Suzy Says

Radio Nowhere

   Jun 17

Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day, Dad !

Just got off the phone from wishing him happy Father’s Day, even though he lives in England, where they don’t have Father’s Day. But after years of living in the US, he is rawther mid-Atlantic.

The picture here shows my Dad with his beloved dog Jesse, while Jesse was still enduring the archaic English torture known as quarantine. I believe that the quarantine is slowly being lifted, which is surely a necessity with the Channel Tunnel. Anyway, I visited Jesse while he was in durance vile, and as you can see from this picture, he didn’t find it all that bad. Dad could visit him as often as he liked and bring Jesse treats and bones to distract him when Dad was leaving. On the day Jesse was released, his joy was so uncontainable that it took 20 minutes before he calmed down enough to allow his collar to be put on. And for the rest of his life, Jesse lived as an English gentleman in leafy Wimbledon. Not bad for an abused, starved stray mutt my sister rescued in Newfoundland!

I see I have digressed from my original topic, though I think Dad wouldn’t mind, because he loved Jesse dearly. Jesse died just a few days before Dad’s second wedding, and he cried all the way to the Victoria Falls for the honeymoon. And in the five years that have passed, he still hasn’t gotten another dog, and I don’t think he ever will.

I am very lucky to have a father who is also my friend. We have many tastes in common and this has led to my being accused of being the favorite. I won’t confirm or deny this, but I will say, we understand each other. Happy Father’s Day, dear friend!

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   Jun 16

Nice surprise

Just got an email from my cousin Les in England, saying he found this site and is enjoying reading it! It was so nice to hear from him. We Peakalls are few and far between, and in the past few years I have been delighted to be in touch with Les (whose branch of the family tree is thriving, thank you, compared to our dwindling twig) and Frank. I think our great or possibly great-great grandfathers were Peakall brothers, but I’m not sure what kind of cousins that makes us. Cousin is good enough for me!

Frank is a real expert on the history of our family and sent me a wonderful chart tracing us from the first Peakall (then Pecalle) to flee Huguenot persecution in France and go to England.

It’s nice to know that I do have some extended family out there. My father’s only sister has passed away and never married, my grandparents are long gone, and my mother is an adopted only child, and we don’t know her family’s story, either. My older sister is the only one of us four “kids” to have children, hence the dwindling twig remark. So any Peakall relatives are especially dear to me. One of these days I’m going to actually meet my English cousins, I promise!

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   Jun 15

Brief encounter

I was out shopping for frivolities when I ran into Rufus. I think the shopping we were doing was indicative of our personalities. I had bought: a guidebook to Italy (thinking of going there for my 40th birthday); wrapping paper; a birthday card for Rufus’ oldest brother Ed. Though come to think of it, he hasn’t sent us an email or note about the exquisite French doll we sent him for his daughter’s first birthday in the first week of May. Grrr. They may go on the “no present” list with the other ingrates.

Anyway, Rufus bought: 2 DVDs (though I admit I’ll watch them, too: “Set it Off” and “Thelma & Louise” — a good double bill, come to think of it); prescription asthma medication, and cigarettes.

There you have it. Personalities in a shopping bag. Or two.

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   Jun 15

It’s always darkest before the Dawn

I just love Dawn. Her sense of humor and writing style are brilliant and hilarious. Check out the first rant on her new blog. What an entrance!

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   Jun 14


OK, I have gone for a few weeks without bashing our appointed dictator, so I think I can do just a little, don’t you? I bet he is actually suprised by his unpopularity in Europe, despite the fact that his views on practically every issue are diametrically opposed to the Europeans’. He’s probably surprised by all the protests and negative press he’s getting, too. He should have timed his visit better — going to Europe immediately after executing Timothy “Nature of the Beast” McVeigh was an unfortunate choice, since most Europeans disapprove of the death penalty and think we are rather barbaric for continuing to indulge in it.

I’m not planning to go back to England until next May, but expect that when I do, I will have to hear about how the election was rigged and what a dumbass Bush is, etc. It will make a change from the remarks I got during the Clinton era, though. No-one over there could understand why we spent so damn much time and money persecuting Bill over a blowjob, and to be honest, I didn’t, either. I did get tired of being accused of being a prurient Puritan, though, and had to agree with the accusers that it certainly looked that way to an unprejudiced observer. But I think Kenneth Starr, in his unending quest to get every single juicy detail of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair is the real PP here. Probably the only time he has gotten off in YEARS, and if you don’t think he did, read the Starr Report.

I find it interesting that our friends in Europe still adore Clinton. I saw on the news yesterday that he happened to be playing golf near Harrogate in England. A wedding reception was being held at the country club attached to the golf course, and when Bill saw the party and saw that he had been recognized, he went right over and congratulated the delighted bride and groom. Despite the obvious concern of his bodyguards, he also posed for pictures and autographed menus. The entire party (except the bodyguards) was thrilled. By the way…he looked fabulous. Retirement seems to be agreeing with him, and unlike most former presidents, he doesn’t seem to have aged 25 years while in office. The public still loves him. At least Bush will almost certainly not be re-elected, and I hope we as a nation can do better next time.

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   Jun 13


…a reason to be glad that my brother is driving my car Josephine instead of me.

Especially now that we can expect at least four more months of “Josephine Days” (sunny and warm enough to have the top down). The national average for gas is now $1.68, but it’s $2.06 a gallon in the Bay Area, an increase of 4 cents a gallon over the past month. And according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s June 13 edition, it’s only going to get worse over the summer months. It’s those Josephine Days. Everyone wants to be on the road.

I knew our gas prices were high — for some reason, I still watch what they are even though it’s all theory for me now — but I didn’t know it was *that* bad. I have to admit that if I still had my car in the city, gas prices wouldn’t make me sell her, and I probably wouldn’t drive less, either. Guess that’s why they can jack up the prices so high — they know we’ll still pay it. That and the horror of Muni.

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   Jun 12

French paradox again

My brother finally called me at 4:00 pm yesterday, after he got back home. It’s amazing how I can never be mad at him when I’m actually talking to him. But he is a number one groover on life, and it’s hard to be grumpy around him.

In yesterday’s mail (which was, amazingly, already there when we got home yesterday) were a couple of clippings from my father. One of them was about how some wine producers in the Rhone valley have gotten together to produce powdered wine, which will be sold in capsules. Studies have shown that two glasses of red wine a day may prevent or reduce the occurrence of heart attacks and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The thing that amazes me is this. We all know that most of the things that are good for you and supposed to stave off heart attacks and other horrible diseases range from the mildly unpleasant to the deeply dreary. I count diet and exercise among the deeply dreary myself, particularly since you can never finish with them — you just have to keep doing it, day after day. I would think that people would welcome the fact that something as delightful as a glass or two of good red wine is actually good for you. And, as Thomas Jefferson put it, wine has the ability to banish care. TJ himself had an enviable wine cellar and lived well into his 80’s, a particularly impressive accomplishment in the early 1800’s. Maybe he already knew that wine was good for you. He knew everything else that was worth knowing.

It amazes me that people would forego the pleasure of drinking wine, from choosing the bottle, admiring the label, enjoying the color and bouquet and drinking it out of a nice glass PLUS the ability to banish care, in favor of a pill. The only thing I can think of is that these gym-obsessed folks are too worried about the sugar content of actual wine to risk drinking it, but would prefer to get the health benefits in pill form. They are missing out on one of the pleasures of life — but they are probably not only used to that, but consider themselves superior because of it. I will laugh at them over a glass of ’82 Bordeaux.

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   Jun 11


My brother still hasn’t called me. I called him around 11 am yesterday morning, before I went out to run some errands, and he said he’d call me right back. Still waiting.

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   Jun 10

On hold

So my brother Jonathan called me first thing this morning (and when I say “first thing”, I mean well before 8:00) to tell me that he’s:

– Coming down to the city sometime today but doesn’t know when (it’s nearly a 4 hour drive one way to San Francisco from Albion, where he lives);

– He’s going to see Spinal Tap at the Warfield tonight with a bunch of friends who also live in Albion;

– He’s not sure if he’s going to stay with us or someone else or go home after the show, even though it will be midnight or later by then.

So now I’m waiting for him to call me back if/when he knows what he’s doing and take it from there. I don’t deal well with this kind of spontaneity, especially on a Sunday night (Rufus and I both have to be at work by 6:00 am on Monday). So stay tuned…

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   Jun 09

Cleo vs. the pigeons

Our cat Cleo just hates pigeons.

She is sitting on top of the refrigerator, which affords her a fine view out of the kitchen windows to the back stairs. Pigeons like to perch here and have even laid eggs in our planter boxes of catnip (I’m sorry to say we disposed of the eggs). The people who bought the house next door last year at the height of real estate madness have spent a lot of time and money attempting to pigeon-proof their investment. They have been only partially successful, but their anti-pigeon campaign has led the offending pigeons to spend more time chez nous, to Cleo’s unending fury. I really think she might like to move next door to the pigeon-free zone. That, or just one chance to go outside and show them who’s boss. She’d probably like that even better.

So there she sits, elegant in her shiny black fur, her golden eyes narrowed as she gazes at the enemy pigeons with unrelenting concentration. If looks could kill, neither we nor the Next Doors would have to worry about the pigeons anymore.

However, Cleo is not content to merely stare at them. She tells them off in Cleo-ese, which has a guttural quality (somewhat Teutonic in nature) but blended with a certain Asianness. She is, after all, a very nearly or even possibly pure-bred Bombay, so she looks like a very small and sleek panther. Her speech is closer to actual words than any cat I have ever heard, almost as if she has been studying our own strange language and is right on the verge of being able to speak to us in it. And I think, if I just listen closely enough, I will begin to undestand what she’s saying. But although I haven’t broken the code yet, I’m glad I’m not one of those pigeons.

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   Jun 08

The power of tits

Here’s an item from a recent issue of FHM magazine (the UK edition, not to be confused with the sanitized US version):

“Mary Read was one of only two female pirates in the 18th century, and they both worked the Caribbean. Like Anne Bonny [the other female pirate and one of the most feared pirates around of either sex] she’d been made to impersonate a boy and had reacted badly to cross-dressing. She’d lied her way into the Dutch infantry and won medals for bravery — until peace broke out. So she went to sea to find adventure. She made her name when her lover was challenged to a duel by a pirate. To save her man, Read picked a quarrel with the buccaneer, demanding settlement on the spot. She ducked the shot from his pistol and before he could hack her with his cutlass, tore open her blouse to reveal a well-endowed chest. The pirate paused in mid-lunge; Read sliced his head off.”

Read later died in prison in Jamaica, along with her unborn child, and Anne Bonny vanished before she could be hanged (and was never found). Both women were just 20.

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   Jun 07

It must be the truffles

I’m telling you, it must be the truffles and champagne! I’m seriously considering moving.

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   Jun 06

Co-worker Quiz

Find out the awful truth! Are you a bad co-worker? I, of course, am a cool co-worker. Ask anyone — except the new guy, who spent half an hour yesterday telling me how the way they did things at his old job was just SO MUCH BETTER. If so, why are you here, pal? OK, better start acting cool again!

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   Jun 06

Just different, is all

This pretty much sums up my math abilities!

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   Jun 05

Best present

Best birthday gift by far: Rufus had a star in the Cassiopeia constellation named for our beloved Buddy, who left us in April, 2000.

Now he is really watching over us forever.

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   Jun 04


It’s my birthday! It’s sunny and beautiful out, as it often is on my birthday, and I have taken the day off. I never work on my birthday.

It’s only 8:30 am and my whole family has already called me to wish me happy birthday. HBO was especially good to me this year, with 2 new episodes of “Sex & the City”, the second season now on DVD, and a new show, “6 Feet Under”. Sue Grafton has published the latest in her “alphabet” series today, too. So far, so good!

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   Jun 03

Hyper chick

Wouldn’t you think that if your upstairs neighbor staggered in drunk, falling over and knocking furniture onto the floor at 3:00 am, that at least she would sleep in the next morning and you would get a *little* peace and quiet then? Nope, not if your upstairs neighbor is hyper chick. She sleeps about the same amount as Hitler, up again before 7:00 am and stomping around. It’s amazing to me that someone as skinny as she is can make so damn much noise just walking around.

I wish we had our own house so we wouldn’t have to hear anyone but ourselves. Too bad that adorable house for sale on Laguna Street is $1.3 million. If you want a house, get out of the city.

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   Jun 02

Historic Trees

I live in an apartment, so all the gardening I do is read “Garden Design”, water the house plants, and make sure the cats are supplied with wheat grass and catnip. But I love to read about and visit gardens.

I recently came across the Historic Trees website, where you can buy trees and seedlings grown from trees of historical or literary importance. For example, you can grow a tulip polar grown from a tree planted by George Washington (a life-long, avid gardener) himself. Or a red maple grown by Thoreau near his cabin on Walden Pond. Or even an ancestor of a tree planted by Johnny Appleseed.

Years ago, I visited Mark Twain’s house in Hartford. While there, I picked up an acorn from one of his oak trees. It has had a place of honor my desk ever since, and how I wish I could plant it. If I had my own house I could grow a Mark Twain oak tree. But given the insane prices of real estate in San Francisco (example: a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment around the corner from us is now for sale for $878,000), I don’t think I’m ever going to own a house here, unless I win the lottery. But if my brother and sister manage to buy land, I think I know what my housewarming (or gardenwarming) gift to those two dedicated gardeners will be.

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   Jun 01

Happy birthday!

Today would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 75th birthday.

It’s hard to imagine her as an old woman — she always said herself that she would never make old bones. Her untimely death made sure that she remains forever young and beautiful in our minds.

A couple of months ago, Rufus and I visited her grave in Westwood Memorial Park in Hollywood.

Her grave, set into a wall with many others, is undistinguished except for the stains from fans’ hands and lips, paying homage to the star nearly 4 decades after her death. The flower holder on her grave is full of flowers, many with handwritten notes, and other floral offerings are laid on the ground in front of the wall containing her grave. She is still loved and not forgotten, and I think that would please her.

I have felt a certain connection to Marilyn ever since I was a kid and first saw her movies on our tiny black and white TV. Even back then I knew there was only one Marilyn and there would only ever be one. Our birthdays are just three days apart, and I was born the year she died. We have the same middle name, too, and we both have crazy mamas. I have been more fortunate than she was in my life. Perhaps when you are given a gift as great as hers, you get cheated in other areas. I’m sure I am only one of many who think that having a real friend or two might have saved this beautiful woman’s life.

Happy birthday, Marilyn! Your memory lives on.

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   May 31

Sleepless in San Francisco

Yet another bad night last night. Same as Monday night: got to sleep, woke up three or four hours later, couldn’t get back to sleep. Might have something to do with the fact that it was about a zillion unexpected degrees yesterday and there wasn’t a breath of air. I don’t know how people live where it’s that hot all the time or part of the year. But then I guess you have air conditioning so you can actually sleep. I just hate lying under a sheet and sweating. Ugh. Still hot, today, too, “record-breaking” again, and I am just a zombie.

They surprised me at work yesterday with a little get-together in honor of my birthday. It was as unexpected as the heat, especially because my birthday isn’t until next week. They gave me a card and a little present and we had a tray of cheese and crackers, fresh fruit, and champagne. The champagne was coincidentally from Roederer Estates in Anderson Valley, where my friend Mark works. It was really nice that they remembered my birthday, noticed that I don’t like cake and do like champagne, but also really embarrassing! I was blushing!

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