vacation is out of the question, I thought I’d try a new concept: Life Swap. You get to be Me, and I get to be you. It’s a limited time offer, though I’m sorry to say you won’t get a free gift* if you call now.

Here’s what you’d get:

  • Bijou residence in East Oakhampton. Conveniently located near the BART station of death, Highland Hospital (last stop for most local gunshot victims), and popular homicide locale International Boulevard.
  • Three gas stations within one block. Only $40 to fill up a Ford Taurus at any given one of them! You can also buy milk there if you are so inclined.
  • Walking (or staggering) distance to the liquor store and cracketeria.
  • Friendly locals who come right up to your house and take that unwanted recycling or trash right out of your bins!
  • Other friendly locals who try to convert you to their extremely unusual religions.
  • Front row seat to minor crimes and misdemeanors, such as neighbors dousing themselves with gasoline and others burning stolen cars.
  • Convenient freeway underpass where old sofas and other refuse that doesn’t fit in the bins can be easily dumped.
  • None of that horrible, un-green air conditioning. “Awesome” cross breeze according to landlord, though so far, it seems as likely to appear as the Loch Ness Monster.
  • The world’s cutest and naughtiest kittens. Adorable and challenging! Also slightly grumpy, stray-ish outdoor cat who might possibly tolerate your presence as long as you bring him food and water once a day. Occasional treats are welcomed by all.
  • Unlimited trips to the library and the Safeway.
  • All the barking dogs your heart could ever desire.

Any takers?

*Because, you know, you usually have to pay for gifts. That’s why they call them “gifts”.

Eye of the Beholder

I stopped in at the (un)Lucky after depositing my paycheck at a nearby bank. It was around 6:00, so the lines were long. I should have known better, and I did, but I wanted to pick up a bottle of wine, and Lucky is less expensive than the liquor store and cracketeria (though no-one at Lucky has ever given me free incense).

As I waited my turn, I couldn’t help but notice that the guy in front of me was buying forty cans of cat food. Nothing else. I pondered his imminent purchase and whether he had a house full of cats or was, horror of horrors, planning to eat it himself. Later, I gave the girls and Henry some canned food for their birthday dinner (I decided Henry will celebrate his birthday along with the girls from now on, though I have no idea how old he is), and all I can say is, if he’s going to eat it, he’s a braver man than I’ll ever be. Just dishing it out for the girls and carrying it outside to Henry made me nauseous. ~shudder~

My thoughts drifted from the cat guy’s possible dietary habits to other aimless notions. Am I the only one who’s sick of hearing about Michael Jackson? Why did the Other SJP name one of her twins Marion when Marion Broderick is so clearly an old maid librarian name? Did Karl Malden ever read the fan letter I sent him? When’s the last time I actually left California?

It was finally my turn, and as I bought my wine, I thought that someone stocking up on food for his beloved cats might think a girl just buying wine was just a little odd.

Sun Struck Sunday

The two brain cells I have left have melted. It’s been mind-numbingly hot yesterday and today, especially in the convection oven known as Chez Suzy. Here’s what I’ve done today:

– Crawl out of sweat-soaked bed. Drink cold coffee. Kind of gross, but better than the alternative of putting something hot into already overheated body.

– Notice that it’s only 10:00 am. Hours of increasing heat to come! Even the cats are too languid to eat much or do much of anything. Audrey walks away from her food completely, though June and Henry are their ever-greedy selves.

– Take cold shower. Begin to feel human. Sensation abruptly departs before towelling-off process is complete.

– Sit by fan in bedroom window and read through materials for tomorrow’s conference calls, making notes of questions to ask. Set alarm for an alarming hour.

– Eat some pineapple juice which I had frozen. Pour more in, put it back in freezer for later attempts at cooling Self from the inside out.

– Douse face, hands and poitrine with cold water. Drink a glass of water. Lie on couch reading The New Yorker and cursing the Evil Star. Consider that a black leather couch was really an extremely poor furnishing choice. Wonder how hot it is in, say, Alaska. Try closing eyes and envisioning glittering snow and sparkling ice bergs.

– Doesn’t work. Get up, repeat frozen juice/water/dousing routine. Pee for approximately the millionth time (all that water, and possibly frozen juice and cold coffee) today. Wish for central air conditioning and the means to run it, preferably at meat locker temperatures.

– Avoid the weather section of the newspaper, on line and otherwise. Ditto the thermostat in the hallway. I really don’t want to know how hot it is, on the grounds that if I see it’s 95 degrees, I will actually feel worse, though I’m not sure this is humanly possible.

– Once again resolve to get that heat-reflecting paint and paint roof with it, assuming 1) I ever have the money to buy paint and roller and whatever else I’ll need to buy to actually do it; 2) I can borrow a ladder from my aged and helpful neighbor W to get up there; 3) I don’t fall off or paint myself into a corner.

– After Routine repetition, take bag of frozen mixed vegetables (how did they get in there?) out of freezer. Flop on couch, apply bag to neck, head, and belly in turn. Consider inventing a freezer sleeping bag, like those eye masks you put in the freezer, only you could slip your entire heat-struck body into it until your core temperature lowers enough for bearability.

– This could be my million dollar idea! Too bad Billy Mays is no longer around to promote it.

– Look at clock. It’s after 5:00. It should start cooling down soon, right? Maybe if I take everything out, I can squeeze myself into the refrigerator in the meantime. The freezer would obviously be better, like all penthouses, though unlike most of them, it’s clearly too small.

– Time to pour some vodka into that pineapple juice.

Happy Friday!

Friday was finally sunny after weeks of fog and clouds. Though we don’t get rain this time of year, I do find day after day of overcast skies depressing. I don’t know how people who live in notoriously cloudy and rainy locales like Seattle can stand it.

So the sun had definitely lifted my spirits as I made my way home from the bus stop. I picked up a bottle of wine at the liquor store and cracketeria, and admired the fairy-tale white blooms on the trees as I walked down the street (not for the first time, I wished I could rehabilitate my camera and share a picture of them with you – undoubtedly, the garden-savvy could tell me what they were). I was feeling all sunny and careless, as Christopher Robin would say.

When I got home, there were no (overdue) bills in the mail. Yay! I tossed my lovely silver handbag onto the couch, along with my few keys on their adorable Louis Vuitton keychain (one of the few remaining relics of more prosperous days), and looked for the kitties. Instead, I saw my teapot lying smashed on the kitchen floor. No wonder they were nowhere to be seen.

I took a closer look, thinking maybe I could repair it, but no. I picked up the pieces and went to throw them in the garbage bin outside. June took this opportunity to race outside while I was otherwise occupied.

I tossed the former teapot into the newly-emptied garbage bin and started to look for June. At times like this, it’s really hard to sound all nice when calling her. I saw her under the car, and tried to coax her out.

The process was complicated by Henry’s appearance when he heard my voice. He came running up, meowing his harsh, yet muted meow, and June took off. I chased her, and she ran into the yard next door. You know, the one with the TWO DOGS who bark all the livelong day.

She was immediately cornered by the dogs. I couldn’t get in because the gate is locked. I screamed her name and the son of the house appeared, looking quizzical. He soon saw how it was, and kindly captured the terrified June, who repaid him by scratching him horribly, and passed her to her terrified owner, who was horribly embarrassed. He was really nice about it, and to the dogs’ credit, they didn’t try to attack the intruder. They are apparently all bark and no bite.

I was so glad I’d bought a bottle of attitude adjuster on the way home. Little did I know how much I’d need it!

L’Ennui Suzy

Lately, I’ve been catching up on the most recent season of Damages. Yes, it ended in April, but I usually wait until a TV series ends, then download it, so I can watch two or three episodes at a time instead of having to wait a week for a new one. Not to mention avoiding commercials, particularly those for boy problems* and girl problems and various syndromes (why is everything a syndrome now?). Patience is not one of my few virtues, so pretty much the only things I watch live are sports and sometimes the news (though I think the news can be summed up nearly every day by saying the messed up parts of the world are still messed up, someone shot someone, and there’s a missing kid somewhere).

Anyway, everyone on “Damages” is spying on or secretly taping everyone else, and I couldn’t help thinking how insanely bored someone would get staking out my house.

“The car hasn’t moved in four days.”

“She’s coming out of the house…oh, she’s picking up the paper and feeding that stray cat.”

“Leaving the house…going to BART. Must be going to work. She never leaves the office except to go straight home.”

“Car heading in different direction from BART. Oh, it’s the Safeway and the library** again. (They’re right across the street from each other.)

“Can anyone’s life really be this boring? It must be a cover.”

*The number of Viagra ads during the last World Series made me wonder if it was a comment on the players, the viewers, or both.

**A guy was found dead outside my library branch a month ago, though I didn’t hear about it at the time.

Supper Surprises

I was making dinner, and I heard someone calling what sounded like my name, louder and louder. You know how it is: one minute you’re peeling garlic* and the next minute some guy’s going all Marlon Brandon on your ass. I dropped my pungent peeling and went out on the porch to investigate.

The girls were all agog as a young man chased his red pit bull into the backyard. “Excuse me, miss”, he gasped as he ran past the porch, calling his dog again. Her name turned out to be Sadie, not Suzy, and as he walked past me with her, I said how beautiful she was. “She sure is!” he laughed, relieved to have her safe again.

I went back to my interrupted dinner preparations, smiling and thinking how a dog can make your whole day by just being, when I heard June making her unmistakable “Look at me, I caught something” noises. Though the inconveniences of my tiny residence are many, mice aren’t among them, so what June usually “catches” are her toys and sometimes a stray moth, so I figured it was nothing to stop zesting lemons over.

When I heard something clunk on the floor, I looked over and saw June standing victoriously over an avocado. I had put it in the sun on the porch to ripen, or at least soften up, and June had seen it, gone after it, and then brought her kill to show me. It’s so funny how wild instincts are still alive and well in house cats, no matter how tame their existence.

*I often wonder how many hours, or possibly days, of my life have been spent peeling garlic. Maybe it’s better not to know.

April Showers

I was startled awake by an unexpected (and unexpectedly heavy) shower this morning. I dashed outside in my pajamas, to the detriment of my velvet slippers, and grabbed Henry’s dishes and bed. By the time I got to the back porch, I would have won the neighborhood wet PJ contest. I propped the door open, fed and watered Henry, then called him until he appeared. He seemed a little nervous, maybe because the girls have been lounging on the porch and now it feels like enemy territory, but at least he can get out of the rain. As I write, he’s lying comfortably on his newly spring cleaned couch, possibly thinking “It’s mine now, girls!”

It’s been a little like Florida today: torrential downpour, followed by sudden sun, then another downpour. I dashed between the raindrops to (literally) run some errands, including the post office, where the guy ahead of me was getting a $2,000 money order. I definitely Coveted that beautiful pile of money.

Remember the house with the white picket fence? No-one rented it on Saturday, so I’m going to look at it tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully traffic will be kinder to me than it was this weekend (when I finally got home, I learned that there had been no fewer than three accidents. No wonder it was such a mess). I’ll keep you posted, rain or shine.


Buried treasure

I had a date with Plumber* Robert today. He arrived early, which a girl always appreciates, and brought an end to my washing machine woes, which I think we can all agree is better than flowers (though not better than chocolate or wine). Apparently, the problem is that all roads to lead to Rome, or in this case, all pipes lead to the same place, somewhere in the mysterious crawl space under the house. This is not a good plumbing idea, but 85 years ago, it seemed to be.

I finally couldn’t take any more of the yowling and whining of the poor red dog across the street, and dashed off a desperate missive, begging the owners to do something about their dog, or I’d call the Humane Society. I had to put the note between the slats of their fence, because Red Dog, on closer examination, is huge and intimidating, and attached to the door by a mighty chain. The note was gone today, and when I went out to get the paper, I saw the owners bringing Red Dog inside, where he has remained for the rest of the day. Coincidence?

Spring has been very springy lately, with temperatures in the 60s and cloudless blue skies. I’ve even been sleeping with my window open. I think the girls have spring fever. They’ve been racing around the house like mad. I made the mistake of picking a yellow rose and bringing it inside, and it was shredded within the hour. Henry, on the other hand, has been scarce. He does appear for his breakfast in the morning, but instead of lounging on his couch all day, is off playing somewhere. I like to think he’s back on his couch at night, since I always tell him goodnight when I close the back door.

It’s been a Magical Mystery Tour going through the boxes from storage. I do have two boxes of books to sell or otherwise remove from the premises, but that’s just a drop in the box ocean in which I am valiantly trying to stay afloat. There have been some fun discoveries, though, like the stereoscope (seen above) and its tin box of images.

I have to admit to a pang of pity for my niece and nephews, who will have to face all this lot after I’m gone and wonder why the old lady didn’t just throw this crap out already. Sorry, kids!

I passed on looking at the fourth house this week. It was one of those box-filled days when the drive to Petaluma and back in rush hour traffic was an impossibility. Someone else rented that house, so I figure it wasn’t meant to be and that something else will come along.

Or not.

*Maybe becoming a plumber or mechanic is a better idea than going to college. People always need their plumbing and cars fixed, recession or no recession.

The Creeping Menace

My father, who loved birds and kept a list* of every single one he had seen since the age of five, used to joke that the birds who frequented his garden must tell all their friends about the excellent cuisine to be found there, since it was a feathery Grand Central Station. Sunflower seeds, breadcrumbs, cake, peanuts, suet, birdseed – even the pickiest avian could find something to delight his or her jaded palate. When I visited, we always ate breakfast overlooking the garden, watching the birds at work and play. Once, we were lucky enough to see some nestlings take their first flight from the nest – we were mesmerized for over an hour.

I’m beginning to wonder if the word is out among the stray cats in the neighborhood that Henry has it pretty darn good. Food every day! Fresh water! They whisper among themselves. “I heard he has a cushy couch all to himself,” gossips one. “Well, I heard he has a blanket and hasn’t felt a drop of rain in months,” huffs another. I guess it’s not surprising that they wanted to see for themselves.

Recently, two new cats have been invading the back yard. I knew I shouldn’t have mown the lawn** and made it slightly more alluring to visitors. One is a bouncer-sized tabby and white number, and the other a more modestly scaled black and white. Tabby is more persistent than Blackie, who tends to lurk around the yellow rose bush and runs away if he sees me. Tabby, on the other hand, has the nerve to actually come up on Henry’s porch. I’ve caught him there and on the steps. Despite constant shooing, he keeps coming back like a marauding boomerang.

Oddly, Henry just sits calmly on the couch and lets me defend his food and water, if not his honor. I wonder if all my coddling has eroded his street skills. His rakishly torn ear and scarred nose tell me that he’s an experienced fighter. Maybe he’s older and wiser enough to let someone else fight the battles now.

*After he died, we found his incomplete bird sighting list of the week on his desk, under his reading glasses.

**It’s not just my inherent idleness that keeps me from mowing the lawn. It looks equally terrible mown or unmown, winter or summer, being rough, clumpy, and with huge brown patches whether it’s been raining or not. It really needs to start over or go to rehab.

2008 Recap

In which our heroine attempts to adjust to life in exile.

January: Cool Cornell. Sharks and Energy Domes. Film Noir Fabulosity.

February: Water bill weirdness.

March: Long-awaited license plates.

April: Bad day. Great week. Blog birthday (7!). Breaking and entering. The beginning of the Florida Fiasco.

May: Middle and end of the Florida fiasco.

June: Hello, Henry. Adieu, Margaret. Wildfires.

July: Kittens’ first birthday. Stevie Wonder. Steely Dan. Ant invasion. The mystery fire.

August: Birth of the Cool. Trip to the country.

September: Mr. Wilson. County Fair. Car Trouble.

October: Pretty Pasadena. Political Pumpkin.

November: No Neil Young. Elating Election.

December: Christmas tree carnage. Hail storm. Happy holidays!

And as the old year passes, it takes some beauty and style with it: Paul Newman, Bettie Page, Cyd Charisse, Charlton Heston, Eartha Kitt. Evelyn Keyes, whose performance I enjoyed so much during the Noir Festival (and in that little flick, Gone with the Wind). Dorian Leigh, sister of the glamorous Suzy Parker – the original supermodels back in the 1940s. The tragically young and tremendously talented Heath Ledger. Yves St-Laurent, who left the world a chicer place (and an exhibit of whose clothes I’m hoping to see soon at the De Young Museum). Isaac Hayes, Odetta, Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, and Miriam Makeba. Bill Melendez, who animated all those classic Charlie Brown cartoons we love so much, especially at the holidays. George Carlin and Bernie Mac. They will all be missed. And Mr. Blackwell is now up there to critique them (and us!) all!