July 31st, 2019

Morning on the Ridge

I’m getting to know my new road and my new commute. You have probably figured out that I am enraptured by my new house, so it’s probably not all that surprising that I am totally charmed by my new ridge as well. To my eyes, it is prettier than the old one and seems a little more upscale, if such things are possible in the depths of the country. I love the archways of trees:

as well as the stately redwoods.

The road starts (or ends, depending on how you look at it), at the ocean, with a spectacular view:

And a warning:

I have to admit I have not driven the entire length of the road, so when it actually ends or disappears remains a mystery.

I can’t drive this ridge as fast as I drove the old one, partly because I don’t know it as well – I have driven the old one, I realize, for about 25 years despite only living here for 10 – and partly because of things like this one lane redwood bridge:

I’m always afraid I’m going to meet someone on it and have to back up. I’m not great at backing up at the best of times, and backing up onto a narrow road running along a ridge with an elevation of close to 700 feet above sea level is not a fun prospect. It reminds me of when my brother and sister lived on boats at Pier 39 and I asked them if they had ever fallen in the water. Their opinion was, “There’s them that have and them that will.” I’m afraid this is also the case here.

The new Ridge seems both higher and narrower than the old one. There are country hazards:

And I live past the “pavement ends” sign:

I’ll tell you a secret: the pavement doesn’t really end. Or at least I haven’t found where it does. Yet.

A YEAR AGO: The whole county was on fire.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Catching up on this and that.

TEN YEARS AGO: I sold my beautiful diamond ring out of economic necessity. Really regret that now.



July 26th, 2019

I am pleased to announce that The Mess has been vanquished and The Unpacking is (mostly) complete!

Here’s the living room:

I do have distant plans for this room. I would like to get a bigger area rug. Also my good friend Alice thinks I should get a pink velvet sofa and chair, since cats (allegedly) don’t claw velvet and pink is my signature color. It would also go nicely with my beaded elephant pillow and the vintage, hand-made suzani Alice gave me:

Here’s the kitchen. You can see that the painting does balance out the wall with the grandfather clock:

Here’s another angle:

I mentioned to Danielle that I couldn’t seem to get the broiler or the front right burner of the stove to work. She investigated and decided that it would cost $400 to get someone in to fix the stove, so she bought a new one and had it delivered the next day.

This is not how Mark thought. He would have jimmied something with a piece of wire and string and told me he’d fix it later. That later would never come, yet I would expect it to and be surprised when it didn’t.

While Danielle was looking at the stove, I also told her that the light in the bedroom closet didn’t work and she is getting an electrician to look at it next week. I could get used to this.

Here’s how the bedroom looks, complete with Clyde:

And the bathroom:

Here’s the back of the house, with the Chinese stools and porcelain flowers from the old house. The stairs lead down to the fenced in garden, where foxes, ravens, and hummingbirds like to play:

I can still hardly believe that I actually live here.

A YEAR AGO: The joys of the always amazing Flynn Creek Circus.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Making faux (but delicious) pho.

TEN YEARS AGO: Of BBQs and hay bales.



June 24th, 2019

A Rare Show of Togetherness

The cats seem as happy in their new home as the Staff is. They staked out their territory early. Audrey is Queen of the Couch, rarely, if ever, venturing upstairs, which is Boys Town. While she lounges on the couch, the boys lounge (and generally cuddle) on the bed. Much like human boys, they are happy with an unmade bed, but their Staff prefers the bed to be made and things to be tidy.

I placed two food dishes and a water dish in the spacious bathroom, along with the litterbox, which I cleverly concealed in the shelving unit there. I was surprised one day to note that both Dodge and Clyde were in the box at the same time, which seemed a little excessive in the way of togetherness.

Audrey’s dish and water are downstairs in her kingdom. It was soon brought to my attention that she did not care to go upstairs to use the facilities, so she now has her own inside the downstairs closet. I don’t love leaving the closet door ajar at all times, but it beats the alternative. Like I always say, compromise means nobody’s happy, though in this case, I’m pretty sure Audrey is.

The front door of the house is mostly glass, as is the sliding door in the kitchen and the door to the back porch, so I expected the cats to use those to look outside. Unfortunately for me, they prefer to sit in the windows, most of which have blinds which they walk through and disarrange. Fortunately, all of the windows also have screens.

However…I did not admit to the actual cat population when interviewing for the house. I only told my landlord about Audrey, who I expected to be the most visible and who might go outside eventually. Even to the owner of three cats, three cats sounds perilously close to crazy cat lady territory, and I didn’t want to jeopardize getting the house by admitting to it. So now I’m worried that she will notice them sitting in the windows and I’m not sure how to respond to that if it happens. I realize I should have told the truth in the first place and I brought it all on myself, but still.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that the landlord’s cat has been stopping by to visit (and, on occasion, leaving dead birds on the front porch). She is a beautiful cat, slim and white, with grey patches and extra toes, making her slim legs look even thinner with the big, bunchy paws.

She is friendly and likes to be petted. However, Clyde and Audrey do not appreciate her visits. They both hiss and growl at her. I am always a bit shocked when Clyde does it, since he is usually such a cuddlebug. Dodge is completely uninterested in the visitor. Maybe he developed this laissez faire attitude while living on the mean streets of Fort Bragg during his formative years.

Maybe I’m worrying about nothing, though worrying is what I do. I’m (in)famous for it. Even seven year olds can tell!

A YEAR AGO: Some minor mysteries on the Ridge.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An eventful memorial service.

TEN YEARS AGO: Those naughty kitties!



June 18th, 2019

My new appliances and I are getting to know each other. My lifelong record of having no dishwasher other than myself remains unblemished, but the new house has nice, deep double sinks and even one of those sprayers which are so great.

It took me a few minutes to figure out how to turn the oven on. The stove in the old place, which was a charming, apartment-sized old Wedgewood – lit with a match, but the new one is not so straightforward. Eventually I figured out which buttons to push to turn it on and set the temperature. Later, it beeped to tell me that the oven was at the correct temperature.

While the oven was warming up and stretching, I turned my attention to the somewhat intimidating washer and dryer. They look like you need to be a pilot to operate them, or at least have more than two brain cells.

Fortunately, they were up to this particular task, and I successfully got a load of laundry washed and dried, though not put away since the closet is still in chaos. It is a front loading washer and it seemed to take almost an hour to complete a load of laundry, which seemed like a long time.

In addition to the new appliances, I am also enjoying the novelty of having a house key* for the first time in over a decade:

I have gone from having 5 doors with no keys to having three doors with keys. Even the sliding door in the kitchen has a lock. I find it quite satisfying to lock them before I go to bed at night, even though I’m sure I’m as safe, or safer, than I was at the old place. There is also a gate to the property which opens with a remote control or a key pad, which still kind of feels like magic and makes me feel even safer. So far, I am loving my new house.

*It’s lurking somewhere under all the bling and my post office box key.

A YEAR AGO: Feeling grateful for things big and small. I note that I wore the bracelet today.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Car pooling and Stella smiles.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ghosts in the machines.



June 13th, 2019

I was really glad to see the fog this morning after four days of above 90 temperatures. Granted, the new house is much cooler than the old one, which had no insulation and a peaked ceiling which trapped the heat, but after baking in high temperatures day after day and not really cooling off at night, there’s only so much you can expect. It was strangely still with no breeze, and it didn’t cool off at night. This is unusual for us.

I was also pleased to see St. Louis win the Stanley Cup last night. Hooray! It’s their first win of the illustrious Cup, and also had the pleasant side effect of snatching it from the evil Boston Bruins, who defeated the Leafs in the first round of the playoffs to my dismay and consternation. Just looking at the ice on TV was nice, too.

But most of all, I was happy to see my brother and brother in law arrive to unbox the ancient grandfather clock and get it set up in its new home. It’s off center because that’s where the wall stud is:

It’s also better for the clock to be as far from the heater (at right) as possible. I’m hoping to balance it out visually by hanging my big painting “Russian Hill” between the clock and the painting:

We took the Styrofoam and coffin pieces upstairs, where Rob put a ladder to access the storage space around the water tank on the third floor of the house. There was a light so Rob could see what he was doing, and the first thing he noticed was how cool it was, probably due to the water tank. Then he said that there was “enough room for a family of five” in there. Unfortunately, the front and back of the clock coffin were too wide for the doorway/hatch, so the boys ended up stowing them under the house until the next time I move, which I hope is never.

With the clock relocated, Rob’s bookcase was moved next to the sliding glass doors and my few remaining books placed in it:

When I discovered that there was space left over, I regretted some of the books I had given away, but I should try to look forward instead of back. And focus on not accumulating more stuff. Lessons have been learned. The hard way, as usual.

Jonathan put my bed together while Rob was disassembling the clock coffin. An esoteric piece of hardware was lost in the moving process and could not be replaced locally, so Rob made one. I am lucky to have such handy brothers who are willing to help me out. It was nice to get the bed off the floor. I was also pleased to note that it’s much easier to sit up in bed now that I don’t have to position myself oddly in order not to hit my head on the curved wall/ceiling. Rio observed that living at my old house was living in an art project, and I think she was right.

So things are coming together at the new place.

A YEAR AGO: Wednesday and I weren’t feeling too well.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Wednesday was not at her best then, either.

TEN YEARS AGO: Life in Oakhampton was not very exciting.



June 10th, 2019

The day after I moved, there was The Mess to contend with. I kept fretting over where on earth I would put everything, even though I had given and thrown away tons of things and stuff.

The cats woke me up at 2:30 am one Sunday night, or early one Monday morning, depending on how you look at it, breaking a glass I had unwisely left on the bathroom counter. I discovered this by stepping on broken glass in bare feet. After I pulled the glass out, applied the non fun kind of alcohol to the wound, cleaned up the breakage without benefit of broom and dust pan, which were still at the old house, I tried to go back to sleep. You will be unsurprised to learn that this did not work. I decided to just get up and attack the reason I couldn’t sleep.

Thinking that I might just unpack a few boxes and then go back to bed, I started to work without benefit of caffeine, putting away the kitchen things first. It was nice to see my Dean & Deluca spice containers again, and the peppercorns my good friend Alice sends me when she goes to Cambodia and Thailand. Also the little ceramic blueberry jam jar I bought in Maine as a kid. These are the kinds of things that make a girl feel like she’s home.

Pretty soon I was stashing the 200 year old Wedgwood carefully in an appropriately wedge shaped cabinet and the familiar canteens of Grammie’s ivory handled silver above the cabinets. I had found a place for all the kitchen pots, pans, and et ceteras! There were quite a few et ceteras. I will probably have to tweak it as I use it and figure out what works and what doesn’t, but it looked a little better after my late night adventure:

Note the curious Dodge surveying the new improvements.

Encouraged by this success (though daunted by the rapidly accumulating pile of empty boxes), I started stowing food in the closet under the stairs. This space has some storage, room to hang coats and the washer and dryer, as well as a shelf which is now stacked with cans and dry goods:

Given the limitations of storage space, I should try to be more minimalist and less survivalist when it comes to stockpiling pasta, rice, coffee, tea, and canned goods.

By this time, the sun was up and the cats were interested in breakfast. I made a well-deserved cup of coffee and started going through the boxes of books. The only place I have to put them is Rob’s beautiful book shelf, so I sacrificed still more books – another 6 boxes. All my Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, Richard Ford, Raymond Carver, Evelyn Waugh…everything I can get from the library if I want to re-read it. I kept some sentimental favorites, my Dad’s books, and some cookbooks along with a coffee table book or two.

While difficult on the emotions, it did make an even more serious dent in The Mess:

Once the boys have time to set up the grandfather clock and switch its location with the book shelf, the room will be mostly done and I will finished with most of the boxes. I am hoping that we can unearth the old cherry table we used to have in our dining room when we were kids. It might need some work from Rob, and it will certainly need chairs, but it would be nice to use it again.

All in all, a lot of progress in just two days!

A YEAR AGO: Some delightful discoveries in the Village.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Rob’s amazing bathroom makeover (supervised by Clyde, of course).

TEN YEARS AGO: Wonderful in white.



May 31st, 2019

It wasn’t just moving day, it was Megan’s birthday. So I left the cats and The Mess behind to go and celebrate at the family estate. After a long day of moving all my worldly goods, my brother was making burgers and Rio was making salad. Jonathan had already made a lemon tart the day before, so everything was ready to celebrate. When we all had a glass of our homemade cider in hand, I made a toast:

“Forty-eight years ago today, I was called down to the office at school. When I got to the office, the principal told me I had a little sister. I skipped back to my classroom and announced, “I have a little sister!” All the girls went, “Yay!” and all the boys went “Boo!!”

Our brother laughed, saying that he wasn’t happy at the time to have yet another sister, but he certainly doesn’t feel that way now. I am nine years and nine days older than my sister, who was supposed to be born on my birthday. Instead, she came home from the hospital on my birthday. She’s still the best present I ever had. Here’s a picture of us the year I turned 21 and she turned 12:

After dinner, we took a look around the garden. The late rains did not seem to harm the orchard, where pies are in progress:

There are tons of cherries on the tree in the carefully netted cathedral, more than we’ve ever had before:

It should be a good pie year.

There’s a new Meyer lemon tree in the greenhouse (far right):

We’ll see how that does. It would be great if we can make it happy there. I love Meyer lemons.

It was a long day, but a good one. And I am thankful for my family and friends, even more than I usually am.



May 28th, 2019

Moving day – which also happened to be Megan’s birthday – dawned bright and clear. As I took a last carload of things and stuff over to the new place, I noticed what an idyllic morning it was. The ocean was turquoise, the meadows drifted with wildflowers and dotted with glossy horses and cows. I drove past farms and through groves of redwoods, across a narrow one lane bridge that I always worry about meeting someone else on, and arrived at the new house.

After everything was decanted, I went back to the old house. I imprisoned Audrey in the bathroom with her fuzzy bed and the boys in their bachelor pad, which is also known more prosaically as a metal dog crate filled with a comfy quilt.

Jonathan, Rio, and Rob soon appeared, and together we took a trailer load of junk to the dump before starting to load up the furniture. Back at the house, Rob started to construct the box for the grandfather clock to travel in. Then the boys carefully loaded it and wedged it firmly in place with Styrofoam (sorry, planet!) before placing a final sheet of Styrofoam over the glass front of the face.

The first load was the box springs and mattress, with the clock coffin riding on top. We got some strange looks as we drove at a majestic pace down the curvy country roads and briefly on the highway.

The next load included Rob’s beautiful bookshelves and the deconstructed bed. When my brother went to reconstruct the bed, we discovered that some crucial hardware had been lost in the process. I tried at the small Hooterville hardware store, but as expected, they didn’t have it. Of course all the other hardware stores were closed for the Memorial Day holiday, so I have just been sleeping on the box springs and mattress on the floor.

I was saddened to learn that I could not take my fan palms, Japanese maple, or camellias with me. I admit that I cried over them in the privacy of my car on my way to the new house after getting that news.

The last but most important load was the kitties. The boys shared a carrier, since they are always happier together, while Audrey had her own, since she is always happier alone. Happy is relative, however. She howled the entire 11 miles, while the boys didn’t make a sound.

I had been expecting that Audrey would poop in her carrier, since that is her usual MO when going to the vet. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that while she had peed, that was it. I was less delighted to discover that the boys had reacted the same way, so they were all running around with pee paws on the beautiful fir floors.

Clyde did not want to leave the carrier. I expected him to bolt out of it. I upended the carrier, and he was ejected by gravity, but immediately tried to climb back in, even though I was still holding the case upside down. He went and hid behind boxes. Audrey also vanished, while Dodge was Adventure Boy, leaping from box to box.

Here’s a peek at The Mess on Day One:

Impressive, isn’t it? You might be able to guess what my weekend plans were!



May 24th, 2019

I am neither here nor there.

Yesterday, the boys moved the couch and sundry other things to the new house, leaving the bed and the ancient heirloom grandfather clock in what is now the old place. So I’m kind of camping at the old place since my unpaid movers are not available today.

Supposedly AT&T is going to install the landline at the new place today. I know landlines seem retro these days, but the cell service at the new house is exponentially worse than it is at the old one, where the cell phone never rings in the house. It is impossible to make a call on my cell at the new place, and texts may or may not go through.

I’m hoping the technician will actually show up, since I’ve been stood up more this month than in my entire dating life. My landlord didn’t make it to meet me there a couple of weeks ago, and the Further Reach internet guy didn’t show up this week, even though I waited for him for two hours. Fortunately, I had the fascinating The Five to keep me company.

While I was waiting, I took a couple more photos of the new place:

The Further Reach guy claims he will appear in person on Wednesday. This visit, if it happens, is only to assess the viability of the trees at the property as a location for the internet receptor. Then I will have to hire a tree climber to put it in. I have no idea how long all this will take, but I’m guessing that it will be a while, so I will be incommunicado in the meantime. If I have to resort to satellite internet again, which is both crappy and expensive (my favorite!), I will be sad. I have Further Reach now, and although pricy, it is excellent.

I’m hoping that the move will be finished on Saturday. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A one-two punch of tragedy. I still can’t believe this really happened.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Also a tragic time with lots of loss, including my wonderful friend Joel. He is missed.

TEN YEARS AGO: A lazy day. There aren’t enough of those.



May 20th, 2019

It seems to be a universal truth that we all have more things and stuff than we think we do, and we find out how very wrong we were about that when the time comes to move. I thought I had a few boxes in the storage loft over the bathroom, along with the battered old white Christmas tree and sundry decorations. Imagine my horror when I discovered that there were TWENTY ONE – count ‘em, 21 – fun-filled boxes up there.

Going through them was a dust-filled extravaganza that brought up a lot of memories and not a few tears. I got rid of most of the books, including complete sets of the Dr. Dolittle books and Mary Poppins books, as well as all of my Miss Read. I sacrificed the complete collection of Trollopes when I left Oakhampton and I still regret that. I kept one box, which included my father’s childhood book Outdoorland and the Bible my grandfather carried with him when he went to fight in WWI. I also kept his letters home during the War.

I sobbingly threw out countless letters, cards, and postcards from family and friends, though I kept all of my father’s letters. I threw out so many photographs of people I didn’t know. I think they were friends of my grandparents’, but since I didn’t know who they were, off they went. The thought occurred to me that a few years down the road Jarrett or Jessica will be doing the same with the photos I saved.

I kept some color photos of my parents’ wedding, which I had never seen before, and a wonderful photo of my mother’s parents a couple of weeks after their wedding, marked with my grandfather’s hand, “US 8-24-’24”:

Also a breathtaking photo of my grandmother in the full flower of her youth and considerable beauty:

And a photo of my dear friend Alice* and me in her house in Amsterdam, just a couple of years after she stopped modeling. When I shared the photo with her, she noted that she was wearing Jean-Paul Gaulthier:

It brought back so many happy memories of the wonderful times we had together.

I ended up throwing out the old Christmas tree and only keeping my very favorite ornaments (I still miss the one Clyde broke). New house, new tree. I wonder if I had known this past Christmas was going to be the last one in this house if I would have decorated and celebrated instead of ignoring it. I guess a new house calls for a new tree and new traditions.

But for some reason, I was unable to part with the keys to my now million+ dollar apartment in San Francisco.

I told a coworker who moved here from New York about my travails, and she said that after clearing out two attics and a basement, she swore she would never put another thing in her attic. So far her attic remains empty, and houses here don’t have basements. Hopefully I can follow her example and not accumulate more things and stuff after I move. It’s hard to let go of the past, but maybe it can be liberating, too.

**We have been friends for 40 years now. We still email each other nearly every day. I am still thankful every day that she is still with us after that scare a few years ago.



May 16th, 2019

When I first started the lengthy and horrifying moving process, I thought, “At least it won’t be raining”, but apparently I was wrong about that, as I am about so many things. It has been pouring since yesterday and rain is supposed to continue on and off until WEDNESDAY. I can’t remember when we have gotten this much rain this late. The radio cheerfully informed me that it will also be windy, with gusts up to 50 miles an hour, so I am just waiting for the power to go out. The fact that I was unable to close up my battered umbrella once I got to the office makes me fear even more bad luck as it drips into the carpet.

Also for the leaks to start in my house, which has been on the damp side anyway lately. Rob came over last weekend to remove some artwork, including the amazing vintage Toronto streetcar sign which I am selling on eBay*:

This required a large and heavy extension ladder, probably suitable for fighting fires, since the ceilings are so high. It was a lengthy and delicate procedure. When it was finally over, I asked Rob what was the strange hissing noise was that I could hear in the kitchen.

Rob’s opinion was that it was a water leak. He investigated under the house and under the kitchen cabinets, but finally had to cut a hole in the sheetrock under the sink, where it was revealed that due to the cheapness of the pipes James put in, there was a split in the pipes.

The bathroom, which is about 7 feet by 5 feet, promptly flooded as I watched in horror. Rob went to turn off the water to the house, while I grabbed a broom and swept the water out of the bathroom door which leads to the back porch. It was not the first time I was grateful for that odd, but useful feature. Then I mopped up the floor with towels and called Mark.

He got someone to come and fix it, but they came accompanied by dogs which they allowed to run into my house without asking me first, terrifying both me and the boys. I put the boys in the bachelor pad and banished the dogs. The fixers were notably Not Rob, since they were not only hillbilly looking, but took three trips to the store to buy parts and spent all day working on it. They still have to come back and replace the sheetrock.

As Rob said, I have picked a good time to move.

*A really nice guy who lives in the Annex area of Toronto bought it. Nice to know it’s heading back home!>



May 12th, 2019

It was a wildlife extravaganza on the Ridge on Friday morning. Bunnies, quail, deer – you name it! Fortunately, both they and Wednesday remained unscathed. I can’t say the same for a sizable mountain lion who I came across unexpectedly last week on my way to work one morning.

I had just crossed the sweep of the Big River bridge, enjoying as always the beauty of the river meeting the sea, and was surprised to see a mountain lion sitting by the side of the highway. Across the road were two men on phones, standing by a truck and somehow looking vaguely official. They waved me onwards, and I later learned that the lion had been hit by a car, which explains why he was just sitting there. I wonder what the officials in charge of such things do with wounded mountain lions.

Of course, seeing it made me think of my beloved Roscoe. I have always thought that it was a mountain lion that killed him. Illogically, it makes me sad that I will be leaving him behind when I move, even though I don’t know where his bones are. But being rational has never been one of my few talents.

The wildlife at home definitely know that something is up, as their house fills with boxes and various things are hauled away. It is total chaos, and you know how I love that. I realized today that when things stop being a mess at my current house, they will start being a mess at the new one. I can conservatively expect another month or two of chaos.

Clyde in particular is perturbed by the change in routine. He is underfoot even more than usual, as he tries to stay close to me at all times. He has started sleeping on my head again, like he did when he was a kitten. He also looks beseechingly into my face, looking for answers. And he has been very hungry. Do cats eat emotionally?

Little Dodge, whose birthday was yesterday – I gave him my much-loved American grandfather’s birthday, May 11 – is enjoying the mess very much, thank you. For Dodge, it’s a great opportunity to play with paper, jump into boxes, and explore shelves and corners revealed by things being moved. Having said that, Dodge has started sleeping on my pillow at night, like my wonderful old cat Buddy used to do, so maybe he needs some comforting too.

Audrey has taken to sitting on the very top shelf in the studio. I have put a folded up blanket there for her, and she loves it. It’s the perfect place to sit and despise everyone and all the manual labor going on. Her food and water are on the shelf below, so she can avoid the boys. She appears to be completely unmoved by the whole thing. To be fair, she has moved a couple of times in her life, so she is a veteran at this.

I am hoping to give the new landlord a check on Monday and get an official move date. Stay tuned!

A YEAR AGO: A little garden-inspired road trip.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The beginning of the great bathroom remodel adventure.

TEN YEARS AGO: Ah, the annual optical adjustment from hockey to baseball.



May 8th, 2019

I was so busy packing and throwing things out on Saturday that I completely forgot about the Kentucky Derby. Can you believe it? Proof, if any were needed, that the stress and manual labor of moving prep has completely taken over both of my brain cells. It’s the first time I have missed it in years. Not only did I miss seeing what Dannielynn was wearing in her tenth year on the red carpet, I also missed the first time the first horse to cross the finish line was disqualified, apparently due to “interference” on the home stretch. This historic decision cleared the way for the winner Country House, whose odds of winning were 65 to 1. Some nice payoffs there*.

By the time I emerged from my dusty and depressing moving frenzy, it was time to head over to Rio’s place for the first BBQ of the season. It seemed a bit overdue, considering it was already May.

Arriving at Rio’s place, I found our dear friend Clayton, painter at large and fellow cider presser, along with our dear Lu, my siblings and Jonathan’s buddy Rich with his wife and daughter. Clayton was lending an expert hand converting part of the cider making shed into a guest room. Rio has four children and three grandchildren so far, so company is definitely a consideration.

Jonathan manned the grill expertly, while grousing humorously about those of us who preferred turkey burgers to “real” burgers. His view is that it should be real burgers or nothing. Fortunately he decided to overlook our unreasonableness this time.

The burgers were accompanied by a lovely salad:

And followed by angel food cake with sliced strawberries, accompanied by pacheco berry and strawberry sorbets:

Both sorbets were made by my brother from fruit we picked and froze last summer. Pacheco berries are also called ground cherries and are a member of the tomatillo family. They taste something like cantaloupe, but with a vegetal undertone. We all loved it.

Lu said that she has a big truck and a big cart like the one my brother has, which is five feet by 7 feet. She also has a hand truck to help haul things. Having two carts and an extra set of hands will be a real help. I am so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends!

The longest odds winner was Donerail, ridden by the delightfully named jockey Roscoe Goose in 1913 at 91 to 1 odds. Of course I have a soft spot for all Roscoes.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner with the girls. One of us is a grandmother now! (Hint: It’s not Me.)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Shopping for the garden, accompanied by the very popular Stella.

TEN YEARS AGO: Adventures in making dinner.



May 3rd, 2019

It’s not exactly official! I’m moving!

I have been looking for a new place since last August. There’s not a lot of houses for rent around here, and my specifications (not in town, no visible neighbors, preferably Hooterville, not in the fog) winnowed the short supply down even further. I found the new house on the local message boards. The rent is about the same as my current house, but the house is newer and nicer. It also has character and architectural details, being a working water tower:

and having beams made of old growth redwood:

There is a kitchen with more than three feet of counter space:

And a spacious bathroom with an actual bathtub! Lush, here I come!

The bedroom is lovely and has – get ready, folks – a closet! No more storing my clothes under the bed!

It is located on a different ridge in Hooterville, also about five miles inland. The landlord has owned the property for about 30 years. She and her son also live on the property, but I can’t see their houses from my new house. She built my new house herself, even milling the wood herself. She owns a business in the Village and works 6 days a week, so it’s been challenging to catch up with her and figure out the formalities, like getting something signed (if there is something to sign), giving her a check, and figuring out when I can move in.

It was hard to tell Mark I am leaving after ten years, but it hasn’t been the same since he left and there has also been too much weirdness. It will be the first time a member of my family hasn’t lived on the property in 25 years! We have had a lot of joyful times here, and I love my quirky old house. But it’s time for a new chapter.

A YEAR AGO: Let tourist season begin! Again!

FIVE YEARS AGO: The horror of Covered California. Just thinking about how expensive and crappy it was still makes my blood boil.

TEN YEARS AGO: the many joys of old movies.


2012 in Review

December 31st, 2012

Farewell, 2012

It’s really fun going back and seeing what happened during the year, even if it wasn’t that great a year, like this one. Pay cuts and grand jury summons do not make for a good year. Hopefully the new one will also be improved.

Power outages: 6, including one in October due to someone driving into a power pole at 8:30 am – go figure – and two from a big storm in late November.

Rainfall: 24.20 inches for the season so far, vs. 11 inches this time last year.

Books read: 103 (vs. last year’s 118). Working more means reading less.

Favorites this year were Damien Echols’ astonishing, moving memoir, Life After Death; Gillian Flynn’s clever Gone Girl; William Landay’s surprising Defending Jacob; James M. Cain’s just-discovered final novel The Cocktail Waitress; Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins; and the beautifully written and moving Stoner (it’s not what you think).

Trips to San Francisco: 3. I went 4 times in 2011, but one of those was to keep Megan company while Rob endured more spinal surgery, so that doesn’t really count. I’m starting the new year off right by heading to San Francisco tomorrow morning for a few days to meet up with my boss/partner and make some plans for the future. And maybe do some shopping…

As for this year:

January: Hockey, Suzy-style. Little did I realize there wouldn’t be any when October arrived. Or December, for that matter. The case of the ransomed Christmas cards. Ordeal by utility company. Technological difficulties. Why I’m here. Outs & ins. One man’s trash…an unexpected visitor.

February: Cops and a movie! Third power outage of the season. Musing about one grandfather…and another. Coffee break. Finally, a break for Rob! In which our heroine learns that she is just as annoying as everyone else. Maybe more. A surprise wedding.

March: Small town moments. Home repairs. A visit with Jim (and other things). Dad’s 81st birthday. A date with my family. Getting a jump on spring. Suzy the screwup. Surprise present!

April: Megan’s new (to her, anyway) car! Mom’s 80th birthday. Spring planting. A rainy trip to the City. Impersonating a responsible adult. San Francisco storm. A lovely last day in the City. Jessica’s ninth birthday. The arrival of Digit, the Office Cat. Kitty update. A girls’ day out. With my favorite girl.

May: A new (well, to me) couch! My 12th blogaversary, among other things. Festive. A dilemma. License to drive. Scarred for (or by) life. An eclipse, and other things. Rob’s epic trip to see his Mother one last time. My considerably less epic trip to San Francisco. Farewell to Rob’s Mother.

June: A magical evening with the Beach Boys. Fabulous fifty! An unexpected trip. Birthday party. Dilemma solved. Birth of a garden. A wonderful tour of artists’ studios. The arrival of my first (and I hope only) subpoena.

July: A belated and fabulous birthday present. Erica and Jessica are back! My first crown. Sadly, not the Queen kind, though almost as expensive. The looming trip to Detroit makes my humble home look like paradise. The unlovely itinerary. The trip does not go according to plan. Finally in Detroit. Court of horrors. Home at last. Changes at home and at work. Time for an engine check. The neighbors stop by. A snake in the grass. I mean, house.

August: A quick trip to San Francisco. The splendid pool reopens. My 2,000th blog post. And Roscoe’s mystery injury. A lousy day with a better ending. The 11th anniversary of Dad’s death (post won’t link; it’s August 18). A new home for the adorable Digit (who is very happy there). First day at the new office – and more car problems.

September: The money fairy stops by. First foray into retail, and an update on Digit. Two very sad losses for two very dear friends. A fabulous County Fair. A check up for the Schatz. Could, woulda, shoulda – or not. Appreciating the simple things.

October: A small town moment. A very special event. A great evening with family and friends. Swimming lessons resume. Now with Jessica! The 15% pay cut rears its ugly head. So does winter. An eventful day. The Giants win the World Series again! Oh, and we go to the circus.

November: A happy Halloween. The President is, thankfully, re-elected. This campaign was brutal – I can’t believe we have to go through it again in four years. But I won’t think about that now. A beautiful way to remember. An evening at the theatah. A look around the garden. Some new beginnings. Getting ready for Thanksgiving. A wonderful Thanksgiving. Jarrett adopts the World’s Cutest Puppy.

December: Christmas decorations. Church concert. Getting ready for Christmas. A happy holiday. Lighting up the night.

Thanks for joining me for another year of adventures. I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year!


Weekend Roundup

August 26th, 2012

I slept in until 7:15 this morning! Audrey complained bitterly about the terrible service around here, but the boys decided to have breakfast before bounding out into the foggy morning.

Speaking of the boys: I may have solved the mystery of Roscoe’s head wound. The other day, I saw Clyde getting ready to pounce on his unsuspecting brother, and went to get the camera:

They play pretty rough, and sometimes one or both of them meows like it hurts, though I’m not sure that’s what it really means. The fact is they appear to bite each other, and their claws are pretty sharp, so my guess is that Clyde bit Roscoe, and Roscoe keep wiping at the wound with his wet paw until the fur came off and it got infected. The presence of a couple of claw-sized bald spots on his head and little puncture scabs on the wound area lend credence to my Poirot-style theory.

At least it’s healed up, and the fur is growing back. I wish they’d be more careful, but boys will be boys!


Digit’s new family is delightful. The daughter is eight years old and just fell in love with Digit, who is now “her” cat. I’m really happy for Digit, who is going to have the loving attention she deserves, but I have to admit that I had to go and sit in the car and compose myself before I could drive home after saying goodbye to her. I’m glad for her, but sad for me.


We had our last swimming class of the summer yesterday. Sallie is the best swimming teacher ever. I hope I can fit in more lessons in the fall, though it will be harder than ever since I will now be working on the weekends as well as longer hours during the week as part of Operation Save Suzy.

After class, Megan and I went to the old jobette office, where I picked up keys for the new office and was surprised to see that the phones were still there, along with all the plants and the outside garbage and recycling bins. Also there were a few bottles of wine and it seemed that the modem and its accessories were still there, too, though on arrival at the new office, it was clear that the interwebs were working there, so who knows?

Megan and I packed up her car with the plants and wine, leaving the phones and other equipment to the professionals. We spent about four hours unpacking boxes, breaking them down and stacking them in the alley, setting up my desk, the coffee area, and kitchen and bathrooms (finally, we will have men’s and ladies’ separate, and a janitorial service). The painter was there to touch up, and because it’s a small town, he is also the husband of Megan’s boss.

Finally, we got to the point where we couldn’t do more, so we locked up and went to the grocery store, where we picked up a few things for our brother as well as ourselves, stopping off at his place to deliver them and catch up, parting with hugs and “Love yous”, as we always do. As we headed home, I said to Megan, “We’re so lucky we have each other,” and she said, “You know it!”

I do.


Letting Go

August 21st, 2012

Sprucing up

There seems to be some kind of bug that is making it impossible to comment. I have notified the Blog Doctor and he is on the case.

And now back to our irregularly scheduled program…

As I mentioned earlier, the jobette is moving. It’s only about three blocks, but as everyone who has ever moved knows, it’s as much hassle to move three blocks as it is three hundred miles. So I’ve been packing like mad over the past week in preparation for Thursday’s move.

The new office is a much better and bigger space, but it is in a much busier location. Right now, in the days about to become the old days, Digit hangs out in the yard most of the day, chasing butterflies and playing in the sun, but in the new place, there is just a sidewalk and a very busy intersection.

We are also expecting a lot more foot traffic and are even going to have a retail (t-shirts, mugs, etc.) area, presided over by Me.

You can probably tell where I’m going with this. We have had to find a new home for the lovely Digit.

Fortunately, we have located a family which has recently lost their oldest cat at 22 years old. The daughter is devastated and would like to have another cat, even though the family has two neutered males, a 10 year old who is polydactl, like Digit, and a 3 year old Siamese who is disabled due to a head injury but who is much loved and carefully cared for.

These people clearly know a lot about cats and love them. Digit adores children and is super affectionate, which will be great for the little girl. I have to admit that I have felt a little guilty about Digit being alone at night and most of the weekend, and I know she would be happier with a full-time family and that she would not be safe at the new office. I would never forgive myself if something happened to her.

But I have always kind of despised people who move somewhere which doesn’t allow cats or isn’t good for their cats and then give them away, and now I’m One of Them. I think this is kind of a hot button issue with me, since when John and I broke up, he kept the cats. I knew it was the best thing for them to stay together in their familiar environment and one of their people, but it was one of the most painful things I have ever gone through and it still makes me sad.

Still, Digit will be much happier with her new family, who are picking her up this week. I think it’s a good omen that their polydactl is named Clydesdale (for the horses with the huge hoofs/feet), but is called Clyde!



December 15th, 2009

Part of my current frugality is that I don’t have caller ID anymore, or call waiting, which is not only retro of me, but it makes the identity of every phone caller a little mystery.

Usually when the phone* rings first thing in the morning, it’s either my brother or my boss, neither of whom tend to call me just to chat. So I figured it was one of them with a question or a request when the phone rang this morning, but it was someone asking for Rose.

This has happened a few times since I moved into her home and kept her phone number. It’s always people trying to sell her things or charities to which she has donated in the past. I say, “I’m, sorry, she passed away a few months ago,” they say they’re sorry back (with varying degrees of surprise and concern) and that’s it.

Today’s caller turned out to be a friend of Rose’s, who had no idea her friend was gone.

She gasped and asked me what happened, so I told her to the best of my ability, and answered her questions as best I could, while eyeing the coffee grinder longingly.

It turned out that she used to live in my sister’s house about ten years ago, so that made her the person who refused to move out, forcing my sister and brother-in-law to camp with my brother, leaving all their furniture, etc., in his driveway until she could finally be ousted. On moving in, my sister discovered that the previous tenant had left her cat there, so she and her husband adopted her.

I kept these thoughts (and others) to myself as I condoled with her and attempted to get her off the phone. She seemed to want to talk to anyone, mostly about death, which is a subject that also takes up far too much of my time, though I generally try to keep that to myself. Eventually, I promised to pass on her to message to Rose’s family and thankfully hung up the phone.

It was a lot to deal with before coffee.

*I can’t tell you how annoyed I was to discover that calling my sibs’ cell phones from my landline is long distance. Even though my sister lives a few hundred feet away and my brother less than a quarter of a mile. Apparently, their cell phone numbers are registered in Boonville, an hour’s drive from here. But if I call them on my cell, which has an Oakland area code, it’s free. Go figure. If only the cell reception wasn’t so lousy at my house.


The Adventure

October 23rd, 2009

roadThe road home

Operation Escape Oakland hit a few snags, as many elaborate maneuvers are wont to do.

Rob is an insulin-dependent diabetic, and had some issues with his sugar count early on Wednesday morning. We applied soda and waited for him to feel better. At times like this, it’s great to have your EMS trained brother at hand.

While Rob was recovering, Audrey decided she’d get a head start and escaped from her carrier. The girls’ carriers are cloth and close with zippers that meet in the middle. Audrey must have poked her nose or paw through the place where the zippers met until she made a big enough hole to slip out.

Unfortunately, I had left the car window open to give the girls some air while we completed the packing process.

Fortunately, Audrey ran into B’s garden, which is enclosed, so trapping her was (relatively) easy.

Unfortunately, I had learned nothing from this experience since Audrey repeated the escape, though this time remaining inside the car (with its windows closed).

Fortunately, my brother had a bit of string in his pocket, as boys often do, and tied the zippers together tightly.

It seems that Audrey does not enjoy driving any more than I do, since she did an encore of the carrier poo. When I finally decanted her, she was literally covered in it. Megan immediately put her in the sink and washed her, which Audrey took remarkably well, after meowing for pretty much the entire four hour drive. June had thrown up in her carrier, undoubtedly due to the proximity of the carrier poo. Henry didn’t utter a peep and all his bodily fluids stayed in his body.

I expected a series of boos, hisses, and claw to claw combat when all three cats met, but so far, so good. They have walked past each other without remark, though fights may still ensue. They do seem happy to be here, and are enjoying the view from the glass doors and exploring a new place. This is definitely a much more interesting house from a cat’s point of view.

As for me, I now have proof positive that housework is very, very bad for you.

After we finished most of the packing on Wednesday, we cleaned the house, which entailed grovelling around on hands and knees. Not for the first time, I reflected that cleaning is a job best left to the professionals. I’m pretty sure that this unnatural activity resulted in my knees going on strike. By the time I caught Audrey the second time, I noticed that the inside side of my knees (if you follow me) hurt. By the time we stopped for gas, I could hardly bend them. By the time we got home, Megan took one look at me and put me on her couch with ice packs and painkillers.

So while my family was unpacking all my things and stuff, I was lying on Megan’s couch watching “Gilmore Girls” and whimpering. The guilt was definitely worse than the pain. I feel better today, but have been ordered to take it easy so that hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to get a few things done around my new house.

It was an adventure, all right. Would you expect anything less from Calamity Suzy?


Convoy, Convoy

October 21st, 2009

Well, this will be my last post from Oakhampton.

I’m ending as I began, camping in my house with weirded out cats. Though now there are three instead of two. Henry is in the pantry, a marked improvement over being stuck in the cat carrier all day (the landlords insisted that I remove the screening, so we did that first). He was so patient, and never made a peep.

The girls are wandering around the nearly-empty house, wondering where The Boxes have gone. Presumably they’re all wondering what the hell is going on around here.

The giant moving truck is occupying the entire driveway. I hope that no-one decides to snip off the padlock and help themselves.

We’re hoping to get out of here at 7:00 tomorrow morning. We’ll be a convoy: Jonathan in the truck; Rob in Jonathan’s car (they drove down together this morning); then Self and cat cargo. Jonathan brought little radios, sort of like walkie-talkies, in case we lose sight of each other on the way or someone wants to stop. Much easier than cell phones, and not illegal.

Wish us luck!