Archive for the 'Special Occasions' Category

Dec 27 2022


On the actual Eve, I hopped in the new car and headed toward the beautiful South Coast. It was the last day Franny’s would be open for over a month, so I wanted to make sure I stocked up on delicacies before the long confectionery drought began.

I called in my order ahead of time, but still had to wait in line to pay for it and collect it, which gave me time to admire the festive decorations, both outside:

and inside:

For Christmas Eve, I had a délice of tangerine cake filled with a mixture of cherries, raspberries, and cranberries, covered in white chocolate. Next to it is the mini bûche de Noël for Christmas dinner, with a meringue mushroom and pistachio moss:

They both tasted as amazing as they look.

With my box of delicacies safely stowed in the back seat, I headed to Anchor Bay, where I ordered Thai food in very festive surroundings:

It was a beautiful drive home. I always think Point Arena looks a bit like the White Cliffs of Dover:

I love the rolling hills and curving roads of the South Coast:

It was a lovely Christmas Eve dinner. I made a ham, carrots glazed with tangerine zest and juice, salad with roasted pears and honey-shallot dressing, and of course, my annual, world-famous cheese biscuits:

Just add a bottle of sparkling wine, Charlie Brown, and the Grinch, and you have a pretty good Christmas Eve.

A YEAR AGO: Spending some time with Emily.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Post Christmas cleanup.

TEN YEARS AGO: A wonderful Christmas.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Some updates.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Housework is not fun. Especially when you have a cold.

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Dec 03 2022


Published by under House,Special Occasions

The ongoing sadness at the loss of The Queen, the bummer of losing my car, and the encroaching darkness all made me decide to put up the Christmas tree ahead of schedule. The Saturday after Thanksgiving found me rooting around in the resolutely disorganized Closet of Doom, using a broom to help me reach the things that were out of my reach.

I fished out the box with the tree in it and the box with the ornaments, and also the bag with the wreath for the front door. I put on the Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack and got to work.

The cats ignored me, which was fine, since they tend to be of limited assistance in tree decorating or housework. So far, they have also ignored the tree completely, which was a pleasant surprise. After all, they play outside in a giant litter box, only to come in and use the one in the house, and play in a forest full of scratching posts, only to come in and claw the rugs. The ways of cats are inscrutable.

It didn’t take long to get the tree up, apply the lights, and the light up star on the top:

It was nice to rediscover the ornaments, including the Eiffel Tower:

The beautiful apple:

and the acorn:

It’s so nice to have some sparkle on dark nights.

A YEAR AGO: A simple Thanksgiving.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Enjoying the sparkle at the Festival of Lights.

TEN YEARS AGO: Scary storms and Christmas decorations.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A wonderful visit to one of my favorite museums.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A happy Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the photos are no longer there. I would like to see them.

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Oct 28 2022


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

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

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

We who are about to become cider salute you:

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

The real process improvement was the new grinder:

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

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

Here’s Jonathan pressing the cider:

Cider pouring out:

And in a handy to go container:

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

FIVE YEARS AGO: A beautiful garden.

TEN YEARS AGO: Audrey and I had checkups.

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

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

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Oct 06 2022


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

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

There wasn’t even a line to get in:

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

and the fancy chickens:

The biggest pumpkin was not that big this year:

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

This was my favorite garden exhibit:

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

It was a really wonderful afternoon and evening.

A YEAR AGO: Oh, deer.

FIVE YEARS AGO: More message boards fun.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: The secret lives of mailmen.

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Sep 10 2022


Published by under Special Occasions

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

I was getting in my car on the morning of September 8 when I got a text from a friend in Manchester, telling me that The Queen was under medical supervision and that it was serious. I was on pins and needles all morning, waiting for news of Her Majesty, while life swirled around me. He sent news about 10 am that The Queen was gone, before it hit the US news. I had to close my office door to weep in private as I mourned the terrible, shocking loss of The Queen.

I realize it sounds ridiculous to be shocked by the death of a 96 year old, but I thought she would live to be 100 or more, like her mother. I think part of me believed she would live forever. She has been my Queen my whole life, and it’s unimaginable that she she is no longer there. I feel unmoored without her calm, steady hand on the tiller. I can’t believe she is really gone. Truly, it is the end of an era.

I am grateful that Her Majesty was spared losing her dignity and a long final illness. I am honored to have lived during her long, historic reign. I am thankful that she worked up until the end, and that she is now reunited with her beloved husband Prince Philip, and that “Us Four” are together again.

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Jul 21 2022


Published by under Special Occasions,The Arts

Getting Ready

I have seen more concerts in the past couple of months than I have in the past couple of years! First, the lovely evening with the legendary Lindsey Buckingham in San Francisco, and then the local Music Festival, at the beautiful WPA Cotton Auditorium in the Big Town.

The first concert I saw was on the first night of the Festival, and also Buddy’s 40th birthday. The program started out with an original composition* by the Maestro, Allan Pollack, called “Phoenix”. It was beautiful, celebrating the victory of life over death and hope over despair. It was followed by Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 1, with a young violinist, Yevgeny Kutik, giving a dazzling solo. The evening ended with Beethoven’s bright and delightful Symphony No.7.

The second one started out with the lovely, dreamy “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” by Debussy, followed by Mozart’s light and charming Symphony No. 29, and ended with Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Cello, featuring the extremely charismatic and talented Jennifer Cho and Jonah Kim on violin and cello.

The last one is the final show of the Festival, coming up this weekend, and it will be big band and jazz, which should be a fun end to the series.

*I was so delighted by “Phoenix” that I asked if they had a recording available, but unfortunately, there isn’t one, so it will just have to be a beautiful and haunting memory.

A YEAR AGO: At the fabulous Flamingo.

FIVE YEARS AGO: You win some, you lose some.

TEN YEARS AGO: An unexpected visit to the country. I never imagined I’d be living in Albion and loving it.

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Jul 15 2022


The 4th of July weekend brings the amazing Flynn Creek Circus to our little corner of the world, its distinctive striped tent and ticket caravan appearing in the Village like magic:

Usually, it is an amazing experience. But this time…

I noticed as I entered the tent that there were earplugs on a table near the concessions, and I thought that was a little odd, since it was a circus, not a rock concert, and in the early afternoon, when the audience was mostly families, including small children.

It all made sense when a trio of guitar, bass, and drums with a screeching singer was unleashed upon our unsuspecting eardrums. I endured the first “song”, played at high volume and low talent, and then there was some of the acrobatics I had come to see:

You can see the Nightmare Trio in the background. They started up again after the acrobats, and I noticed that the small girl sitting next to me was covering her ears and wincing, so I went to see if I could get her some ear plugs. They were (unsurprisingly) all gone, but the guy gave me a tissue she could ball up to protect what remained of her eardrums. I gave it to her, and she put it in and curled up against her mother. When another song started up and there was no sign of more of the actual circus, I actually got up and left. I never thought I’d walk out on Flynn Creek Circus. Hopefully, next year they will be back to their fabulous selves.

A YEAR AGO: Cider tasting in an heirloom orchard, and other pleasures in the Valley.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An intruder.

TEN YEARS AGO: So freakin’ glad to be home!

TWENTY YEARS AGO: On the dynamics of lines.

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Jun 22 2022


You guys! Jarrett and Kalli are engaged!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the ring:

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

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

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

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

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

A YEAR AGO: A flat tire is never good.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A camping party.

TEN YEARS AGO: Touring some local artists’ studios.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Mammograms are never fun.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A visit to the County Fair.

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May 28 2022


My Glorious Cake

It was a milestone birthday for Megan last year (50!) and for me this year (60!), so we decided to celebrate together, like we did when we were kids. Here we were, celebrating Megan’s 12th birthday and my 21st:

A lot has changed since then, but it’s still fun to celebrate our birthdays together.

Despite the fact that it was a shared celebration, Megan did most of the work, and the pile of presents was mostly for me:

The glorious cake was from Franny’s Cup & Saucer, and the flowers are from Franny’s garden, dried and pressed by her. The cake was lemon with lemon mousse and fresh berries, iced in lemon buttercream. It was as divine as it looks and sounds.

Getting the cake was a bit of an adventure, though. A propane truck overturned on the highway just a few yards from my road on the day Megan, Rob, and the dogs set off to Point Arena to pick up the cake and play on the beach:

There is no alternative route, so traffic backed up pretty fast. And although it happened in the morning, traffic was still bad when I was heading home around 4:00. I turned off the car and kept listening to Tom Petty while I texted Megan, knowing she had gotten home past the overturned truck. I asked her how long she thought the wait would be. She said they had waited half an hour, and added that they were trying to get the truck back onto its wheels about an hour earlier so it could be towed. As I read the text, the truck was towed past my open car window.

Traffic started moving after that, and it took me about 5 minutes to get onto my road after sitting on the highway for half an hour. An adventure!

A YEAR AGO: A milestone birthday for Megan.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Working at my Saturday job and celebrating Megan’s birthday.

TEN YEARS AGO: Things were weird. And I was in San Francisco.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: We lost our beloved Jed, the Wonder Dog. Never forgotten, always loved, never, ever equalled.

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Apr 20 2022


Published by under Special Occasions

My blog turns 21 today! I guess that should mean it’s an adult now, ready to do responsible things, but like its author, I think my blog will never grow up. But at least we have a reason to celebrate!

A YEAR AGO Happy 20th!


FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Then we were six.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: My blog’s very first birthday. Little did I suspect I’d still be doing this 20 years later.

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Apr 13 2022


I decanted the car contents into the motel room, and then ordered my very first Uber to take me to the Palace of Fine Arts Theater. Uber is magic. It showed up in about two minutes, swept me to my destination, and went away. It’s the next best thing to having a chauffeur at my beck and call. What’s not to love?

The theater looked beautiful in the evening light:

The line was long, and although vaccines were supposedly required, no one checked vaccine cards. They did, however, use one of those airport style wands on everyone and looked in everyone’s handbags, so go figure. I found it a little unnerving to be in the crowd, and claustrophobic to be in the middle of the theater, though the seats were great and so was the view of the star, Lindsey Buckingham:

He is a local (or at least local-ish, hailing from nearby Palo Alto, home of Stanford University), so it was a hometown crowd welcoming him home with great enthusiasm. The evening felt very intimate, since his band was so small and part of the show was just Lindsey and his guitar. He is so charming and unaffected, and his voice has not diminished at all over the years. I was happy that he played some songs from his new album, which I have been listening to and enjoying recently. It was a really special evening.

A YEAR AGO: Some animal updates.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring was pretty wintery.

TEN YEARS AGO: A busy day in the City.


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Mar 04 2022


Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

It had been a long time since I visited B. Bryan Preserve. Longer than I thought, since paging through my dusty archives revealed that it had in fact been 7 years, back when Jessica was a mere 12 years old. Now she is on the verge of 19. How did that happen? Especially since I myself have not aged a minute?

Visiting the Preserve has become even more popular than it was the last time I was there. There was quite a crowd, requiring three vehicles, and they have dispensed entirely with the educational session before boarding the vehicles. Frank the owner was nowhere to be seen, and I appeared to be 1) the only local on the tour; and 2. the only person who had visited before. I was more grateful than ever that Megan and I had had that magical one on one tour with Frank the owner almost 10 years ago. Those days are clearly over. While I am glad for their success, I do regret the loss of those special days.

And of course, the animals were as utterly magnificent as ever. We saw all three kinds of zebra: plains, mountain, and my personal favorite, the Grevy’s, with their round, fuzzy, teddy bear ears:

It is so amazing to see these beautiful, wild animals in real life. For those who worry about their feeling the chill of our foggy northern clime: they were born here, so in fact they would not be able to cope with the African climate. Like the rest of us fogeaters, they think it’s unbearably hot if it’s over 70 degrees.

Here are the Kudu, known as the Grey Ghost of Africa. They blend into their surroundings to avoid their predators:

Interestingly, they can jump really high, and if they wanted to, they could easily jump out of their enclosure. So they must be happy where they are, safe, admired, and fed well.

The roan antelope were feeling shy that day and just hung out by their barn. You can see them from afar:

As always, the giraffe were the highlight of the visit. They are no longer fed with acacia branches, but rather with lettuce. They are as weird and wonderful as ever, these 18 foot high, prehistoric-looking creatures:

swooping down to say hello and maybe give the tiny humans a kiss:

Seeing these beautiful creatures filled me with a child-like sense of awe and wonder. That is a wonderful gift. It was a special day.

A YEAR AGO: Some light-hearted fun from the local message boards.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A chilly Polar Plunge.

TEN YEARS AGO: Rob the handyman.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Sometimes, the city can seem like a small town.

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Feb 28 2022


It was time for a little adventure, so I headed to the beautiful south coast. I decided to stay at a hotel right on the ocean. It was beautiful, and I loved the room:

The floors had radiant heat, so it was quite lovely to walk on them. Also, my house tends to be chilly, which is great in the summer, but less than fabulous the rest of the year. It was nice not to be bundled up.

There was also a fireplace, but no log. The only thing missing from the lovely bathroom was soap:

There was a rainfall shower head, and also a handheld shower. I have often wished for both of those things.

When I went down to the office to notify them of these absences, they asked if anything else was missing. Like it was normal for things to be missing. At least I had the log so I could enjoy a fire later, which I did. There was a balcony overlooking the ocean, where I enjoyed the sunset, along with a glass or two of sparkling wine.

The light through the window as the sun set was really beautiful:

Another small pleasure was realizing that I had forgotten to bring a couple of things, and I could walk to the store next door to get them! It made me feel like I was in a city again, even though all I could hear was the roar of the ocean. The closest store to my house is more than 6 miles away, not exactly walking distance. So it was a super fun novelty. You’re probably laughing about how exciting I found this right about now. I can’t help it. I’m a hick!

In the morning, I had coffee overlooking the ocean, enjoying every moment before hitting the road for an adventure.

Up next: giraffes and zebras!

FIVE YEARS AGO: I was at church. Yes. Really.

TEN YEARS AGO: A surprise wedding. Not mine, I hasten to add.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A good year.

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Jan 15 2022


Published by under Special Occasions

It’s a Girl!

Babies are rare in our family. The most recent ones were born nearly 40 years ago, and they are showing no signs of reproducing themselves, so babies may well be extinct in our family. No wonder our family tree is more like a twig.

So it was extra exciting when our beloved Ben told us that he and his fiancée Erica were expecting a baby girl for Christmas.

As girls often are, this little lady was a little late, probably putting on some finishing touches for her debut, which coincided with the year’s debut. She arrived on New Year’s Day, sporting a full head of dramatic hair and capturing the hearts of her entire family. Here she is with her adoring father:

It took Ben and Erica a little while to choose the baby’s name. They wanted to get to know her a little first. They finally decided on Anna, in honor of Ben’s great aunts, one on his mother’s side and one on his father’s sides. These ladies meant a lot to Ben and had passed recently, the great-aunt on his paternal side at the amazing age of 102. It’s nice to know that she has a family name that is meaningful to her parents and hopefully will be to her as well. I like it that it’s classic and easily spelled and will not limit her possibilities in life.

Ben gets five weeks of paternity leave, and he loving being with Anna. He is already listening to music with her and enjoying every moment. I am so happy for all of them!

A YEAR AGO: The annual library meeting.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cheers to the sunset, even though it was a school night.

TEN YEARS AGO: Why I’m here.


TWENTY YEARS AGO: My in-laws were planning their first visit to San Francisco.

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Jan 02 2022


The Last Evening of the Year

The last day of the year dawned rainy and misty. I am pleased to say that we have gotten around 29 inches of rain so far this season, with more to come, though we are running out of rainy months, with only the rest of January, February, and March (the secret winter month) to go.

I had the day off, and I headed to the beautiful South Coast, enjoying the winter beauty:

and the sun shining through the clouds over the ocean:

The ocean is beautiful in all its seasons and moods, just in different ways. In some ways, I think the crashing, silvery winter ocean is more beautiful than the calmer blue summer one.

It was a beautiful drive:

When I got home, I made a tourtière:

That’s supposed to be a star in the middle. I always cut designs into my pies, because that’s what my American grandmother did. As I made this pie, I realized that I was taught to cook (and to iron clothes) by two Victorians, since both of my grandmothers were born during Queen Victoria’s reign. It’s nice to think that they live on in me*, and to feel that link to history.

I watched the ball drop in Times Square, along with an attentive Dodge. Maybe it’s because I was born in New York state, but I always think that the New York New Year is the “real” one, even though I have lived in California most of my adult life. I don’t think any west coast celebrations can touch the New York one.

And so we bid farewell to the old year, and greet the new one, which so far bears a striking resemblance to the old one. We shall see what it brings. Happy New Year from me to you!

*As I write this, I am wearing my America grandmother’s gold bracelet, which is etched with her maiden name initials, EFH. It probably dates to around 1914 or so. I wear it often and think of her.

A YEAR AGO: A few plumbing issues to start the year.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Oh, Clyde! I still miss the ornament he broke.

TEN YEARS AGO: Fantasy hockey, Suzy-style. Go Leafs!

TWENTY YEARS AGO: I was less than thrilled with the rain. Well, we got more of it in those days. I note that I watched “Beautiful Girls” a couple of days ago. Still love it.

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Dec 31 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.

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Dec 29 2021


Megan I had long been awaiting the return of the delightful and delightfully frivolous Emily in Paris. It is escapism at its finest, and we were ready to escape.

I took an extra day off over the holidays so we could watch all the Emilys at one sitting, and it was so worth it!

Arriving at Megan and Rob’s place, I was greeted by Stella and Millie. Millie is still horrified by humanity other than Megan, and occasionally Rob, but she feels better when she is cuddled up with Stella:

Stella has not lost her Mom skills, and clearly loves taking care of Millie.

The deck is now complete, and there is a gravel path leading to it, to cut down on the dust and mud:

Here’s another look at the path, leading away from their place:

Once inside, I discovered that our friend Monica had left me a gorgeous Christmas gift, wrapped in vintage ribbon and including a clear glass ornament with a feather in it, and a sparkly mushroom ornament:

Megan was well-prepared for our Emily Day. She invested in a cocktail shaker so she could make Midori Illusions, and it was worth it:

They are magical concoctions of Midori melon liqueur, vodka, Cointreau, lemon juice, and pineapple juice.

Rob imported pizzas from the Big Town. It was surprisingly difficult to acquire a pizza that day, both of the pizza places in the Village being chiuso in the Italian manner. We were lucky that he was willing to not only drive the pizzas home, but also me, and it was after midnight by the time I left. Season Two of Emily may have been even more delightful than Season One. We had such a great time!

A YEAR AGO: Christmas at the beach.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Happy Hannukah!

TEN YEARS AGO: Christmas aftermath.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Christmas nightmare.

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Dec 25 2021


Published by under Country Life,Special Occasions

Happy holidays to you!

There was no company on Christmas Day, but it was still festive at Chez Suzy. The Christmas tree sparkled, and outside it was raining, with the frogs peeping merrily. It was the perfect weather for making cheese biscuits:

and for glazing ham:

While not up to my brother’s very high standards, it was delicious. I quartered a clementine and squeezed the juice over the ham before glazing it, and then left the orange quarters in the pan. The glaze I made was simple, just maple syrup, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard, but I glazed it every 15 minutes or so, and it was worth the effort.

Of course, I also made our traditional Christmas salad, with roasted pears, honey-shallot dressing, and fresh pomegranate seeds:

I had sparkling, pink, local-ish (made in neighboring Sonoma County) wine with dinner, and enjoyed the candlelight, the peace, and the purring presence of my three beloved cats, Audrey, Clyde, and Dodge.

After dinner, I watched Charlie Brown and the Grinch and opened my presents. It was a really nice Christmas.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A merry Christmas.

TEN YEARS AGO: A happy Christmas

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Not surprisingly, we were not celebrating.

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Dec 24 2021


On Christmas Eve, I stopped by the Village to pick up a few things. It was pouring as I headed down the Ridge, and I wondered whether I really needed the things I was planning to buy. By the time I reached the grocery store in the Village, it had stopped raining.

I ran into my friend Erin in the store. She, too, was shopping for last minute groceries. It was nice to take a couple of minutes to catch up and enjoy each other’s company. I like living in a place where I can randomly run into friends and neighbors, even if I am not wearing make-up and/or am oddly attired, as sometimes happens on last-minute store runs.

As I headed back to the car, the weather reminded me that in any situation, it’s all in how you look at things, whether you look on the stormy side:

or the bright side:

I took these photos at the same place, the cloudy ones looking west toward the sea and the Village photos looking east. It makes me happy to know that the Village looks much as it did 100 years ago, and to think of the generations that have celebrated together in this beautiful place.

A YEAR AGO: Christmas memories.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting ready.

TEN YEARS AGO: Unexpected Christmas guests.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Christmas sparkle never goes out of style.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Our 11th anniversary. Nice to see Dad’s notes and those photos. And to know that 20 years later, John and I are still there for each other and always will be.

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Dec 18 2021


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.

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