Suzy Says
Radio Nowhere
August 22nd, 2018 by suzy in Family,Friends,Special Occasions 1 Comment

The old man himself at Point Reyes, New year’s Day, 2000

I spent the morning of the Evil Eighteenth cooking, as I often do. Something about Dad’s birthday and deathday seem to inspire me to cook, wishing he was there with me. We never got in each other’s way in the kitchen, which is a rare gift. I always liked the fact that we knew where everything was in each other’s kitchens, and where to shop for dinner ingredients, whether in London or San Francisco.

That evening, Megan and I met Lu and her daughter at the theater to see “Becky’s New Car”. You may recall that our last outing was a little less than successful due to the rather unpleasant subject matter. I am pleased to report that this play was both funny and delightful, and that the cast was wonderful.

The special drink for this production was an unusual and delicious mixture of pomegranate schnapps, ginger bitters (both new ingredients to me), fresh orange juice, and champagne. We toasted Dad with this delightful confection, saying “The old man wasn’t so bad”. I think Dad would have approved of the way we spent that day and remembered him.

We had toasted the old man the evening before as well.

Megan’s new home arrived earlier than expected, and was moved to its permanent location after camping out on the (fortunately wide and capacious) driveway on the property for about a week. Our brother cobbled together enough electricity to pop out the pop outs and power the lights.

Megan also popped out the champagne – Roederer, no less – that evening when Lu and I arrived to toast her new home as well as the old man. The dogs are already feeling pretty much at home, though the household is in the awkward phase of being between here and there. Star and Stella were happy to flop on the couch:

Dad would be happy about that, too. Maybe we will start to think of this time of year being about happy new beginnings as well as sad endings. As the years go by, I feel less anger and sadness about losing Dad and more happiness that I had such a remarkable father who was also my best friend. The good memories tend to come to mind more than the sad ones. Though I will always miss him, I was lucky to have had him at all.

A YEAR AGO: Enjoying a drink and the view at my favorite seaside bar.

FIVE YEARS AGO: How to make the world’s most expensive peach pie.

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One Week
August 17th, 2018 by suzy in Bullshit,Weather,Work 1 Comment

Darkness is creeping back again. If it weren’t so foggy in the mornings this week, I would have put the high beams on. I am always glad to see the fog, though this summer, it hasn’t been as cool as I would like even when it is foggy. I can’t remember the last time I slept without the fans on. It’s not that it is exceptionally hot, just that it hasn’t been as cool as usual for the coast and never gets really cold at night the way it used to. Maybe it’s an anomaly and maybe it’s the new normal. Did you ever notice that anytime it’s a “new normal” it’s never good?

Hopefully this Fogust will not give way to a hellacious heat wave the way it did last year.

It’s been a long and dreary week for our heroine. It kicked off with a dental appointment, which is never a good way to start the week. No cavities this time, but unenjoyable nonetheless, especially since they insist on making an appointment for six months later before you leave, so you don’t even get to enjoy what Gilbert and Sullivan called “the gratifying feeling that our duty has been done.” It’s already hanging over you even though it’s next year, and you can’t really feel like you’ve checked it off your ever-expanding to do list.

Dental duty was followed by two long days. One had 4 hours of meetings in its 12 hours, and the other had setting up for and attending a work-related party/reception in its mere 10 hours. I’m not sure which of these was worse, but I do know when I got in the car 11 hours after I had gotten out of it, it all seemed a little too familiar.

Add in looking after my boss with some health issues and a Board meeting at the library and you have a week you are glad to see end.

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Moving Along
August 13th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life 1 Comment

As everyone who has ever moved knows, part of the whole lengthy and unpleasant process is going through all your stuff, discarding some and packing others. Megan and Rob are in the throes of this right now.

One of the things they no longer have space for is this charming tilt top table:

A friend of mine is a former antiques dealer (among other things; he also managed the households of the president of Princeton University and the American Embassy in Moscow), so I turned to him for help. He identified it as a reproduction of a Federal style of table, probably made in the late 1920s or early 1930s, used for playing cards or for a butler to serve tea in the glory days when one had a butler. He gave me a relatively modest value for it and agreed that the Kelley House Museum, where he volunteers, would likely be interested in taking it.

He connected me with the curator, and we agreed to meet at the Kelley House at 10:00 on Saturday morning. We arrived just about on time, but the Village was bustling with summer visitors, so Megan dropped me and the table off and went to park. I knocked on both the front and back doors, but got no response. We decided to wait with the table on the porch, admiring the view of the ocean, the pond, and the lovely gardens:

The museum opened at 11:00, and Megan asked the staff where we could find the curator. The answer was in the research office, the one door we had not knocked on. The curator emerged, saying “I thought you were sufficiently local to know I’d be in the research office.” Apparently I am below expectations in that regard, and likely many others. It’s probably in the public’s best interests that I no longer work at the local tourism board.

Megan got the tax receipt and we bid farewell to the little table. I hope we will see it again at an exhibit at the Kelley House. It is a lovely little piece, and a nice reminder of a more gracious and gentler time.

We took our insufficiently local selves to the bookstore, where The Great Catsby was taking a nap in the sun in one of the shop’s window seats. He now has a warning label*:

Catsby prefers the public’s adulation to be kept at a distance.

After the bookstore, we picked up some wood-fired pizzas, along with a delightful salad of local Baby Gem lettuce, wild blackberries, croutons, and shards of Parmesan with creamy garlic dressing. It was delicious and I am hoping to reproduce it at home.

Our next antique adventure will be unearthing our grandmother’s collection of Depression glass, currently stored in two blanket chests at Megan’s house. I suspect that it has been there since Nana died, 40 years ago. Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Megan’s Big Move!

*It reads “Hi! I am a Grumpy Cat. Pet me at your own risk.” Maybe I should get one for my desk.

A YEAR AGO: Adventures in plumbing.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spending some time with my sister’s beautiful dog Star. And missing the unforgettable Schatzi.

TEN YEARS AGO: Sneaking out of work to see a cool art exhibit.

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Moving On
August 8th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life,Family,Memories 1 Comment

Every morning now I check the progress of the wildfires on the Cal Fire website. Overall, containment is up, but it seems that the Ranch part of the Mendocino Complex fire keeps losing containment. It’s down to 20% today. Overall, containment is at 46%. Full containment was originally projected for mid August but has been moved to September 1.

Today the air was smoky as well as foggy. Surprisingly, it’s the first time it’s been smoky since the wildfires began in late July. The forecast calls for a shift in the wind tomorrow to clear out the smoke. The Mendocino Complex is now the largest wildfire in recorded California history. My heart aches for our inland neighbors, going through this yet again after just a few short months.

So far, we are safe here on the coast. We are all working together to get Megan and Rob ready to move – next Saturday! Even though their current home is on the small side, there are many things that will not fit in their new abode and are being rehomed. One of these was a rather battered dresser which had been Megan’s since she was a kid:

It was worse enough for wear that she decided to give it away. I listed it on the local message boards and it was snapped up in about an hour by a guy who lived right down the Ridge. When he came to pick it up, he told me that he had helped James to bend the redwood to make my house’s distinctive shape.

Despite the diminutive size of Megan’s house, there seems to be a lot of stuff be sorted and disposed of. That’s what happens when you live in one place for 20 years. Megan observed that this is the only house she has lived in as an adult. She went from living with me during high school to living on a boat at Pier 39 to living in this house.

This is also the last of our homes where our parents spent any time. Dad visited there often, including the time he had a stroke between Megan’s house and what was then Jonathan’s house. He recovered, but died nine months later in London of medical malpractice. Megan’s house is where our mother spent the last few years of her courageous battle against breast cancer. We celebrated many Thanksgivings and Christmases there. When Megan closes that narrow front door for the last time, she will be closing the door on a long chapter of her life and many memories.

A YEAR AGO: A visit from our friend Carrie and a passel of quite excellent teens. They are coming back for Labor Day weekend!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Clyde’s encounter with the slobber monster. He seems to have avoided it ever since, and it had better stay that way. The fur where the injury was is notably white against his black fur.

TEN YEARS AGO: The walk in pharmacy and other Oaktown delights. I do miss Ray the Safeway guy, though.

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August 4th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life,Family 1 Comment

Megan is moving! And she’s moving soon.

Our good friends and my siblings’ land partners, Dave and Jennifer, found a fabulous mobile home for sale down in the Bay Area, where Dave works during the week. They went to check it out with Megan and Rob one weekend and everyone liked what they saw. Dave, the expert negotiator, got a great deal on it which included delivery all the way to Hooterville.

However, delivery is slated for the 17th anniversary of Dad’s untimely death on August 18. This short time frame kicked preparations into high gear as Megan and Rob divest their tiny house of 20 years’ worth of things and stuff. Don’t forget that every time Rob went to the dump, he acquired a project or two, so that’s a lot of stuff over two decades. It is surprising how much stuff one little 450 square foot house can contain. Also how much you can get of rid of and still have more stuff to deal with. I think I noticed this same unlovely phenomenon when I escaped from Oakhampton several years ago.

It will all be worth it, though, since the new place is lovely. Here’s the living room:

And a peek at the kitchen:

Sadly, the kitchen is just about as low on counter space as their current home, but they are used to that and Rob has some clever ideas of how to work around it.

The bedroom has closets! I have heard of these mythical things, but my sister and brother-in-law will actually have one:

The bathroom even has a tub:

They may find they have a semi-permanent guest who lounges in their bathtub and luxuriates in the central heat and air conditioning. Air conditioning! My dream come true!

A YEAR AGO: Coming home to a couple of surprises.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A lovely day in the Village.

TEN YEARS AGO: Remembering wonderful summers in Maine. Those were the days!

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July 29th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life 1 Comment

It’s not looking good

It was a tough week. With prep for the annual staff day, the day itself, and the aftermath, I logged too many hours of overtime this week, all of it while still in the throes of my my aching back. I was very glad when Friday evening finally arrived. Just as I was settling down to watch Armored Car Robbery, starring the luckless William Talman*, my own luck ran out when the power did.

Usually the power goes out during winter storms, when wind and rain wreak havoc on power lines. But it was the dead of summer, with blue skies. Possibly an overserved driver had an unexpected meeting with a power pole. Whatever caused it, my admittedly modest plans for a fun Friday evening were cancelled.

I dug out one of the solar powered lanterns and immersed myself in Convenience Store Woman to wait it out. Erica texted me that the power was out from Yorkville to Albion, not a good sign. I was thrilled when the power came back on after a few hours, even though it was too late to watch the movie.

Imagine my surprise and displeasure when it went out again last night, waking me up shortly after I had drifted off to sleep. I called my buddies at PG&E’s outage line, and was unsurprised but still disheartened to learn that I was the first one to report it. Erica’s was out, too.

I slept fitfully, tossing and turning with the kind of dozing you do on planes, where you are aware of what’s going on around you. The power came back on after 3:00 am, and later I learned from the local message boards that “50,000 customers in Mendocino and Lake Counties were out of power beginning at about 10:30 Saturday night. The outage was caused by heavy smoke around transmission lines, such heavy smoke that it became a conductor of electricity, shorting out
transmission lines.”

Note that the entire population of Mendocino County is about 90,000. As you can see from the map above, California is basically on fire. We have two in our County, the River Fire and the Ranch Fire. They are each only about 5% contained and there have been evacuations. There are and have been a lot of fires this early in the season and it’s hard not to feel that climate change played a part. Also that as scary as it is now, it will only get scarier.

*Not only did Talman play the ever-losing Hamilton Burger on “Perry Mason”, he lost that job when police raided a drug-laden party at which Talman and the other guests were nude. He was also arrested as a teenager when he crashed a car he didn’t know was stolen, killing his passenger. Talman died of lung cancer at a mere 53 years old.

A YEAR AGO: Surviving the annual Hell Day at work. Now all I have to dread is the holiday party.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Helping Jim and Joel plan their wedding.

TEN YEARS AGO: Getting lost in the wilds of Berkeley.

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July 23rd, 2018 by suzy in Country Life,Special Occasions 1 Comment

Step right up!

I was glad to see the red and white striped tent appear in the Village, since it could only mean one thing: Flynn Creek Circus was back in town!

Megan and I had bought tickets well in advance, and when the day arrived, we were both in somewhat bad moods after a long week and unpleasant financial news for both of us (if you think you can’t be any more broke than you already are, surprise! You can!), so to tell the truth we didn’t really feel like going. But I’m glad we did, because the wonders of these artistes banished all our cares and blew what was left of our minds.

Megan’s parking karma held as we parked nearby in a location from which we would later make a quick getaway while others were struggling to make their way onto the highway. As an added bonus, her headlights worked, so we didn’t have to annoy our neighbors by driving home with high beams.

The tent was crowded, and in the way of small towns, one of my co-workers was sitting in front of us, and the latest in the long series of CEOs of the jobette was seated behind us. He didn’t know that I knew who he was. Unfortunately, he was with a posse of his rich, entitled friends, and they proceeded to talk through the entire performance, with Mr. CEO constantly screaming “Woo!” and “Yeah!” into my aching ear. If the show hadn’t been sold out, we would have moved to escape the endless audio onslaught.

Despite that annoyance, we focused on the show, a new one which took placed on a ship captained by a sparkly mermaid:

It started with graceful knife throwing and juggling, followed by a girl who balanced a hula hoop on her head while spinning others on her arms and body. It’s like the laws of gravity do not apply to Flynn Creek Circus.

The Daring Jones Duo did their amazing trapeze act:

If you’re wondering about the feathers, they were dressed as seabirds visiting the ship. And this sparkling artist performed aerial stunts far above us:

Possibly the most amazing part of all the amazing acts was the guy who was not content to merely walk a tightrope. He also did somersaults, flipped backwards, and spun in the air, then landed on the narrow rope. I found a brief video to give you an idea of the wonders.

There were also three gravity-defying artists who sort of bounced sideways off a rubber wall and landed on top of it, or seemed to sort of be suspended in space, or bounced mind-bogglingly high. It’s hard to explain but was enthralling to watch. You can see a little bit of that in the video, too.

When the magic was over, the artists formed a receiving line at the exit so we could shake their hands and tell them how amazing the show was. It was a nice personal touch. All in all, yet another wonderful evening at the unforgettable Flynn Creek Circus.

A YEAR AGO: A less than stellar day.

FIVE YEARS AGO: The results of Schatzi’s DNA test. 50% pit bull, 100% wonderful. I still miss that girl.

TEN YEARS AGO: The glamorous lives of the wealthy (in novels). Not me (in real life).

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July 18th, 2018 by suzy in Calamity Suzy 1 Comment

I am coming to you from my couch, instead of my office, where just this Monday I was surprised by the unexpected appearance of beach lavender in my sea urchin dish:

Beach lavender was a new flower to me. It’s like upscale baby’s breath, with little purple flowers. I also found a bag of still-warm chocolate chip cookies on my desk, so as Mondays go, not too bad.

Except for the horror of my lower back pain.

The LBP started on Sunday, when I was on the phone with our good friend Paul. You will be glad to hear that he is doing just fine, and that like every other summer for the past 20 years, this will be the last one he will work in the Hamptons. Suddenly, my lower back made its displeasure known, and after I said goodbye to Paul, I took to the couch with the heating pad.

On Monday, I went to work, even though getting dressed was an adventure and I kept praying that I wouldn’t have to brake, since lifting my leg to move it to the brake was so uncomfortable. I made my crab-like way through the day, but the back spasms were horrible by the time I got home.

It soon became clear that getting in and out of bed, not to mention turning over once I was in it, were no longer possibilities. So I have moved operations to the couch, where I have been ever since, equipped with heating pad, lots of pillows, the fascinating Victorians Undone, and the delightful reboot of Will & Grace, which thankfully undoes the egregious errors of the final seasons, so that Will and Grace are child-free and Stan is still around, though we still have to endure an appearance by the ever-awful Minnie Driver. But Karen is still rich, married to Stan, and gloriously Karen.

So I have missed two days of work due to illness, which makes me feel guilty, especially since I just had the horrible cold from hell about a month ago, and the worst flu in 20 years 6 months before that. I feel like I’m falling apart.

I have been keeping up with my emails, both work and personal, and thus learned of the loss of my former mother-in-law, Marj, seen here with John’s Dad Ed at their lovely home on Sharbot Lake:

Marj was 84. I was lucky that she and Ed were always so good to me, even after John and I split up. As Ed told me, “you will always have a place in our hearts,” and they will always have a place in mine, too.

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The Play’s the Thing
July 17th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life 1 Comment

A postcard day

It was a postcard day as Megan and I headed to Point Arena and points beyond. I’m always happy to be chauffeured by my little sister, especially since it gives me time to admire the passing scenery, which was definitely scenic. It was a beautiful day, like a postcard, the sea deep blue with lacy white waves. The fields were full of wildflowers, white, purple, pink, and orange, and wild pink roses tumbled over old wooden fences. The cows and sheep have babies. The hills have turned “golden” as we move into summer.

We went to Franny’s Cup & Saucer in Point Arena, about an hour’s drive from Albion. Franny’s is run by a former pastry chef from the famous Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse. As you would expect, they make wonderful confections:

As you would not expect, they also sell various cute things, which often end up in our Christmas stockings. I got a couple of cute things for Erica’s and Jessica’s stockings. I don’t really have anything for the stockings this year. Usually, I have a few things by now. I’m afraid I may have outdone myself last year and perhaps set the bar too high for any future stockings.

I also chose a wonderful piece of cake: dark chocolate cake, apricot jelly, sea salt caramel cream, and dark chocolate olive oil ganache. It was light as air and just divine. Megan and I both got mini pizzas with sausage, asparagus, red onion, and brine-cured olives to have for lunch at the play.

With our Franny’s provisions stowed in the car, we headed further down the south coast to Anchor Bay, where we got Thai food for dinner. Then we went back to Point Arena to see the National Theatre of London’s production of “Macbeth”. There was a short introduction by the director, who said that this version of the Scottish play was set in a place where there had been generations of civil war, which he felt made the characters’ motivations and actions more understandable. It was also set in a sort of dystopian semi-future, and I never respond well to that kind of thing. The sets were certainly cleverly done, but I found them and the costumes to be jarring, especially in contrast to the language. The acting was great, though. Megan did better with the innovations than I did, maybe because she’s younger.

When I was, say, 15 and she was 6, the age difference was huge. Megan would always say, “I’ll catch up you, you’ll see!” She certainly did.

A YEAR AGO: You never know what you’ll find at my house. Could be a giant, unexpected refrigerator. Or a woodpecker.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Remembrances of summers past

TEN YEARS AGO: The eternal glamor of Miss Audrey Hepburn.

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July 11th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life 1 Comment

It was time for the annual quilt show, something I look forward to each year. The exhibit is held in the elementary school in the Big Town. Even though school is out, and my school days are long behind me, there’s something about being in a school building that just takes you right back to those days. You practically expect to be taken to the principal’s office for walking the halls without a pass. When Megan lived with me during high school and I went to her parent-teacher meetings, I always felt like an imposter who would be told I was not a real grown up and be forced to go back to school. Fortunately, this waking nightmare never came true.

Once we got to the quilts, those thoughts vanished as we admired our neighbors’ handiwork. No matter how long I live here and how many exhibits I attend, I will never get over how many talented artists live here.

This clever quilt was shaped like a piece of honeycomb, and the bees sported glittery, transparent wings:

This one featured the Hooterville Bridge, accessorized with a glamorous wisp of silvery fog, which was unfortunately lacking on that scorching day, when it was 90 inside my house and was still 86 when I went to bed. Is it any wonder I start dreading summer in February?

This quilt celebrated the joys of winter weather, when a girl can sleep in comfort beneath a quilt and blankets. I like how the fabric looked like rain in the background, along with mushrooms, frogs, a cat looking out of the window, and rain boots. So cozy!

This barnyard scene was charming. I wish I had taken a better photo of it. There are actual tiny clothes flying from the clothesline!

This bright piece reminds me of Hawaii and the tropics. Each stripe is an individual piece of fabric.

This was a nice companion piece to the Hawaiian piece. I think it was called a dragonfish. I thought it was exotic looking and striking.

This cat quilt was clever, too. The cats were all cut out and pieced by hand. What could be cozier than cats and quilts?

We decided to stop in and see Monica at her beautiful shop. She was quite busy, but we managed to catch up with most of each other’s news between customers, and I also found time to shop, buying this lovely pillow:

It was on sale! And it looks very nice with the beaded pillows on the side. In real life, you can see the sheen of the beads. It is very comfortable as well for the rare times I lounge on the couch, and it has already received the kitty seal of approval.

On our way home, we stopped off to get more wood-fired pizzas in the Village, sitting at a little table in the shade while we waited and petting an adorable dog named Lola. It hasn’t taken us long to add the pizzeria to our favorite spots. When we got home, dinner was ready!

A YEAR AGO: Cherries from our tree!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Everyone was feeling better.

TEN YEARS AGO: Braving the traffic to see Stevie Wonder.

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July 4th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life,Family,Weather 1 Comment

I am happy to report that I am sitting in bed with both cats at the luxurious hour of 8:00 am. There is no Evil Death Star blasting through the skylight and blinding me. Also I am actually wearing my bathrobe (the old red fleece one from the Gap that I have had since I lived in San Francisco, incredibly enough) and sitting under the comforter. Huzzah!

Last night it was a mere 70 degrees in my living room as I watched The Man Who Cheated Himself and drank lemonade with raspberry vodka. The movie was filmed on location in San Francisco in 1950, and it was fun to see my old hometown and guess at the locations, seeing what has changed and what hasn’t. I have to say that Lee J. Cobb made as unlikely a leading man as Jane Wyatt did a femme fatale, but it was still fun to watch.

Today I did a little gardening and a lot of cooking. When I was finished with these tasks and settled on the couch with a baseball game on, I got an email telling me that my DNA results were in.

Despite the tragedy that struck Erica, and the ensuing memorial service right before our birthdays, Erica bought me an DNA kit for my birthday. She knew that I have been wanting to do this for some time now, but found the cost prohibitive. She really is like another sister. I sent it in the day after I received it, and here’s what they say is my heritage:

It’s not very surprising, other than the high percentage of Iberian Peninsula. I wonder if that is on my mother’s side, since we know absolutely nothing about her birth parents or any of her ancestors. Mom never cared about who her birth parents were, feeling that her parents chose her out of all the kids in the world, and they were the ones to raise her and love her and travel through life’s journey with her.

I always accepted this, and I could not love my grandparents more, but over time I have come to wonder about the girl who gave birth to Mom and felt that she had no choice but to leave her on the steps of an orphanage one spring day in 1932. I now realize that she was most likely heart-broken, possibly in a really bad situation, and probably wondered for the rest of her life how her little girl was.

The DNA results also told me that I have very, very distant cousins who also sent in their DNA. I have to admit I was secretly hoping that Mom’s birth mother had other kids, and that they in turn had their own, and we would find each other and the mystery – or at least part of it – would be solved. I will just have to accept that I will never know.

A YEAR AGO: A blissful sleepover with Jessica. So much fun in such a short time! We are overdue for another one.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Man, everyone was sick! Megan had the flu, Clyde had a Mystery Illness, and Jessica broke her leg. What the hell? What the heck?

TEN YEARS AGO: Heat, miracles and wild, wild fires.

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Hot Times
June 30th, 2018 by suzy in Cats,Country Life,Weather 1 Comment

If it’s Saturday, it must be scorching…

The last two Saturdays in a row have been hot’n’heinous, reaching 90 in my bijou residence. And that’s downstairs, where the propane heater gives a readout of the room temperature. It was still 86 downstairs when I went to bed upstairs in the sleeping loft, cursing James’ genius idea of having the balcony door face west, where it can get as much sun for as long as possible, especially during the hottest part of the day. What else would you expect from the guy who put in light switches that say NO when you turn them on?

My survival plan now includes hanging a dark sheet up on the balcony door, white-trash style, in the hopes that it will give a little shade and maybe help with the heat party, with the hot air rising up to the pointy ceiling and hanging out there:

I am also leaving the sliding glass doors downstairs open with the screen closed to keep the kitties in but allow the mythical cross breeze to come in once I take the trashy sheet down at night.

Do I have to move to Alaska? Look out, Tim, you may have a new neighbor!

When I was a kid, Saturdays were for cartoons. Our parents severely limited our TV time, but I seem to remember being allowed to watch cartoons. Mom slept in, and Dad drank his black coffee, read the papers, and did some writing for work while the electronic babysitter kept us out of his thinning hair. I now realize that I pretty much do the same thing on weekends that Dad used to do, drinking my black coffee while reading and writing, awake but not doing anything yet, not wanting to talk to anyone as I slowly wake up.

Now I don’t watch cartoons, but sometimes the cartoons come to me, mostly courtesy of Clyde the little outlaw.

One weekend, he brought a bird into the house. I hate it when the cats* catch birds, and always interfere if I’m home. As always, he carried his prey up to sleeping loft (why?) and before I could get up the stairs, the bird managed to escape the jaws of death. Unfortunately for the bird, it flew into the wall above the kitchen sink, which it then fell into. Fortunately, it flew out of the sink and into the great outdoors, hotly pursued by Clyde as it vanished into the sky.

It really seemed like a cartoon: Zoom! Bang! Plop! Whir! And it all happened in seconds.

Moving up the food chain and out of season for Easter, Clyde’s next weekend import was a bunny. I managed to get the bunny away from Clyde, who I banished to the bathroom (aka the only room in the house with a door) while the bunny ran under the couch.

I had a hard time persuading the intruder to leave, possibly because Audrey was present, though she was completely uninterested in the whole thing, other than thinking that Clyde should always be shut in the bathroom. Eventually, the bunny hopped out from under the couch and out of the door, but he was much slower than I thought, which probably explains why Clyde was able to catch him in the first place.

Once again, it seemed like something out of a carton, and it all happened much more quickly than it took to tell you about it. Never a dull moment out here, I tell you!

As Audrey approaches her 11th birthday (!) next week, I realize that she no longer really hunts. I can’t remember the last time she imported wildlife into the house. Maybe it’s getting older, or maybe it’s just beneath her considerable dignity.

A YEAR AGO: Junapalooza! I miss you!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Getting divorced. I see it was hot then, too. Maybe the climate changed a long time ago and I didn’t notice?

TEN YEARS AGO: The horror of wildfires. And knowing my brother was out there fighting them.

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Minor Mysteries
June 24th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life 1 Comment

Early one morning, on my way to work, I turned onto the Ridge from the dusty, potholed driveway* and was astonished to see a highway patrol car stopped just a few feet away. I could see a guy beyond the car. I stopped to ask the officer what the problem was, and he claimed there was no problem. OK, then.

I went around the stopped CHP car and the guy I had noticed earlier waved me down. He said he needed a ride to his friend’s house since his car had run out of gas and the CHP officer was supposedly threatening to tow it. I was driving the Heap that day, so I looked even less rob-worthy than usual. According to my unexpected passenger, the CHP guy was there because a tree had fallen further down the Ridge. This made no sense to me, since a fallen tree would need CalTrans and maybe PG&E, but not the CHP. Nor did I see any sign of the out of gas car. I dropped him off at the place he requested, but I still kind of wonder what was going on there.

I will file it away in the dusty funhouse attic of my mind along with a couple of other recent Ridge-related mysteries.

Another morning, I was again making my semi-virtuous way to work when I passed a fully loaded logging truck headed east on the Ridge. For those not familiar with the inner workings of Hooterville back roads, the Ridge runs east (inland) to west (the ocean and the road to Civilization and the Big Town). The Ridge is about 10 miles long and it does end, so it’s not a through road. It would have made sense if the truck was headed that way empty, to load up with logs, say at the haul road behind my house. Or if it was headed west, toward the big lumber mill in Cloverdale. But as it was, it made no sense, at least to me.

Our friends at CalFire use prisoner crews to clear brush and do other fairly simple, safety-enhancing tasks outside. Before you start thinking about Cool Hand Luke style chain gangs, I will just say that it is a coveted assignment among prisoners, which I know from a former convict. It shows that they are responsible and gets them out in the fresh air. So I am always glad to see them. But other than this one mysterious occasion, they are unanimously heading back to prison at 4:30 in the afternoon, not heading east on the Ridge to nowhere. I followed them as far as my driveway, where I turned and they carried on further toward the end of the road.

There you have it: some small and local mysteries.

*Tis the season. Winter is muddy with giant holes.

A YEAR AGO: Rob the artist strikes again. What would I do without him?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Surprise intruders: hummingbirds and rain.

TEN YEARS AGO: The loss of my beloved and wonderful stepmother, the love of Dad’s life. She made his final years the happiest of his life.

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June 19th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life,Work 1 Comment

Despite the recent minor health and car problems, I have been trying to focus on the many things I have to be grateful for. My sister coming to my rescue with cold remedies; my brothers coming to my rescue with car remedies; a few minutes to cuddle with Clyde before the alarm goes off; an empty stretch of highway; the golden morning light on the hills as they make their seasonal change from green to gold; the deep lavender of a fog bank floating over a slate-blue sea; Mark’s dogs running up to joyfully greet me as I arrive home from work.

Since the tragedies occurred last month, I have been more thankful than ever for the little surprise gifts from my co-workers. One colleague brought me a beautiful beaded bracelet from Mexico:

She told me that she had it blessed in a little chapel in her home town, and that it would protect me when I wore it, as I often do. I was touched that she thought of me when she was so far away.

One of the doctors used to be a professional chef (How’s that for a career change? Though perhaps the late, great Anthony Bourdain would not be surprised), and one day, she brought me a generous helping of a new recipe she had tried in her Instant Pot, which was both delicious and enough for two dinners which I did not have to make, which happens to be my favorite kind.

Another co-worker brought me a stunning little arrangement of a flower from her garden called Mock Orange, a new one on me.

It was so pretty and lasted all week, reminding me of how lucky I am to work with such kind people. Whether they knew it or not, they helped me through that dark time and I am grateful for that.

A YEAR AGO: Sorbet, cracksicles, camping, and sculpture. All in Hooterville!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Some wonderful quilts.

TEN YEARS AGO: The fate of my former home. Their fates are never good.

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June 15th, 2018 by suzy in Calamity Suzy,Car 2 Comments

I’m sorry to say that after more than a week, The Crud still has me in its unpleasant grip. Repeated daily applications of Sudafed and Afrin seem to do little in the way of loosening its claws, and if I buy shares in Kleenex now, that would be perilously close to insider trading.

Maybe I need to take time off from work and follow a Victorian style regime of daily doses of champagne and perhaps a trip to Egypt or the French Riviera. It’s medicinal, you know.

I’m also sorry to report that Wednesday, too, is ailing slightly. I pulled up at my bijou residence one evening to discover that I could not open the car door despite repeated efforts. I rolled down the window and opened it from the outside, then rolled up the window again. Effective, but slightly annoying. The annoyingness, like many things, seems to increase the more I have to do it.

Another development is that the driver’s side door no longer locks. This is not a problem in Hooterville, but makes me uncomfortable when leaving Wednesday for many hours in the parking lot at work, which is sometimes frequented by sketchy characters, some of whom seem to live in the bushes surrounding it. When I left work after a 12 hour day this week, I actually looked in the back seat before I drove off in case someone was napping and/or had taken up (hopefully temporary) residence there. Fortunately, my neuroses and I were the only ones in the car. I have ordered a new door handle, which should arrive soon, and when the boys install it, that should take care of all of the car problems at once. If only there was as effective a remedy for whatever ails me…

Update: Rob very kindly installed the new door handle while I was at work. Hooray! Yay for Rob, door handles that open on the inside and outside of the car, and the Heap for getting me to work and back today.

Megan told me that when she woke up this morning, Rob was sleeping with his arm around Stella, who was wagging her tail in her sleep. How’s that for happy?

A YEAR AGO: A delightful day at Navarro-By-The-Sea.

FIVE YEARS AGO: An out of season power outage and an annoying day at the jobette.

TEN YEARS AGO: It was hard to say goodbye to the Lovely Rita. I will always love and miss you, darling girl.

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Hidden Treasures
June 11th, 2018 by suzy in Country Life 1 Comment

I’m finally beginning to feel human again, though the Time Off Malaise made me miss a delightful BBQ with our friend Lu and the last ballet of the season. Of course I am well enough to go to work. But I’m also well enough to finally get around to recording more of our recent-ish adventures.

Rumor had it that the elegant Café Beaujolais, widely considered one of the best – or possibly the best – restaurants in the Village was selling wood-fired pizzas on certain days at certain times. Fortunately for Megan and me, we found ourselves in the Village at one of the designated times.

It took a little searching, but we finally found the pizza purveyors:

nestled in a lovely garden:

They were friendly and charming, and we were glad to wait for our pizzas in the beautiful garden. They were worth the wait:

Beautifully blistered, airy crust, topped with fennel sausage, red onions, fresh oregano, brine-cured olives, and Marzano tomatoes. Yum!

We stowed them in Megan’s little red car and then made our way to the beautiful Kelley House. I have never seen the Village so crowded. So many cars and so many zombies meandering all over the streets without looking for cars. Megan wisely drove behind the Kelley House, rightly guessing that there would be nowhere to park for blocks in front of the house.

The latest exhibit was of treasures found in the Kelley House pond when it was drained and restored. There were many beautiful bottles:

This one says “My Wife’s Salad Dressing, Chicago” on it:

The items included several small china dolls known as Frozen Charlottes (left):

Apparently a modish young lady refused to cover her elegant gown when driving to town for a New Year’s dance with her beau, and was DOA at the dance. I found it a little weird that this legend caused a doll craze instead of creeping everyone out. But then a lot of fairytales are creepy and horrifying.

We both enjoyed the exhibit and some new local history. Not to mention the pizza!

A YEAR AGO: A perfect day.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Birthday love

FIVE YEARS AGO: Henry and I get closer. I still miss that tough little kitty.

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June 7th, 2018 by suzy in Bullshit,Calamity Suzy 1 Comment

Despite spending much of my working life in finance, math and I are not close friends. And you will not be surprised to hear that logic and I are but distant acquaintances. However, no matter how slow on the uptake I may be and the fact that I still don’t know all my times tables (and at this point, I think it’s safe to say I never will), it has become abundantly clear to me that:

Suzy takes time off = Something bad happens

Let’s review, shall we?

The last time I took time off and had the temerity to venture over the county line, I got the flu from hell which took forever to recover from.

The time before that, it was the Worst Long Weekend Ever, with day after day of blistering temperatures, inside and out, after a summer of working six days a week.

This time, I took two days off in honor of my birthday and ended up with the flu. At least it’s not as bad as last time, but come on! That was a mere six months ago.

I felt so horrible I couldn’t sleep, and texted with Megan, who is up and on duty at 2 am. She stopped by on her way home from work with Pringles, ginger ale, Sudafed, and Afrin. I spent the day on the couch and hopefully tomorrow will be back at work. I wish I didn’t feel so guilty about missing work and letting my boss down. Maybe it really is three strikes and you’re out, and next time I take time off it will actually be fun.

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June 4th, 2018 by suzy in Special Occasions 2 Comments

With all the tragedies lately, I am not feeling it for my birthday this year. Yesterday was the memorial service for Erica’s mother, which she handled with grace and fabulous make-up. Arriving home from the service, I discovered I had lost my diamond bracelet, which I really liked. I must have fastened the clasp incorrectly.

It’s Erica’s birthday tomorrow, and she too is planning to skip it, much like Megan did. There will be no Junapalooza this year.

No birthday cards so far, and it’s hotter than I’d like, but at least I took today and tomorrow off. Plans are to drink pink champagne and watch the hockey play-offs tonight and hopefully hang out with the kitties.

UPDATE: Megan found my bracelet:

And as if that weren’t enough, she gave me a sparkly pair of earrings I admired during our tour of village shops a couple of months ago but considered too expensive:

So things are looking up, and they’re also looking sparkly.

A YEAR AGO: Things were much more festive.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Heading to San Francisco for a birthday baseball game, among other things.

TEN YEARS AGO: The curse of the coffee maker.

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May 31st, 2018 by suzy in Country Life,Family,Friends 1 Comment

I continued my course of therapeutic frivolity by leaving work early the Friday before the long Memorial Day weekend and heading to Angelika’s little salon in the big woods:

To be fair, I had planned the haircut long before the tragedies hit, but the timing could not have been better. I was surprised to see that Angelika had cut her long blonde hair to a cut similar to Robin Wright’s in House of Cards. It looked great on Angelika, very stylish and pretty.

I was very happy to see her dog Anasazi, too. When I last saw Angelika in March, she was planning to put Ana to sleep due to her issues with her hips and balance at the age of 13. When the vet came to do the deed, she said that Ana was not yet ready to start her next adventure, so hopefully Ana will be with us through the summer and maybe beyond.

It was nice to get such happy news, and to watch a Steller’s Jay taking an enthusiastic bath in the bird bath outside the salon window. Angelika’s garden was full of blooms, from the rhododendrons you can see peeking through the windows to the irises outside the salon:

It was a relaxing and rejuvenating to spend time with Angelika. She sent me on my way with a hug and birthday gifts for both Megan (whose birthday it was) and me.

Since it was Megan’s birthday, my new haircut and I met her at our favorite seaside bar, where our favorite bartender started us off with free glasses of birthday champagne, which I think we all can agree is the best kind, to inspire us while we decided on the next drink.

It turned out to be a Lemon Drop:

and it was delicious. It was great to chat with the bartender and enjoy our drinks despite the cloudy weather. Later we moved the party to my house, where we stayed up later and possibly enjoyed more adult beverages than we should have, but after all, it was a special occasion.

A YEAR AGO: Celebrating Megan’s birthday on the family estate.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Megan’s birthday was both festive and eventful.

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May 26th, 2018 by suzy in Special Occasions 1 Comment

I decided to try some of my own frivolous medicine to help me deal with the recent losses in my life. If it worked for Erica and John, maybe it would work for me, too. I started by indulging in the Royal Wedding, which I had recorded on BBC America so I could merrily fast forward through the hours of boring stuff, like endless speculation on the dress and man in the street interviews. I started watching when Meghan’s car left the hotel.

It was a beautiful day, and I have to say that there is nowhere lovelier than England on a fine spring or summer day. I was glad to see the flawless blue sky and the sun shining down on Windsor. The flowers wreathed around the chapel door were just breathtaking, as were the flowers inside. Harry’s nervousness and William’s joking with him to calm him were charming to see, as was the deep bond between the two of them. I think their mother would have been proud and pleased and I am sure she was in their thoughts.

Meghan looked stunning. I didn’t love her dress, but I did love the train and veil, thoughtfully embroidered with flowers representing every country in the Commonwealth, and the fabulous accessories, from the Cartier bracelet to Queen Mary’s tiara. I couldn’t help but wonder what that formidable queen would have thought of her descendant marrying an American divorcée.

I wish that Meghan had just walked the whole way to the altar by herself instead of just halfway. To me, either she should have been escorted the whole way or been alone the whole way. Her mother certainly looked lonely in her little corner, the only representative of Meghan’s family. I have to give grudging respect to Prince Charles for how he looked after the mother of the bride after the ceremony.

The service itself was the perfect blend of English and American, though perhaps I think that because I myself am the perfect blend of English and American. Reverend Curry stole the show with his uplifting and passionate sermon, the likes of which I am sure has never been heard before at any English wedding, let alone a royal one. The Queen, looking magnificent as always, took it all in stride.

Harry and Meghan’s kiss on the steps of the chapel, under the gorgeous flower arch, was perfection. They are such a beautiful couple, and so clearly in love. The way they looked at each other as they made their vows was a joy to behold. And as they rode through the streets in an open carriage, waving to the ecstatic crowd, it was hard not to feel that a new chapter had started, both in their lives and the Royal Family’s.

A YEAR AGO: The landline ringing was once again bad news: Star had a seizure. She recovered and is fine, though!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Goodbye, disused, decayed and dangerous hot tub! I think I’ll miss you least of all!

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