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.


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.


Public Service Announcement

Tourist season is upon us. The dreaded out of state plates are popping up all over, and their driving 15-20 miles an hour below the speed limit gives us plenty of time to read them (and weep). They are accompanied by their equally despised brethren, the lumbering RV, all of them merrily sparkling with brake lights at every curve. It’s festive, you know.

It reminds me of the seasonal change from the speed of hockey to the majesty of baseball. At this time of year, the hockey playoffs overlap with the start of the baseball season, and you can practically get whiplash shifting gears from the nearly nonstop action of hockey to the relative stillness of baseball. Sure, they run around the bases and in the outfield, but a lot of it is standing there. Not to mention 9 innings versus 3 periods. When the seasons change again, hockey will seem super fast and baseball will seem normal. It’s all about perception, right?

On the message boards, the advent of tourist season is heralded by the announcement that the 2 hour parking downtown will actually be enforced for the next few months. It’s always the law, but disregarded most of the year.

Summer Enforcement of 2 Hour Parking in Downtown is starting! Parking Enforcement Attendant, Valerie T will be touring the downtown areas, chalking tires and issuing parking citations when necessary. So say hello to Valerie, before she says hello to you.

There’s non-human traffic, too:

From: n——
Subject: llama loose on lansing at 3:40pm

Heading north in a hurry. black head/cream colored body.

Forewarned is forearmed.

We aren’t merely concerned with traffic on earth, though. Some of us are reporting possible alien visitors:

*National UFO Reporting Center*
Sighting Report
Occurred : 12/31/2017 20:00 (Entered as : 12/31/2017 20:00)
Reported: 12/31/2017 8:36:32 PM 20:36
Posted: 1/18/2018
Location: Fort Bragg, CA
Duration:3 minutes
3 orbs with red lights all were moving one in middle stopped then vanished.
Then other two orbs stopped and vanished. The orbs were traveling from
south to north.

Wonder if aliens fly really slow?

A brief, but sincere, cri de coeur:

From: P M
Subject: Weed

Left my bag in your ride. Where are you guys?

I guess the guy’s email address tells you all you need to know. And we are famous for weed around here.

The message board are useful for locating, or attempting to locate, people as well as bags of weed:

From: s——
Subject: Susan N—–

Is she on here??? Susan!!! I have some donkey pics to send u…

Who wouldn’t want donkey pics? Or maybe who would?

The last storm was a doozy and there was much comparison of rainfall at various locations and questioning about road closures. These caused something of a dilemma for one of my neighbors:

For yesterday and today I have 5.7″ on my glass gauge and 5.61″ on the digital as of 8 pm. Has anyone traveled Flynn Creek Road and Comptche Ukiah to hiway 128? Got a friend with a 90th birthday in Santa Rosa tomorrow. I am wavering between love and stupidity, but not as far as insanity.

When you’re done, you’re done. This delightfully named gentleman may be the original Grumpy Old Man:

Merlin Tinker announces his Retirement. I’ve repaired Sewing Machines and Clocks on the Coast for 48 years.That’s more than enough. I quit. I retire.

Please don’t ask if I can refer someone to take my place. No, I’m
retired. I’ve done enough. Find your own someone.

I turn 80 this year. I should have retired at 65, but kept responding
to calls.

Maybe close to half a century of repairing other people’s stuff will do that to you.

And perhaps Monkey can pick up Merlin’s discarded magic wand:

From: b——
Subject: ISO Monkey, the Electrician

Have small electrical upgrade job for him at Be Kind Farm.

Maybe Monkey can take some donkey pics while he’s there?

A YEAR AGO: Oh, Blake. We still miss you. It was so hard to say goodbye.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An early (and unpleasant) heat wave.

TEN YEARS AGO: An early appearance of the cat who would become my dear Henry Etta, here known as Grey Cat. I am so glad I brought her with me when I escaped from Oakhampton!

The Bad Habit

Well, this is becoming a bad habit. Get up early, go to sleep late, have a series of nightmares that wake me up throughout the night. On Thursday, I got up at 4:30 am, when Clyde joyfully leaped onto my unsuspecting stomach. It is a very effective wake up call, though more enjoyable for the leaper than the landing pad.

Since I took Friday off as a mental health day, I had an adult beverage or two after work on Thursday night while watching playoff hockey and staying up until 11:00 pm, fueled by fantasies of the Maple Leafs David beating the Goliath Washington Capitals. I know all the odds are against it, but a girl can hope.

I figured I’d sleep in until it was light outside on Freedom Friday, but I was as wrong about that as I probably am about the Maple Leafs. After a restless night of bad dreams, I finally gave up on the whole thing before 5:00 am.

After the requisite caffeination and cat duties, I threw in a load of laundry and did some cooking for during the week, including this delicious recipe. I left out the cilantro, upped the ginger, and used half sweet paprika and half smoked paprika, and threw the olives in near the end of the cooking instead of boiling them separately (Why? Why?). While things were cooking and cleaning, I finished a data entry project for my friends at the former jobette and emailed it over to them.

The jobette may not be so former after all. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but I am once again considering working Saturdays this summer.

You may recall that after a change in leadership at the jobette last year, the New Guy decided to close on Saturdays, among other unpopular decisions that ended up costing him his entire staff. After wreaking havoc in just a few short months, he quit and went back from whence he came, to the relief of all.

The current CEO seems very nice. We had a good meeting where he asked if I would consider doing data entry, blog writing, and working on Saturdays. He is willing to pay me more than I make at my real job, so it’s hard to say no, though I am a little worried about getting burned out. Decision-making, as you know, is not among my few talents. Maybe if/when I make a decision, I can finally start sleeping better.

A YEAR AGO: It was an internet-free zone at stately Suzy Manor. And there was quite the liestorm to go with it.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Meet the jobette’s newest employee, the office cat!

Wonderful Weekend

Last weekend was wonderful, though it was also a busy one. Come along with me for a magical mystery tour of the county!

Friday: Met my friend Jim after work at the Ledford House. I was greeted outside by a very fluffy and friendly black cat, and inside by my friend, who had a local beer in front of him. I ordered a glass of local wine, and we settled in at the bar to admire the view and catch up with each other’s news. Even though it was overcast, the view was still spectacular. I never get tired of watching the ocean in all its moods.

The second anniversary of his husband Joel’s death is upon us, and we drank a toast to the dear departed. But we also laughed, thinking of how the royalty checks still come in from the “MacGyver” episodes Joel wrote, and remembering how he smoked pot with Allen Ginsberg when he was at Harvard. He lived a rich and wonderful life. I just wish it had been longer.

Saturday: Megan and I headed to Boonville in beautiful Anderson Valley. We were in search of tomato starts for the family garden, so we stopped at a nursery where chickens were merrily hatching:


And two yin and yang cats were playing (or was it fighting):


It turned out that the white cat in the background is the mother of the black one in the foreground. The white one was very friendly to me, but the black one needed some convincing before I could pet her.

At the farmers’ market in Boonville, we ran into Rose’s daughter Citlali, but we didn’t find the Holy Grail of tomato starts. We ended up getting Plan B tomatoes at a plant sale at the high school. As you do.

We met Erica and Jessica for lunch. We worked on plans for Junapalooza, which is basically going to be a dessert extravaganza, and entirely catered by Erica other than the cucumber sandwiches, which may be the only thing we are serving that doesn’t have sugar in it. There have to be some compensations for being a grown up, and having sugar in multifarious forms for your birthday dinner may be it.

We gave Jessica her belated birthday t-shirt, which she loved, and she gave us origami birds she had made, seen here gracing my sandwich:


I love those girls.

On our way home, we stopped at Libby’s, which was miraculously open, but which only had one order of al pastor left, because you can’t have everything, which seemed to be the theme of the day. I let Megan have the al pastor and I settled for carnitas, because that’s the kind of sister I am.

I got home in time for the Kentucky Derby. I had made simple syrup infused with mint, and bought all the other Julep necessities, including freezing the glass for it. It turns out that I am not a Julep fan, sadly. I love the idea of it and the name of it and everything but the actual taste. It is pretty intense for daytime drinking also.

Sadly, my favorite jockey, the legendary Calvin Borel, had retired just a couple of months before the Derby, and I missed him and his smile as the jockeys came out of their dressing room to mount the beautiful horses. I love the walk over and the call of “Riders, up!” and all the pageantry. The favorite, named for the legendary Detroit Red Wings player Gustav Nyquist brought a little reminder of hockey to the glamorous occasion, only appropriate during playoff season.

Sunday: It was up and at ‘em again, leaving the house by 9:00 am and not getting home until after 6. Megan and I headed over to Lichen’s house, where he cut her hair and we admired his garden and his new to him Rottweiler, Keeper. At nearly 9 years old, she isn’t very fresh, but she is very sweet, and they seem very happy together.

Our next stop was Anchor Bay Thai, where we got dinner to go at lunch time, ‘cause that’s how we roll. I always think I will try something different, but I couldn’t resist getting my favorite Massaman curry, fresh spring rolls, and cucumber salad.

With dinner taken care of, we headed to Point Arena for the last ballet of the season streamed from the historic Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. At three hours (partly because of two intermissions), it was long, but it was my favorite of the season. I loved the costumes and sets and the beauty of the dancing. Semyon Chudin, who memorably played the Mouse King in the Nutcracker, played the male lead, and he and Ekaterina Krysanova, who played his love interest, had wonderful chemistry and matched each other well. I still can’t believe they can jump so high and spin like that!

It was a wonderful experience. And it was wonderful to see something so beautiful and then drive home through such beautiful countryside.

It was a great weekend.

A YEAR AGO: I was having a lovely weekend then, too.


Derby Day dawned foggy, wrapping the world in a cool silver mist, which was just fine with me after a couple of unseasonably and unreasonably hot days, when I came home from the coolness of the Big Town to a scorching 83 degrees:


As you know, I find anything over 75 completely unnecessary, so I was glad when Karl the Fog made a return engagement, though I realize this is not a popular opinion. What can I say? I have a pro blanket policy, year round. It’s a blanket policy.

I was also delighted to learn that there’s a new Royal baby in London, a lovely and healthy little princess with a serious pedigree of style. It was a happy note to start the day on, and the day just got happier as I made my to Angelika’s little salon in the big woods:


It may have been chilly outside, but inside, candles glowed against the coral walls, lavender scented the air, and towels were warming on the heater. One of Angelika’s dogs came in and sat at my feet as Angelika cut my hair and we caught up on each other’s news. She cut two inches off – I hadn’t had it cut since October – and I am hoping to afford highlights soon – I haven’t had it highlighted since last February. It still looks pretty good, though:


I got home in time for the Kentucky Derby, which as you know is my favorite sporting event of the year. And why not? Name another sport which has a red carpet, glamorous celebrities, outrageous hats, practically mandatory daytime drinking, gorgeous horses, a century of tradition, and is over before even I have time to get bored. My favorite jockey, the inimitable Calvin Borel, was not in contention since his horse was scratched at the last moment, but it was nice to see Victor Espinoza win for the second year in a row, proclaiming, “I feel like the luckiest Mexican on earth!” Inspiring that he saved up from his bus driving job to learn to be jockey and made it all the way to win the greatest horse race on earth.

A YEAR AGO: Rob the handyman.

Halloween, Here & There

Showered with Confetti and Love

The Giants celebrated their epic World Series win with a parade down Market Street – San Francisco’s Main Street – to City Hall, where Marilyn Monroe married native son and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio 60 years ago. They were showered with showers, but also a hail of confetti and love. No stranger to triumphal processions through the City streets after two earlier World Series wins, manager Bruce Bochy said that he had never heard anything like the thunderous applause and screams that met the returning heroes, especially Madison Bumgarner, who was deafened with howls of “MVP” everywhere he went, perched on the back of a flatbed truck:

An observer described the pandemonium as “something between pagan idolatry and Beatlemania”.

I hope we get to do it all over again next year.

Meanwhile, back in Hoooterville, I woke up to a welcome inch and a half of rain in the gauge and a slightly less welcome forecast of heavy rain accessorized with possible thunderstorms and hail – definitely not ideal trick or treating weather. However, the forecasters were wrong, as so often happens, and there was really no need for me to haul along my winter coat and two umbrellas as well as wearing my rain boots.

This year, instead of going the Village as usual, we met Erica and Jessica at Jessica’s friend’s house. It was more of an estate to my mind than a house, since it included sweeping vineyards and several outbuildings. There was a cauldron of tea and a buffet of Halloween food:

Here’s a close-up:

Both Erica and Jessica had made their own costumes, though Erica did add the zipper to Jessica’s dress. They were Undead Alice in Wonderland and the Red Queen:

Here’s a close-up of Jessica’s apron. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but she embroidered “We’re all mad here” and made the teeth all texture-y:

Erica made her entire costume other than the boots, including the horns, yarn wig, corset, velvet cape, etc. You can see these girls share genes and attitude!

Erica also brought kitty ears for me to wear:

We had the following text exchange:

Erica: Cat ears are black with pink inside and some sparkle. 🙂

Me: How Suzy is that?!

Erica: That’s what Jessica said!

Me: Sparkly minds think alike.


Happy Halloween!


The San Francisco Giants Win!

The Giants won their third World Series title in five years on Wednesday night. Above, you see Buster Posey, the team’s valiant catcher, my favorite Giant, and owner of the best name in baseball, hugging pitcher Madison Bumgarner, the stoic country boy who is now a hero and a legend.

With all the stress in my life lately, it’s been hard to watch the World Series. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but the anxiety is tough in my weakened condition. The Bumgarnerless night before the Giants’ victory, they were smoked 10-0 by Kansas City in Game 6, and I had to stop watching after about the third inning because I just could’t take it anymore.

Last night, the Giants scored two runs, were tied by Kansas City, and then Joe Panik (the second best name in baseball) made a crucial double play. Pablo Sandoval, the beloved big bear known as The Panda, made what would become the game’s winning run with a mighty swing:

Despite his size, The Panda can run as well as he can hit, and as if that weren’t enough, he also caught the last out which won the Giants the Series. He lay for a second on the grass, where he had dived to make the catch, before being swarmed by his teammates who lifted him up and carried him into the joyous knot of players surrounding Bumgarner, the calm, unruffled, 25 year old hero of the Series.

Bumgarner pitched this epic Game 7 just two days after pitching a shutout game. His father was asked if he thought his son could pitch again so soon, and he replied, “I didn’t know if he had enough left tonight. But I did know that boy would try to steal a steak off the devil’s plate.”

And he did.

Here’s to the Giants dynasty, their fans, and the beautiful city they call home. And next season!


Seasonally Affected

New Year

Clyde helps me to unpack

I’m back in Hooterville. I came home on New Year’s Eve, and for the first time I can remember in my many years of driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, traffic was completely backed up on the northbound (leaving San Francisco) side. Later, I saw three CHP cars, but no accident or stopped car or other reason for the slowness.

As I edged past the now empty toll booths, I thought about the time I didn’t have the two dollars for the toll, and had to pull into the office’s parking lot in my Mustang convertible and write a check. Good thing I had my checkbook with me – I never carry it now. And I remembered when there were actual people in the booths collecting our tolls (now $6), and the time I was totally delighted by the woman blasting music in her booth, dancing and singing along.

Once over the Bridge, traffic speeded up and Wednesday and I had no more delays. I stopped in Philo and picked up fresh crab – it’s Dungeness crab season – bread, and salad for dinner. The sun was just dipping into the Pacific as I reached Hooterville. I think I passed Megan on the Ridge, on her way to the drunk tank and maggot emporium that is the ER on New Year’s Eve.

I unpacked the car, though not the suitcase, and settled down with champagne and crab to watch “Downton Abbey” and say farewell to the old year. The new year began with coffee and the Winter Classic, which I love. It’s so fun to see hockey played outside, and the goalies even wore pads that looked like the old school ones (undoubtedly they were grateful that the similarity stopped there, since they used to be made out of leather, soaked up all the water from the ice, and were unspeakably heavy). Also it’s much easier to enjoy the romance of the falling snow from the comfort of your sunny California living room, rather than being one of the 105,000 fans in the single digit cold (not including wind chill) or one of the players on the often shoveled ice.

Still, it was a wonderful event and I am pleased to report that the Toronto Maple Leafs won over the Detroit Red Wings in a shoot out, giving them two much needed points. A good way to start the year.

13th of Never

Well, yesterday wasn’t Friday the 13th, but it was Monday the 13th. And we all know Mondays are worse than Fridays!

Things were crazy at the jobette. We sent out ballots for Board nominations last week, and this week people started calling to complain about not getting theirs, or not getting enough, or something. Anything. In all cases, they were wrong and we were right, but this is not much consolation after being called “incompetent” and other lovely adjectives. I mean, I am, just not in this particular case.

A woman also called to complain about a fortune teller in the Village. She and her husband were visiting for his 70th birthday and decided to stop in and see a psychic. According to this visitor, the seer was “verbally abusive” and told them they should get divorced immediately. The visitor said that she and her husband have been married for 44 years and took exception to this suggestion. “I mean, I didn’t expect her to sugar coat it, but this was insulting!” I ended up giving her the contact information for the county entity which issues business licenses (do psychics have licenses?) and the Better Business Bureau. I wasn’t clairvoyant (or competent) enough to think of anything else.

A guy drifted in saying that he had been released from the jail in the county seat that day and hitchhiked here. He was looking for a private investigator and a lawyer to help him with the restraining order which had been issued against him. I suggested that he check with the police station and the court clerk, conveniently located in the same building. He said that he had to check in with the police anyway, so I guess that worked out. I am a little uncomfortable with my growing familiarity with restraining orders and other depressing legal proceedings. My neighbor is in the midst of dealing with such problems, and we as a family are trying to help her to the best of our ability, but there’s no doubt that it’s upsetting. I definitely think ignorance really is bliss.

I had a few work-related errands to do on the way home, and when I finally got there, the Leafs were ahead of the Boston Bruins by 4 goals to 1 in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. The Leafs haven’t won Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup since 1967, thus achieving the longest drought by any championship team in the NHL while simultaneously being the most valuable, earning more than $1 billion last year. They haven’t even made the playoffs in 8 years, so the fact that they were still in there fighting and had actually forced a game 7 against the Cup winners of 2010 was huge and inspiring. By the time I had taken off my make-up, gotten changed, fed the kitties, started dinner, and, more importantly, poured myself an adult beverage, Boston tied the game in the last 90 seconds of the third period. Boston went on to win in heart-breaking overtime, and I’m still stunned.

The imperfect end to an imperfect day.

2012 in Review

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!

Wonderful Weekend

First things first: the Giants swept the Tigers to win the World Series on Sunday night! Coit Tower was orange in honor of the momentous occasion:

For those of you not in Northern California, or not in the know (or both), the Giants’ team colors are orange and black. Perfect for Halloween! You may recall that they won* their first World Series title ever two years ago, so let’s hope that this becomes a habit. I watched the victory parade in 2010, but this year it’s actually on Halloween, and I will be working and then working as part of Jessica’s auntourage as she trick or treats in the Village.

Unfortunately, the usual street fair featuring the acrobatics of the always fabulous Flynn Creek Circus will not be on the menu this year, and rain is expected, but we will still have fun.

Not that we need more fun…we already had a lot on the weekend. On Saturday, we had our swimming lessons. This time Jessica observed us as well as reading, and she told me that I was “quite graceful” in the water. Sallie, our swimming teacher, told me that I have a “very pretty stroke.” When I demurred, she said, “The correct answer is, “Thank you.” 🙂

Megan dropped me off at the jobette, returned to the pool to get Jessica showered and dressed, and then came back to the jobette with lunch for all of us. Swimming makes a girl really hungry, whether she’s 9 or 39. Or even more vintage.

It turned into Take a Kidlet to Work Day:

as Megan ran some errands and Jessica kept me company. Finally, Chauffeur (or Chauffeuse) Megan picked us both up and took us back to her house, where she made pizza starring her home-made pesto (made from the basil grown in the garden) and we watched “The Parent Trap”, which Jessica and I both enjoyed (I spared her the knowledge of Lindsay Lohan becoming a train wreck and the untimely death of the lovely Natasha Richardson). Jessica sat on my lap and I can still feel it today. I guess she’s getting too big for that but I don’t really want her to stop doing it.

On Sunday, Jessica came by for breakfast and we looked around in my jewelry box. Though fascinated by diamonds, she remains the most interested in the stories behind the pieces. She still has the ruby necklace my Dad brought me from India.

Our valiant chauffeur took us to the Big Town, where the Big Top was set up under blue skies:

The Zoppe Family Circus has been performing since 1842. Including the youngest family members, the 6th, 7th and 8th generations were on hand for a truly magical show.

There were acrobats, including the two smallest children, who looked to my untutored eye to be about 6 years old; jugglers:

fire dancers; performing dogs and chickens; and bareback horse riding:

We loved Nino the clown, and as we left, he gave Jessica a hug. The artists were outside the tent after the show, welcoming the audience for the later show and gracefully accepting the compliments of the departing audience.

We will always remember that magical afternoon.

*This post conveniently includes shots of the Flynn Creek Circus and Jessica’s Halloween outing that year.

Busy Day(s)

Waiting for the light to change

I arrived at the clinic at 4:40 yesterday afternoon, but I didn’t see the doctor until after 6:00. Fortunately, I had the latest Ruth Rendell (“Really, Megan, have you ever known me to be without a book?”), and the hell trip to Detroit this summer has made every other wait comparatively easy. Compared to four hours (or was it more?) at O’Hare or three or more at SFO in the middle of the night without even a glass of water, it was a joy. Maybe that trip has finally cured my chronic impatience.

Or not.

When I finally got in there, Dr. Sue, who is a friend of my sister’s and now officially takes care of our whole family, apologized for the delay and then looked at my chart.

“Why are you here?” she asked, mystified.

I said that they made me, refusing to refill the medicine for my fluttery heart (no medical intervention as yet for the Grinchiness, though) until a doctor examined me, possibly for actual signs of said heart.

“That’s ridiculous”, she said. “You were here 9 months ago and your blood work is perfect.” She listened to my heart and checked all my vital signs, and, as usual I was pairfectly fine (to quote Jacques Pepin). She emailed the pharmacy with refills for a year and said she’d see me then.

It was a mere $50 to find out I was fine, and although the Giants game was well underway by the time I got in the car, I listened to it on the radio on the way home. I got there in time to see the Giants win 8-3.

Audrey celebrated by staying out all night. She finally showed up in time for me to put her in her carrier and into the car. She had pooped before I had driven more than two miles, so I had to shift abruptly from the pleasant heat to having all the windows open and freezing while gagging.

By the time I arrived at the vet, Audrey was foaming at the mouth and had drool all over the bars of her carrier. Good thing Atticus Finch wasn’t around.

Dr. Karen was not there. She had to rush to her elderly father’s bedside in southern California, and got there just a few hours before he died. He had Alzheimer’s and it had been a very difficult time, but she is glad she made it on time and that he is at rest. Megan spoke with her this evening and comforted her.

Dr. Carl stepped in, as wonderful as ever. He was actually able to calm Audrey down and she didn’t complain when he examined her. Here you can see her exploring the examination room:

It’s a good thing I brought her in, because she has a severe allergy to fleas and has dermatitis. The lumps are her lymph system fighting off the allergy and infection. She needed blood tests, a steroid shot, and an antibiotic shot. She also requires a dropper of Omega-3s on her food once a day to help keep her skin in shape. Oh, and the flea treatment.

It was more than $300, but worth it to get Audrey happy and healthy again.

I had to leave her there for the blood tests, so I amused myself by poking around the Village, which was looking quite lovely between storms:

As I snapped this view from the bookstore, it occurred to me that despite the 1.5 inches of rain in the rain gauge, you probably don’t believe me when I complain about the weather when it looks like this on my blog most of the time:

Relieved of the weighty weight of $300 and Audrey worries, we yowled our way home in the sunshine, three hours after we had left home. On arrival, I let Audrey out into the garden and removed the towel which she had puked on, adding it to the poo towel and the mountain of bedding to be washed.

I had sprinkled diatomaceous earth on all the carpets before I left, so I put in load 1 of 9,000 of washing and started vacuuming. Somehow I ended up sweeping and mopping and cleaning in a manner I had not expected, though I had “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” on TV to keep me company. I was just hauling a load of blankets out of the dryer when Paul walked in.

He will be here tonight and is heading back to San Francisco tomorrow. He has met a girl in San Francisco he’s really excited about and has a couple of dates set up with her before he heads back to pick up his car in the Hamptons and drive it home to Florida for the weekend. Looks like he will be back at Christmas, so yay!

It has been quite a day. Time for a drink and the Giants game.

Last Day

Well, my last day in the City did not go exactly as planned.

I packed my bags and the car and otherwise managed to kill a couple of post conference call hours in the early morning. Around 9:30, I set off for Swan Oyster Depot, knowing that they open early. What did not know is they don’t start counter service until 10:30, a new and unwelcome scheduling change.

I walked back to the modest motel, stopping in at Bob’s doughnuts on my way:

I checked out, packed the final few things in the car, and headed back to Swan’s, parking the car in a garage around the corner. It was about 10:45 at this point, so I was kind of shocked by the length of the line at Swan’s. It used to be that if you got there before 11, you’d be OK, but apparently that has gone the way of early morning counter service.

Figuring on a half hour’s wait, I was wrong – it was closer to an hour, but by then, I’d invested so much time, there was no way I was going to leave. Eventually, I perched on a tiny, uncomfortable stool, elbow to elbow with total strangers, and ordered a half cracked crab, which comes with sourdough* and butter and a smile.

It was sparkling fresh, as always, and I enjoyed the ballet behind the counter, as the brothers cracked crabs, shucked oysters, poured wine, and rang up bills – one of the charming things about eating there is telling your server what you had, which he rings up on an old cash register – in the narrow space.

After that, I picked up some extreme take-out from Victor’s:

and headed to the Legion of Honor to the Cult of Beauty exhibit:

where the views of the Bridge:

and the City:

and Sutro Tower:

were lovely.

Inside, not so much. Another line to buy a ticket, much like an airport check in line, where those ahead of me took forever and I took about 30 seconds. How can it take so long to buy a ticket? Arriving at the exhibit, another line to get in, and then I was awash in hordes of tweens, chasing each other around, screaming, giggling, texting – anything but actually looking at the priceless works of art. Not for the first time, I congratulated myself on steadfastly refusing to reproduce.

Despite the tweenage horrors, the exhibit was full of lovely things. My favorites were a chair designed by Sir Lawrence Alta-Tadema (who knew he designed furniture as well as being a painter) in 1884, much more fabulous than any photo could capture:

A remarkably modern tea set made by the gifted Christopher Dresser in 1879:

And of course, Whistler’s Battersea Bridge Nocturne.

By the time I got on the Bridge, the Giants’ home opener was already in progress, and I listened to Matt Cain pitch a one hit shutout, 5-0, against the PIttsburgh Pirates as I headed back to Hooterville.

The sun vanished when I was a few miles over the County line, and there were some showers before I arrived home and greeted the kitties. They definitely missed me. Yesterday, the boys chose sitting with me over playing in the sun, and Audrey, never the most demonstrative of cats, sat on my lap all evening instead of going outside. I’m officially more fun than the Great Outdoors!

*It’s from Boudin’s Bakery, but they bake it longer for Swan’s, so the crust is dark and crispy. I highly recommend it. And remember: you pronounce it Bo-DEENS.


New Year’s Palms

It is January, right? New Year’s Day? Because it’s 60 sunny degrees out. I actually have the sliding glass doors open! The boys are outside playing, Audrey is napping under the Christmas tree like the little gift she is:

Here’s a close-up of her Christmassy cuteness:

And there are flies buzzing around like it’s summer. It’s a little confusing.

I’m also confused by the fact that the Winter Classic, the outdoor hockey game which is always played on New Year’s Day, is being played tomorrow, when I’ll be at work. Before I learned that the game would be played on Monday, I was annoyed that the two teams involved were boring ones (New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers). Then when I couldn’t watch the game, I got bitter about that.

If I ran the hockey world, things would be different, I tell you what.

  1. No corporate name arenas. Maple Leaf Gardens? Yes. Rogers Arena? No, no, and no. Sure, Rogers can sponsor the team or own the park, but they’d have to do the classy thing and keep their name and logo out of it.
  2. No ads on the boards or in the ice. Just the team logos in the ice, and nice, clean white boards. No distractions from the play.
  3. Same goes for “Coors Play of the Game” and “Molson Canadian Three Stars of the Game”. You see where I’m going with this.
  4. For the love of Don Cherry, no more stupid team names (Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators, I’m looking at you). And certainly no team names that have anything to do with movies or cartoons. Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks, I’m looking at you.
  5. Better uniforms for everyone! We’ll start with the egregiously hideous, like the Minnesota Wild, and take it from there. Also retro jerseys would be worn at least once a month. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Blackwell is dead. He would have been a lot of help with this project. I’d settle for Erica and Tim Gunn, though.
  6. The original “Hockey Night In Canada” theme is back. I don’t care how much it costs or how much you have to apologize. Just do it. And reinstate the fabulous animation that went with it, too.

  7. The cheesy organ music is back, baby! No more snippets of Queen or Journey or creepy pedophile Gary Glitter. If possible, there would be a live organist.
  8. The national anthems are out. The teams come out, skate around, and the puck drops. This would enable games to start on time at 7:00, instead of 7:10. The whole anthem thing takes up too much time, especially when you have to suffer through both the US and Canada’s. At least the Canadian anthem is singable and makes sense (Canada is great! We love our country!), whereas the American one is impossible for mere mortals to sing and is about an obscure incident in a mostly forgotten war. Shouldn’t it be “America the Beautiful” or something instead?

    But I digress.

  9. Every team would have Ice Girls, like the New York Islanders do. They would make the game so much cuter!
  10. People who pound on the glass would be turfed out of the game. Why do they do this? To get the attention of the players? ‘Cause if they’re paying attention to you, they’re not paying attention to the game. And no, they aren’t going to become your buddy and hang out with you after the game if they notice you through the glass. Face it and sit down.
  11. People who have the insanely expensive luxury seats, especially at Maple Leafs home games, but can’t be bothered to get their sorry butts back in them by the time the period starts after intermission will just have to wait in the hallway until the next intermission. It’s disrespectful to the players to value your overpriced beer more than the game you have come to see.

I think the world would be better if it were a Suzy-er place.

Suzy Hockey League. Not to be confused with the National Hockey League, its much less attractive cousin.


The sinus infection has receded, after repeated applications of A’n’A (antibiotics & alcohol). I am now enjoying my convalescence (and I do mean enjoying), lying on the chaise longue like an interesting Victorian invalid, with a becoming pallor and the occasional, delicate sniffle and most lady-like of dainty coughs to remind any observers that I was, in fact, quite ill.

I was attempting to take my mind off the horror of my Giants losing the wildcard spot in the playoffs to Houston* (As if Texas hadn’t inflicted enough damage already, what with spawning the Bush dynasty and the unfortunate idea that cowboy boots are acceptable footwear with a business suit) by reading the latest in the fluffacious Shopaholic** series, when a mouse shot across the room as if fired from a cannon.

Maybe the Victorian thing goes deeper in this moderne girl than previously thought, because I leaped up and screamed with my hand on my heart in the most approved endangered heroine style before I even realized I did it. If the chaise (and I) weren’t so squashy I would have jumped up on it and probably shrieked, “Eeek! A mouse!” to complete the clich&eacute ridden scenario.

It’s amazing how instinctively horrified I was by a creature that’s so tiny. I’m probably like a Tyrannosaurus Rex to it, and possibly too big for it even to perceive me, and it’s far more likely that I could kill the mouse than it could kill me (other than rodent-induced heart attack), but I was probably more scared than it was.

It hasn’t made a return engagement, but everyone I have told about it informs me that there’s Never Just One, in ominous tones. My sis suggested a Have a Heart trap, forgetting that not all of us live in a little house in the big woods, where you can release a mouse and never see it again, until I started laughing. Also there is no point in putting bugs and other home invaders outside. All they want is to get back in. Even insects and rodents can tell that Nature is best to be avoided if at all possible, which is why they broke in in the first place. I can’t bear the idea of a trap and having to dispose of the sad little body (or bodies, since there’s Never Just One). What to do, what to do?

*Sporty Suzy has officially gone into hibernation. I have no interest in any of the teams now in the playoffs, other than hoping very earnestly from the depths of what passes for my heart that neither the Dodgers nor the Yankees win. Also if Houston plays NY I doubt if there is a stadium big enough to contain the egos of both Mr. Jeter and Mr. Clemens at the same time.

**With apologies to my dear Kathleen, who quite rightly objects to the heroine’s excesses. But being nouveau pauvre (can it still be nouveau after all this time, though?), all my shopping and excess has to be done vicariously now.