Archive for the 'Work' Category

Sep 25 2016

Now & Then

Published by under Bullshit,Country Life,Work

Saturday Morning

Alert the media, y’all! I slept in until it was sunny out on Saturday morning!

It is amazing how a good night’s sleep can improve a girl’s outlook. I slept badly during the recent audit ordeals, despite logging long hours under a lot of pressure, and I think it all finally caught up with me. Hopefully I am now back to new, or new-ish. There’s still a lot of clean-up to do in the wake of the audits, but there’s more time, too.

It was a successful morning of drinking coffee, cuddling with Clyde, and doing a little on line Christmas stocking shopping, because it’s never too early for that. Eventually, I faced the inevitable and did some cooking and laundry to prepare for the week that now looms ahead, but it was nice to enjoy cats, caffeine, and the sun in the garden.

Enquiring minds may wonder why I was not doing my modest preparations for the jobette, which do not include putting on make-up or dressy clothes. The answer is that I lost the jobette recently in an overthrow change of leadership.

The CEO who hired me years ago moved on to greener pastures, and a New Guy was recently hired. In his infinite wisdom, the New Guy has decided to close the office on Saturdays, which is when visitors are here and need information, and stop participating in First Friday, when shops are open late, art is displayed, and wine and nibbles are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. He also wants to eliminate selling souvenirs of any kind.

Both of the people hired since I left have also left, including one who quit with no notice on the day a new person was supposed to start. The golden days of the jobette are definitely over, when I used to feel like I was being paid to hang out with my friends and share my love of this beautiful corner of the world with the visitors.

My only regret is the money, which I currently have no way of replacing.

I see that a year ago, I thought that I was truly finished working at the jobette, though it turned out I was wrong about that, as I am about so many things. The person who was supposed to work Tuesday to Saturday never did, so I ended up filling in again this year. I wonder why I am the only person who doesn’t find working on Saturdays to be unconscionable?

It will be nice to have a little more time, even if it means less money.

3 responses so far

Sep 18 2016

Birthday, Barfing, and Bureaucracy

Published by under Cats,Family,Work

First things first: it’s Rob’s birthday! As soon as it’s a reasonable hour by Rob standards, I will wish him happy birthday and remind him of how happy I am he was born. His Rob-ness never ceases to delight me, from his view that the dump is a two way street to his wry sense of humor to the way he puts his head to one side when he’s listening to you. And he really listens.

Not to mention that my entire house is Brought to Me by Rob(TM) and that he makes all our lives better and happier. I love you, little big brother!

As for me, the full moon is blasting like a spotlight outside and I am attempting to improve my own outside after a grueling week. I have GlamGlow applied to my eyes and Fresh Vitamin Nectar mask on the rest of my face. Radiance, y’all! Clyde, however, has other ideas and has chosen to barf on the carpet, ruining the relaxing mood. Why do cats always throw up on the carpet instead of the wood floor?

It’s all in keeping with this week, though, which featured the second of back to back audits. Like most sequels, Part 2 was worse than Part 1.

The first one was the audit which is done every year. I thought that was a hassle until the Feds descended on us in all their glory. I had prepared (I thought) for this by creating a nearly 1,000 page binder and putting it on a flash drive for their inquisition convenience. Like the great Iggy Pop, however, they needed more, so I was running around collecting the required documents every day this week.

Perhaps this is a special skill honed by the Feds, but they also had an unerring ability to request supposedly random files that were incomplete, including the file of a doctor who works for the clinic as a contractor. Repeated phone calls and emails to him of increasing desperation were unreturned, so our new Operations Director went to beard him in his lair. They must have just missed each other, because a few minutes after she departed on her mission, he arrived, slouching Spicoli-like into my office in sweats, clutching a Starbucks cup, wearing shades, and saying, “What the fuck, dude?”

I explained that the fuck in this particular case was that his contract expired last year and the Feds looked askance at his treating our patients with no contract. He signed a new one while grumbling that he needed a raise, and headed off to catch a wave. I clearly harshed his buzz.

This was a joy compared to the complexities of providing lunch. At first they asked for sandwiches, so I got Deli A to fax me a menu. Then they wanted salads, and very customized ones at that. I called the deli and was told that it was prêt-à-porter or nothing, since two people had called in sick that day, making bespoke salads impossible. Back to the drawing board. I got the menu from Deli B, printed it, and presented it for consideration. They wanted to know what the soup du jour was, so I called and asked (the winning answer: vegetable beef). Needless to say, none of them got the soup.

Also, for fear of bribery with soup and salads, they paid for their own lunches, meaning three separate checks and lot of change. Why not?

The Feds judge every health center in America on 19 elements. They told us that the average across the country is 5-7 “not met”, or fails. They further clarified that they do not round up, and 98% is still “not met”, aka a fail. Our report card was 6 “not mets”, making us entirely average, while yet feeling that we had been called to the principal’s office and/or were getting detention.

When they finally left on Thursday afternoon, my boss sent me home, a welcome gesture since the shortest day I have logged in the past two weeks was 11 hours and the longest 14. I was just settling down to read Kate Summerscale’s “The Wicked Boy”, a relaxing read about a 19th century boy murderer, when my 21st century phone buzzed with a text from my boss. There had been some attempted fraudulent use of her company credit card, so the bank canceled it, and now all of the travel booked on it has to be re-done with the new card. By me. My estimate is something like 20 reservations. You know what I’ll be doing this week. At least the federal government isn’t involved.

A YEAR AGO: At the fabulous Fair with my fabulous sister and our equally fabulous friend.

6 responses so far

Aug 11 2016


Published by under Cats,Schatzi,Work

Are there time-released bad omens? If so, I think that Steller’s Jay was one…

It’s been another crazy week, and it’s far from over. It seems that no matter how hard I work, it’s not enough. I am fighting serious headwinds of feeling both overwhelmed and inadequate, which is a spectacularly unenjoyable combo platter, especially when garnished with a preview of (possibly inaccurate) old age and infirmity.

What I thought was a mere spat between my back and me has devolved into a lover’s quarrel at best and a complete breakdown in our formerly friendly relationship at the worst. Despite applications of ibuprofen, the heating pad, and unnecessarily long, hot, and drought-defying showers, it remains adamantly angry and is not afraid to express its annoyance, usually at the most annoying times. I don’t know whether to be proud or sad that no one at work seems to have noticed that I have been walking around in pain for a week.

In the midst of decrepitude and despair, I woke up to an email from my ex John, telling me that the last cat we had together, the irrepressible Jack, had died in his arms. She was almost 17.

August being the Official Month of Death, she died on the same day we lost Schatzi (three years ago! How is that possible?). And it was also three years ago that my divorce from John became final. Somehow, losing the last cat we had together makes the divorce seem more final.

Much like Jack came into our lives with a bang as the World’s Naughtiest Kitten, she shook it up when she left with a 5.1 earthquake.

Goodbye, little Jack. You will always be in my heart, where loved ones live and naughty kittens play.

A YEAR AGO: A hole in my head instead of my heart.

One response so far

Jul 29 2016

Annual Ordeal

Published by under Bullshit,Work

I got up so early on Hell Day – I mean Staff Day – that Clyde just stayed in bed, like a sane person. Audrey of course bustled out to take on the world and show it who’s boss while I drank coffee and tried to mentally prepare for the day ahead.

I was saddened to note that I was already getting up in the dark again. Hello, darkness, my old enemy…

Picking up the bagels for breakfast, I found that instead of getting the 60 bagels I had ordered, I got a paltry 3 dozen. I had ordered them the week before and called the day before to confirm. This kind of set the tone for the whole day, as I would soon discover.

Arriving at the clinic, I saw that the ever-elusive Facilities Guy had failed to open the wall between the two conference rooms and to set it up, as we had discussed numerous times. The set up includes taking all the tables out and putting in as many rows of chairs as possible. Chairs from both reception areas are pressed into service, so after dropping off my inadequate bagel supply in the kitchen, I headed over to Medical to start dragging chairs to the conference room.

I texted Facilities Guy, and he said he’d be there in a few minutes. It took more minutes than there were bagels, giving me time to do most of the chair hauling. I was washing and displaying the breakfast fruit beside the bagel boxes and cream cheese by the time he arrived.

Other duties included meeting the caterer – we had yellow “caution” tape strung across the driveway to stop people from driving/meandering in – and helping her to set up the quite splendid salad bar, which included mixed greens, grilled chicken, sliced hard-boiled eggs, cheese, sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, bacon, croutons, and five different kinds of dressing, along with focaccia rolls. There was water infused with watermelon and mint, lemonade, iced tea and iced green tea. All this was topped off with bite-sized cream puffs and lemon bars, including a small tray of gluten free versions.

You’d think they’d be happy with this, but you’d be wrong. There were complaints that the tea was sweetened, and worse than that, we ran out of ranch dressing. You probably already heard about this on CNN. “Horror in a small town!” Even though there were four other kinds of dressing, I was sent to the store to buy more ranch*. When I came back, I had barely gotten out of the car and triumphantly brought the ranch dressing to the masses before I was informed that we had run out of salad greens. Way to kill the buzz, peeps.

I called the caterer and she arrived on her mission of mercy, bearing additional salad greens. Needless to say, I never got to eat any of the lunch, though I did get to clean it up. The festivities concluded at about 3:30. Most people took off, but I left around 5:00 after – you guessed it – cleaning up after more than 100 people.

I went home hating the Whos and applied wine as an attitude adjustor. Now all I have to worry about is the new boss starting on Monday and the Open House on August 13.

Where’s that corkscrew?

*What the hell IS it, anyway?

A YEAR AGO: Ah, future dishes! You are still in my present.

2 responses so far

Jul 17 2016


Published by under Country Life,Family,Technology,Work

One morning, I heard a text while I was getting ready for work. Usually, texts at 6:00 am are from my sister, who is still at work after her long night shift. So early morning texts do not scare me the way late night phone calls still do*.

I went to see what was up, and it turned out to be my boss, letting me know that the power was out at the clinic. A flurry of texts ensued from other staff members with updates as I applied mascara and lip gloss and headed out the door. Since the power had gone out at about 3:00 am, I figured it would be up and running by the time I got to work around 7:00.

This prediction was correct, but although there were lights and power, the servers were still down, rendering our computers useless plastic boxes, at least temporarily.

While the IT guys worked away at the computer issues, I caught up on my filing and other things that did not require computers. It was a good feeling to get that stuff done. I always wonder why I don’t keep up with it on an ongoing basis. I have the same thoughts after cleaning the house, but with the same (lack of) results.

Speaking of electricity, Jonathan and Rio acquired a fantastic vintage TV set (delightfully) called a Predicta:


Like the computers at work, the Predicta is temporarily non-operational, but I have faith that my brother can get it back in working order. If he could make a temporarily non-working very vintage telescope into a NASA-worthy contraption, he can do the same for the Predicta.

While he scouts for parts, we are amusing ourselves by thinking of appropriately retro TV shows to watch on it, like The Munsters and Peter Gunn and Perry Mason. And we are always going to refer to it as The Predicta.

A YEAR AGO: Dinner and a movie.

* I still think “Mom” when the phone rings, even though she has been gone for so long. And I always think it will be bad news.

2 responses so far

Jul 05 2016

Whirlwind Week

Published by under Friends,Work

It was a busy week, full of friends, family, and work!

I had lunch with a dear friend on Tuesday. She is scaling back at work since her father was just diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and she wants to spend as much time as she can with him. I really admire her for doing this. So far, both she and her Dad are in good spirits and enjoying every day. I learned that the brain does not feel pain, so he is not suffering, and also that cancer doesn’t spread anywhere else from the brain. He is more interested in reading in his garden and petting his cats than going on heroic adventures, and I’m glad that he is able to do just that, with his daughter at his side.

I met up with my irrepressible friend Richard for a glass of wine after work on Wednesday. He chose the resort from the movie “Same Time Next Year”, and we enjoyed the view:


along with a glass of local wine. Richard filled me in on his latest adventures, which included dog sledding in Alaska (“I was literally covered in ice!”) and visiting an ancient Roman amphitheater in Lyon. Up next: Australia and New Zealand.

He also convinced me to work at the jobette at First Friday, which meant I left the house at 6:15 am that morning and got home around 8:45 that night. The shops and art galleries in the Big Town stay open late on the first Friday of each month, dispensing nibbles and in some cases, wine to the public.

At the jobette, we were featuring a photographer from the magical South Coast, who was there to meet the public and talk about his work and inspiration while I poured (but, sadly, did not drink) local sparkling wine, chatted with the visitors, and sold his artwork.

When I walked out to the car again about 12 hours after getting home, it all felt so familiar…

Saturday was busy at the jobette, with visitors asking about Fourth of July events* and other things of a tourist nature. The time flew by, and soon it was time to head over to Lu and Rik’s house for their wedding, which I will tell you about next time. It definitely deserves its own post.

*My father always used to say that England should be the one to celebrate the 4th of July, since as of that date in 1776 they were no longer responsible for America and its many problems, which have certainly not decreased over the last 240 years.

A YEAR AGO: Megan and I were enjoying the fabulous Flynn Creek Circus.

2 responses so far

Jun 20 2016

Summer Job

Published by under Cooking,Work

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and I’m back to my old tricks again, working at the jobette.

Like last year, I will be working six days a week this summer, until Labor Day or until I can’t take it anymore, whichever comes first.

So when I got home from work on Friday, I started making future food while Rob put in a load of Megan’s laundry. It seems that insanity runs in the family, since she is working as a medic at a festival* in Anderson Valley Saturday and part of Sunday, then heading home for her usual night shifts in the ER. It’s how we roll.

Future food for the week included all’amatriciana sauce and sweet and spicy grilled chicken breasts, which I rubbed with the spice mixture to let it sit overnight and made the dipping sauce.

After I delivered Megan’s laundry, I made a Moscow Mule (ginger beer; lime; vodka) in one of my fox glasses and sat back to watch The Americans, a TV show about Soviet spies posing as an American family in 1980s Washington DC. Theme night! I am pleased to report that it was a much more successful cocktail outing than the mint julep experiment on Derby Day, though I wished I had the traditional copper cup for the Mule. Maybe a pretty silver cup would have improved my julep?

*She texted me from the festival: “70 year old men should not wear skin tight marijuana printed bike shorts. Splattered brains don’t scare me as much!”

A YEAR AGO: Unexpected wildlife visitors, inside and out.

2 responses so far

Jan 31 2016

The Rush

Published by under Work

It’s 6:15 am. Do you know where your Suzy is?

She’s blasting down the highway in her Ramones-powered car, cursing the darkness and the blare of oncoming headlights equally. And hoping that the day’s marathon won’t be as bad or as long as the rest of the week’s.

I’m a slow learner. At least I left my book at home*, so I did learn something. No reading for you!

At this early hour, I had not only caffeinated and donned my faux adult disguise, but also cleaned out the litterbox twice, including one of Clyde’s patented DeathDumps(TM). It’s all about the glamor with me.

The point of these predawn endeavors was to get the mountain of work done to prepare for the annual fundraising event at work. It seemed that everything went wrong, from the computer system varying from barely working to not working to shut down, to the facilities guy ordering the wrong supplies I needed to create name tags and labels.

As I was sorting through donations one day, one of the doctors stopped by to observe that events are extremely inefficient fundraisers, since the return on one’s effort was so low. This was not news to me, though I can’t say I appreciated that remark at that particular point in time.

Every day, I thought I could get X number of things done, and every day I fell short of the mark, no matter how long I worked. Being the Little Suzy that Could was getting pretty old pretty fast. In the end, I logged about 55 hours of work and five bottles of wine in one week, and I did get it all done in time.

I’m trying not to think about next year’s event. Maybe I’ll forget how bad it was by the time it rolls around again. Or maybe I’ll be better at preparing for it. Or maybe we will come up with a more efficient way to raise money.

Well, Scarlett, if tomorrow is another day, next year is a whole year away.

*I often sit in my car and read on the rare occasions when I take a lunch break. No matter how unlikely it is that I will need it, I have an innate dislike for leaving the house without a book**, a tendency I share with Jessica. Once Megan and I picked her up and Megan asked if Jessica had a book with her, and she responded, “Really, Memmin, have you ever known me to be without a book?”

**Back when I used to travel, I was always amazed by the people who would get on a flight, especially a really long one, with nothing to read. And there’s always one person who falls asleep before takeoff and stays that way until landing.

A YEAR AGO: An all-girl road trip to the South Coast.

3 responses so far

Jan 20 2016

The Office

Published by under Friends,Work

Hello from Absurd World, where the Wi-Fi at work hasn’t worked for over a month (wish I could say the same), despite the original estimate from the IT folks of two days. They finally got it sort of working this week, but its tenuous grasp fails a few feet from my office (and the CEO’s). There is no estimate for if or when it will work in the wilds of our work stations. Even though it used to, when my technophobe Old Boss had that office. I imagine New Boss will be less than impressed when she moves into it, especially since she lives on her iPhone.

I spent about a billion hours printing postcards last week for an upcoming fundraising event. In keeping with our technologically challenged theme, you can’t just load up the printer with postcards, enter the number you need, and say Go. It jams almost immediately, so you have to feed it a page at a time, like a particularly querulous baby. Bite-sized pieces. It makes it hard to do anything else, especially when you need to print 400 of them. And that was after I ordered 400 blank postcards from the facilities guy and got 1,000 index cards instead.


Things are still in flux at work. The Old Boss has not finished emptying out her office of more than two decades’ worth of things and stuff to make way for the New Boss to move her two decades of things and stuff into it. The Old Boss has been coming by on the weekends to excavate, and her method seems to be shoveling paperwork from her office to mine. My desk is FEMA worthy on a Monday morning.

New Boss is still doing her old job in addition to her new job, so I am assisting with both and working on the transition, notifying the countless people who need to be notified and filling out seemingly endless forms and gracefully leaping through hoops of bureaucracy. On the bright side, I have not typed up a handwritten document all month. New Boss shares her Outlook calendar with me, so I know where she is and what she’s doing, and we even have a standing meeting on Monday morning to talk about what needs to be done that week. Hopefully she will find someone to replace her and we can get back on an even keel. It would be nice to have a year which is not so full of constant change.


I ended a long day at work by meeting my former co-worker and current friend Richard at a charming oceanside inn’s bar, right in Hooterville. It’s a cozy place for a glass of wine on a rainy winter evening:


We had a great time catching up, and I’m lucky I caught him when I did, because he is off to Mexico and France on business. He’s always going somewhere fabulous or just coming back from somewhere fabulous. Being with him is so fun and inspiring. We should do it more often.

A YEAR AGO: A family dinner.

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Jan 16 2016

Ode to an Engine Light

Published by under Bullshit,Car,Country Life,Family,Work

I just wouldn’t be Me if there wasn’t something wrong with my car.

I was driving to work one morning, listening to Bobbie Gentry* and being blinded by oncoming traffic as usual when I noticed the bright orange engine light blink to life on the console. This did not console me. I still think that they should be little dollar signs instead of engines, maybe Michelin style with $ indicating a routine repair and $$$$ indicating one you have to mortgage your house for, or possibly your soul, assuming you have one.

I texted my brother Jonathan and asked him if I could stop by his place on my way home from work to avail myself of his unpaid mechanic services, and he said yes. He recently put up the car port that used to house my beautiful old Mustang Josephine:


and when he did, he poured a concrete foundation which included a mechanic’s pit so he can work on the family cars in relative comfort. He used to lie in a ditch to do this, so it’s a big step up. The car port also houses a solar powered washer and dryer along with a body-sized freezer. Just in case.

Jonathan read the code and then looked it up while I petted his mini cat Scout. She is about 2/3 the size of a regulation cat, but her purr is twice as loud as most cats’ and her fur is twice as soft.

The code means that the engine is not getting hot enough. Apparently this is not as bad as having your engine do the opposite, but it will have to be addressed. Jonathan checked the coolant level and the hoses and it seems they are not the cause of the excess coolness. I was once again chastised for not keeping a better eye on the gauges “They aren’t there just to be pretty, Suz”) and got into further trouble when it was revealed that I had failed to procure a Chilton repair manual.

In my defense, I thought I had, but when I went to look for it, it turned out that what I thought was the manual for the current car was the one for its predecessor** and of no use at all. I ordered a new one, which should be here soon, and the considered opinion of my unpaid mechanic is that all it will probably cost to make the engine light go out (for now, anyway – I’m sure it will rear its ugly head agin sometime in the future) is a $30 thermostat for the car and a batch of my world-famous cheese biscuits for the mechanic.

*She was gorgeous and the poignant song I was listening to, “Ode to Billie Joe”, knocked the Beatles out of first place on the charts in 1967. You know your life isn’t going well when you’re listening to a lot of country music. Some of my favorite lines recently are: “Tearstains on my pillow/bottles in the trash/I’m a little bit long on sorrow and a little bit short on cash.”

****Even though I have only ever owned Fords. If they were good enough for Clyde Barrow, they are good enough for me. You can read Clyde’s (alleged) letter to Mr. Ford here. And many other fascinating missives. You’re welcome.

A YEAR AGO: Visiting the ever-fabulous Erica and Jessica.

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Dec 19 2015

The Office Party

Published by under Bullshit,Calamity Suzy,Work

It turns out hell is decorated quite nicely

Or “How I Learned More Than I Ever Needed to Know About Lottery Tickets”.

I should get a t-shirt that says “I survived the office holiday party”. Or maybe a medal…

Planning a party for more than 100 people is enough of an undertaking without the Powers that Be suddenly changing the date of said shindig to be a week earlier than planned. I had to unplan and replan everything that had already been planned.

I thought I had everything in place for the big day, but I was Foolish and Deluded, as Winnie the Pooh would say. The caterer emailed me that morning asking if it was OK if they brought the food an hour earlier than planned, since they had to get their van in the shop by 1:00. Did it matter if it wasn’t? And should I worry about the mechanically challenged van?

The holiday party was also the venue selected to distribute bonus checks. Four of the many employees have not worked long enough to get a bonus, and their manager was concerned that they would feel left out when everyone else got an envelope. Although the plan was known for weeks ahead of time, this manager waited until the morning of the party to freak about it and ask that these people get some kind of token gesture in envelope form.

It was decided to get lottery tickets. My boss said, “Get $20 worth” and said to put them on the store credit card. I dutifully went to the store and discovered that you need cash to buy lottery tickets. So I bought $20 worth with my own money.

Returning to work, I asked to be reimbursed, and while the accounting person was dealing with that, went to give the lottery tickets to my boss. She then told me that she meant $20 per person, not $20 total. I guess I should have known that “Get $20 worth” meant “Get $80 worth”. So silly of me.

I asked the accounting person to front me the money, and she gave me a $100 bill from the safe. Armed with this, I returned to the store, only to learn that not only do you need cash to buy lottery tickets, said cash cannot exceed $20 denominations.

Back to work to get the $100 bill changed into lottery-appropriate $20 bills, and then yet another trip to the store to buy said lottery tickets. “They’d better effin’ win something,” I said to the accounting person*.

The caterer’s van limped into the parking lot about then, and I helped them unload the giant insulated boxes of food. It soon became apparent that there were no chafing dishes to keep the food hot during the hour before the festivities began, although there were supposed to be. I called the party rental folks down the street, who happened to have some, and I went to the car for the fourth time in less than hour and headed to the rental place.

As I loaded the last minute chafing dishes into the car, I couldn’t help wondering how I had gone from managing millions of dollars of other people’s money to wrangling chafing dishes and buying other people lottery tickets. Clearly adulting is not one of my talents. Good job in the life department there, Suz.

Needless to say, I was too busy running around, cleaning up, and keeping dishes full to eat any of the food, though it got enthusiastic reviews. And no, I didn’t leave early, even though the halls were pretty much vacant by 3:30 in the afternoon.

I definitely didn’t win this lottery, even though I now know how to buy the tickets.

*They did; one person won $20 and another won $15.

A YEAR AGO: At home in a wine cask.

3 responses so far

Dec 14 2015

With a Bang

Published by under Weather,Work

I was at work making copies when there was a huge bang and the building shook. Before my two brain cells had processed the Big Bang, the power went out and we were cast into darkness.

Emerging shocked from the copy room, I heard the generator kick on and saw the pale emergency lights activated. Walking back toward my office, I saw a staff member entering the building, shaking. I asked her what happened, and she said that lightning struck a house right across the street. The force of the lightning had thrown her against our building. An hour later, she said she could still feel the lightning on her back*.

We rarely get thunderstorms here in our little corner of Northern California, and when we do, there’s a rumbling of thunder in the distance and a warning while it rubs its hands and gets ready to get down to work. This time, it just slammed the door open and yelled “I’m here!” It was soon joined by its good time buddies Torrential Rain and Quarter-Sized Hail, and they partied merrily for a while with Thunderstorm.

When it subsided, the sun came out, as if it were all a huge, celestial joke, and I headed home during the break in the storm, since the power was out indefinitely at work and I was powerless to work while powerless.

Sadly, I discovered that the power was also out at home, 25 miles from work. I later learned that lightning got bored and left the party in the Big Town to strike a transformer on the road where my friend Jim lives, scaring him and his dogs and casting Hooterville into darkness.

I had buckets of water ready as well as drinking water, and various lanterns and flashlights on hand. Both Clyde and Audrey were inside, thankfully, and I could heat up dinner on the gas stove. I could not, however, heat up the house, since the propane heater requires electricity to work, and the post-storm temperature had dropped by more than 10 degrees. So I put on a couple of sweaters and washed my face in icy rainwater and settled down with the latest (and last) Ruth Rendell.

The power came on that night at my house, and I was delighted with the warmth and light. The next day, I checked the outage at work online and discovered that it hadn’t been fixed yet, so I texted my bosses to say I would stay home until the power was back up. Of course, that was a couple of hours later. Arriving at work, I soon learned that computers were working, copiers weren’t (did I do something?) and there was no internet. I still got through the day, though, and from the looks of the ocean, it ain’t over yet.

A YEAR AGO: What do you know? Another storm. Though the power stayed on that time.

*When she got home, her husband asked her if she she wanted a drink. She said, “Do you have to ask?”

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Oct 12 2015

With a Little Help from My Friends

Published by under Friends,Work

The Manic Monday theme carried on into last week with a vengeance. It was accessorized with a cold, which arrived on the weekend, making sure no fun could be had, and hung on like a guest that didn’t know when to leave, even when the lights were off and the chairs on the tables. The Comma made its unwelcome and inconvenient appearance as well, so my condition was already pretty weakened as I embarked on a week of what would turn out to be 10 to 12 hour days in an effort to complete the hand-written project started last week.

My efforts were hampered at every turn by my old enemy technology, partly the (government) system used to submit the project data, and partly due to the Draconian limitations on the computers at work, such as not being able to simply click on an embedded link. Instead, you have to copy it and paste it into your browser. Apparently this is for our own good. Add in the fact that we have the wrong version of the browser required by the government, and our systems will not allow us to download different versions other than the standards already installed, and you have a recipe for a perfect storm of frustration for a sick and tired girl up against a deadline.

I mentioned my less than ideal work day to my more than ideal friend Erin, and she appeared like magic with a care package of chamomile tea, aspirin, and dark chocolate drops, all in a plain brown wrapper and delivered with a hug, germs be damned:


I used all of these secret weapons to get me through the day, and another former co-worker at the jobette gifted me with some wit and wisdom of the late, great, Yogi Berra* to get me through the long days:

To brighten your bad day:

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

“When you come to a fork in the road – take it.”

“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.”

I laughed out loud at my paper-covered desk, and attacked the Sisyphean task with renewed energy and a brighter outlook.

Finally arriving home, I passed Rob on the driveway. We rolled down our windows to say hi, and he told me that he had dropped off a card for me on my front porch. There it was, gleaming silver in the twilight, and opening it revealed a beautiful card from my friend Joy:


She had picked it up in Paris and thought I would enjoy it, knowing how I fell in love with Paris on my first visit there at the impressionable age of 17. Indeed, two of my favorite bookmarks are postcards she sent me from Paris, and I have laminated them so they will last longer.

As I fell into bed that night, surrounded by kitties, I felt so thankful for my friends and the life I have built in this beautiful place. With friends like these, I can do anything.

*Somehow, I never thought he would actually die. Roger Angell, one of the finest baseball writers ever (and stepson of the immortal EB White) wrote a brief and wonderful appreciation of the legend in a recent issue of The New Yorker (feel free to click on the link with wanton abandon).

A YEAR AGO: Hmm. I had a cold then, too. ‘Tis the season?

4 responses so far

Oct 03 2015

Manic Monday

Published by under Cats,Country Life,Work

Well, the week started out with a bang that made me whimper.

When my boss arrived on Monday, she flooded my desk with a tsunami of hand-written paper, all of which had to be typed up or made into charts:


While I was still assessing the damage and estimating the girl hours to get it done, she asked me to come into her office and close the door.

I immediately felt like I was being called to the principal’s office, and started mentally going through the things I could have done, followed by the things I could have been caught doing, and pretty much came up blank, since all I ever do is work.

My boss then told me that she is retiring at the end of the year, aka two months from now. An internal person has agreed to take the job, and she does not have an assistant, so I’m assuming I still have a job. But it will be different, and I kind of feel like I’ve had enough new jobs and bosses over the past few months. I tried not to take it personally that she’s leaving six months after I arrived. Maybe it will be a good thing. I will almost certainly be typing fewer hand-written pieces of paper.

Later, as I sat at my desk packaging up the remains of my boss’ lunch for her to take home to her dogs (a literal doggie bag!), I thought of how weird my job is, and that was before I got the call from the woman in Hawaii who is looking to adopt and would like us to give her a heads up if any patients tell us they would like to give up their child.

When I got home, I found deconstructed bird all over the lovely living room carpet:


Deconstructed birds are much more delightful in high end restaurants than on my floor. It was the perfect end to the perfect nine and a half hour day. After I vacuumed, I had a dose or two of Vitamin V, which always improves my outlook.

A YEAR AGO: Things were even worse. I lost my job, which I still miss every single day. And the jobette was in mortal peril. I still miss the jobette every single day, too.

2 responses so far

Sep 28 2015

A Day in the Life

Published by under Country Life,Dogs,Family,Friends,Work

Saturday was my last day of working at the jobette. For real-real, as Jessica used to say in her long-ago youth. They have hired someone to work from Tuesday through Saturday, so they will only need me on Saturdays to fill in for her if she has to work an event or something.

I walked slowly through the familiar shop after I turned out the lights, and turned the sign to “Closed”, feeling a little sad. It was just a summer job, but it kept me connected to my former work family and the visitors. I guess it’s always hard to say goodbye.

Fortunately, my brother and sister decided to have an impromptu BBQ that evening for no particular reason, so I headed over there after I went home and changed out of my work clothes and corralled the kitties.

Our good friend Lichen was there:


Here’s a view of the canopy Rob picked up at the mall. You can see some of the Waltons-sized picnic table my brother built out of redwood a couple of years ago:


In case you’re wondering who the mystery dog is in the picture, it’s Marley. Marley is at Camp Lichen for a few days, learning valuable lessons like how not to whine his ass off when temporarily left in the car by his owner. Lichen is an excellent dog trainer, being both gentle and intolerant of nonsense.

Jonathan grilled up a simple dinner of sausages, and I thought that it won’t be long until he is manning the ‘cue for the traditional Christmas ham. This year the equally traditional split pea soup will be made of beans from the garden. I have heard rumors that I should resurrect making parsnip vichyssoise for Christmas Eve from the garden’s parsnips. And that there are plans afoot to make hard cider from all those apples.

Later, the moon rose over the garden:


I suck at taking moon pictures, y’all. Even though the moon and I are pretty close after the mystical experience we shared a couple of years ago, I have never been able to take a good photo of her. Maybe she needs to start considering selfies and stop letting Kim Kardashian have all the fun.

A YEAR AGO: Bugs and fairies. You know, the usual.

6 responses so far

Jul 31 2015

Silly Rabbit

Published by under Garden,House,Work

Megan stopped by my house, saying, “Rob sent you a bunny,” which is not something you hear every day. I came downstairs to find a wonderful ceramic rabbit made in 1955 (the date is etched on the base):


He got it for $2 at a thrift store, knowing that it would both delight me and look perfect with the kitschy vintage animal planters on my balcony, and so it does:


Rob and I share a certain aesthetic appreciation. 🙂

I didn’t plan it, but somehow I ended up with all these cute old planters up there:


The top one is a little squirrel in a log, and underneath is another log with a saw, perfect for this area where logging is one of the biggest (legal) industries.

Here’s a look at the rest of the balcony:


It’s the perfect place to read and drink wine.

In addition to the rabbit, Megan also brought a plant called an anthurium. Lu bought it for my office, and said the heart-shaped flowers are to remind me that I’m loved. I wasted no time in bringing it to work, where it looks perfect with my filing cabinet garden:


I bought the sea urchin planter when Megan and I took that Saturday off together a couple of weeks ago. I love it! I brought the old vase on the right from home. I like my office garden. I have a real garden outside my window, where the courtyard is beautifully landscaped and Fred the hummingbird visits me every day.

A YEAR AGO: Things were pretty much the same, with me working all the time and Megan at Reggae on the River.

2 responses so far

Jul 28 2015

Future Girl

Published by under Cooking,Work

Oh, future dishes – I think I love you least of all.

The last time I got paid, I made the unpleasant discovery that I was overdrawn by $39. This made me realize two things: 1) Clearly, I shouldn’t have recklessly squandered $44 on gas that day; and B) I should get a summer job.

So I’m working at the jobette on Saturdays through Labor Day. Compared to the hours I work during the week (about 50), it seems like nothing to just do 6 hours. And it’s fun. I love talking to the visitors – last week, a young couple from Berkeley who are getting married here in the fall came in for visitor guides and maps to give their friends attending the wedding. I am always sentimental about brides, even though I don’t really believe in marriage, at least not for me. Go figure.

I also like feeling that I’m helping out my former colleagues, who often pop in to say hello while I’m there. It’s nice to know that I’ve left the place tidy and ready for them to start their work week on Monday.

But that only gives me one day off, and you know what that means. Chores and work preparations have to be packed in during the week somehow. So far, I have coped with this by putting out my work clothes for the next week on Wednesday or Thursday of the current week. I throw in a load of laundry when I get home from work. After work on Fridays, I invest a couple of hours making my lunches and dinners for the following week. This task is made much more pleasant by a glass or three of wine, which as Jacques Pepin so rightly said, inspires the cook.

The downside of this future food though is the present dishes, as you see above. That’s what it looked like when last Friday’s culinary marathon was complete. I left the dishes until Saturday morning. I don’t have to leave for the jobette until after 9 am, so I can sleep in until it’s light outside and still have time to get the house tidied up before I go.

Needless to say, Sundays are completely dedicated to sloth and hanging out with the kitties!

A YEAR AGO: File under Miscellaneous.

One response so far

Jun 10 2015

Get Back

Published by under Calamity Suzy,Cats,Weather,Work

flowersFlowers Outside My Office Door

It’s been so long since it rained that when the pattering on the roof woke me up last night, I was unable to identify the sound at first. Eventually, my sleep-fogged mind realized it was a light shower. By the time the alarm went off, the showers had departed, leaving confused yet happy birds and frogs behind. Needless to say, it wasn’t enough to really water the garden or do any good, though it made the cats curious.

Speaking of cats, the boys turned 5 on Monday! Audrey is slated to turn 8 next month, and has recovered completely from her vet adventures, though my wallet may never recover. As for me, my back is still unhappy and not shy about letting me know. The irony is not lost on me that I’m limping around a medical facility like Igor, though there really isn’t anything anyone can do about it except stone me out on drugs, which a) I hate; and 2) would make it impossible for me to work. And work I have: I worked an eleven and a half hour day on Tuesday and so far this week have packed more than 30 hours into three days.

Today I finally had the sense to bring the small feather pillow from my couch as well as the heating pad to work, so I was able to sit in relative comfort at my sunny desk* during my long day. I tried to do as much as possible when trekking to the other side of the building – making it count! I still have no idea what I did to displease my dorsal region, and am displeased in turn that it’s still bothering me so much. Hopefully it will be better in time for Saturday’s celebration of Erica’s and my birthdays, so I can perch on a hay bale in reasonable comfort and sip gin cocktails. I may really need Jessica to escort me to my car that evening!

*My office has a window overlooking a courtyard landscaped with plants and flowers, like the one you see above. It’s a nice view. I usually don’t need artificial light, which is great.

A YEAR AGO: More car madness. You know, the usual.

2 responses so far

May 29 2015

Birthday BBQ

On Saturday, I made a special appearance at the jobette. It was Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial opening of the summer tourist season, and I decided to go in and help out, partly because I’m still on probation at the new job, so I didn’t get paid for Memorial Day, and partly to help out my former work family.

It was good to be back. I took down all the expired event postings in the lobby, refreshed the supply of visitor guides and other tourism materials, added up all the sales and visitor sheets, balanced the cash, updated the database, took out the trash, watered the inside and outside plants (which I suspect has not been done since I left), and washed the dishes. Oh, and turned off the heat, which was blasting when I arrived.

I had a great time chatting with the visitors, and sold $160 worth of art. I imagine my former employers were pleased when they arrived at the office on Tuesday.

I went home and collected the al pastor which I had put in the slow cooker on Friday night. It was my first attempt at making this, and I think from now on I will just leave it to Libby’s, even if they are almost never open. It turned out to be atomically spicy, despite the fact that I only added a teeny can of chipotles in adobo sauce to a 5 pound roast, along with an entire pineapple, a bottle of beer, some red onion, and a couple of tablespoons of chili powder.

To be fair, I have a low spiciness tolerance and believe that food should come in hot, medium, mild and Suzy. But still. I texted Erica in a panic, and she suggested that I drain off the sauce and put in a can of tomato sauce. I didn’t have any tomato sauce – all I had was an extremely unhelpful jar of spicy red pepper sauce – so I went over to Megan’s, even though it was early, since I had to deal with it before heading to the jobette.

Fortunately, she had a can, so I swapped the sauces, and I think it worked just fine. Rob helped me to load the giant slow cooker into the car and we headed over to the family property, where Megan’s birthday BBQ was in full swing:


Erica and Jessica were there, as well as Jarrett and Kalli and Dave and Jennifer. Jarrett had invited his dog Archi’s brother (and his owners), and I couldn’t get over how alike they look:


Lichen also came, bearing rose lemonade for Jessica, and all together, there were nearly 20 people. Erica fried up samosas she had made in a special pot outside by the Waltons-sized picnic table:


They were, of course, delicious.

Erica had also brought a giant, industrial sized jar of mayonnaise:


It turned out to be an elaborate practical joke. Megan hates mayonnaise (we are a family of picky eaters), but Erica bet her that she would be digging into this one. Megan was horrified until she discovered that the jar actually contained vanilla bean-bourbon vanilla pudding, chocolate espresso cookie crumbs, and sea salted caramel sauce, all made from scratch by Erica the Evil Genius. It was insanely delicious.

Erica said it was the hardest dessert she had ever made, since she had to hide the cookie crumbs and sauce inside the pudding, so it still looked convincingly like mayonnaise. Only Erica!

Meanwhile, I was discussing designers with Jessica, saying that I love it that she actually knows who Charles James, Schiaparelli, Claire McCardell, and Madame Grès are (she has all these and more on her Pinterest boards). She said that sometimes it seems like designers are playing a practical joke to see if people will actually wear their crazy clothes. “It’s like, ‘Go home, fashion, you’re drunk!’” Jessica said, referring to some of the more outrageous confections at Fashion Week.


When it was time to go home, Jessica once again offered her arm and asked if she could escort “Fair Suzy” to her car. I love this tradition!

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday, of course!

3 responses so far

May 14 2015

The Path

Published by under Work

“’Wilmet, when you work for your living – and I hope you may never have to – you find that there are some days when you can hardly bear to do your work, and others when you definitely cannot bear to. This has been one of those days. I woke up this morning knowing that I couldn’t bear it, so I didn’t go.’

I hardly knew what to say. Neither sympathy nor reproach seemed quite what was called for.”

Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings

I’m finding the return to working five days a definite challenge. It’s been many years since I had to do that, and when I did, I had a cleaning lady twice a month, so I didn’t have to spend my precious weekends cleaning my spacious apartment, and I (usually) finished work around 3:00 pm, so I had time to run errands and go to the gym as I walked home up and down the San Francisco hills.

Now I get up about half an hour later than I did then, but I get home around 5:00 pm if I’m lucky, and I drive about 250 miles a week to do it. Everything is closed when I go to work, and it’s closed when I leave work. It’s not easy going back to prison once you’ve escaped, and it’s been a long time since I was in the hamster cage. However, the cage is currently the best case scenario – the alternative being a tent or cardboard box on the family property – so I have had to find a way to cope. I’m working toward a sort of transcendental acceptance. Not there yet, though.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • A dear friend sent me a book on how to do yoga anywhere, including while washing dishes, brushing your teeth, in the shower, even at your desk in the hamster cage, and I’ve been doing that as much as I can. I try to be conscious of my posture and breathing, even in the car.
  • I downloaded an app called Calm to my phone, and every day I go and sit in the car and do a five minute meditation. I forgot to do it this past Saturday, but before that I did it every day for three weeks.
  • I try and jump on the treadmill at Mark’s before work, and succeed most days. Unlike the rest of the world, exercise makes me tired and hungry, but not notably more tired than I already am from getting up at 5:00 am. Not for the first time, I wish my parents had sprung for the deluxe package with the endorphins. Bonus: it’s extra reading time! So far, I have found reading is the best distraction from the horrors of exercise.
  • I savor every moment of joy, whether it’s just cuddling Roscoe in the early morning darkness before I get up, or the golden sunlight slanting through the eucalyptus trees, or the parting of the trees when I get my first glimpse of ocean for the day.
  • I spend as much time as I can with my family and friends. This is also one of my resolutions for the year, and just knowing I’m meeting Megan, Lu, and Rik for dinner and a play this weekend can help raise my spirits (even though I have to fight not to be depressed on Saturday afternoon because it’s almost Sunday and who can enjoy Sunday with prison doors yawning?) Also, you can either have fun or get things done on the weekend, but you can’t do both. Nor will you have time to recharge your aging batteries.
  • I try to be thankful for what I have: a roof over my head (admittedly quirky); a car that goes (though not paid off or even close to paid off); family and friends nearby. Angelika says she tries to be thankful for even small things, like a cup of coffee, and I’m trying to do that, too, though I’m more successful on some days than others.
  • Neither sympathy nor reproach is called for, though I’d be glad of any advice or suggestions!

    A YEAR AGO: Rob the handyman.

5 responses so far

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